Help please - the realities of living in France


(Wendy Cooper Wolfe) #110

I did visit Saint Foy last September when hanging around for a viewing in Le Fliex!


(Barbara Deane) #111

ah but I am not in St Foy.


(Wendy Cooper Wolfe) #112

Apologies, nice area though.


(Barbara Deane) #113

not a problem at all.


(John Wellum) #114

We spend our time between the UK (>190 days), France and Spain. We love France and have been visiting France for more than 30 years. Over those 30 years we have seen France become more and more expensive. There was a noticeable increase in prices when the EU members adopted the euro. Wine is cheaper and better quality but many other staples are more expensive. White goods generally cost the same. As always shop around and compare prices. We have found tradesmen expensive and project costs increase if the artisan restricts their activity to their trade. (For example, we have had new windows fitted and there is a large gap (5 cm between the frame and the wall. It is not the meunisiers job to fill the gap, but the masons.)
The cost of living is cheaper in Spain. We find the spanish very welcoming - our neighbours water our external plants when we are away and are always pleased to see us when we return.Advertised house prices can seem expensive, but have a budget be ready to bargain. There are houses in the village that have been on the market for many years and offers could be acceptable. We are finding that tradesmen’s prices are reasonable. But, the best thing about Spain is the national complaint system. It applies to solicitors, it applies to your local petrol station. If you have a complaint that you cannot resolve with the service provider then you make your complaint to a central government department. Result, a genuine focus by retailers on providing customer service and no complaints. p.s We have found that most spanish drivers are very considerate, pedestrians expect cars to stop at Zebra crossings. But, Spain can be very hot in the summer.
You are doing your homework. I agree with the encouragement to learn some french. You will be required to demonstrate some knowledge of french when you apply for residency. Spend as much time as you can - spread over the year so you understand the weather - but you need 190 days in the UK to remain UK tax resident until you are ready to cross the channel permanently.


(David Martin) #115

That’s the beauty of Europe John, despite the EU individual countries retain their individuality and anyone considering moving away from Britain needs to weigh up the pros and cons of each country. Nowhere is perfect.
You don’t, at present, need to be able to speak French to be a resident that happens as soon as you move here intending to stay.


(Barbara Deane) #116

Yes David knowing French has been mentioned rather a lot recently!


(David Martin) #117

Barbara, I think you have misunderstood my post. I wasn’t saying that speaking French happened as soon as you planted yourself here, I was saying that you were a residentas soon as you arrived intending to stay. Residency wasn’t something that needed a certain level of French. .


(Barbara Deane) #118

David I did read what you said.
But lets not disagree about learning languages let us help
T May find a way to deal with Mr P.


(David Martin) #119

In that case I was just correcting a point that John made in his post where he suggested that residency depended on a certain level of French. :slight_smile:


(Ian Smith) #120

Fontenay le Compte is just a fairly avarage large french town. a few bits of cultural interest, a busy crowded main street, some big shopping centres,amenities etc. nothing special really.some beautiful aincient buildings, surrounded by grotty newer ones.typical town anywhere in europe.
Having lived in france full-time for over 10 years; i cant help but cringe when i hear people basing a new life in france on what they read in a newspaper or saw on ‘a place in the sun’. The newspapers are full of misleading, bogus and sensationalised ‘news’ stories with very little in common with the truth.; even in their own country. As a retired journalist with one of the UK newspapers once said to me ‘if we couldn’t get a good story we’d make one up…’ the TV programs are sometimes as much as 10 years out of date and as such worthless.
Running a gite is no easy job; overall the ‘wages’ may well be below minimum wage by the time you tot up how many hours you really spent doing EVERYTHING.couple this with the seasonal nature and affects of ferry/air traffic disruption,and bad weather and your ‘average’ drops like a brick. without any financial backup you will sink like one…contrary to what the TV says the cost of living in france is NOT cheap; what you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts:-
car insurance = cheap, food = expensive, road tax = free, travel costs = much higher. No public transport out side of big towns so you WILL need a reliable car…(at one stage we had kids in 3 different schoools 40km apart; yep…you guessed it; they all finished at different times on different days!):weary:
lack of language can be a problem,we had real trouble getting any good tuition before leaving britiain,as it seems everyone wanted to order food and drink in french but very little else! ironic really; as my youngest son is now in a french universty studying languages, having been through the french school system, he took to the languages like a duck to water, practicing several different languages to our guests from all over the world (people from a voluntary organisation who helped/got in the way for a while) at one point there where seven different nationalities all jabbering away round the table…mainly in english breaking away into their ‘home’ language when faced with words they didn’t know. even more bizzarely my son says the french can’t speak their own language properly either! so theres hope for me :wink:
the more determined you are and the more sources of income you have,the better.
I.T. is a very ‘portable’ business;but you may need to actually meet people at some stage! this may become a problem.
fly as high as you want; but pack a parachute…


(Barbara Deane) #121

Determination is a great asset but ability and skill is not always available.
Not every one can operate a succesful B and B or gite.
When we went for our KBIS we were told that we were entitled to offer
wine tastings.
So, perhaps we should add that to our offerings and invite a sommelier to
conduct the tastings.
I do watch " A new life in the Sun" and find it amusing and, at times liken pantomime
for the summer months.
Some of the production is riddled with errors and the stories of clients
arriving as building work is in progress is barmy.
Not sure if the unprofessional eyes and ears noticed that The Vegan restaurant
in Spain was making Spanish omelettes and that the busy hotel was putting
white sheets in the washing machine with black towels.
I have to say Mr Smith that parachutes are almost out of stock,


(Monica Moriyasu) #122

Barbara we dont ‘work’ when we house sit. We take ‘ordinary’ and sometimes 'extraordinary ’ care of the homes we inhabit because the owners want either a home occupied in their absence, or their pets well taken care of for same. If people want unpaid work done, we report them to the website owners and they get taken off the list. We have, however, done work in exchange for accommodation, and willingly. This gives us needed occupation and somewhere to live while we enjoy some tourist activities, but we enjoy the hard work and creativity offered alongside of that. Two different things. Nothing is ‘free’ as they say. We usually do long stay house sits, so we unpack and live ‘normal’ lives wherever we place ourselves. We are in our 60’s and have now purchased a home in France, but intend to house sit in other European locations when we want some different scenery/country.


