If you could buy a B&B anywhere in Europe, would it be France?

It was Sunday and I was exhausted. The thunder and lightening storm in White Rock left me feeling a little uneasy. A few days with little sleep while the river of rainwater rushed down our back alley, accumulating in a giant lake and then continued down the drain making enough noise to wake the dead. The rain itself came down with such force; it sounded like someone was yelling. With time to contemplate life, I lay awake looking at the ceiling wondering if there are any other place along the Mediterranean Coast that would make a great B&B location for our family. Have we overlooked a number of viable options in Europe for a business that could make our family a reasonable income with the lifestyle we are looking for? Lets consider countries other than France. Bare in mind, I have never been to any of these places, only researched.

1.What about Spain?

With their bullfights, flamenco dancers and their competitive real estate market, could we get more for our money in this fabulous spicy country? 150 plus miles of white sandy beaches with golf courses lining them could be the ‘golfer’s get away’. It looks like ‘Mexico resort’ living complete with outdoor activities, tourists in all-inclusive hotels with endless amounts of food, rentable snorkeling and tours at their hotels and better weather than The French Riviera.

Spain is culture rich and deep with history. They have produced many famous artists, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali to name a few. Spain also has a hidden savory-sweet menu that can compete with any European pallet. Paella, (their famous seafood rice dish), roast lamb, and fresh seafood from their coast, makes Spain a foodie’s destination.

A lower cost of living than in BC or England lets say, but their B&B’s rent out for less in relation. And I know nothing about their health care or schools. Will Spain be too far a leap of faith for this adventure family?

2.Or Italy?

I love the movie Under the Tuscan Sun and watch it every chance I get. And pasta and pizza are a weekly meal in our home, so we are well on our way to loving Italy. Known for their stunning landscapes, Italy has two mountain ranges. The Apennines runs down through Italy like a spinal cord curving and then they have the Alps in the North. White sand beaches, vine covered countryside and their intricate canal system draws in tourists. Many who leave Italy to find a better life return to their tight knit communities which says a whole lot about their social dynamics. Full of beautiful cathedrals, churches and ruins- Italian cities are full of visitors. Rome, famous for their reign in the Roman Ages and Florence, the home of artists in the renaissance period, is among the most famous tourist destinations in the world.

How would a foreigner fare in such a land? When reading about Italy my feeling was that it was a place of great conflict. Each region has a very different culture and the history states that Italy was not unified until recently in 1851. Each region holds on to its prejudices and neighbors are weary of new comers, as well as old comers and from what I have read, of everyone. Romeo and Juliette had a hard time in Italia and by the sounds of things, my outgoing personality, talking to everyone I come across and meaningless chatter, might not be accepted.

Health care and schools are still a question and their present economy weigh in to any decision. We must research while we travel through the country and see why Shakespeare wrote about such conflict in Verona, could it be based on some fact?


Home of my lovely friend Tania who went there to visit her family, met and married and now has a baby with the man of her dreams. Her life seems happy and wonderful, but how would a non-Portuguese do trying to make a living. It sounds as though Portugal has something for everyone. Beautiful beaches, hot sun, the sunniest destination in all of Europe, striking countryside, castles and cities full of monuments and cultural attractions. World famous surf rips its 600 miles of Atlantic coast and is getting famous around Europe for it.

4. Lastly a brief look at France

Still has the best health care, standard of living is high, the culture is defined, more expensive than the other Riviera countries, but maybe a little more to offer too? The food is exquisite, the wine is world renown and the government takes care of its people. School is still free for its children; Baccalaureate is received at the end of Lycee (secondary school), which opens the door to University. Tourism is still high, even though compared to the other countries it may not be quite as hot.

What country would be the best to live and buy a B&B in?

Spain, Italy, Portugal or France?

Going there to find out might be half the fun!

France is the top runner for us.

Written 8 days before departure

Now: Of course we picked France, and never made it to Portugal at all. Italy and Spain are beautiful places to visit, and conveniently next door. One thing I love about living in Europe, is the close vicinity to other destinations, with such different cultures, languages and my favouite part, food!

Peter, I absolutely agree about Turkey. Several western European estate agents have opened offices there recently, including the one my OH works with. The powrs that be are carefully playing the game between secularity and religion and suspect they know the present phase will burn itself out and then, as you say, Turkey will be a resurgent force. I know the country moderately well and the western side is a modern dynamic European place and the Kurdish side will inevitably calm down when Kurds have some kind of independent state and they too are not to be underestimated if they do.

Build it and they will come. Find a niche and be the best in it. We came to France but won't open a B&B. There are more opportunities here.

However, as curve ball, let me tell you our #2 choice for moving. Turkey. Before you all start disagreeing, look long term. If (the only if) the country stays moderate, it will be an economic force to reckon with in the future. Inside Europe (Yes, I count Turkey as a European nation), this is the one country with the biggest upside. By far.


I am somewhere between Simon, Kathrin and the deep blue sea. I think John's friends had a tough time in Portugal but bureaucracy there is far less arduous than here. We spent a year there, which was for a study my wife was doing so limited to 12 months, but we would have stayed in our ideal world. My wife found Portuguese bureaucracy very accessible, she needed to have a lot to do with it, but here she goes crazy at times. That is from a Swiss woman and hers is a truly and frustratingly bureaucratic country.

I agree with Simon saying that people choose France and indeed often down to roughly where. My OH is selling houses part time and will say exactly what he is saying. They come here with something fairly exact in their mind and settle for something as close as possible. None of them say that there is nothing doing here so on to Spain, etc. Then Kathrin makes the important point about language and neutrality. When we first met, my OH and I spoke French. Her mother tongue is Italian but she spent much of her life in French Switzerland. I grew up bilingual in English and German, learned French at school and used it for work often enough to keep it going. We had two choices, both of us also speak Spanish but decided the neutrality we prefer is here in France rather than in the less familiar Spain.

We had hoped to convert at least one building for a gite, but now after the last two summers and gite/b&b/chambre d'hôte owners we know who are saying the are not doing at all well, even if we had the money we would not bother. The capital investment would take so long to see a return and we are also not sure whether property values have hit the bottom yet. What would be the point in investing a lot of money for no real return? On balance Simon says it best in my view.

I think I agree with Brian, I know a few people who have had properties with B+B's and have given up, the taxes have been crippling plus the occupancy rates apart from July and August were virtually zero.

A friends of mine started here in France in the early 80s running a B and B moved onto Spain then to Portugal back to Spain finally settled in Portugal heard from them couple of months ago finally coming home as he put it back to France, Portugal is a nightmare of bureaucracy after 7 years of fighting the system, Spain is dead in the water so will France live up to his memories or has it changed, his daughter was born in France she feels the same, coming home after almost 20 years away will it be as it was for them i doubt it France has definitely changed from when i first came far more expensive there are more destinations to non euro countries giving better deals for holidays

I sell B&Bs for a living. I find that my clients have all chosen France as a place to live long before they have chosen a B&B as a business project. I have never met one client who has said 'Oh, we're going on to Spain next week to look at a couple of properties'. No, they are here because it's France. They may well be tempted by a gite complex instead of a B&B but it must be in France.

I imagine it's much the same in Tuscany or Oporto.

Most of those who tried it our village have given up. The season is very short, and perception of the weather works against us in Brittany. Note "perception". There are many more rules now and those have largely come about because the hotel trade has fought for it. Those awful programmes on the TV with people crawling into cupboards to find dust have inspired the troublemakers too. We have decided against doing B and B or gites and have let a small holiday cottage I have permanently to a Frenchman. We hope it will be more restful but will be watching the situation carefully as we live nearby. The rents here are very low indeed but we will not have to worry about taxe d'habitation or the running costs.

We are doing exactly this - living in France and running a gite and b&b. And I would do it again. Chosing France for us was easy, as we both spoke the language before coming here (part of my family is French) and both loved the country. I call it "neutral territory", as my OH is English and I'm from Germany. Of course we have to deal with the bureaucracy, but I wouldn't want to imagine having to to it in a country where I don't speak the language at all. Or dealing with builders ... oh no! Defenitely have to be able to discuss with them (had to do it from day 1 to get the place sorted).

As Barbara wrote, running a b&b is not easy. It's not only a job, it's a way of living. And I doubt whether it can really be the main "bread winner". But I've always been in the hotel & tourism trade and we both work (Kenneth still does) on cruise ships. So used to having people around and being there for them if needed.

B and B here is France? Absolutely not. The bureaucracy is impossible, tourism not so brilliant at present, taxes scary and much more. I would go for Portugal where things are far more relaxed. Go to the right places and property is becoming as cheap as France again, food and people are wonderful and the climate is a dream.

Eva you are a romantic...and why not.

You just have to find a place which feels like home...or your new home.

A B AND B here in Entre duex Mers is no easy task and not eveyone manages

to make it work.

You have to like people ....really like people in order to put up with the

madness of the buisness.

Happy to offer you 10 nmins on the phone answering your questions

But it is a bookfull of small dramas...every little thing is different when you

move to France.

So you must fall in love with the area, the property and then your work.

From there you will find your friends and your new life style will evolve.

As I have mentioned before....you often then find yourself.