Moving but to where?

My name is Bob and I got married to Vicky on my 60th Birthday summer 2014.

I lived in Spain for 5 years then moved back to the England met Vicky and stayed ahh lol

we have decided we are moving to France, we will no longer have a home in England, and this will be our forever home, my properties earns us enough to live so we do not need to work

however we will be purchasing our home in France from the sale of Vickys house in Hull.

we will not be looking for a mortgage,

so now the question is where lol, how long is a piece of string ha ha

our maximum budget is 110,000 euros if the house is perfect
but thats after we decide on the area, and of course some areas are cheaper more expensive etc

I personally would like a house in the region of 35,000 euros that needs renovating with land

we would like a house on the edge of a town or village so we can walk to the shops, probably within 4 hours of the ferry ports caen etc, so probably lower than the loire valley which I like the look of

if it's a market town either better, we have just got confused by looking at too much on the net

once we decide, I will come over alone for a week to narrow down the properties we have seen on the net, to a shortlist then myself and the wife ( the boss ) will come back to decide on the one

Yep David the southern Vienne is a pretty area tho' it flattens out a bit as you get towards the Deux Sevres which used to be THE cheapest area in the Poitou Charentes in the '80s & '90s with great bargains to be had. I expect the properties are still well priced and the area has a lot going for it with Poitiers airport and the N10 within easy reach. Those were much easier times to renovate and show a healthy profit but I think those days are well and truly gone...

I agree with the last few comments as regards the reno costings....we've done several renos, and sticking to a tight budget is essential, as you won't otherwise see anything like a 'return' on the work. We always go for the best finish we personally can put on, but with mid-range kitchen and bathrooms at most, we try to retain the particular charm of a place but at the same time incorporate modern comforts...the hardest thing we find to do! When possible we always do the work because we know the finish will be good and, two, it's the only way to see even a hope for potential future profit these days, in this slump :-( We always also try to buy a place with its own well, for the garden....

Civray and Ruffec in Poitou-Charentes are worth a consideration, as is Lezay and Couhe, all within 15 mins for us here. We also find being sited with easy access to RN10 a godsend...we have many towns and villages, and the Cites and airports, (Poitiers 30 mins drive and also choice of Limoges, La Rochelle and Bordeaux within 1 1/2 hr access) but also live in a sleepy hamlet where you could hear a gnat f**t, with superb countryside and access to fabulous dogwalking, cycling and riding conditions. It's our 3rd place for ourselves but we realised when we decided to move and return to our first location (south Vienne) that the 'magic crossroads', as we call here, really did tick all boxes for ferries (6 hours) and lots of places to go, with the weather we were looking for.

Would love to hear an update on what you and missus are deciding to do!

I used to live in Surrey in the fifties and our local paper ran an ad every week from a local electrician which read "Do it Yourself....and then get us in to fix it!". I have seen some truly appaling DIY "offences" in my time. I worked as an architect so stuck to just doing the drawings as in those days (but possibly not now) an architect could earn more than a tradesman. Now there is such a shortage of good tradesmen that they can dictate their prices, earn good money and live well. That in turn has encouraged immigration. More and more people went to university to study useless courses, having been led down that path by consecutive governments, so immigration blossomed as a direct result of government policy and people's social aspirations. A good tradesman in London can easily earn £50k a year whilst many professionals earn far less (leaving out lawyers, financial sector people etc). However some people seem to be renouncing the chase for financial success; in my family we have a solicitor who left a major law firm to work in civil rights, and both my sons have left their original jobs to go down academic routes.

David, I must say that my feeling is along the lines that if you can't do most or all of the work yourself, then buy a 'ready-made, at least to livable standards. Sometimes I feel buying a ruin is false economy - and not only financially as relying on artisans is usually fraught with delays and cost mount-ups.

There are places in the Correze that fit the bill, as we discovered, and I am sure the same can be said of other areas especially at this time.

