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Interview with Wendy J – a British expat living in France

Updated 2 Feb 2010

Wendy Johnson is an English 42-year-old mother living with her French husband near Montpellier. She has been living in France for 11 years and loves to help people move to France and settle in. Read her blog at

Read more about the country in the Expat Arrivals expat guide to France or read more expat experiences in France

About Wendy

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Leicester UK

Q: Where are you living now?
A: Lunel, Herault – small town north of Montpellier

Q: How long have you lived here?
A: in France 11 years – in this area since 2002

Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
A: Originally moved here with an English husband – we split up, and I'm now married to a French chap

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: My English husband was a writer, so he could work from anywhere.

About France

Q: What do you enjoy most about living in France, how’s the quality of life?
A: Good. We can have fun as a family without actually spending money – there is less emphasis on material things here than in the UK, I think. And, of course, because the weather is better.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: Nobody calls you back. The paperwork drives me insane. When you ask someone in officialdom a question, you'll get different answers from each person you ask. I miss UK supermarkets and larger clothing shops. I find children's clothes and toys expensive and not a huge range of sizes of women's clothes and not much choice.

About living in France

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in the city as an expat?
A: I think the countryside between Nimes and Montpellier is the best area.

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation?
A: It's what you make of it. It's likely, if you are in the cheaper brackets, you'll have to do some work on a place. Spend more money and you'll get a stunner.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: I mix with both French and expats.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: I find it very easy – particularly as I run an expats association and I have two kids under 5

Family and children

Q: What are the schools like, any particular suggestions?
A: All schools are pretty much the same – it depends on the individual teacher you get – they learn the same thing the same week in all schools all over France.

Q: How would you rate healthcare in France?
A: Absolutely excellent

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: Before you do anything… get a recommendation and go somewhere with a name to ask for….  

~ Interviewed January 2010

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