Saturday, August 11, 2007

Getting real...

In reviewing the first few posts, I feel that one could be forgiven for thinking that this is concerning itself purely with the concept, the state of being an expat. For the more pragmatic, it is worth stressing now that I am as aware as any of the realities of life as an expat and expect the practical considerations to become key to this discussion.

Of course some can relocate with the security of a safe income but most have to cope with all the normal challenges of life - work, accommodation, shopping, bills, dealing with bureaucracy, etc. However, they have the added factor of coping with these things somewhere else, where the rules and possibilities are probably quite different - and where they need to use a second language too, this can add another dimension to every activity.

It is surprising what can turn out to be challenging. I remember that the process of obtaining a residency permit in France (no longer needed for Brits) was relatively straightforward in what is known as a bureaucratic country. Of course one is dismayed when the residency permit application demands proof of your subscription to the health system, as the health service had asked for your residency permit as part of your application to them - but there are ways around such things!

In contrast, the difficulty of registering imported cars under French plates was astonishing, with most sources of information, official or otherwise, never quite matching up to the actual requirements which always remained slightly hazy! The ensuing trial-and-error process one had to resort to in gathering and submitting the amazing amount of documentation was expensive, and took months, just to register a couple of cars.

Not a problem to obtain the right to live in the country but unbelievably difficult to drive one's car legally! Typical of the sort of experiences that make up the wonderful expat experience!

So, yes, the practical will very much form a part of this discussion...


David M said...

Let me say as an occaisonal visitor to france with a maison secondair,we have found the experience enlightening and certainly life enhancing.The trials and tribulations are all part of living in another country and as we are now in our fifth year,we cannot wait to return.
I must admit we took the easy way out by buying a car in france which was the easy solution.At least I know where its been.

Will Pow said...

Well, David, that may be the easy way out but I promise you it is the best way, at least in France!