If anyone is looking for house and/or pet sitters this summer we’d dearly love to help? I know there are various house sitting websites available but they cost money to join and part of the reason for trying to find a house sit is to save money! We have some experience and are fairly sensible people, flexible and not given to holding wild parties in other people’s houses. We are planning the move to France next year so it would be a great way to get more experience - if you’re in the Charente region so much the better - and to improve our French. If its during the summer holidays then we’d need to bring our 9 year old daughter but she’s even more sensible than we are! Sorry if this is considered inappropriate for the forum but its been such a help in other respects I thought I’d give it a go. James & Catherine please delete if that’s the case.
A little bit more about us… we’re both in our mid-50s, I work as an office administrator for an events company and my wife is currently a ‘dinosaur wrangler’ for a local Council. As any of you who have read my blog https://leroideprusse.com will know, we plan on selling our 300 year old house in Yorkshire and moving to France, hopefully next year. In the meantime the house is taking up much of our time, and all of our money, so we’re having to be imaginative in order to get away this year. We don’t need much, just somewhere to sit and read in the sun, a kitchen to prepare food and a bed for the night. So house sitting seems to fit the bill… we exchange our time and attention in return for accommodation in warmer climes.
Thinking aloud… we can’t move this year because of issues with our house but are getting increasingly itchy feet. We’re now wondering if we could rent out our house (we don’t have a mortgage) and then spend a year or so in France looking after someone else’s business if needed. We could then put our house on the market when it’s ready, sell up and find our own place… or, if suitable, take over someone else’s business having tried it first.
Does this sound a ridiculously optimistic idea? I realise it would have to be a business that generated enough income for us as well as the owners and that there could be all sorts of issues with employment, social payments, insurance etc…
If you rent out your house it will have to be in good condition with gas certificates etc and landlords insurance. We use a letting agency and were advised that as it’s a family home we should be prepared to let for at least 4 years as it costs the tenants a lot up front to move, find deposits etc. We pay 8%plus vat to the agent and the agent pays 20% of our rent to the taxman. Subsequently 30% of rent is not ours. A month after letting the dishwasher broke and we had to buy a new one for the tenants.
Therefore you may find letting for 1 year not suitable, depending on your home.
Obviously only you can gauge this.
Also you will need healthcare in France until you get in the system and will have to register your car.
Your starting costs imo will be at least £2000
as health insurance isn’t cheap. The paperwork for one year will probably not even be finished if you decide to move back.
I’m not trying to put you off but probably you would be better renting for 3 months and avoid a permanent move until you’re sure .
Is your daughter a boarder? If so that may make it easier for you to rent somewhere for a few months because you won’t have to worry about schools.
If you really want to move you will find a way.
Thanks Teresa, that’s all very helpful. We’ll definitely be moving, just want to bring it forward for a number of reasons, not least the political climate and chaos in the UK. Daughter is a big consideration as she goes to the local primary and isn’t very happy. My wife is a primary school teacher. Do you know whether home schooling as allowed in France?
Gideon… Home schooling is not unknown but it is unusual. Is there some special reason why your child would need Home Schooling?
Any child who comes to live in France… will risk being somewhat alienated from his/her peers by not going through the education system… with them.
For any child…at first, there may be hiccups with the language, but that passes swiftly in the majority of cases… it’s amazing how kids of all ages absorb stuff… simply by immersion…
Your child stands to benefit from an amazing opportunity…
I don’t know anything about home schooling in France. My nephew is home schooled in the uk and goes to a home school club, plays football etc.
I think you have to be an organised sort of person to home school. Obviously if your wife is a teacher that is good. You must ensure both French language and literature are taught.
There is someone on this forum who is home schooling but I can’t remember who.
Found him. Dan Fox. Home schools his 6 year old.
Hope this helps.
Hi Stella (coincidentally namesake of my daughter) thanks for that. The issue isn’t at all a reluctance to put her into a French school but more a concern about putting her into one school and then having to move her to another one when/if we find our own place. Whilst this is all still an idea at the moment, what’s best for my Stella will be uppermost in our minds.
Thanks again Teresa. I do love this forum!
Gideon, at this stage I think you need to take an objective look at the criteria you would need to meet if Brexit comes to pass and you’re hoping to get a residence permit to allow you to continue living in France.
From the sound of it you’re not retirement age nor a student, so you and your wife can exercise freedom of movement either as workers or as self-supporting economically inactive persons. To qualify as a worker you need either to be employed on a French employment contract, or to be running your own business. To qualify as a self-supporting inactif, for a couple with one child you need to prove a stable and regular household income of around 1,007.55€ per month. Would your UK property guarantee that level of income every month without fail, and if not do you have other sources of revenue?
