Happy with your choice?

Greetings all,

This is my first post here after introducing ourselves and following your interesting discussions for awhile! My guy who's French and myself who has Irish citizenship have plans to move to the south of France within a year. We would love some of your wisdom on this: first, are you happy with the location you ended up? If you had to do it over, where would you choose? Second, would you use an agent or try go it alone?

Hi Lison and welcome! The question "where would you choose" is one where I have to consciously stop myself dreaming of sea views because that would be my idea of heaven. Anyway, in short, my son and I landed in our location, Haute Vienne, almost by default as it's only me and him so I had a very restricted budget but I knew what we'd need - local schools, doctors etc - so found a house with a garden 3km from a town with most things a youngster would need. This would be your first step - what's on your wish list? So much depends on what you're actually looking for, whether you have family and budget of course.

As to agents vs going it alone, I tried several agents and what a mixed bunch they were, ranging from positively rude to attentive and informative. As it turned out in the end I found our house on a site for private sellers, negotiated a bit and handed it over to the notaire to do the biz. Sorted.

You will always receive the same, sound advice: if you're not familiar with an area then, if possible, rent first. That way you'll get to know the surroundings, the locals, the facilities, what happens in the different seasons and you'll better be able to decide if it's for you.

Good luck with your search - it's an exciting time!

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Hi Lison,

I am a property finder so I shall answer to the second part of your question.

It is not fromage or dessert, it is fromage AND dessert. You must look by yourself and use an agent, even more than one. This will allow you to compare the service provided and sometimes to find the same house at a better price (read my post on this A property investigation , a 75K€ difference in a couple of clicks).

You can also consider hiring a property finder like me. Most traditional estate agents say they will search on your behalf but actually they will present you what they already have in their show window. A property finder (I prefer call myself a facilitator) has no house for sale. He/she will look for a house (or rather, a place) matching your requirements) and will support you during the full process as he ows the seller nothing. He is the buyer's agent.

Dealing directly with the owner might be an option. It is apparently advantageous although a lot of buyers are over valuating their property and stubborn when it comes to negotiating. A lttle help from a middle man is often required, and a property finder can be a facilitator too.

Sorry for advertising a little bit but I thought a professional's opinion might help.


Hi Valerie, thank you and thank you for your reply, my first and from a fellow writer too! Good for you for putting your son's needs first and landing in a spot that seems to suit you both right now. (Who knows? The sea's not going anywhere and maybe in the fullness of time, you will have your dream sea views - just not from the Haute Vienne!;))

You all must get fed up of hearing the same question asked in different ways but it's such a great point of entry for us newbies and I'm one who appreciates other people's experiences and wants to learn from them! Coming form Canada, we're not in a position to maybe make the same kind of reconnaissances as you guys who hail mostly from the UK.

We fell in love with the beautiful open views of the Limousin online and are planning a holiday in that area in July. We've no children to consider as you had to so no need to worry about schools, etc. Pascal has family in Toulouse so it would be ideal to be under a 3 hour drive to there. He's cycling mad so needs a few hills!;) It might be nice to have the option for him to continue as a pastry chef somewhere. Me, I'm in love with that beautiful rural landscape but as a culture vulture and like a lot of you who like the best of both worlds, I'd like to be in striking distance of "civilization" for my fix - in our case, maybe somewhere south of Limoges. We're thinking typical small edge of village house with views.

I've read the popular suggestion about renting which first I resisted (couldn't that money go to the purchase?) but on reflection, the idea does have merit. Thank you for reminding me this is an exciting time as I get so caught up in worrying about making "the right decision" I sometimes forget that this is my beautiful adventure! Lovely to make your acquaintance.

Yes, try to push apprehension and anxiety aside (okay, you can have a little) as it can make enthusiasm wither and excitement fly out the window.

p.s. I adore Canada - backpacked around in my younger days. That was on my potential location list too as I adore BC and the east coast as well but (a) have animals to transport as well as everything else and (b) I'm okay for a tourist visa but I'm not sure they'd let me stay permanently.

Hello Christian,

Thank you so much for your response. I love that: fromage AND dessert! Yes, we have been looking online and it all gets pretty overwhelming. I have noticed the phenomenon of 3 different prices: even for the same house on the same website!!

I wasn't sure if I could go to more than one estate agent at a time (here in Canada that's a bit of a faux pas but we also have MLS - multiple listing service - which makes househunting a somewhat different sport.)

Please do not apologize for promoting yourself: I've just come from your website and it looks like you offer very valuable services as a facilitator of the process. It's also very clever to offer a buffet of options so people can select as much or as little help as they need.

I like the idea of an unbiased searcher (well, biased to my needs hopefully!) and tapping into someone 'on the ground' who is much more knowledgeable about the offerings and idiosyncrasies of an unfamiliar marketplace; so encouraging to know there's a port in the storm! We will do our homework and get clear on our brief. Thank you for reaching out: consider yourself in our "French House File"!

This is me: b-r-e-a-t-h-i-n-g!!! ;)

I love my country but the price of houses here is crazy. I live in a condo (on the 3rd floor) and long to walk out French doors to a wee bit of garden! BC is 'supernatural' as it calls itself but also a lot of changes there since your backpacking days and not all positive I'm sorry to say...Also, it's only a matter of time 'til the earthquake and tsunami! Ha ha! Seriously though, everywhere has its pros and cons.

I have a cat (well she has me, you know cats ;)) and I'm completely neurotic about the idea of hauling her furry butt so far away to France! She's already a rescue from Mexico (yes we do have stray cats in my city but she adopted me!) and bringing her here was stressful enough!! Apparently, there are people who can help with the process.

All things being equal, we believe that France (in the area we're considering) can offer a better quality of life at less cost, opportunity to better quality food and the ability to grow your own easily due to climate and access to better cheese. ;)

I'm not sure how it works for folks wanting to come into Canada now - Pascal was offered a pastry chef job at the time (mid 2000s) and that is how he got into the country.

You, my lady, are going to love it. You have the right combination of positive outlook, sense of adventure and sense of humour. You're ready. Yeah, there will be lumps and bumps but I think you'll simply accept that as part of the process and push on - or push open those doors on a bright, sunny morning, hear the birds singing and the tractors growling and just b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Glorious.

Hi Lison,

Thanks for your kind words. Feel free to contact me privately even for a (free) advice if you are in need. I think that customer and could-be-customer service is critical.

Kind regards,


Ha! You're a sweetheart Valerie! If people are as nice as you I'm looking forward to the special friends I'm going to make too! Is my dream really possible?? It's hard to imagine you've all done it on your terms - there's such a romance about France and the French countryside that I have to remember there might be mice and snakes - gulp!! Hence the 3 cats??? I will keep my mind on those open French doors and those birds singing-even the odd tractor growl will be music after the steady noise of fire engine sirens, patrolling helicopters, planes, constant traffic and crazy people yelling on the street at night! Muscat at apero hour alongside the tarte au citron Pascal has made! Heaven!!:)

We definitely will feel free to make contact. I could see how a lot of precious time could be saved with your assistance because I tell you, I won't be looking at 60 houses like some folks have claimed here! Where are you located? Do you specialize in certain areas? Do you need your client to have a certain budget in order to work with you?

....because I tell you, I won't be looking at 60 houses like some folks have claimed here!

Lets hope you don't come to regret that statement.

Ha ha! I hope so too, please God! :) Don't tell me - you got it right on house #59?? ;) I'm teasing you know! Maybe there are reasons unbeknownst to an amateur like me about these things???

if he is mad keen cyclist, I guess he knows that tour de France is coming through this way soon , I think July-ish???

We came here from Australia so also couldn't recce first. What we did was buy car and caravan in UK and drive round the rough areas we wanted and stay in, each looking at houses. We ended up in small Haute Vienne town which is not at all touristy - (great to live rather than just visit!) but has all the facilities we need. Easy (walk/cycle) access to beautiful contryside, half an hour to Limoges airport yet I can walk to supermarket/doctor/hospital. I guess what I am saying is dont only look at places that are super trendy/touristy. At the end of the day, if you are anything like us, you want to escape the crowds and go home somewhere quiet that gives you everything you need. We did it mostly by looking on line and then contacting whichever agent had the listing of the look of the house. Most of them asked us what we wanted and suggested some more but first contact was made in relation to "house number xyz on your site". In the end we didn't choose this town, we chose the house as we fell in love with it - but it certainly wasnt what we thought we were looking for!

Hi Lorraine, nice to meet you! Yes, Pascal knows about the tour for sure! We will be in the area at the right time too. :)

Thank you for sharing your story. Wow! All the way from Oz!! We've only half the way to go coming from Canada and I think that's far!! Sounds like Australia and Canada have a bit in common regarding the cost of living. Big young countries with a different set of challenges than Europe!

Yes! Yes! You're exactly right! What you've done is right up our alley - somewhere quiet and peaceful away form the madding crowd - yet still close to a larger city for opera, cinema, etc - and your system of looking makes great sense. Isn't it so true that sometimes the house picks you?! I can't believe how many sites there are!! I'm still discovering new sites after ages of snooping...would you be able to recommend your site(s) of preference?

It's funny, we've been watching too much of "Escape to the Country" online - a great English show about people (with hefty budgets) looking for real estate in England. Now we just need to find a show like that about France!! We've learned a bit from looking at that program and that is often people end up with a house that they distinctly said they wouldn't want (i.e. They wanted modern but bought old, hated beams but ended up with beams everywhere, wanted land but bought a converted church with none, etc.)

Definitely it's all about location but you do have to balance head with heart as they say! And I for sure dream of a lovely little home that makes my heart sing! Are you south of Limoges? They say it looks very English Lake Districty around that area of the Limousin?

No we are north of Limoges, country town called Bellac. You can see our place on http://www.bellacmaison.com/. Pic attached of hubby in the garden (2 acres of it!). We love it here! No way could we afford a house like this in UK or Australia - it would be worth ten times as much!! We still love Aus and will probably end up back there but we missed the history we have here, and Aus is now getting very expensive to live. We were driving through country lanes today - we said they were just like old English lanes - winding, hilly, grassy, hedged, narrow lanes with little bridges over streams, but without the traffic!

Yes, very happy here at 40240 Losse !

Hi Lison,

I am sorry I did not see you "permalink" yesterday. To answer your questions we specialize in the areas where our customers (Most of them UK) are searching for houses mostly. That means West, South West and East.

There is not threshold for hiring us but we try to help people save more money (less travels, less viewings, larger price reduction) that they pay us. Last but not least, we get paid only when you have found and bought the house. That's the law.

I just sent you a private message with my professional email if you want to be more specific, although I love to speak about myself in front of the whole forum...

Welcome Lison, how nicely you write - to remind us of how grateful we should be for this wonderful opportunity. For me the best thing is being mortgage free, it's taking a while for it to sink in! I chose the Limousin as it's cheaper and I got an amazing house in an old town. It's pretty here and there is a train station in my town which goes up to Paris and down to Toulouse within 3 hours. Also hospital in Brive (30 mins) and the neighbours are very friendly. Great for dog walking, kayaking and we have 2 supermarkets and a cinema and are only minutes from the A20. So I feel pretty lucky. What is the right decision? Make your shopping list, look at the things that are priority for you and the rest will follow. I rented in the area in the cold weather for 5 weeks (AirBnB) and was lucky with a great estate agent and a lovely Notaire so I got the paperwork done in a month as I didn't want to spend on renting and viewing, dog kennels and travelling, when I could do a lot of research online and wanted that money to go towards the house. Best of luck, bon courage as we say.