(Barbara Deane) #123

why did this arrive suddenly!
Personally I would not invite a stranger to house sit …well pet sit.
No more than most of you would not invite a stranger to child sit!
But oddly enough I did organise this for clients…thank goodness it all worked
out very well.


(Catharine Higginson) #124

If you use a professional house sitters site, they all come with references. We’ve had nothing but brilliant experiences and the ‘strangers’ have gone on to become close friends.
It’s a great idea - don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!! :slight_smile:


(Harry Fawcett) #125

the problem here in france is the rules on house sitters is you have to declare it to the tax man as by giving access to your home in form of payment to look after pets or houses is classed as employment here in France. All a very complicated process.

Plus one of our clients got the bad apple and when they returned home they found quite a few things out of place, including her neatly folded knicker draw had been gone through and she thinks several pairs were missing. Another took on a so called ex british service man (turned out he was fake) who robbed her and left her pets abandoned and even stole her car. Know these are rare occurrences but they do happen so like even us who uses work aways the first thing i do when they arrive after ive greeted them is get a copy of their passports,. (i do make it clear i want this before they arrive) we had one admit 2 weeks before she was supposed to arrive to the fact she was only 16 not 18 as required we cancelled her and informed workaway’s. Also when it comes to pet sitters the law here in France is very very clear. ALL pet sitters require a certificat de capacity. in whatever pets or animals they are caring for. Pet and house sitters are classed as volunteers and home owners are supposed to pay cotisations accordingly - there is a sliding scale of how much you have to pay for them. It also takes about 4 months to fill in the dossier of all th relevant paperwork the volunteer has to supply - birth certs, passports etc if they are eu nationals they have the right to work here, but outside of that they should be travelling on a working visa.

There have been quite a few cases (mainly farmers using volunteers) being taken to court over it in france and then having to pay all the ’ unpaid’ cotissations of the volunteers -
it’s a huge fine.

To end on a positive note I know quite a few house sitters who sit for free across the globe and they do a fantastic job, one of them even went out and got her certificat.


(Barbara Deane) #126

Well yes all of that is true I believe Harry.
There is a grey shadow which lingers across workaway and the other organisation in respect of tax paying etc.
Well I understand that Catherine you may be more trusting than I on the idea of references but to be honest I feel that they mean very little to me.
I would want to know someone and meet them before I gave them the keys to my property and the responsibility of taking care of our cats.
When we have paying guests they pay up front and also pay a damage deposit and sign a contract. We have a liability insurance etc.
We also remain around.
We take holidays when our close friends come and stay in the house.
Each to their own.
So no I will not be relying on strangers.


(Jane Williamson) #127

We had an great British couple living in France who did a marvellous job, they chose us because of our collie cross.
She had very long walks, the hens were looked after, my house was sparkling and there was a meal on the table when we arrived home.


(Barbara Deane) #128

That was a lovely experience for you.


(Patricia Fear) #131

Dear Paul Excellent post and I would say that if you have children, there is the potential for grandchildren (by whatever means) and the pull of the grandchild is very strong and not always by grandma alone. I did not take this into account and wish I had.

If you have the finances to be able to have a home here and say a small base in the UK that can be ideal also and many have done it. It would also give you the chance to travel around here to see where feels right. I have a friend who said for our age (and we are now in our 60/70’s), look for a village with 2 bakers (good for competition, a supermarket, a doctor, a dentist, one or two schools (this shows a growing and committed commune) and a good community hall all within walking distance. If this is to be your “last” home due to your age say it is essential that you do not have to drive unless you want to rather than need to. There is very little public transport in the way of buses here. Taxis are very expensive. Healthcare we have found to be excellent but what will happen about reciprocal payment from the UK to the French for said healthcare after Brexit is anyone’s guess.

I would also suggest that you come and stay somewhere in winter to see how you get on and to look at houses then, you certainly find out where you want to be that way in all winds and weathers.

We tried to integrate but it is difficult in certain communes and we have kept a pretty low profile accordingly but after 12 years we are accepted in the village but this is Brittany which is very different to France. One thing I had not taken into account and should have is the way that people vote in the intended area you wish to live in - and this is quite telling.

I have worked here as an Auto Entrepreneur transcriber and enjoyed the work, I have found the administration to be difficult at times, my French language skills are not good but my daughter and grandson have good communication skills. I cannot therefore talk about integration as it is essential to speak the language to integrate but you will find that the French will be willing to help - I do my best but it escapes me and I was never a great socialiser. I have found people to be mostly kind and the pace of life suits me to a certain extent but there are times when I wish for a little bit of hussle and noise. There’s the rub as they say but it is cheaper to live here I find. I could not have the house and land I have here in the UK and once you shut the door here the outside world stays just there, I have never felt so safe, I find the politeness of people exceptional, most days I count myself extremely fortunate to be here.