Well, I actually did this, sort of, though not in an RV and not with a dog.
There is a scheme called France Passion where camping caristes can stay overnight with producers on the understanding that you’ll buy some of their produce, and it was the perfect scheme for my purposes because you can chat to your hosts. Usually when I said I was scouting round deciding where to live they were full of interest, and I was able to get lots of different perspectives and insights from French people on their feelings about their own area and other parts of France. Of course I also stayed on communal aires and occasionally campsites and I generally had a good explore, spending several days in towns I particularly liked. It did result in me deciding where to settle, and 10+ years on I’m still happy here in the same house and no thoughts of moving. And it also gave me a good “feel” for other parts of France - places I love to revisit for long holidays, places I quite like for shorter trips, and places that I feel “been there done that don’t need to go there again” about.
However, I don’t think all France Passion hosts would particularly welcome RVs, a lot of them tend to have quite a small corner set aside for guests. And, sadly, France Passion has to an extent become a victim of its own success - when I first joined it was quite a new scheme and everyone was very friendly, but it now has far far more people on its books and it’s got more impersonal, some of the hosts are great but some just treat you like a customer, likewise some of the camping caristes enter into the spirit of the scheme but some are just after somewhere to stay overnight for free. Great shame because my 6 months or so camping-car-ing and France Passion-ing around France was a kind of golden interlude, I’ve never eaten so well in my life and I was enjoying myself so much that I was slightly reluctant to actually decide on somewhere to settle!
“Rent first” is easy to say, however I didn’t initially intend to buy a house, I wanted to rent, but the criteria for renting a nice place permanent were such a hassle that it was far simpler to buy! but that may have changed over the years.
Thank you Anna and Stella. I wish I’d joined you all much earlier. Done excellent thoughts, experiences, tips and advice. I’m not one to sit on my hands and ever posting I look into. Thank you. Thank you.
Hello Jilly and welcome!
I am a recent new resident and have absolutely no regrets.
I can understand why people are recommending that you rent first, that option has many benefits you just need to be aware that you may get tied into a lengthy rental agreement and not be in an area that works for you.
With regard to buying a property, I am just beginning to work with an immobilier, the same agency that we bought our house from because they were amazing and made this huge move so easy! For you as an opportunity to explore areas and get to know lots about local communities I would recommend this route. All agents are local to the area, and the service this agency provides is ‘full service’ with a huge network of english (many expats) and french speaking agents. That means that you are effectively getting free guided tours around the areas that are of interest, alongside the opportunity for you to ask all about those things that concern and interest you about your move from people that have done exactly that, and also know the area very well.
I’m new to this forum and not sure if you can name specific agencies on this website, but if you would like to know more let me know, I’m happy to share my experiences.
Good luck with your plans!!
Just a note on renting property in France - ok it’s not a straightforward process (maybe a good thing) but the law is most definitely biased towards the renter and not the landlord. Sure, you may be required to sign a 3 year rental contract but you can pull out of it at any time - normally one month’s notice. Whereas - the landlord will have to jump through hoops to do the same thing. Just one example.
Very helpful to information. I went to A Place In The Sun expo last Friday. It was pretty much a waste of time. Only 2 French agents on the platform. Both of which I’m on their books. They were extremely kind, describing the various regions but very biased to promote “their” region. So a little head spinning when you think you like a region and they both knocked each others…
Your first hand recommendation would wonderful. I want to book a flight to view some rentals, but not wanting to spend hundreds on bobbing back and forth in at a crossroads again as to how long to visit, seeing something I like then losing it before I’m ready to move over. Putting down a deposit on rentals but if my exchange /complete takes longer, I’m likely to loose deposit if not complying to specified date!!
What makes it harder is I don’t have any support within Uk.
Just throwing this out their for everyone. Would you be selling in this disorganised /government / brexit climate? I’ve got an offer which is 10k under the starting guide price. Estate Agents pushing, buyer waiting and I’m in a pickle… This is the biggest decision I am having to make to secure my financial future. Went to see recommended Financial Advisor which was complete waste of time with hidden extras and only one option…so if anyone out their is ex FA or EA works you mind passing on your thoughts?
First question IMO… is… how urgent is it that you sell ??
We put our UK house on the market… at the price we wanted to achieve… deciding that “it will or it wont”, but that’s what we need. We were prepared to wait…and, of course, it went “just like that”. Phew… but we did have a ruin waiting for us in France… which is why we accepted and “stored”…
You, on the other hand… do you have sufficient funds so that a drop in price doesn’t matter ???
