15th November 2009

There's an expat website called TotalFrance. They asked me whether I knew anyone who had gone back to the UK and what resources we had called upon to cope with the ongoing problem.
And my answer? Like everyone else today, we have to make a choice. Nowhere's perfect. Is it better for me and 'him indoors' to return to the land of grey skies, chewing-gum-encrusted pavements and general air of self-deprecating depression? Or should we stay here and benefit from the 'free' sunshine, clean air and joie de vivre of the French?
But, I hear you say, what about money? Well, yes. We can't escape that, but would we be any better off back home? Probably not, and we no longer have a home back there. Keep checking your bank balance on the web - it's no good burying your head in the sand - and follow tips on how to survive financially as an expat senior citizen in France:
1. In the winter, collect free firewood wherever you see it - along the river banks, woods etc.
2. On your annual French tax return, claim for any eco-work you've had done on the house. Last year, amazingly, I received a cheque from the French Centre des Impots for 2,000 euros!
3. If disaster strikes and your spouse passes away, you can claim 1 year's bereavement allowance from the UK.
4. If you're over 65 and your income is less than 1,100 euros p.m. for a couple, claim means-tested ASPA from French social security - look it up on the web.
5. Buy the return leg of trips back home from a UK website in pounds.
6. Go to big supermarkets like Intermarche on days when they offer discounts and get a store card. On average, I receive c.5 euros off my bill every trip.
Above all, keep weighing up the balances and wait for next year's sunshine - something you can definitely rely on here!

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