Help please - the realities of living in France

(stella wood) #50

I am relying on the folk who have quoted the offending phrase… to remove it from their own posts.

Surely I don’t have to nag everyone… :upside_down_face:


(Catharine Higginson) #51

Actually no one needs to nag anyone to remove anything.

I would have posted earlier as this discussion clearly needed some intervention from James or myself, but he was otherwise occupied and I was in a classroom.

I didn’t take any offence whatsoever at the initial comment. Like Anna, it made me giggle and the poster was clearly saying ‘don’t hold those stereotypical attitudes’ (or you won’t make life in France work).

I fail to see what is offensive about that. And Simon, if you are offended on behalf of your family, then grow a thicker skin :slight_smile:

I’m actually more upset that a relatively new member has been ‘told off’ in such a manner. SF is a place for adults and overt intervention from admins or other members has never been part of the gig and we intend for it to remain that way.


(David Martin) #52

Well it’s good to hear the official response to such a delicate subject. Grow a thicker skin! Now I’ve heard it all.

(Catharine Higginson) #53

You certainly haven’t! There’s plenty more that I could say :slight_smile:

(Simon Armstrong) #54

Oh well I know where I stand Catharine - you’re obviously a lot thicker skinned than me :wink: I know you’ve never been a ‘fan’ but it’s a shame you feel the need to have an ‘overt’ pop at me on your ‘adult’ forum.

Are you seriously saying that members are not permitted to express offence at comments made? I think JJ’s comment was offensive, you don’t - so where does that leave us? She’s allowed to say whatever she wants and I’m not?

(Catharine Higginson) #55

Not ‘having a pop ‘ at all Simon. And you have absolutely no idea whether or not ‘I’m a fan’ !
And yes, I do have a fairly thick skin. Growing up with one white brother and one black one does that for you :slight_smile:

(Simon Armstrong) #56

Jolly good. You know what ? JJ was absolutely right - I’m just too sensitive. But hey - given the choice, I’m happy with that :slight_smile:

(Monica Moriyasu) #57

Paul, we are kiwis now in the process of moving our lives to the Charente near Cognac. We are retired, but run our NZ business remotely as this is possible for us to do. We had also thought about running gites as income here, but we have decided against that. We are in the process of purchasing our new to us home, having signed the Compris de vente, and also in the middle of getting a bank account, insurance for home and new vehicle etc. We came here the knowledge that things would take time, much paperwork and patience. We knew it might be stressful to a degree, and it has been, and despite having done plenty of homework, we didn’t know it all…how can you! We just know that when we need help, we get it. Being open to new things, being friendly and using as much French language as we can (my husband can read a lot but doesn’t speak much at all) and having a HUGE sense of humour (mostly about ourselves) helps no end.
We have bought a home that was previously rented out as a holiday let. Because we dont need the four bedrooms, and it is beautifully set up for guests, we may do Chambre d’hote during the summer season. We love welcoming guests, and I have a background in the hospitality industry, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hardship, and we dont need the income.
We have spent the past four years doing house -sits in France for long periods, as our visa allows. We have used this time to discover where we might want to live. We initially thought we would want to live in Britany, which we love, but the color of the houses there made everything look grey in winter…we always house sit out of season…from Sept thru Christmas, and again January through April. We thought that if we love France in the off season, we would love it any time. This has proven true. We spent time in our previous house sit on the Dordogne Creuse Limousin border and decided it was too far east and too cold for our liking. We are currently house sitting at the Dordogne Charente border, and our forays into the Charente, and particularly the Cognac areas with vines told us that we had found our happy place.
We were looking for a more moderate climate and did much research into sunshine hours, how close to water/canals/rivers/ocean we were, and what kind of village would suit us. We have found our ideal place in a Hamlet 1.5 km walk either by road, or down through the vines, from a village where there is a bar/restaurant/food store, Boucherie/charcuterie, Boulangerie/patisserie and P.O. Everything we might want on a casual basis. Our major supermarket is 9kms away, and we have easy access to major hospital just 36kms away. As we age, these things are important. Just a few ideas, and why w e have chosen a life in france. We look forward to making local friends and learning more language and about fitting in. We will never be French, but we choose to live their lifestyle. I guess it helps that I worked here back in the 80’s and fell in love with France back then:)
Preparation is everything. My husband and I have lived together on our motor yacht 24/7 for the past 5 years (in the USA) and prior to that we worked our own business together, so are rarely apart. We like it that way! If you and your wife have differing views on t he kind of life you want to make here, then I highly suggest you do some long term house sitting to find out how you can find a common ground, before you commit. We dont pay rent, but we do look after properties for our hosts, and leave them better than when we arrived . It has worked well for us in our long term quest towards living permanently in France.

(Simon Armstrong) #58

@Kelfish going back to your original post Paul - it’s all doable! You’ve been given some really good advice on here and the only thing I’d reiterate is RENT first! :slight_smile: Sure, there are hoops to jump through but then that would be the case in any big move from one country to another. Stay focused on your dream, be positive, ask for help and don’t forget to enjoy yourself at some point every day!! The language thing can be a big deal - but don’t let it be - presumably it wasn’t when you learnt English!! Just let it soak it and don’t worry about mistakes. I’m fluent so maybe I don’t fully appreciate the difficulties but all I know is, my wife’s French improved 10 fold when she stopped trying - and wasting money on French lessons!!! Do what you need to do - life’s too short and we can always find a reason NOT to do something :slight_smile: Best of luck!

