Starting a New Life Abroad

window franceHow many of us dream of selling up, moving to France and living the good Life with a healthy vegetable plot and bilingual children? Anneli Faiers did it and shares her tale with BritMums.

Six years ago I was living in London, working at MTV, living a crazy, busy, city life full of parties, socialising and youthful selfishness. Fast forward to today and I find myself in rural France, in a 300 year old farmhouse with two kids and a flourishing vegetable garden! Much to many peoples surprise, I changed my life completely and I have absolutely no regrets.

It happened quite unexpectedly which was a good thing as it meant I didn’t have too much time to brood over my decision. An opportunity to take voluntary redundancy arose at work and although I had never thought about leaving the job I loved so much, the fates conspired to make me consider it.

My husband and I were leafing through an edition of France Magazine and spotted a property for sale in the classifieds that captured our imagination. A gorgeous old house complete with gites, pigonier and resident barn owl. Somewhat spontaneously we booked flights to see it and our new life became inevitable.

france house

In fact, that house was not the one we chose in the end despite being foolishly bewitched and making a ridiculous offer on the day! Luckily it was not accepted and we were able to take our time and exercise more common sense, finally deciding on our farmhouse in a better location with fabulous views every which way you look.

view from the window

The somewhat abrupt shift in pace of life was just what I needed and after three years of unsuccessfully trying, I fell pregnant. Countryside, fresh air, early nights and healthy living must have been the tonic my body craved. We had a new home, in a new country, a whole new life and a new person to embrace.

Despite not being anywhere near fluent in French, I found myself navigating my first pregnancy in a foreign language. Actually, it wasn’t at all as difficult or daunting as you might imagine. I soon picked up the important pregnancy jargon and found that despite not understanding every word, the Doctors and I were on the same page so information was somehow understood!

Anneli Faiers kids

I feel very lucky to have given birth twice in France where it is the norm to have your own room and bathroom in the hospital, 3 course meals everyday, and the average stay after giving birth is between five and seven days! You have the chance to cocoon yourself and your baby in the safety of the hospital until you have mastered all the basics. Very different to some stories I hear from my UK friends who were pushed out into the night just hours after the trauma of childbirth.

The last six years have flown by and now my Daughter goes to the local school (Maternelle) and my Son is due to start in September. We are lucky that my husband works as a web designer, a profession that allows him to do his thing from anywhere in the world, so the office in the garden suits him just fine!

For myself, although at times with young children I have felt a little isolated, I have now found a strong group of friends and have lots of coffees and girls nights out! Most of them are English but there are a few French too, despite my still having a long way to go with the language. I realised I had to put extra effort in to make these relationships stick as making new friends can be hard when you are a full time Mum living in the middle of a field! No-one was going to come knocking down my door so I resigned myself to putting myself out there as much as I could.

anneli faiers

Also, I started my blog – Delicieux, where I write about my passion for food. I am blessed to live in a place where the produce all around me is inspirational and the cuisine is exceptional.

All in all, I am living ‘the good life’ and don’t ever regret the decision to change my life. I happily look forward to bringing up my children in this wonderful part of the world that I now call home.

Anneli Faiers is the author of Delicieux, a blog all about food and recipes straight from her farmhouse kitchen in SW France. She is a Mum of 2 and also works as a Private Chef when time allows. You can also find her on Twitter

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  1. 31 March 2013 / 15:56

    That sounds absolutely wonderful. I’ve always liked the idea of moving to France. Good to know it’s achievable.

    • 01 April 2013 / 11:37

      Thanks Nell. It is achievable! It’s wonderful here and we have such a great quality of life. I have never looked back.

  2. 01 April 2013 / 13:39

    Over the past 18 months, Anneli has become my (Twitter) friend, mostly through our shared love of food. We have both written several guest blog posts for each others sites and I had often wondered how a nice British lady had ended up living the rural life in France! Now I know. I’m sure this post is going to make quite a few people jealous. From those of us that have never had the nerve to do what you have done, I say Bravo Anneli!

    • 01 April 2013 / 18:46

      Thanks Al…I am glad you enjoyed this little insight into how I ended up here! I am not the most likely lady to have ended up living this quiet life in the country but then life has a funny way of surprising you 🙂

  3. 01 April 2013 / 20:29

    I had wondered how you’d come to set up home in France, Anneli. Now I know. 🙂

    • 02 April 2013 / 11:06

      Hi Jenny – yes my secrets are out!

  4. 02 April 2013 / 17:11

    Hi there, great to hear a success story… I think the age of the kids can affect the outcome considerably. Had our kids been really young, as they were during our 5 year stint in Poland, the story and outcome would be very different. We tried it, moved to Annecy, an idyllic part of the world, just 35 minutes from Geneva with the bonus of lake and mountains just at your finger tips, but ended up returning to UK after 13 months… Not long enough some might say but with the age of the kids: oldest fast approaching GCSE’s and having badly chosen the college they attended, and the younger two just about to start secondary and the youngest just about to sit the 11 plus, we had to make a really tough decision to return to the UK as it was either then or wait until after the youngest had done his GCSE’s…. There were many other reasons too.
    We had a really tough time getting them back into schools here in the UK as they are so oversubscribed… Trouble is now find myself dreaming and I often wonder, I wonder if…

    • 02 April 2013 / 17:22

      Hi Caroline. I can certainly imagine how hard it would be on older kids to make the transition right in the middle of their education. That would indeed add in so many new factors to consider and may mean moving abroad would just be too tough to do. I was lucky to have my kids here so they know no different and will essentially be more French than English as time goes by. All I can say is that it’s never too late. I know lots of people who have made the move abroad once their kids are at university or moved out. You did what was best for you and your family at the time though so that was absolutely the right thing to do 🙂

  5. 03 April 2013 / 12:41

    This was interesting to read as I’ve done the opposite. I moved to France, aged 22, after graduation and a year later I left the bright lights of Nice to live in the first of several villages on the French Riviera with my boyfriend and later husband. My first daughter was born whilst we were living in a picturesque village 700 metres above sea level, inland behind Cannes. Everything was perfect, we had our baby, a beautiful house in a quaint village, we were working from home….but we got bored of being so far from “life”. So when our daughter was 2 years old we headed back to Nice – moving to the city centre – which we loved, but whilst France is a beautiful country it can be hard to live there if you are ambitious and want to climb a career ladder, so after living there for 12 years for me and for most of my husband’s life we moved to the UK and haven’t looked back since. We now live in London, commute to work on the tube/through busy Clapham Junction station and actually have a far better work/life balance and a better quality of life for us and our 2 daughters here, than when we lived a stone’s throw from the beach in Nice, or in our hilltop village. I think it’s about different strokes for different folks so it’s great that you’ve found happiness there 🙂

    • 03 April 2013 / 13:31

      Yes, we seems to have done things the opposite way round. You are absolutely right about ambition and career. That is certainly a factor to consider out here. It’s hard to find work of any sort, let alone to climb a career ladder. It seems to me the best avenues are those where working remotely is not a problem such as my husbands webdesign job. For me, I am still very much a ‘Mummy’ first as my two are still very young but I hope one day to carve out a niche for myself writing about food, or just writing… We shall see. Who knows what life may hold in ten years time. I never thought I would be here living in France right now which just proves my point. Thanks so much for your feedback.