Of course I speak as a complete Brico incompetent, which made the decision easier.

oh so true, David ;-)

Now retired but a large part of my professional life in the UK involved "doing up" residential properties and very often for individual clients. Over the years immense interest has been generated in the field by the media and the pressure on keeping up with the Joneses. Equipment and finishes have become ever more lavish and expensive. Brits spend fortunes on designer bathrooms and kitchens, in the latter case often well beyond the level of sensible investment, and beyond the actual need in the sense that a top range kitchen will contain loads of things beyond the likely demand of the family, where cooking may be limited to reheating ready made dishes and, in London especially, eating out at restaurants all the time. Here in France the expat Brit often spends so much on the "old wreck" that if they ever need to sell they will have no reasonable prospect of selling it quickly, or at a profit. Most French owned kitchens and bathrooms round here are pretty basic, and I can't think of a single house in our commune that has sold for over 200,000 euros. Don't get carried away with the spec. Try and think of everything you need. If possible write a specification and schedule of works and get one firm to price the lot up. Dividing it up will cost time and money. The whole thing is an enormously time consuming process and every moment spent pre planning and budgetting in advance will spend time and money later.

Renovating can be a big job and I just wonder how many people look into the various costs before jumping in to a project ? I was lucky the first time I did it and ended up breaking even but that was more by luck than judgement !

For me the clever renovations are the best thought out with provision made for the many 'unforseen expenses' that will usually be not to far away. Silly thing but last july I had a chimney reopened and a woodburner installed. Everything was planned almost to the centime when, the installer discovered a big hornets nest in the chimney. This added 150€ to my project which was the equivalent to three cubic metres of oak logs !...Most unchuffed !

My problem is occasionally I don't bother reading all of the post and jump to conclusions without having all the facts. I've always done this so it can't be blamed on advancing years ...

I think the idea when trying to 'decode' another language is to be able to nod in either agreement or otherwise at the right moment, a bit like when your other half is rabbiting on and you're not really listening to what's being said but you are constantly 'guessing' if you need to agree with her or not !

Peter, I know what you mean, happens to me all the time - you should hear me in French! Or maybe not as the flinches on SWMBO's face are enough!

Yes Norman, sorry you did but I confused myself, Its the age you know !

Really reinforcing what you said but trying to say the 'Grand Metropole de Limoges' stretches far and the commuter belt I suppose you could call it is getting bigger each year. The advantage Limoges has it's as close to the motorway as you can get which maakes trips to all points north that much easier. Much the same could be said of Poitiers though on a smaller scale.

Have you considered Brittany? My husband and I moved here just under a year ago. After a previous house sale fell through in Normandy we discovered that our money went further here ie you get more for your money. Property will always be cheaper in rural areas but more expensive nearer to the coast and large cities. Of course like me, you're going to get loads of people recommending their own little gem of a spot in France. With regards to rennovation projects - materials are much more expensive and harder to get hold of than in the UK so if you do buy a project make sure that you are realistic with your budget. We had a survey done for piece of mind so that we would know what we were letting ourselves in for. Money just seems to go through our fingers like water when buying the necessary for the house. That said we have been good at sourcing the necessary and getting people to bring things over that we have ordered in the UK. Screwfix deliver to France for free when you spend over £100 (not bulky items like ladders though!) Paint is extremely expensive!!!!

With regards to buying in France it is very much a buyers market and there are plenty of empty properties for sale with land. If you want to avoid estate agent fees that the buyer incurs then I would recommend looking at the Notaire's websites in the area of choice or if on a visit take a look at their notice boards. Their fees are quite considerably cheaper than the estate agent! On top of buyers fees of up to 10% there are also notaire's fees of around 6-7%. So you need to factor this into your budget as well.

A lot of people advertise on this website thus cutting out the middle man ie the estate agent:

Brittany seems to fit in with your requirement of location and is also easily accessible to the ferry ports. Caen in Normandy is not far from the Gateway to Brittany but then you have a choice of St Malo and Roscoff too. It all depends on whether you want to be near a lively vibrant town or city or in the heart of the countryside. Horses for courses and all that. Coastal or rural? Then you've also got climate. Very different climates throughout Brittany! It is warmer here than Devon and Cornwall by a few degrees.

