If you’re hoping to find your dream home in France this year, the COVID restrictions on movement have been rather an obstacle, but the french government have just changed their border rules and travellers from the UK and America can now enter France without having to quarantine.
With so much pent-up demand, we are anticipating a very busy summer and rural, character properties are already selling quickly. The days of researching specific properties in detail and having a carefully prepared short-list to view before you set foot in France is unlikely to work this summer, as the properties will sell before you get there. However, if you are planning a trip with a view to buying a house in France, there is plenty you can do to prepare in advance, so that you can efficiently make the most of your time once you arrive in France.
Of course, researching what kind of property you can get for your budget in different areas is essential. Getting into the level of detail such as heating systems and drainage etc is probably not a valuable use of your time at this stage. In the time between now and your trip, many properties will sell and other new ones will come on the market. Dialling down on the 'nitty gritty' only really becomes relevant when you're in the final stages of selecting which properties to prioritise.
There is lots of more valuable information you can collect from the comfort of your armchair that will mean that when you do get to France, your trip is as productive as possible.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION…….
As important as the house itself are the local town and villages, the surrounding scenery and amenities. You might find your perfect dream home, but if it’s right next to a motorway and a poultry farm, you’re unlikely to go for it. You might already know where you want to go, but for many the draw for buying in France is love of the lifestyle, culture, countryside and space. France is a huge country and it can be tricky to hone in on specific search areas. Here’s a few ways to help narrow it down:
Better weather is one of the key reasons many people want to spend more time in France. The south of France is indeed very hot in summer. It’s important to consider whether you would actually enjoy the very hot weather on a permanent basis. What is lovely for pool lounging, is perhaps not so pleasant when you have to go to work or study for school.
Many areas of France have more extreme weather than the UK. So whilst it’s generally warmer and sunnier in the summer, it can also be extremely cold in winter.
If you’re looking for a second home for somewhere to go to effectively shorten the winter months, it’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t have to go south for the sunshine. For example, the Charente-Maritime in western France often claims to be the third sunniest area of France. Similarly, the Morbihan area of Brittany and Vendée in the Pays de la Loire have similar microclimate benefits.
Is the ability to return the UK regularly, or for friends and family to visit important? The northern areas of France and proximity to channel crossings are a popular choice for just this reason, but in the era of COVID, areas with good access to TGV train stations are becoming more popular.
You can get a good indication of travel times and prices between London and TGV stations in France here:
And a TGV route map is a useful resource
Carefully considering what amenities you need is obviously high up on the list of things to consider. France has so many beautiful villages and towns, but if you are looking to move to France on either a permanent or semi-permanent basis it may be important to find the ones that have shops and amenities that are useful for residents, rather than places that are flooded with tourists in the summer with lots of souvenir shops.
Schools, hospitals, wild swimming spots, leisure lakes, good walking trails. Think about what will be important for you to do while you are there and the amenities you will need nearby.
There is a really useful website here - it gives a good overview of towns and villages worthy of note in areas across France. It’s a useful resource for picking out towns to explore in more detail.
How did we exist without google maps? Google maps and street view is an invaluable resource for getting an idea of a town or village. However, it is important to look at the date in the bottom right hand corner that shows when the car went through town. In some cases, it can be over 10 years ago.
For many clients, a good internet connection is fairly high up on the list of priorities. The french government has set an ambitious target that every residential property will have a minimum of 30Mbps by the end of 2022. COVID may have set them back slightly, but there is a really useful map of internet speeds available in different areas in France - you can really zoom in with remarkable detail:
COMMUNITY, ACTIVITIES & FRIENDSHIP
If you are on Facebook, there are lots and lots of community groups across France where you can get a good idea of what’s going on in a certain area.
If you’d like to play more golf while in France, this link is useful for finding courses in different areas as well as getting an idea of it’s grading etc:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PLANS
We'd love to hear all about your plans! If you find yourself with a spare moment and a cup of tea in hand, do give us a call and talk through your thoughts so far and we can discuss your property search criteria, the pro's and cons of different areas of France and help come up with a plan of action as you prepare for a viewing trip. If time is a little more pressing, you can give us a general overview of your plans via the link below and we can get the ball rolling on your behalf:
BLOGS, & SOCIAL MEDIA
There are a a wealth of resources out there from expats in France writing about their french lives in the form of blogs and social media posts. If you can find a couple of authors that resonate with you in an area you’re interested in, you may find really useful information on places to consider or discount. Here are a some examples to check out:
Get finances sorted, you are in a much stronger position to negotiate if you are in a position to proceed quickly.
The fluctuating exchange rates can have such an impact on your budget. However, it is possible to manage the risk and fix a rate so you know exactly how much money you will have when it comes to considering making an offer on a property. To find out more, click here.
For international buyers, there tends to be a minimum lend of €100,000. If you do not want to take out that much, most buyers raise the finance in their home country in order to become a cash buyer in France. If you are looking to take out a mortgage in excess of €100,000, do let us know as we can put you in touch with an english-speaking broker that specialises in French mortgages for international clients. Simply click here for more information
THE FRENCH PROPERTY BUYING PROCESS