Considering France

(Mark Robbins) #41

Like us, you have probably seen a lot of British immigrants come and go over the years. It seems that those with a “safety net” are the ones that don’t really put their heart into the change of lifestyle needed to live in many parts of France, and these are the ones that “fail”, and run back to the UK when things don’t always go right.
Sometimes it’s good to live a little closer to the edge😎

(Sandra Shadrach) #42

Hi Mark,

Totally agree that you need to work hard to achieve your dream, nothing is handed to you on a plate - tenacity and a good sense of humour and a love of the simple things is essential! The love of a good sunset, or autumn leaves, makes life anywhere a real pleasure…

I was not thinking of a personal safety net, more the one offered to you by the social services, free healthcare is something we take for granted, along with state financial aid to those in difficulty- neither of these will be available to this family, who will have to pay for their own healthcare.

Self-sufficiency is a very variable thing. This year we got 35 litres of wonderful golden olive oil this year, and could have had more if we had gone for more of the higher fruits. Two years ago we had no olives at all, a problem shared by most owners of olive trees in the region. Feast and famine do face small time farmers as conditions change from year to year… wild boar have decimated part of our garden twice now, so the local wildlife will take their share of anything you do manage to grow!

A bad harvest for us is sad, we are not used to buying olive oil, but we do have the funds to go and buy some in the supermarket, and we don’t sell our excess, we give it to friends and family. A different picture if that harvest had been our only source…


(Anna Watson) #43

If you try something and decide it’s not what you wanted, why is that “failing”? I’ve never regarded moving to France as a test that you either pass or fail. I moved here because it was something I’d had my eye on doing ever since I was a teenager, and as it happens it’s worked out better than I expected. Yes there have been some challenges but I persevered and got through them, and the reason I chose to do that because I was keen enough on staying to feel it was worth the effort. But if I hadn’t been happy in France, why would I have chosen to struggle on miserably if I didn’t see much prospect of things ever turning out as I’d originally hoped? I wouldn’t have been too proud to say hey ho, I’m glad I gave it a whirl but the experience has shown me that actually, France is not for me. Like everyone I’ve seen Brits come and go, but I don’t regard the ones that go back as failures; the ones I feel sorry for are the ones who would like to go back but are stuck here trying to sell up. For me, it’s about choices and keeping your options open, not making one decision and ruling out ever being able to change your mind.

It’s like relationships isn’t it. Staying together because you make each other happy is good, staying in a bad relationship because you have nowhere else to go is not good. IMHO.

(Mark Robbins) #44

Anna, I absolutely agree with you, “fail” was meant loosely, but the point I was making is that because there is that safety net, not as much effort is put in to " making a go of it".

(Anna Watson) #45

Well I guess that varies from person to person. I’ve learned from experience that I function better when I have choices. If I’m doing something because it’s what I’ve decided I want to do, and I’m keen to succeed but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t, that’s positive stress. I feel I’m doing it for me and it gives me a buzz and keeps me motivated. When I’m in a situation where I have to do something because my back’s against the wall and I have no choice, that’s negative stress and I resent it. I suppose what it comes back to being a bit of a control freak - I’m happy to put pressure on myself but I hate it when I’m put under pressure from outside. If I want to achieve something, I try my damnedest and the only reason I would give up is if it turns out not to be possible or if I decide it’s not worth the effort any more. In either of those cases I would prefer there to be a safety net there than not.

(Rick Hopkinson) #46

Hi mate,
Like your style, my wife and I bought a house in the ‘Real South of France’ about 5 years ago and we made it all the way from New Zealand! I’m thinking you might like a little more warmth than the usual British one day of summer. So suggest you look around our way. Languedoc or Occitane as it is known now, is beautifully unspoilt unlike some of the nouveau riche areas of Provence. There’s a superb micro climate triangle around the Beziers area north that gives us 300 days of blue sunny skies (great for veggies) and housing is still comparatively cheap (our French neighbour sold a do up for 45k euros the other day). There’s work to be had for someone like you who is prepared to roll up their sleeves and give it a go.
Go for it you will not be disappointed. Just respect the French and their way of doing things its actually quite good fun.

(Terry O'Rourke) #47

I have seen great houses on GREEN ACRES FOR between 10 to 30 thousand GO for it !

(Harry Fawcett) #48

@SandraFrance I am in an are with very few ex pats. Most of the english round me hate the term ex pat. I am an Immigrant and most of the people who are english that i know also see them selves as Immigrants. I personally find the term antiquated and just down right snobbish but heyho thats me. Im my village I am the only Welsh/english/ UK person here. I am actually quite happy with that. Around 75% of my english clients travel over 90 minutes to come to me because (without blowing my own trumpet) I am amazing at what I do even if my people skills have a great deal to be desired.

Tonight coming home from dropping my daughter at music i passed a neighbour (he lives about 2 and a half km from us) and immediately reversed my car and got out said hi and proceeded to help him lift a old metal plough onto his trailer he is also been helping us (he just turned up last week taking stuff to the dump and the metal dealer for us. They are a very friendly bunch of french round us.

Im quite lucky as my income is pretty good and I use a legal hotel system for my dog bookings and send out double factures to everyone as required. No point working in the black for me it is not worth risking my business over although allot there are quite a few french and english ran kennels and catteries who not only work on the black also have no legal licence to even be running kennels or catteries. (for us its not an issue as while some have tried to oprate a bi like us no one has come close as yet.

Yes I was close to going back to England fr work and while I was coming for holidays here, I was given medical discharge from NHS mental health due to a severe injury received from a patient, went home after the discharge spoke to my wife and said. Okay instead of 2018 why dont we go now to live in france. 2 months later I was here with my kids and 6 weeks after that my wife joined us, that was 2013 and i have not been back to england since that day.

