Offer accepted - the admin fun begins! Advice?

Hello all - lovely to meet you and very happy to have found a site with so much open sharing happening :grinning: This is going to be my new online home for a while, I think!

After a looooonnnnnngggg Covid-impacted remote search, my partner and I have finally found a dream house and had our offer accepted. We’re buying a wonderful second home on the Tarn/Aveyron border and are very excited! However, we would both readily admit that the giddiness is currently being tempered (a lot) by the admin and the unknowns of purchasing in France.

We’re both professional grown ups so we’ve done all the homework we can think of, although I’m sure we’re missing loads of intel. There are clearly a lot of guides/websites/links and we’ve scoured all of them (at least it feels like it) but I have reservations about being blindsided by something obvious…

For those of you who have been through it from a distance (and with less-than-perfect French language skills), what’s the one piece of advice that you’d prize? What would you have done differently had you known?

I appreciate that this is an enormously broad question :exploding_head:

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The only thing to remember ,for me anyway, is that metaphorically you will
be cutting your legs off. Let me explain gone will be the person that you know who knows somebody who has access to what you want,everything will be strange ,things that you would do without thinking will become mammouth tasks. However its not all doom and gloom cos as your confidence and circle of friends grows then lots of things become routine and those ties lost will reform, it takes time.

Hi @EmmaJ and welcome to SF :slightly_smiling_face:. If you have used an agent to buy your property , make sure you use them to get all of the utilities (electric, water, phone etc) arranged for you (its part of their job). I would also recommend, at least initially, that you use EDF and Orange for electricity and phone as they have English speaking helplines and own the networks if there are any problems .
Good luck and :wink:

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Thanks Flocreen - know exactly what you mean. Have focused on where the ‘main’ things are near the house but those are rarely the tricky questions… I’m lucky that one of the agents has a house about 5 minutes away from the new place but I’d like to not exhaust him and his wife in the first 3 days…

Where’s the house :thinking:

Thanks Mark - good tip. I’m in danger of being ‘too English’ about things and worrying about bothering them too much with stuff, but I will need to get over that :slight_smile:

A little way north of Albi

Go on, which village/lieu dit… My business is in Carmaux and i live in Mirandol :wink:

Montirat commune - what’s Carmaux like? We drove through and looks like it has a range of functional facilities…what business are you in?

Montirat, know it well. I run and own a tabac in Carmaux (le jean Guillaume, place Gambetta). Carmaux has pretty much everything you’ll need but it’s a bit “spécial”, Albi for more choice and nicer, bigger town.

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I very much agree with @Mark on that.

The rates advertised by alternative suppliers are subject to drastic revision - upwards - and also changes in terms of service. To offer lower prices than Orange or EDF they have to cut corners somewhere and they do.

Resident smiling Aussie @toryroo can vouch for that. Read all about it here WTF!? Just had this email from Mint Energie. I had been tempted by Mint Energy myself, till I read that.

I got signed up 3 months ago, d/d details and all, with an ISP for fibre when fibre will not available in my locality till June this year. Orange, however, consistently told the truth on this - ADSL only to my house. When the ISP jibbed at me cancelling the contract I offered to see them in court for misrepresentation. They bowed the knee.

Orange own all the phone/internet infrastructure. Their rates are not the cheapest - especially when compared to prices in UK - I’d say the FR are about 5 years behind in terms of price levels. But I have had excellent service from the Eng lang c/s. Well worth the premium.

Back to lekky. EDF are the Big Daddy of lekky. Enedis, their brother wearing the overalls and toting the spanners, deals with the hardware side. Once again, I have found the Eng lang c/s of EDF to be a godsend and when things go awry with Enedis - rdv’s to install Linky, for example, the Eng lang c/s of EDF will help sort things with Enedis. This is my experience.

One is not made to feel like an ignorant Anglo - is strictly business. If I had had to deal with the issues I have had in French only, I’d have had a very hard time - and my day-to-day FR is not too bad, except on the phone.