I could recommend our village as there are loads of properties for sale as there are in neighbouring villages as well. Spoilt for choice really. There is a house around the corner going for 30,000 for instance. Needs some modernisation but has double glazing and I believe is habitable. It has out buildings and some land. It is in a central village location but within easy reach of 3 large towns with retail parks and large supermarkets. Under an hour to the coast and just under 2 hours to St Malo. The village sits up high over looking the countryside with a forest and stream. Very picturesque. Of course everyone will have similar stories to tell as their villages no doubt will offer similar and also have lots of properties for sale. I think its a matter of working out what you want and the location and then ask for people's opinions on the area. Do you for instance want to live in an area with a high ex pat community or would you rather integrate. Very important when making the decision.

If you're interested in the area that I live in let me know. I also have a little holiday let that I could do you a discount on for single occupancy if you want to do a house viewing trip. My husband and I spent 5 years of planning and searching and viewing 100s of properties so I am more than happy to share my experiences with you.

Lastly if you haven't already done so, start learning the language as this will get you a long way!

Good luck

1 Like

Peter I thought that was what I said?

Limoges ISN'T typical of the Limousin Norman. Limoges is a pretty thriving commercial centre nowadays with great communications via the road,rail and air networks. prices in the many dormitory towns are quite high compared to the backs of beyond in the rural Hte Vienne, Creuse & Corrèze. Prices are still pretty cheap in the east Charente which is experiencing hard times which is great news for house buyers but not great for the local economies.

Definitely look at the Limousin and the Creuze which IS the cheapest area for property in France, In the same Department but furthe South on the Dordogne Valley there are many good priced properties. Incidentally not true about work as Limoges is one of the few cities recruiting and searching for staff, even though I realise that's not what you are looking for.

I suggest you talk to fellow SFN mmber Peter Elias ( as he know the region well and helped us find our house here.

Good luck!

1 Like

You will profit from other's experience if you do not purchase a wreck, or anything requiring structural /electrical/sanitarywork. Lots of people buy a project because they are afraid of being bored and having nothing to do. Some foolhardy ones think they will do it up and sell it on.

The only thing that is sure is...(sorry for caps) You Will Run Out Of Money.

Buy a house that is perfectly sound in every respect, with some land, and you can have a project building a summer house, japanese garden, allotment or fishpond. has good houses in the charente very cheap... but is your french good?

.... from what you have said, it sounds that you might enjoy Civray which is a lively town.

Yes, spot on Hilary.

Parts of the Limousin are cheaper just like some parts of the Charente & Vienne & Deux Sevres & Creuse & Corrèze et al. Cheap properties can be found in many areas and it's not necessarily anything to do with being 'landlocked'. Lyon is landlocked but the properties are far from 'cheap'. As Andrew intimated it's more to do with the prosperity of the local area. I've been to parts of the Tarn which are very cheap compared to the properties closer to Albi etc. It depends on what you are after. Bob states he wants to be within four hours of the ferry ports so the Limousin is on the edge of his search area.


For me the weather was a major consideration......If that is the same for you and you want to avoid the rain then you can rule out all Northern France.....once one leaves the North Dordogne and heads up towards the Limousin, the weather changes....lush vegetation = more rain....

This might help,,,

If i were you I'd print off a blank map of France with the departmental boundaries marked and an atlas, spend a bit of time online, Googling the basic facts & statisics of each departement.....

If you want to buy and do up a cheap wreck, then you will find these in the less densely populated areas....(no work though).....

How important is it to you to have at least a few English people around....? How isolated do you want to be ? How much land do you need ?

If after doing all the research you are still undecided, then putting stuff in storage and renting for a while is probably the best option. If you buy any thing old over here it could take years to sell it, so you don't want to make an expensive error....

Best of luck..

like most cheap areas - they're cheap because there's very little work and so people move away. Ariège is a good bet too especially with the Pyrénées on the door step and sea not far away, very much depends what you're looking for and what climate you want too...