We had far less that 50k when we arrived and while my partner got work almost instantly I had my medical money. My biggest issue was I was fast becoming bored having worek all of my life from 16. obviously allot has changed now with brexit and who knows what the future holds.

(Harry Fawcett) #49

I will always remember the what i call “chicken inspector” coming to my house.

I had been here around 3 months at the time and people kept giving me chickens… I soon had lots of babies and not so little babies and my 5 chickens had become over 40!! Guy turned up and informed me if I had 20 or more I needd sme form a licence and tests and he proceeded to get me to put them in the chicken house id built counting them. I was at 18 and still over half left out… In my broken awful french i aked him did I need to continue… Yes he replied…

My wife then arrived with my farmer neighbour (hed given me loads of the chickens), he told the guy, these re my chickens, the bloke just ripped up the paperwork and we all went in for a coffee. Had the french not tuned up i think id have been in serious trouble.

Same for my AE business. I was sitting there filling out all the paperwork and my wife came in and the lady says to my wife, “Your french?” my wife says yes of course. The lady took all the paperwork id spent the best part of an hour filling in and ripped them up gave my wife new different paperwork and proceeded to help her fill it in and telling her put that here we can get him better tax rats for 3 years and fill this in and we can get him a nice grant…

So yes the french do give pref treatment to their own who can blame them.

I love it here though. where we live im the only native english speaker and thats the way I like it.

(Leo Vanderpot) #50

Great discussion. I’m 85 years old and live in the USA, but that dream of moving to France is still in my head. Thanks for reviving it.

To add my two cents, I want to suggest two writers who are rewarding to read, even if they do not give you up to the minute advice on how to get from the UK to France without headaches. The magnet of France is powered by its culture – and a promise of something that it would take a better writer than I am to define.


Pulitzer-prize winning poet W.S. Merwin traces the origins of the troubadours in 12th century Provance as he relates his own experience as a frequent visitor to southern France in this striking memoir, “The Mays of Ventadorn,” (National Geographic Directions),
2002. One of the century’s great American poets, turns his lyrical eye to the legacy of the Troubadours of southern France. It is a very personal exploration, as he shares with the reader his love of the French countryside and of the old farmhouse that became his home for decades.


British writer David Goulson describes his book, A Buzz In The Meadow: “ Twelve years ago, I bought this little farm in the middle of nowhere in rural France. It’s in a region called the Charente which is roughly halfway down France, about 70 miles from the west coast. It was a rundown old house, not habitable by any normal standards, with a 33-acre field of what had been arable wheat, so pretty boring country biologically. Ever since, I’ve been turning it into a wildflower meadow, which isn’t easy. It wouldn’t rival the finest flowery grasslands in the world, but it’s been rewarding to watch it slowly change."

(Jonathan Badger) #51

It doesn’t really avoid the “strict regs”. If works are carried out they should comply with the regs in force at the time - books are available. The CONSUEL inspection doesn’t actually cover all the regs - it is more of a safety check that includes certain bits of the evolving regs.
The golden rule is to not skimp during a renovation as this always leads to regrets later (this applies to many areas, insulation especially). You also have to consider resale. Whatever you may think now situations change & you might want to sell in a few year’s time - a properly restored property will have a wider market than one that is, shall we say, quirky…

(Fay Gotting) #52

Are you fully bilingual? Otherwise, it will be from the frying pan into the fire! Good Luck.

(John Wellum) #53

You do not say how much experience you already of France, your confidence with diy and your command of French, whether you still have an income flow e.g pension. If you have children french inheritance law is very different from the UK
You can stay upto 3 months “on holiday”. Any longer and you need a permit - I am sure other subscribers can provide more info.
Consider carefully the balance between rural and remote!
The Rhone valley is an expensive area
Some maries have allotments for rent, you may find neighbours who will let you work their land. Understand the water supply for your crops.
Do not expect day to day living to be cheaper. It is not. nor if you need to modernize for it to be cheap. French artisans are expensive. Materials in France are more expensive - as an example I bought masonary paint from B&Q £23 but 55euro in Brico Depot (also in the Kingfisher empire) exactly the same 12l can. I am sourcing from the UK, Spain France and Belgium but the french artisans are reluctant to install components that they have not sold you.
You may find sourcing “heavy” garden equipment e.g rotorvators from the UK cheaper, I have.
You will gain a beautiful countryside, probably a milder climate. In your messuage you will have the rural tranquilty. Put rubber onto a road and things change. You may wish to research Portugal and Spain

(Paul Turpin) #54

Messuage. Nice word.

(Harry Fawcett) #55

Totaly. I threw myself in the deep end. We had talked of coming over at a later date but after essentially loosing my job for health reasons I was without the job that I loved and it was the only thing holding me to England.

Packed up and less than 2 months later we were here with all our worldly goods. For my wife who is french she was so happy to be home and while when the reality of me not having a job here set in and i got a bit down the life here kept me going.

The big problem is work. Im lucky I landed on my feet after fostering several pogs and being told about a business that was up for grabs and while it was not a thriving business it was up and running. Now 2 years later we have a mortgage and a new house and place of business and a thriving business. For me im very rough around the edges and my people skills are crap but people know my animal skills with dogs are amazing which is why I get so much custom.

My biggest advice is make sure you can survive here and get a trade as unless you have excellent french you are going to struggle to get employment. Even with french it could be difficult and if your going self employed. make sure to do research and get the advice and paperwork done early as it is a bloody long winded process at times.

I wish you all the best whatever you choose to do with your future.

(Leo Vanderpot) #56

Guessed it was a type of French sausage, but looked it up and found out how wrong I was.