I would say the same about insurance. You will find constant references here to insurance broker @fabien in the threads concerning insurances of every sort. Fabien and his team deal in English and the saving in any level of anxiety is worth gold when it comes to insurances. Fabien’s policies are competitive, as well as being made “as simple as Frenchly possible”.

Someone on this forum has been there and done it. My experience is that help is plentiful and willingly offered. You will survive France and love it!

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After yesterday’s election results we might have bought a house in the the next village along rather than this one! But overall don’t think we would have done anything major differently. Thoughts on starting out:

Go gently with your neighbours, and feel your way carefully. Too much instant bonhomie can be a total turn-off. So smily, polite and bonjour at all times, but don’t go over the top with wild enthusiasm. Remember you might have bought as a second home the house their kids couldn’t afford.

Keep all paper, and sort out a scanner/printer and filing system straight away - as you won’t do it later! Even as second home owners it is always useful in France to have a paper and electronic dossier to hand - ID documents, attestation de domicile, etc etc.

We have a (now very tatty) notebook which is a collection of measurements, reminders that Madame X is the grandmother of Georges Y, numbers, addresses of shops we want to visit next time we are in X and so on. As you amble around vide greniers and brocantes it is useful to know the size of that alcove that needs a table! It’s now also a rather nice reminder of things.

And patience!! You will need it.

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The one obvious thing no-one has mentioned yet - if you don’t have one already, get a French bank account. Credit Agricole have Britline, with an English speaking front end (and very French heart).

We bought in Feb, having our first week here this week. So much to do, but that’s expected. I somewhat wish we had required the house to be empty instead of taking the ornate, heavy furniture, but it will be great.

Welcome to France. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I’d say not. I pay €17 per month. For that,I get 75/25 mbps internet (that’s measured, not promised), all calls to landline and mobile in France and all of Europe and the UK included. I also get roaming calls whilst in the UK to UK or France mobile or landline. All in. You can’t get that in the UK for three times the price.
Edit: Sorry, that’s €18 per month.
Edit2: Getting confused. Had a few glasses of my excellent home made ginger wine. It’s the colour of piss after a night out but lovely. The roaming is for my mobile, for which I pay €8 per month for French, EU and UK landline and mobile calls with free roaming calls.

One very important thing to remember is that as a second home owner you are not “domiciled”. This comes with making France your principal residence.
You would need to be on the INSEE database & that requires you to be put on it as a result of making your annual income tax declaration here & getting a carte Vitale etc.
When asked to show proof of domicile (such as an EDF bill) when you are not can be interpreted as fraud should a later check be made. It is accepted on the basis that people know the difference between “domicile” & “address”.

How exciting - hope it’s everything you planned when you were buying!

Another gold-plated tip. You really do need to get a ‘secretariat’ organised from the word ‘go’ as @JaneJones mentioned.

The very first thing I did when I signed my tenancy contract back in Nov '20 [getting feet under table before 01/01/2022] was to buy a multi-function gizmo. I had the experience of monumental Spanish bureaucracy/‘docamenti’ to go on and I found France was even more so, which I found most surprising. Pieces of paper arrive which say ‘retain this for X years’.

Files, page dividers, paper for the printer - you will be surprised at how much of this side of life in FR will feature. And photos - record everything on jpg.

Life in FR impossible without. And to go along with it, check out online ‘banks’ like Revolut for [mostly] free, instant, FX at the interbank rate [except w/e’s]. Don’t transfer via your UK ‘retail’ bank. Dreadful rates, high costs…

I pay iD Mobile £7 p.m. for the same. What ISP is giving you that excellent rate?

Its RED. Its also a monthly contract that can’t be increased, so I can move without penalty with 1 months notice. It uses an IP phone via a normal phone socket on the router and so we don’t have to pay the Orange line rental. It was originally €15 per month for the internet plus all calls within France. I was offered international calls to lots of countries including UK plus 10GB data for an extra €3.

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Another tip. If not already fitted, get a towbar fitted to your car or fit one yourself and buy a trailer. (preferably a tandem.)

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