Help please - the realities of living in France

(anon88981270) #21

I suppose I should confress I’m one of those who have ended up divorced since moving here but I have no idea if I’m in a majority.

(Peter Bird) #23

Running gîtes doesn’t have to be a big business venture. I have a biggish house which was once a large family home with superb views but is now a three bedroomed home upstairs with a two bedroomed gite dowstairs. It’s easy to run, helps pay the bills, keeps me occupied though basically it runs itself and I meet a lot of nice people. It’s in a town with all services and not far from a big city plus airport. I don’t push it too much commercially but find I have a steady stream of visitors of all nationalities.
I’m now planning to move to do other things in my life so it’s on the market if anyone is interested !

(Graham Lees) #24

I think I read somewhere the suggestion that at least 6 months living expenses in reserve is a minimum…

(Barbara Deane) #26

We get ready to open for April but rarely see any one until May.
I spend a lot of time helping clients organise their days out at wine chateaux
and arrange for activities and meals in vineyards. Of course there is no charge
for this.
I like the time which we have without clients being near by but I also enjoy seeing
them have a great time.
We had been planning to leave to slow down…as they say but that is not easy for us.
Hard to find something we would like to live in.
Plus we like our region and our friends here.

(Andy Whitby) #27

Good Morning Paul

We have had our property in Normandy since 2004.

We took early retirement and moved over here on a permanent basis two years ago. Both in our early 60’s

We are in a lucky position of being financially secure due to the sale of my business.

We have known quite a number of couples over the years, who have sold up and moved over here, only to move back 3-5 years later.

From their experience I would offer the following advice

Rent for at least 6 months in the area you wish to live in. Preferably including some winter months for a realistic experience.

Do a realistic financial plan for your first two years assuming income will be limited.

Learn the language, I came over with very little French and for the first year it was quite hard, but you do learn and it does get easier.

Earning a living in France is very hard for anybody who cannot speak fluent French, but I know people that have done it.

If you can afford it do not sell your property in the UK, rent it out for an income. This way you do not burn your boats if things do not work out.

We have joined a local Club d’amitie ( basically an old gits club ! ) We have made a lot of French friends through this. It helps you to integrate, improves your French and we have learnt how to play Balotte.

Be realistic, listen to the advice here, but make your own decision.

Two years on we have no regrets at all.


(anon71231711) #29

I’d be more cautious and go with @andyw’s guideline of 2 years.
Unless you’ve done a lot of preparation upfront or are moving into a house you’ve owned for a while, the first 6 months can be so taken up with the practicalities of settling in and getting your bearings that you don’t have time to think about earning money, you’re too busy spending it!

(Paul Turner) #31

Thank you again for your very interesting and helpful responses.

Everybody says, as I expected, language is one of the main issues I would face.

My main concerns are :-1:Being in a remote area. When we were in France for a couple of months the countryside was wonderful but even to get a pint of milk took nearly an hours journey in a car. We are used to a 2 minute walk with a choice supermarkets round the corner.

2 The winters. I hate the winters in the UK (dark, wet and miserable) but as we live an a reasonably large town there is always something to do. Also, the UK TV helps when the weather is so bad. In a more remote area of France the winter would still be wet (maybe not as wet as UK), dark and miserable but with less to do (although I expect a lot of the works would be done to the property out of season).

3 Making a living out of gites. As I said yesterday we do not expect to be millionaires this time next year but we would need to make sufficient to live on.

(anon71231711) #32

France does also have towns and cities… I chose to live in one.
In fact you’ve put your finger on a mistake Brits often make. Having lived in urban UK they move to rural France and can’t settle and blame France. But that’s absolutely not a France-UK thing, it’s a town-or-country-mouse thing. It would have been just the same if they’d moved to a rural part of the UK, but they would probably have seen the problem coming there so why don’t they see it coming in France? It’s part of the “expectations” that I was burbling on about in my earlier post - if you move somewhere rural, you can’t reasonably expect to be able to continue living an urban lifestyle there.

(David Martin) #34

You have brought up a couple of interesting points. Moving from a town to the countryside could be a bigger shock for some people than moving from England to France. Living in the countryside does not having to mean being remote. I live in the peace and quiet of the countryside but I have a SuperU and a Lidl five minutes away by car and I can walk into the town centre if I want. My aunt who lives in a large town has a much longer trip to her local supermarkets and boulangerie. It’s not as simple as town and country. Winters are also something I’ve never had a problem with. This winter was an exception as it was wet but usually I enjoy winter here as when it’s sunny outside it’s never that cold and I am able to spend a lot of time outside. I also enjoy sitting in front of the poele. I’m not sure why there should be less to do living here than anywhere else. If I want culture I can drive or take the train to one of the large towns half an hour away. Life is what you make it.

(Paul Turner) #35

Hi Anna. We were in Charente and everywhere seemed rural! Beautiful but rural. I have tried to find something suitable in a town or city but anything that may be suitable seems so much more expensive. I would like to stick to a gite(s) rather than a B&B. I want to enjoy life in France not to work 16 hours a day.

(Barbara Deane) #36

You will need to be serious about your rental buisness…otherwise you will not make a living
from it. But you will need to have a decent sized property.
Rentals are mainly from June to end of Sept…if all goes well.
How much can you rent for per week?
times that by 16.
Could you live on that?
What are your essential out goings?
Have you listed them clearly?

(anon71231711) #38

Well, that’s exactly why remote places with few local amenities are cheap… justement because they are remote places with few local amenities, and there’s no market for them amongst the French. And it’s why the “cheaper to live in France than the UK” myth is by and large just that, it’s a myth if you want to maintain the same lifestyle. What you don’t spend on buying the house you spend on travelling hundreds of miles a week just to do things you feel you need to do. If you were used to living a rural lifestyle in the UK then it will work, but “cake and eat it” thinking usually has a flaw :wink:

(Barbara Deane) #39

We settled on here because it is has tourist draw…chateaux and beautiful countryside.
All our friends are so different to each other.
Everything about living here is different.

(David Martin) #40

Is that really the same? I’m afraid I’m with Simon on this.

(David Martin) #42

But where do you draw the line? That’s the trouble.

(stella wood) #45

Jane… I have sent you a message… I too feel your remark is inappropriate to have on our Forum, which is read by all nationalities.

What folk care to say amongst themselves, in the privacy of their own home… or on their own TV… is up to them… but… not here.


(Peter Bird) #46

Well i’m French and i’m offended.

The remark/saying is purile and out of order.

(stella wood) #47

Thank you Jane for removing the offending Posts. Sometimes we can get carried away… and forget that what we write will be read by a wide audience, of all nationalities…

I am sure no-one seeks to cause offense… :relaxed:


(anon71231711) #48

Of course the phrase is still there in all the posts that have quoted it…

(Ann Coe) #49

I have withdrawn mine … I think that Jane understands now how the forum works :slight_smile: