I moved out from France in 2006; my husband and I returned to Bordeaux for good a few weeks ago.
We only had 3 weeks to organise our move and our return back to our home country, France.
Not by choice.
I would even say “happily” we don’t have children, because we just had to deal with ourselves as being adults, which is already complicated for us.
Making the decision was tough, and we had to attempted everything to stay “over there” longer. Once we realised that we didn’t have a choice we couldn’t accept it. It was tough to grasp the fact that the countdown had already begun and that at some point we really would have to leave for good from the country that we called “home”.
We didn’t know where to start, which information to search for; but I started to sell some household items online.
We started to calculate how many days were left until our date of departure, without realising that it’s too little time.
Over the last few mornings, we woke up realising that it was over, that the last trip will be coming very soon; sad to leave from our home.
So we sold the cars, then making money transfers, but also dealing with closing accounts for water and electricity, air conditioning, internet, breaking our apartment’s lease, and losing quite some money due to penalties.
Our mood started to sadden.
Then D-day of the move rolled around; and our great apartment was left empty, we returned the keys, and we left with our only 3 suitcases and nothing else.
Three suitcases is all we have for the upcoming 3 months, while our container is arrives by sea.
We kept on questioning ourselves if we made the right decision by leaving. We didn’t have much choice but maybe we could have fought a bit harder to tried to stay longer.
We listed all positive points relating to our home country return, as well as the negative points, and the French admin is one of them, big time!
I found a furnished AirBnB for the 2 upcoming months, which was reassuring, we thought we could at least feel a bit independent. But the place was a disaster in terms of cleanliness and loud music played by partying neighbours. We just wanted to run away.
The first home coming issues started arriving.
We attempted to sign up for mobile phones prepaid packages, and what a problem for us! We had to prove that we were French residents by providing phone bills (how funny), electricity or water bills.
The solution to this stupid request was for us to ask a family member to certify that we were living at their place.
For us, specialists of never asking for help from anyone else, we started to be dependant on others.
Then we realised we would need a car; at first we thought we could rent one but made the calculation and found out it was too expensive compared to buying a car. So we went to the a car dealer; but we had no bank cheques for the payment. And again we had to provide those stupid documents from our family members to prove that we were staying at their place.
The seller was actually nice and helpful when we explained our situation and made it easier for us regarding the payment process.
Buying a car also means subscribing to insurance.
Aged 40, never had an accident since we were young drivers, but the insurance made us pay full fees due to the lack of visibility on a French car insurance for the past years.
Frustration is increasing.
Yet, we are happy to see all this French food in all the markets and supermarkets. The food that we missed so often while living abroad.
But we started to feel stressed and stuck, not being in control over our independence and decisions anymore.
What the hell are we doing here!!!
I tend to wake up suddenly at night, and think about some items of clothing that I used to wear, of which are now in a box somewhere inside the container and somewhere in the middle of the ocean. Will I see my belongings again? There is a risk to lose everything, yes.
I realised I came back to France for good now. Since then I have stopped looking at our “home” from the pictures stored on my phone, it makes me cry.
We can’t help it, we keep comparing everything with “home”.
We hate everything here and we are beating ourselves for not having tried harder to fight for staying longer over there. We feel that we have failed by coming back to live in France, and that we will never get used to our new life here.
We have to find a house ASAP as we thought this is the key to all of our problems and that it would most likely help us to feel better in this country which makes us feel like strangers.
So we spend our time searching for houses as we think it would make our life easier and less sad just because we don’t have a proper place to stay for good. But real estate agencies are literally hanging up the phone on us as soon as we mention that we are Expats; they say we are unusual clients.
They want to deal with normal people who are able to provide tax notices, current payslips and permanent employment contracts.
So we stopped contacting agencies but only dealing with landlords by explaining to them our sensitive situation, that our case is unusual with a hint of emotion so they can understand and accept to eventually consider us as potential tenants by letting us visiting their property for rent. But they also need guarantees, and want solid paying tennants.
So some of them asked us to provide them with a screenshot of our bank account and the amount it contains.
Yep, this is how far it went!
Let’s talk about Social Security.
French nationals, gone for too long. No more rights, that’s the rule.
We are not even found in the system anymore, even though with the unique ID number allocated to us as French born citizens. All erased.
Even though it’s the rule, we can’t help it, we live it as if we were rejected from our own country.
We stopped listing positive points and great reasons for staying here. What the hell are we doing here!
We are really unusual then!
This situation is temporary, everything will fall back into its place.
Keep calm and Atypique Expat 😊
@Emilie: Thanks for this article, I can relate in so many ways !
As a French returnee in Bordeaux myself empowering other French repats to return to France with ease and flow, I’m looking to connect with others in a similar situation. So I would love to connect and learn more about Atypique Expat and clicked in the link but looks like the site is down…
I can be reached via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ameliepapin/ Cheers !