(Tim Clark) #59

Please don’t take this the wrong way Paul. Why the fascination with running Gites ? There are a thousand and one ways to make a living, from consultancy work for uk companies from your home in France to setting up a small market style business (which would probably turn over the same as 2 or 3 Gites). The biggest reason I saw over the 14 years I lived in France for failure to stick it out, is a fascination with buying a large OLD property. Sinking all ones capital into a character property leaves you with very little wriggle room Instead think of a buying a modest home for you (and not for the entire family, as they invariably will only come and visit en masse once ) close to amenities, therefore leaving capital in the bank for a rainy day. This means less pressure to earn a full time income and more opportunity to actually enjoy life in France instead of being tied to a large property, which has the potential to become a money pit. The language learning is imperative as it will allow you to integrate into the local community and feel more at home.
My advice is to begin researching other income opportunities and focus less on the gite/leisure style businesses.
We embraced French life with open arms and thoroughly enjoyed our 14 years in France and would never have changed it for the world. New opportunities have brought us recently back to the uk and we are thoroughly enjoying rediscovering life in the uk and making the most of life here too.
I wish you all the very best for your future whatever you decide to do.

(Peter Bird) #60

“Neither of us speaks French” Paul said which cuts those ‘1001’ possibilities down to a lot less.
There’s nothing wrong with a gite business, many of us earn a useful supplementary wage from it, some others make an excellent living and others make nothing. A lot depends on position and quality of gite.

(Helen Wright) #61

I’ve been hesitant to join in this discussion as I don’t run gites…but I can see where Tim is coming from about buying a modest property and keeping money in the bank to actually enjoy life…Mine was advertised as 2 bed but it was so unworkable that I removed all the makeshift partitioning and made it a 1 bed…when my 3 adult kids come to visit which is quite regularly and I’ve had two of them at once so far…then I just put them up in the lounge…they really don’t mind and treasured time spent together is just non stop laughing…I’m sufficiently rural as to wake up to silence except for birdsong but within a ten minute drive of a supermarket and 15 to 20 minutes of most local amenities…I came to see it out of season and in atrocious weather and knew instantly it was right for me…land for my Collies…driveway for my car etc…my home is an old property (and at some point could probably benefit from a little more updating than I have done so far…but I’ve done that before in UK and lessons learned) but I would rather know I can comfortably be here than be worrying about whether I can afford to be here…wishing you all the best with your decisions…x :slight_smile:

(Catharine Higginson) #62

I always recommend renting first but the idea of house sitting (thank you whoever suggested that!) is pure genius. That way you’d get to experience lots of different areas / regions and different types of property. And as we all know, there’s nothing like living in a house to make you realise the pitfalls !

But as many others have said, do your research (and don’t be shy about picking people’s brains - there are lots of highly experienced gite owners on here who will all have had different experiences and thus different perspectives to offer) and then go for it - life’s for living! Good luck!

(Barbara Deane) #63

Yes of course look at many regions until you find a place which feels right to you.
But you can not test drive a house usually…and, I believe there is no such thing as
a perfect house.
Any property will have blemishes which come with age or pure misfortune. It happens
every where.
To be a house sitter you have to have be willing to live out of a bag or suitcase as you
move from place to place…tasting places. Suitable for the young and the young at heart.
As we get older many of us love home sweet home.
A question for the experts. Is this legal in the eyes of the tax man…Is it unpaid work?
Is trading off a grey area or is it squeaky clean?

(Peter Bird) #64

I suppose tht depends on how much you want to declare. Most people i’m sure will fall below the thresholds imposed by the tax regime. I declare my income from whichever source to the French taxman so there’s no surprises. I expect every taxpayer has a diferent set of circumstances so the best thing is to go to your loal tax office and ask.

(Anna Watson) #65

I’m sure house sitting isn’t normally an issue but if the aim is to be legally resident come Brexit cut off date you’d have to look carefully at where that left your status here, i.e. if no money is changing hands could you still meet the income requirement for inactifs for legal residence and healthcare.

(Catharine Higginson) #66

And yet another post descends into negativity…!!!

Before this degenerates into a thread about people possibly house sitting on the black (!), I’d like to point out that I was suggesting that house sitting is a great way for UK residents to experience life in France. And yes, I know you can’t normally ‘road test’ a property but living with a wood burner and having to constantly stoke it, might convince you that you’d actually prefer a property with central heating. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Good point about Brexit dates btw Anna!

(Barbara Deane) #67

Just a point of view Catharine and a question.

(Catharine Higginson) #68

Apologies Barbara - it was probably an over reaction on my part - but James and I are sick and tired of the bickering and negativity that seems to be featuring heavily on SF at the moment. Hence his post this morning - because things need to change! X

(Barbara Deane) #69

I am the first person who wants every one to do well in France.
I want to encourage progress.
It is very hard to do everything to please every one but we have to try
harder than those living “back home” as we have assure to the local rulers here
and the tax man that all is well.
Most of us have to work really hard in order to stay here and enjoy our lives
and, as you know I am one who wants to stay here and make the best of my
years in France.
I too get upset when I am questioned about my status and the size of my property
and how easy it has all been for me.
It would be really good …more than good if we were all considerate.
This is a special forum and place where we can help each other and share moments
in the day with friendly strangers.
But who enjoys being teased…no one.
Time to stop.