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7th May 2018

Moving from the UK to the French Alps!

You’ve been on a few ski holidays. Maybe you even did a season or two back in the day. But now, the call of the mountains is just too strong and you are considering taking the plunge and moving to the mountains permanently. Thousands of people do it every year, so why can’t you? Well you can! Whilst there are a few small issues that may arise, the big move is a lot easier than it seems.

Which Ski Resort Should You Choose? 

Which resort do you love? Do you have any friends living in the Alps already who might be able to help you settle in? Is there a resort you have grown up visiting and already consider home? There are so many factors when it comes to choosing which ski resort you want to live in. Is an English-speaking home important to you? Resorts such as Morzine, Les Gets and Verbier have large English populations, so that whilst you settle in and learn the language you are still able to navigate the ins and outs of village life in your native tongue. If you are looking for a more “authentic” village experience, perhaps a ski resort such as Châtel, part of the Portes du Soleil, which is still a traditional farming village at its core and is popular with Swiss and French nationals is the one for you. If you want a year-round village with more of a “town” rather than small-village feel, Chamonix is the place for you!

Look at our Ski Resort & Property guides to help you choose which ski resort you want to make a home in.

Do You Have School-Aged Children?

Unless you plan on home-schooling (which can be done!) you will need to find a school for your kids. Unless you go on the French system straight away, your kids will have to attend private school. Whilst this may sound intimidating, French Catholic schools are incredibly affordable and encourage your youngun’s to start learning French from an early age! Of course near the Alps, there are a huge number of reputable International Schools which offer bilingual classes and the opportunity to live close to your new mountain home whilst still studying the curriculum of your home country (if you wish).

Geneva, a short drive from dozens of France and Switzerland’s premier ski resorts is a haven for international schools. The International School of Geneva  takes over 3000 children from infant school to high school and offers students a bilingual education and the option to graduate with a Swiss Maturity, International Bacclaureate, French Bacclaureate, American High School Diploma or British IGCSE or if you are certain that you want your kids to have a British education, The British School of Geneva  is the school for you!

The ski resort of Villars has long had a reputation for the quality of schools that call the village home. Collège Alpin International Beau Soleil is one of Switzerland’s oldest (and most popular) boarding schools. Offering a diverse education in either French or English, students have the opportunity to gain a French Bacclaureate, International Bacclaureate or IGSCE.  La Garenne is a bilingual school which offers schooling for students up to the age of 14 (Grade 9), giving them fluency in both languages and preparing them for the next stage of their schooling. Aiglon College is another world-renowned school located a short drive from the Villars ski area.

Can I Continue Working in my Current Profession Once I Move?

Assuming your language skills are up to scratch (and that isn’t necessary in every job) you can! There are a number of regulated professions in France, and this website has information about what to do if you need to: 1) Check your profession is a regulated and 2) Get your qualification recognised. For example, if you are a physio or nurse in the UK and you would like to use your skills in France, you will need get yourself a European Professional Card (EPC). Whilst not actually a card, it is an online credential which you can use to ensure your qualification is recognised in all EU and EEA countries. You apply for an EPC through your home country, and this link is a great source of information if you think you might need one!

Can I Start a New Career in the Mountains?

Without a doubt! Most mountain-move stories involve people leaving their lives AND careers behind for a completely fresh start. The most popular careers changes include catered ski chalets, ski instructors and people in the property sector – such as builders, designers and estate agents. The most adventurous of them all may choose to become mountain guides, but that job is not for the faint-hearted! The Alps are full of budding entrepreneurs, and if you have an idea there is no place like the mountains to test it out!

Check out our short interviews with expats who have made their dream of moving to the mountains a reality, and how you might be able to do the same! 

Ten Minutes with… Lisa Murgatroyd, Director of Peppered Strawberry Creative Catering
Ten Minutes with… Lewis Muir, Taking the Pistes, And his Plans to Ski All 7 Continents

What about Health Care?

As an EU citizen from the UK you can apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which covers you for most emergency medical situations in France, but if you are in it for the long-haul, you will want to get your Carte Vitale. Applying for the Carte Vitale can be a lengthy process, but once you have established yourself as a French resident (i.e. a minimum of three payslips) you can begin your application. Though not an official website, this is a great outline about how to apply for your Carte Vitale. Every person in your family over the age of 16 is required to hold a Carte Vitale, so this is especially important if you have teenage children.

For more information on applying for your European Health Insurance Card, click here.

To Become the Owner of a Ski Property

Click here to start your search for your dream alpine property today! 

Find out how to get a mortgage in the French, Swiss, Austrian or Italian Alps.

Read more about the best ski resort for your ski property purchase.

Get some tips on how to get the most out of your currency exchange.

Know what lies ahead with the purchase process our buying guides to property in Switzerland, France, Austria & Italy.