IMHO in the current political climate it would be wiser to plan your lifestyle around meeting those criteria, rather than choose your lifestyle and then discover that France doesn’t consider that your chosen lifestyle qualifies you for legal residence because you haven’t been correctly exercising freedom of movement. I know you’re not even here yet but it might be worth looking at the list of supporting documents you need to put in your dossier for a carte de séjour application.
Sorry to inject a downbeat note but you’re obviously looking at all kinds of different options here, and I think you need to restrict yourself to realistic options. You can say
but France doesn’t quite see it that way. France worries, for instance, about how you’d pay for your medical care if it lets you live here and one of you gets ill, and it wants to make sure French taxpayers aren’t left to foot the bill.
If you are serious about living here long-term what will be best for her is getting her French up to a level now, where she can go into secondary school and function at the best of her ability and on a level playing-field (rather than scrape by and be shunted into a CAP for example) acquire enough French language and popular culture to fit in and make friends who will help with all the non school stuff: school French, though essential, is just the tip of the ice-berg.
Doing that won’t primarily depend on you, your French will fairly rapidly be much worse than hers, and in any case you won’t be able to evaluate her progress beyond verb learning etc.
Thanks Anna. Your comments are all perfectly valid. Our original plan was/still is to sell our current house, buy somewhere in France to run as a B&B/Gites and live off my pension, topped up with any ‘profits’ from our new business. As we can’t sell our house yet we’ve been using the time to do our research, both in terms of settling in France and all that entails and the best location and type of property for our business. That is still our plan, Brexit notwithstanding, but recent events at home/work caused me to start to think about ways to bring the move forward. The line you quote above specifically related to a house sit, not a permanent move but I do take your point about being realistic.
Hi Veronique. You’re not wrong. She and I were just talking about learning French yesterday evening. Her class teacher was helping as he speaks quite good French but he’s now away for the rest of the school year. I’m going to look out for any books for children about moving to France and helping to learn the language. Hopefully we can also take her on a house sit this summer which will help too.
Yes, I see that.
I’m just not sure how house-sitting would square with FoM. Under FoM, EU citizens can spend up to 3 months in another EU country as visitors. It doesn’t give them any rights in that country. At present it’s easy enough for EU citizens to stay in France as visitors for longer than 3 months off the record because France doesn’t check. But in the event of Brexit, having been here off the record won’t count for anything and is unlikely to help with clearing the way for a permanent move post Brexit, it might even work against you.
A transition period would potentially give you breathing space, and of course we can still hope Brexit gets buried, but the more you can think long term and Brexit-proof your plans - especially if those plans include securing the right to work in France after an eventual Brexit - the less risk of disappointment. For instance, if you apply for your first carte de séjour as an inactif, you may find that the CdS you are issued with doesn’t allow you to work here, so starting up a gîte business further down the line after you’ve sold your UK house, wouldn’t be an option.
I think it’s truly shameful how Brexit has been mismanaged to allow all the uncertainty to drag on for years, it should never have been like this.
Thanks Anna. Good questions and very helpful. I think the only way a temporary move would benefit our ability to exercise our FoM rights as EU citizens would be if it was a contract of employment. I was just wondering out loud whether any UK citizens currently living in France and running a B&B or gites were thinking about moving back to the UK but hadn’t or couldn’t yet sell their property. Naively perhaps, I thought we could help them return home earlier and give us a taste of the business before making the move permanently. It was an idle thought with little prospect of happening but this forum is useful for exploring ideas like this. I agree with your thoughts on Brexit.
French employment law being what it is, you would be very very lucky to find a gîte owner who would employ anyone even on a CDD. There are so many responsibilities and obligations attached to being an employer in France. Most absentee or hands-off gite owners use local business or self-employed people who offer changeover and keyholder services.
You do occasionally see caretaker jobs advertised with accommodation provided
maybe that would be an avenue to pursue, although it’s not exactly the stuff your dream is made on.
Gideon… I understand your concerns for your Stella…
We have migrant families who put their children in our primary school for a term or two, then move on… some we will see again… on their way back… some move on for good.
There is one family which has now bought a property in our commune. They work in Paris (children in school there…). Anyway… they bring their children from Paris while they are working on their “ruin” here.
The children are registered as “leaving” Paris… and “joining” us… on each occasion…sometimes that is a fortnight… sometimes longer…
Whatever… the point I am making is that the kids do not have any problems whichever school they are at…
I still wonder if this might not be great for your daughter… get her started… finding her feet with the language/kids/school… for however many months… then she will hit the ground-running when/if you find a settled home.
Just something to bear in mind…
Update: We’re still looking for a house/pet sit in the summer if anyone wants to get away for a week or so. Flexible with dates between late July and early September, location and duties. Happy to take care of your guests if you run a gîte(s) and want to get away. References available.