Trust me… the money can vanish like snow in summer… when you come to a new country…even without seeming to be extravagant…
France is great… it is not going anywhere… it will be here… waiting for you… don’t be rushed into taking a drop you might regret later… Time and money spent on discovering the areas will be well spent IMOpinion…
Absolutely, and that’s exactly what makes it so difficult to rent because the flipside of this is that professional landlords vet tenants very carefully and are very picky about who they accept. If you don’t have a permanent job contract in France there can be all kinds of hurdles to negotiate. I know the laws have changed since I was looking to rent but I don’t know if that’s made it easier or harder. For instance, to protect the landlord against me not paying the rent and him not being able to get me out, I would have had to lodge the full 3 years’ rent in a separate bank account which was common practice back then but I believe they’re not allowed to ask you to do that these days, so I don’t know what they do instead.
The easy option is to rent a gite but then you’re back to getting the tourist experience rather than the full on experience.
Wise words… I can’t tell you how much this helps me to see it from someone else’s perspective. I am not particularly rushing. Decision made and I just want to get on with it. Another winter here… expensive maintaining an old Victorian house, huge hedges on all sides of the property (last trim costing £795) both knees replaced (one just this February) finger joints replaced, plated arm and ankle (virtually bionic) oil heating and logs just keeps climbing upwards…and I’m anything but patient lol…not decrepid, repocussions of a near fatal accident on my horse competing cross country. I would say its time for a quieter life but I don’t do quiet, just perhaps more relaxed lol
Are you sure you are not my long-lost twin sister…
We bought a ruin in a village…as a holiday home…thus “the villagers” would look after the place while we were in UK…that was the thinking.
We also thought that when/if we sold…we would use said ruin as stepping stone to finding our permanent French home.
However, we so enjoy life in our small rural village… that we have stayed put for years now. Only draw back… … is the need for transport of some sort, or good neighbours… from time to time.
It works out… and we love it…
Personally, I would not recommend isolated properties. While the idea of loads of land lures many… we know Brits who never/hardly speak a word of French because they have little or no contact with French folk or anyone foreign. They rarely venture out of their comfort zone… except to visit other Brits…
Of course that is not all Brits… but perhaps you get my drift.
French village life…is not for all folk… but what the heck… think about it.
The french health service is good, but medical services in rural France are patchy. I suggest you add reasonable access to a decent hospital with a good orthopaedic section to your list of must haves.
We run a long term rental apartment, and for those who don’t have perfect credentials we ask that they provide insurance against defaulting on the rent, or a guarantor. If you’re looking for a furnished rental it’s all easier.
And in terms of selling your current house, two things you might wish to consider: a) assess how signifiant £10,000 really is in the overall sum of things and b) the biggest win:loose issue will be the exchange rate at the time you come to move money. If you shifted £100,000 a few weeks ago you would have got some £6,000 more that you would today.In general I do believe that if you pay attention to small sums then the big picture works out just fine - but occasionally it’s worth ignoring that maxim.
Ha ha… I am merely pointing out that public transport is rare in the countryside… thus car/bike/mule is essential for going further afield… like to a pharmacy, doctor, supermarket etc.
Many things can be found in a village… but small ones do not offer everything…
I can and do drive… when I am not in plaster (or plastered even hic)… If I and OH need help, neighbours are wonderful… we used to provide transport for older folk… now we are heading that way ourselves…
It’s just another thing to think about… how far away are essential services … ours are 9 - 25km for larger village and hospital… and the major towns are 45km in either direction…
Nails are no worry at all! Every tiny village has at least one hairdresser, if not three, and an institut de beauté for the rest. Just because we’re rural doesn’t mean we can’t have shaped eyebrows, nice nailsand buffed skin!
Actually… you will find out for yourself just how well-served… or not… the villages are.
So much depends on the area of France… and here… we have neither hairdresser nor nail/beauty etc… They are to be found in the local towns … some 10-15km… so not too bad… or the larger cities of course…
One day… we were approached by an elderly neighbour… looking rather distressed.
Please can you take Mimi to Perigueux … She has an appointment she simply cannot miss… I have to stay here… but she is really frantic to get there… Do you know where the Clinic is (yes)… great… so can you help us please ??
In those days, I was driving with ease and was glad to help in what sounded like an emergency situation.
OK says I… no problem.
Following Mimi’s directions… we arrived an hour later … just by the Clinic.
I was not amused when I discovered the true nature of the Emergency…
Mmm… turned out it was an appointment to have her nails done (she had signed up for some special deal… a series of hand and nail beauty treatments)… and the Beauty Parlour… just happened to be near the Clinic… aaaargh