(On the basis of some 45 years experience in those countries)
When I and my wife first attempted to come to the "Continent", things were considerably more difficult. Europe and the EU were just beginning to understand what was needed, but even then, Brits being Brits, they had decided NOT to become members, since they couldn't run the thing, they didn't want to know! This fact made our first attempts similar to those made nowadays by Americans, Australians and other "non-EU Countries" Citizens, and it can be EXCEEDINGLY long, tedious and infuriating!
1. Nowadays, I would recommend making contact with European Institutions either in Brussels or Luxembourg, or even in your home country (the EU has many Institutions worldwide) - BEFORE making further arrangements.
It's logical to find out what will be required from you before you start making any attempts!
2. For people wishing to come from "Member" Countries, it is now much more simple.
Under the "guise" of a holiday, you can simply "go see" what is available in Jobs, Accommodation and the other important aspects. Take a few important papers, describing yourself, your qualifications and so on, certificates are a good choice, but only if they are in the local language, or are certificates known and recognized by the local host country.
You never know - maybe you'll find that "brain surgeon’s" post you've been looking for, if your qualifications come from some well known Hospital, College, University and so on.....
Without doubt you would be well advised to practice or learn a basic of the language of the country you wish to go to. Life is considerably simpler, and the locals will have more time for you and your requests if you seem to be at least trying to speak their language.
(countries where French is spoken by the population - in %)
Dealing firstly with France, you should be aware that various changes have recently been made to the laws concerning "Health and Medical Insurances" concerning, in particular, British Citizens. To find out if these new conditions concern you, you can go to the following link:
The page is in French, but contains the whole site plan and your situation is there - somewhere! The other way of finding out, possibly in English, is to search the Web under "Ameli.fr"-there is a service in English.
So far as the Administration procedure is concerned, for members of the EU, there are no "Residence Permits" required any more, but you will need the normal things, as in your home country:
A Bank Account ("La Poste" operate a simple but full and regular Banking System, or the "Caisses d'Epargne" are also a popular Bank - up to you!
There are also the International "online" Banking Services, which you can sign up to BEFORE moving - just make sure they are reliable and usable in France or Germany, and don’t forget that they make charges if you withdraw or transfer money/funds)
UPDATE TO THIS INFO:
(The CAF page in English...!).
For example, the "CAF" (Caisse d'Allocations Familiales) a sort of special branch similar to the "Security Social" in Britain, which deals with allowances for families but also for Rent Assistance applications. In France, almost everyone has the right to some form of Rent Assistance of a financial nature, paid generally every month, or assistance fr school material. There are so many possibilities of financial assistance from the CAF (for families but also for individuals) that the best thing I can do here is to give you a link:
The above link should be the "Site Plan" but you could also search simply for "CAF.fr"
The CAF is one of the most important things to approach on your arrival.
The next thing is, of course, TAX....!
In France everyone - employed, unemployed, student, pensioner - whatever, is obliged to declare their incomes.
It is on the basis of this declaration that your rights to Assistance will be calculated.
Don't worry, if you're not a big earner, the Tax calculation can be very low, as low as "not imposable" - you can calculate roughly your Tax demand here amongst many other things. This is the page called "liens utiles" (useful links) from the CAF.fr - Here you can find links to just about everything you need to know on the Administration scene - in France:
In your private life, most things are similar to UK - just - well - French....!
As you go along, you'll pick up tips from other expats, from Administration Offices, from the Town Hall, just be politely insistent and persistent, these things, as in UK, can take a long time!
Particular things where you will get little, if any, help with are those private things like Cars, insurances and so on-and, strangely enough, in British Embassies or Consulates - they tend to be useless!
Yes - there are rules governing the registration of foreign vehicles and Driving licences belonging to foreign permanent residents, but they are far too extensive and individual to be laid out here.
Briefly I would give you the advice to sell your right hand drive model in UK, and purchase a vehicle in France or Germany. You'll save money, time and a lot more in the end! You'll also drive on the correct side......!
So far as Driving Licences are concerned, there is a programme run by the "Prefecture" of every Region in France, allowing your foreign Driving Licence to be "linked" with a French authorisation to drive in France. This programme is very useful, you keep your own driving licence, you attach the official French paperwork to it, and you're legal!
It costs the postage stamps, a couple of passport style photos, and is a LOT cheaper than having to take a French licence course and Test! Of course, you are governed by French Law in relation to traffic offences, but you are anyway!
This programme is little known, even in the Prefectures, or in the Expat circles, so you'll have to be a bit persistent.......!
EX-PAT - now there's a word! Wherever you go, if you've got access to the Internet, you'll ALWAYS find someone who can give advice on one of the numerous ExPAT web sites and forums!
Just have a search....!
Try to join these things before leaving on the big adventure, and don't forget - It's YOU who is in a foreign country, it's YOU who must adapt!
You will find that most normal residents will be pleased to help you - if they can!
French or German is their language, and whilst many are capable of speaking English, they prefer to hear you talking THEIR language in THEIR country...!
There are even Expats, like myself, who go out of their way to avoid "Tourist" locations!
If you're integrated, as you should be, and as I hope you will become, then you don't particularly want to be involved in speaking English all day long - just now and then will do!
iwmpop@gmail Text copyright 2009 iwmitchell