Why the French are Flocking to Florida

Last updated: 13 June 2023 Views: 7457
Why the French are flocking to Florida

There’s always been a slightly tricky relationship between the French and Americans. Despite being allies in the world wars and never having taken up arms against each other in their military history, the French nevertheless like to maintain an independence of thought which doesn’t always sit well with their American friends. (Anyone remember the Americans renaming ‘French fries’ as ‘Freedom fries’ in a fit of pique after France’s opposition to America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003?)

So it comes as some surprise to discover that there are now thousands of French people who are now either living or investing in real estate in the southern state of Florida. At present there’s more than 30,000 French people residing or owning property in the ‘Sunshine State’ and it looks like that number is set to climb. We talked to French-born entrepreneur and US resident Jacques Luben from Inc. Plan USA about the reasons the French are flocking to Florida.

Euro Start: What is it about Florida that attracts French citizens?

Jacques Luben:  Florida offers a friendly, multicultural environment that openly embraces individuals from every part of the world. Enthusiastic French visitors are accepted into the greater Florida community if they make an active effort to enjoy the local culture as soon as they arrive in the state.

Most Floridians are impressed by Francophone speakers and their concept of the French way of life. This is reflected in the popularity of French art galleries, fashion magazines, restaurants and entertainment. The state is witnessing an expanding French expat population in the cities and these new arrivals enjoy French publications like "French District" that help identify ways to enjoy the state and connect with other members of the French community.

Florida is justifiably renowned for its pleasant weather that is similar to the South of France. Because the temperature is normally warm, the local Florida population does not value excessive formality. There is a "Laissez Faire" attitude about how people dress for business - nothing like New York or Paris.

Long-term French visitors are also pleased that it is relatively easy to make new acquaintances and friends in Florida. Social snobbery is not generally encouraged in Florida. Most newly arrived immigrants aspire to become "American". They frequently send their children to local public schools where their kids can integrate without sacrificing their rich French heritage. And all Florida residents benefit from immediate access to active sports and healthy living. There are thousands of convenient opportunities to participate in boating, tennis, football, water sports golf and many other activities.

Euro Start: How big is the French community in Florida?

Jacques Luben: The French community is fairly large and growing quickly at over 10% per year. The current population is in excess of 30,000 of full time residents. Of course, there is a larger number of French part-time residents who move to Florida several months a year because they own one (or more) properties that they occupy in the winter months. These properties can be profitably rented out during the balance of the year and can be excellent long-term investments that can also be enjoyed by family members.

Euro Start: Which areas in Florida are the most popular for French citizens?

Jacques Luben: Greater Miami, Florida West Coast (Tampa, Naples) and the Orlando.area. In many parts of Florida, particularly in Miami, Orlando and Tampa, the locals are pleased to absorb French arrivals who bring their skills, energy, capital and sophistication to the state. This friendly attitude may not be prevalent in areas where there is poverty and xenophobia - the Florida Panhandle for example.

Euro Start: Do the French people come from a particular area in France (Paris for instance?) or do they come from all over France?

Jacques Luben: Although they come from many parts of France, many of the new arrivals are from the South of France because they enjoy the similarities in climate and mentality. There are also many young French entrepreneurs who want to operate in Florida because it is easy to launch their company in a business-friendly jurisdiction with modest taxation and limited bureaucracy.

florida real estateEuro Start: What are the property prices in Florida like compared to France?

Jacques Luben: Housing options are abundant in most parts of the state. There are many residential choices at different price points. You do not need to be wealthy in order live well. The neighbourhood you select largely determines how costly your living arrangements are. Typically, the closer you reside to different bodies of water, the more expensive your property will be.

Just like in France, the cost of real estate is high in densely populated, prosperous cities like Miami. Condos that are close to the water or in gated communities can also be expensive but still cheaper than in France.

For individuals who do not wish to spend very much, there are inexpensive options. There are many Florida listings for affordable property ownership. These include small condos/rentals. attached townhouses, decent sized one-family houses in second tier neighbourhoods.

Euro Start: When French citizens buy in Florida, is it just for a holiday home, an investment or do they buy to then let it out to other holiday makers? 

Jacques Luben: It depends on their budget and inclination. A modestly priced condo allows you to enjoy your property without renting to strangers during your absence. However, if you believe that a larger, more elegant property has considerable profit potential it may be better to "buy big" and lease it out very carefully for a portion of each year. For this approach you will need an excellent leasing agent.

For more information about relocating to the USA or setting up a business in America, along with any other issues including opening bank accounts, or obtaining EIN numbers and visas, please contact us on 0033 (0)1 53 57 49 10 or email us from our contact page and we’ll be happy to help. 

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