Greetings from California!

Hello Survivors,
My Name is David and my wife and I are early in the process of buying a house in southern France, somewhat near Toulouse.
I am doing as much research as I can, and we are trying to go into this process with our eyes open. Still, it is early, so I have many questions…
We are searching for a house that can be rented most of the time and visited by friends and family once a year or so until we retire, which is less than ten years off. We do not want to sink our life’s savings into this home, and indeed, it needs to “carry its own weight” financially, at least for a while. Our hope is to keep the cost of the house and renovations to less than 175k euros, so that we do not need to ask for as large of an amount per night for renters in order to cover the carrying cost of the home.
My hope is to find something with at least one other building on the property that can be made into an apartment for a caretaker that can live there full time, while the main house remains available for the purpose described above.
I understand that any renovation is costly – ranging from 450 euros to over 100 euros per square meter. What I am wondering is more about the potential of finding a caretaker. Is it something some of you have done? I was thinking that we would have to offer the space for the caretaker on a rent-free basis. Is that an attractive enough incentive for having to occasionally check people in/out?
Or is this all just wishful thinking? Even if it is, I would love to gain the perspective of those that have made the leap. Any feedback will be welcomed.


1 Like

Hi David,
I should think that finding a suitable caretaker should not be beyond the realms of possibility. Fifteen years ago I would have seriously considered your proposition myself. Obviously the number of applicants you get will depend on the perceived value of the benefit of the accomodation to the caretaker, compared to the type of duties that you wish to have undertaken.
Presumably the caretaker will be needed to do such things as cleaning, changing bed linens, and cutting the grass / keeping the grounds tidy, as well as acting as keyholder and ‘welcoming concierge’ for the property, so it will probably be somewhat more than just ocassionally checking people in and out.
Good luck.

Hi Robert,
thanks for the reply. You are right – ideally, this person would be willing to do those things as well. Any pointers about where to search for someone to take on this role? We have friends in a village near where we are looking, so I was going to start there. But are there websites in France that are a good place to post this type of “job”? Here in the States we use Craigslist.

Strictly speaking, accommodation in return for work is a no-no from the taxman’s point of view as it bypasses tax and social security payments. People do it and I’m not necessarily advising you not to, but one does need to be aware of the rules, even if one then decides they’re too silly to bother about. A potential issue is that with no social contributions being made, your caretaker may not be covered by state healthcare if he were to have an accident whilst working, say falling off a ladder. If you take someone on on an “unofficial” basis, make sure they have adequate insurance.


Hi Anna,
Great point. I could charge rent and pay the person and then be in compliance, I suppose.
My broader question remains about how to find such a person. Have any of you done this? Where do you look for tradespeople? Is there a website that the French use to post/find jobs?


It depends on the size of the property and the amount of income that you generate from it. It would have to pretty unique however if you were able to earn enough money from a gite to allow you to pay a live in manager and still come out on top.
A better approach might be to employ an agent who has several properties on their books who would take responsibility for the property and employ cleaners/changeover staff, gardeners, pool maintenance, electricians, plumbers etc as and when they were required. Again this service would not be cheap.
I think that what you are probably looking for are housesitters, and although these do exist I’m not sure how official they are and how much ‘work’ they are prepared to do in addition to keeping the property neat and tidy. The best way to find people offering this service would to be to place adverts and start discussions on as many English language, French forums as you can.

1 Like

There was someone offering DIY / maintenance for lodgings on SurviveFrance recently. I think it was on a thread about living in France but not speaking French.
If you can connect you may have a match

Good luck,

Hi David, Ray,
Thanks very much for responding – I appreciate it! My hope is to find a property with a nice setting and multiple buildings. While renovating (or at least modernizing as much as possible), at least one of those buildings would be made into living quarters for such a person – caretaker, house-sitter, or whatever description you might give them. I would hopefully rent the “main house” often enough to more than cover the expense. My hope for the "apartment is that it is attractive enough to a protective “tenant/caretaker” that they would enjoy living there and provide the more basic services – mow the lawn, do the laundry, check people in/out, as described in a post before this one.
I would try to locate near enough to our friends (whom I should have mentioned are French) so that I would at least have some local leads on tradespeople and also help with the language when needed. My three semesters of French in university are of almost no use to me now, so I will be starting from scratch, language-wise, although our son attends a French school here in the States and his fluency and accent were repeatedly praised by many different French people during a recent visit.
Ray, I had not seen an area on the Survive France website for hiring/seeking people, but that is likely due to me just joining. I will dig around a lot more, and see where it leads. I found, but am too unfamiliar with it to see if it is a good resource for such a search. If there are other places that I should be looking, I would love to know about them.

Thanks Again,

You could try a house sitting website such as

My advice would be to also look at properties that are ‘ready to go’ and that may only require a fresh lick of paint as renovation costs are insane here (up to 1000 Euros per sqm). You’ll also need to pick an area that tourists/renters are actually going to visit otherwise the house will become a financial drain. I wouldn’t even consider the ‘caretaker’ option as it’s too complicated as has been explained by Anna, get a local gite management company just to deal with any bookings (and check the house regularly) and whatever you do don’t buy somewhere that has a large garden as you’ll have to pay someone a fortune to maintain it!

1 Like

While we’re doing caveats - I imagine you have already looked into the income tax position, but if not you should, to avoid any nasty surprises later. I believe that income from renting out a property in France is always taxable in France, so you would have to make an annual income declaration to the non-residents section of the tax office. I know that the France-UK DTA covers this so that the same income isn’t taxed again in the UK, but I don’t know whether the France-US DTA makes similar provision?


Why not buy something small/cheaper … just to use as a holiday home for you and family… in the interim to your retirement. This would remove the need to rent it out (with all the complications that that entails).

This holiday home could then be used as a stepping-stone to something else when the time comes… and if you still want something bigger…

I would recommend something not isolated…neighbours can be useful when a property is left empty… can find peace and quiet without becoming a hermit. :wink:

Virginians bought a holiday home in the centre of our small village about 15 years ago… they spend 10 weeks a year here…and we residents profit from their efforts as the figs and kiwis ripen after they have gone back…:smile: but we do keep an eye on the place for them… :eyeglasses:

Hi Robert,
Great idea – I will check it out!

Hi Timothy,
I am seeing it the same way. While it is tempting to think of a renovation as being really cool, the reality is that we will need for this property to be productive fairly quickly. To go with a property that is mainly done makes more sense.

Hi Stella,
Great point – although I am concerned about our ability to find a property that is at a low enough price to finance. Definitely agree on the “having neighbors” aspect.

Hi Anna,
I have not looked too deeply into the tax side of things yet, but was aware that generating income in France will trigger taxation. There are some reciprocol measures, but I need to get more specific info.

prices are low at present and there are loads of properties on the market… the buyer is spoiled for choice… :wink: