I have recently joined this group on recommendation from a friend. I still live in the UK but am considering a move to France in the next 2/3 years for retirement. I am ex-Royal Navy, then 25 years in IT and Telecoms and the last five years I have been a self-employed motorcycle instructor - although I am also now doing some work for a friend who has a company that retrains people leaving HM armed forces to help them into new telecoms careers.
I guess there is an awful lot to consider when moving to France - we want a change of lifestyle, maybe a simpler life, more sunshine, and more importantly time to go traveling/touring on the motorbike which is what we both love doing.
Where to move to? We are not looking to move to Little Britain but having a few ex-pats around would really help while we find our feet. We want to integrate and immerse ourselves in the local community and culture. We have friends in Langoelan, Brittany, some in Rivehaute in the Midi-Pyrenees, and some friends who run a b&b just down the road from Rocamadour. Interestingly (worryingly?) our friends nr Rocamadour say they have been subject to unfriendliness and racism - anybody else experienced the same? Where does this stem from? Is it intolerance to the use of English? Or is it just the fact that they are in a more rural area?
My wife, who is Russian by the way, would love us to have a traditional stone home with an open fire and some garden to grow vegetables - me? I don't care as long as I have a large garage and a shed for motorbikes and tools - as long as I have a man cave I'll be happy. Not looking to live in a city - small town or village will do but not totally isolated, would be nice to walk to a local bar, restaurant in the evening.
Any advice will be most welcome.
Mike and Alena
Thanks everybody for your thoughtful and useful replies. I think I need to put a spreadsheet together to get all the info collated and then there is going to be lots of thinking to be done. Oh and personal research so we will be heading for France on the bike this year.
I suggest Tarbes in the SW of France. My friends there are all French and most are bikers. Never had a problem. If you want to see properties, there is one I have seen that maybe of interest but it needs some work but it is beautiful. Price is around 500,000 euro.
Hi we live in the Tarn in Midi Pyrenees, love living here and have been welcomed by our French neighbours, a lot of es pats around also..... Good Luck
You'd be welcomed with open arms on the Isle of Man, John. Motorcycling is in our blood, as you probably know. 10,000+ bikes over for TT, can't be bad!
Difference between France and UK Shirley France excepts motorcycling as a legitimate pastime and hobby the UK still thinks of us as yobs, Hells Angels and trouble,over 50 years as a motorcyclist i have been refused meals petrol and accommodation in the UK, never once in France have i been refused any of those
Well Mike i suppose you realise now that to ask that question is to invite a 1000 different answers.I have toured France for over 30 years on the bike, Kawasaki ZZR on the way have made many friends French and English found lots of little Brit enclaves who refuse to integrate buy everything from the UK and live exactly as they did in the UK.little do they realise how much they are missing With my new wife we finally settled in the Tarn, a little hamlet in the Montagne Noir. We can and do get bitterly cold winters wet springs but long hot summers, history all around us with the Cathars,as for wildlife, wild boar, red squirrel, fox, badgers, deer and recently spotted a pair of Chamoix basking on sunny days on a rock outcrop. The locals are friendly but shy, on giving one of our neighbours surplus veg from our garden we received a pheasant in return, again giving excess eggs from our chickens to others receiving apples cakes jam and wild boar pate in return. We help out at a local school on English days and do our best to integrate which is very much appreciated. The mayor of the town invited all the Brits to an open night at the Marie where the town council welcomed us all, during the recent local elections one of the candidates invited us to a bar to discuss our wants and needs of the town for the future so they are trying to make us welcome.As for biking roads two hours from the Pyrenees. the Tarn Gorges almost every road is a biking dream
Bah, somebody went on longer than my 44. Mind you only occasionally with work. But a hooker from 12 to 44 can't be bad. Enjoy the game!
Keith, we will definitely be in France later this year for a couple of weeks touring so we may well be looking you up. Thanks for the invite. Like you I am a big rugby fan, I played until I was 47 years old, this Saturday we are off to Twickenham for the annual Army v Royal Navy game. Should be a great day!
Mike, heaven forbid I should ever be one of those "they don't do it like this in the UK" types. The whole point of us moving is to have a change of way of life and culture and we want to integrate, I always try to use my schoolboy French - it may not be great but I think the effort is appreciated.
We have travelled that area. A few years ago we did a tour of Cathar country and we went to Minervois and visited a place that had a Templars castle - the name escapes me.
Thanks JK - seems very cosmopolitan where you are.
Thanks Helen, we have been to the Languedoc region before - long warm summers do appeal.
Do the research Mike. Go on a bike tour in winter and summer, find out what it's like and how hot and cold , dry and wet it can be. Decide your budget and try to stick to it, there is no shortage of properties . I live 25 clicks from Carcassonne on La Montagne Noire, a medieval village with all the required amenities and within striking distance of big towns and cities.
I can tell you that this part of France is genuinely OK , been here 10 years and happy to have chosen it, snow in winter , sun in summer, lovely springs and autumns. We're just above the vine line, so it's sheep, beef and wild boar country , not bothered by mozzies. Locals friendly and welcoming , have to fight them off some times, but they're not really interested in speaking english , if they do have a second language it's spanish.
One of my criteria when moving was to have a place close to rugby, so guess what we have some of the best rugby in the world around these parts , Toulouse, Perpignan , Castres , Narbonne etc . Suits me!
If you pass through Saissac on your research travels, give us a bell and we can indulge in a few sherbets! KP.
Loathsome though I find the whole business of self-promotion, there's a chapter in my book - Essential Questions To Ask When Buying A House in France (not my title!) - that attempts to answer your question, fairly light-heartedly. You might find it useful. You'll need a Kindle or a Kindle reader on your pc, but I'm planning to bring out a print-on-demand version over the next couple of weeks. Here's a link to my Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Sampson/e/B008TRNU4Y?oo=41439047. Good luck with your plans. It's nice here in the Lot, by the way.
No I didn't buy it but it was the best price I could find last year from a discount shop in Paris. Certainly I have found that endfeed and compression fittings are a lot more expensive in France than in UK but 100mm soil is cheaper (but pretty thin). Most of our costs have been on the roof, electrical and masonry so no opportunity to save much on that.
Michael. If you paid these prices for copper tube it's little wonder your refurb. costs are high ;-) Brico depot are showing about 25 euros for 4 m of 22mm. Are your other price comparisons OK?
PPS Don't be tempted to buy something too big with a lot of land. Refurbishment costs are very high in France and so can heating in the winter be for an old stone farmhouse. Woodburners are cheap to run but wood pellet boilers are very expensive to buy and will probably not repay the investment. You can buy a lot of gas for the extra €10-15K it will cost to install. If you can find a house with town gas its well worthwhile (about 1/2 or less the cost of oil or tank gas). Main drains are good and avoid a lot of plumbing problems under new regulations. Plumbing fittings are very expensive in France but remember pipe sizes only match UK for 22mm and 28mm although all tap connections are 1/2 or 3/4 BSP same as UK. 22mm copper pipe in France is about €100 for 4M, in UK about £18 for 3M.
Property prices are pretty stable and probably still falling so if unsure rent for 6-12 months so moving will be easier. We bought in 2010 for abut 1/2 the asking price in 2007 but I doubt we would get the money back allowing for refurbishment costs so far if we sold now.
PS My comment on the posts does not apply to this series which have been uniformly positive and helpful. Sorry if I upset any of you - not deserved.