How to be a Starving Artist in France

How to be a Starving Artist in France

Alexandr Onishenko

Alexandr Onishenko

This post is part of a series called Q&A Tuesday: French Visas. Our resident expert is Laurence Raybois from Americans Moving to France and Rural France Resources. We want to hear from you! Send me your questions or put them in the comments below. We’ll try to get your question answered in an upcoming post.

This month’s question:

I’m a starving artist in Los Angeles, but I would rather be a starving artist in France. I’ve heard about a “Skills and Talents Visa.” What exactly is that visa, and what kind of “proof” do I need to show? Also, would this visa allow me to get a job unrelated to my art? I would probably need to get a day job to support myself. Thanks for any advise you have! I’ve always dreamt of living in France!


The option you are referring to, the “Compétences et talents” status, given for three years, is generally a good option for artists.  While one needs not be a world-renowned artist to obtain this status, the understanding is that the recipient should be established enough in his or her field that his/her work in France will be noticed, and will be seen as valuable and significant.  For artists, the odds of obtaining the status vary greatly depending on how France’s culture and assets are incorporated in the artist’s work, and the visibility this work of art will enjoy once produced.

To a small extent, the criteria are somewhat flexible, and are also subject to each consulate’s interpretation of the requirements.  In addition, the status is expected to disappear when the new immigration laws are implemented (which might be in late 2015, although nothing is set for sure at this point), so I recommend that those interested in this status not wait any longer than necessary.

The idea of the status is that the person does a project, which is loosely defined in the legislation and could be a lot of things (one exception is that it cannot be a study project).  The project can be the person’s source of income either completely or partially, or not at all.  If it is not the source of income and that the person needs to work in addition to pursuing the project, the work can be either a salaried position or a self-employment situation, or both at the same time, but does have to be in the same field as the project.

Alternatively, and if you can show that you have been successfully self-employed as an artist, you may be able to get a self-employment one-year status.  You won’t be able to get a salaried position once in France, and you will have to renew every year.  It is not an ideal situation but is one option.

Also, consider getting settled in a French rural area, where the cost of living is lower.  Many rural municipalities are eager to attract artists, so that they can then attract tourism around a specific art form.  You may want to read my blog for more information on this, and particularly this page.

Laurence Raybois Consulting © 2015

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my paris office

French Visas for Freelance Consultants


my paris office - freelance consulting from paris

This post is part of a series called Q&A Tuesday: French Visas. Our resident expert is Laurence Raybois from Americans Moving to France and Rural France Resources. We want to hear from you! Send me your questions or put them in the comments below. We’ll try to get your question answered in an upcoming post.

This month’s question:

I am a freelance consultant, with my own US-based small business (LLC). I can do my work from any computer connected to the internet. Can I live in France? What kind of Visa should I apply for? 


As a freelance consultant with your own US-based business, you should be able to live in France simply by obtaining a one-year visitor’s visa that could be renewed after that.  Indeed, provided you do not seek business opportunities in France and your professional options or the nature of the product or service you offer do not change by virtue of you being in France, then you would not be considered to be “working in France.” Thus there would be no need for you to seek a work visa, which is harder to get than a visitor’s visa.

A key criteria to obtaining a visitor’s visa is to show that you either have savings for the duration of your stay in France, or a source of income.  A stable consulting business that has provided you with a consistent income for the last few years could just be it.

Laurence Raybois Consulting © 2015

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Searching for Rental Homes in London

London Rentals: 4 Websites

On The Market - Sort by Map

On The Market – Sort by Map

Looking for rental properties in London? Here are the four websites I use. The first two seem to duplicate each other, but occasionally one will offer a unique listing. Knight Frank has as many short lets as long lets (but the listings are clearly labeled).

Tip: sign up for email alerts to be notified when new properties come on the market in your price range and location.

On the Market

Prime Location


Knight Frank

p.s. Thanks to my friends F and J for telling me about these websites! I’d been stuck on Foxtons for way too long.

p.p.s. Am I missing any other great sites? Leave them below!

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London: Schools for Expats

London: Schools for Expats

London School Sketch

If you’re moving to London with your family, the first item on your To Do List will be to freak out about find schools for the kids. As you will soon learn, it’s never too early to start applying. If you find out you’re moving to London on Monday morning, start researching schools that same day. Almost everyone has a horror story about exams, applications, fees and waitlists. But don’t worry! It’s not always as bad as it sounds – at least it wasn’t for us. Here’s how I organized our search:

1) English schools

We ruled out English schools early on in our process for a few reasons. First, we were really keen on a French/bilingual school. Second, one of our daughters would have transferred in at Year 6 – the year when students prepare for and take the exams that dictate which secondary school they will get into. Many say that Year 6 can be a difficult year of test taking and we thought it might make for a rocky transition. That being said, I’ve since learned about some pretty amazing English day schools.

Oh! I should mention this: When Brits say public school, they mean independent, fee-based schools (what we call private schools here in the US). I have no idea why they do this, but it seems intentionally confusing. Here are a few links if you decide to go the English school route:

2) International Schools

These are schools that cater to expats and/or international students.  The American School of London, in particular, has a good reputation. We took a tour and were impressed with a lot of what they offer. Ultimately, we wanted a bilingual program so we went in a different direction.

If you decide to go the international school route, I highly recommend applying early and taking a tour or the school (when school is in session). You will learn a great deal about the school’s philosophy and personality. Here are some international schools in London to get you started:

3) French Schools

They say London is France’s sixth largest city – so it’s no surprise that the Lycée in South Kensington has been over-subscribed for years. New French schools are FINALLY opening and/or expanding to fill the demand. Nonetheless, you should do your research and apply early and often. (Also- check the OFSTED reports. Some schools may be growing too fast.)

Primary Schools (end at Grade 5):


P.S. Whatever you decide – apply early! And apply to a few backups!

P.P.S. For what’s it worth, our top choice (and we got in!) was L’école Internationale Franco-Anglaise. My #2 choice probably would’ve been Ecole Jeannine Manuel.

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Cheers to London

London Scouting Trip

A few weeks ago, we took the kids on scouting trip to London in preparation for our upcoming move – and wow! What a great trip! If I had any hesitation about moving to London (I didn’t), this trip won me over. Our main priorities for the week were to visit potential schools and check out some neighborhoods…. But we also left plenty of time to visit with friends and explore the city!

The biggest news of all is… we found a school for the girls!  L’école Internationale Franco-Anglaise is a bilingual school (french/english) in the center of London in a neighborhood called Marylebone. The school’s philosophy is similar to the girls current school, so it felt like a good fit. We took a tour of the school and LOVED it. Dan and I were impressed by the friendly staff, the bilingual curriculum and the arts & music programs. The girls loved: iPads for everyone, recess at Regents Park, and field trips to Belgium!

We also spent a lot of time exploring neighborhoods and looking at different houses. We found so many charming neighborhoods we’d be happy to call home. Hopefully we’ll find something close to the school…? Marylebone, maybe?

Both girls are super active and passionate about their respective sports. So we made time to look for a new ballet studio and soccer team. I didn’t expect to nail this down – but we had great luck! Sophia fell in love with Central Ballet School (and got in!) and Sasha tried out for Kinja FC – and made the team! I’m so proud of them both for putting themselves out there and just going for it!

But the real highlight of the week was the warm welcome we received from our friends and family. I feel so lucky to have them in my life! We haven’t even moved yet and I feel like these families have our back.

P.S. Our happy home video…

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