I seem to have fallen at the first hurdle :(
BACKGROUND - you may want to skip a lot of this ...
I'm a 55 year old who didn't get to University, but somehow managed to get a decent job 33 years ago with a company pension I can take now that although modest is already 50 percent more than my unusually modest UK lifestyle, I own a wreck of a house I was only just able to afford - full of 30 years of accumulated junk - some of which will actually be worth having stored / shipped to a new home, and far too much cash in ISAs accumulated since I paid off my mortgage 8 years ago.
I have always dreamed of living in France, and have reasonable and improving French.
My naive "plan" when this project started 6 years ago, was to buy a new place for cash and then come back super-motivated and empty my UK house, do the minimum of work and sell it and thereby replace the fund for emergency roof repairs / replacement fosse septique / etc ... but I started to see I might actually want to leave less to moulder in the bank and spend more on a nice house with nothing major to do to it.
So this meant I would need to wait until I was 60, at which point I would have more cash in the bank, a slightly less meagre pension and only six years of having to pay £4,000 a year for private health insurance - ("tax deductible" LOL - nice if you actually pay significant tax ...)
But then someone moots the miniscule possibility (at my humble level) of voluntary severance as they overhaul the outfit I work for, so I start looking at alternative options .. .
Then this very nice "doer-upper" turns up for substantially less than the cash I have in the bank at current exchange rates - in the area I was looking at and needing only the sort of work even I could see myself tackling - maybe a few months and £20K to turn it into a very nice well-insulated house - and with all the land I need to grow my own veggies - a key part of the dream...
So I realised that even without a slightly enhanced pension / extra lump sum, I really could retire at 55 - even if I had to pay private health insurance for 11 years from savings.
Unfortunately I hadn't even got my passport / EHIC / replacement driving licence organised (now hastily being remedied), and this house will be gone in a week or two -
I will tell myself there was something majorly wrong with it ... I already knew that in a popular holiday area, I would find myself short of company ...
But even if I have everything in place and my bag packed, am I really ready to book leave at work, get a coach to the ferry, 7 hours on the boat, infrequent trains and buses on the other side - perhaps two days travel and kipping on benches - to get to a French estate agent to look at one house which might turn out to be not quite as described, and even if it IS a bargain, quite likely get pipped at the post then or later ?
OK - other option is buy a car I don't ordinarily need, (or hire one) pay £350 return for the ferry, plus £50 for petrol ...
How is it actually done when the budget is tight and you're in work ?