Should we sell up in the UK when we move to France?

We’re faced with a bit of a dilemma, and would welcome some thoughts from the forum. We’re now seriously considering our full time move to France having had property there for 10 years, but we are struggling to decided what we should do with our UK home.

Knowing quite a few ex-pats in France, many have sold up in the UK, some deciding to rent out their UK properties, some have sold up and bought a cheaper Park home so they still have a UK address. We don’t have children so we wouldn’t have an address in the UK if we did sell and needed to return to UK for an extended period. We’re toying with the idea of selling and buying a Park home, personally I like the idea of retaining a UK address.

Honestly I really don’t know what’s for the best for us, I know of ex-pats returning to the UK due to ill health, family issues, death of a partner etc.

I guess it’s a case of whatever works for you but still decisions decisions. :confused:

I’ve not kept a UK address. HMRC, my UK bank and my pension company are all happy to use my French address. I can’t think of another reason to keep one, so I hope I’ve not forgotten something.

Do you anticipate potentially moving back to the UK at some point? I can understand not wanting to step off the UK property ladder, if at all possible, should you think the move won’t be permanent. The house prices in the UK move so quickly that it’s unlikely I’d be able to afford a house there now.


We kept our house for approx 3 years until we knew we were established and had the work etc. Meantime it was rented out via an estate agency who also did rentals and whom we knew from selling a previous house so no problems there and they found the tenants - 3 professionals (nurse,teacher and estate agent). They trashed the house leaving us with no choice but to sell up feeling we could never trust anyone again with such a precious asset and the agency were beside themselves as they had not done a visit for six months and presumed all was OK inside and therefore they paid for some of the redecoration and eventually sold it for us a few months later at a good price. I would never rent a property out again and to the OP, if you want to retain a foothold, keep it small and be careful renting, these days people don’t care. Maybe you have a family member, a youngster who would look after it for you for a nominal amount under the proviso you may wish to return one day or sell it meantime.


Fully agree with you on the renting game, currently living in the Yorkshire Dales, 50% of our village is owned by the local estate and rented property, honestly the vast majority of renters (not all) don’t give a damn about the property, so renting probably would not be my first choice.
I think it’s the fact I know a number of ex-pats who for one reason or another have had to return to the UK for ill health, loss of a partner ect that makes me think I should keep my UK property, maybe a Park Home is a good choice, I don’t know.

For me the first consideration is financial/management. Running two places does stretch the budget and occupy the mind. Even if rented there can be empty spells where you have to cover all the costs, and you have to keep on top of the admin - insurances, tax returns etc. Plus commercial rentals always have headaches.And it will of course affect what you can afford here. So you need to think about whether that suits you.

The other thing to think about is to realise any capital gain in your UK property. If you sell it as you leave as principal home there will be no capital gain tax to pay. If you leave it then you will lose this exemption after (12?) months.

We ended up selling our place (we needed to to buy our home in France!). But bought a small flat that my niece lives in. She covers costs and the deal is that if we want to visit the UK she makes way for us. It is our investment for our care home costs, we know our French home will be unlikely to increase in value!

I am a bit cautious about park homes, as they cost in maintenance and don’t increase much in value. Plus contract terms can be disadvantageous.


When we came over full time and decided to live in our maison secondaire, I decided to keep my little house, effectively as my new maison secondaire. I’m a natural belt-and-braces type of person! I certainly didn’t want to let it.

However, after about 3 years here, we both decided that, short of Russian tanks arriving across the hill, or being evicted by a nasty regime, there was no way we were leaving France so the money from selling the UK place could be more sensibly used to improve our house here. It was a lovely holiday home but for permanent living needed some significant adjustments.

Of course, during Covid, selling was tricky but we don’t regret this at all. It certainly makes a lot of things simpler and we’re not at all sorry to lose HMRC! All I would say is that, from a tax point of view, it’s more advantageous to sell before or on leaving the UK rather than afterwards but it was a price we were prepared to pay for being sure what we wanted.

I never considered a Park Home and don’t think you really need one from the point of view of having a UK address since the UK institutions that insist on a UK address tend also to insist that you are actually resident there.

However, for somewhere to land if visiting friends etc and you can possibly afford it, then why not?

Edit: Just noticed that @JaneJones had already mention the tax advantages of selling before you move. Took me a loooong time to type my post!


Also noticed, apologies @Grumpy_OldMan , that I said

when of course I meant the UK place. I’ve amended it now… :roll_eyes:

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Hey Guys, thanks so much for some great practical advice. Certainly my take away is now edging towards selling our UK house then going for a Park home as it suits our lifestyle much more than a flat or apartment, we recognise fully the need to do some due diligence on contracts etc as we know friends you’ve fallen foul of not reading the small print on Park home purchases.
I think as Angela stated for us it’s a case of having somewhere to land if visiting the UK, whether that’s for medical, family or simply just having a break from France.
And definately a Belt n Braces approach not being fully confident to have no place in the UK.

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It will be interesting to see how you feel about going back to the UK once you are here permanently. Some people continue to feel a pull back and some don’t.

For us, it was complicated by the massive uncertainties created by Brexit - at the time we moved, it was by no means clear whether we would be allowed to stay or would be able to financially. Once some sort of agreement, however, thin, was reached, things felt a lot more stable.

I think possibly the biggest pull back to the UK may well be family rather than health since the health service here is good. Since we don’t have any family, that particular pull doesn’t exist for us. Makes quite a difference, I think…


We sold up when we moved to France 20 years ago, burning your bridges means you have to overcome the difficulties/problems (communication, french way of doing stuff, shops closing at lunchtime😉 etc etc) to succeed. We have seen so many people come and go, the ones being more likely to go are those who have retained property in the UK.


I know plenty of Brits who feel the pull back to UK because of children, grandchildren etc, we don’t have that problem. We have brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews etc but not our own children. I see couples and one dies then the other feels the pull of returning to UK, I’ve personally seen this a number of times, actually it’s why our house was for sale 10 years back.

It’s definitely having (initially) that Belt n Braces approach, not being fully confident in having no place in the UK.

What visa do you need to move to France ?

I think that is the biggest conderation.

In terms of house, I would 100 % keep it. Or sell it and invest the money.

You need a get out of jail card if life in France is not for you.

Do you want to end up in an ephad in France in your older years ?

Much easier if you have all your finances in one country.

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Aside from the good advice above I would just add a caution about the Park Home concept in regard to poor resale value

I would have thought that if you wish to keep a property in UK to return to in old age or ill health, maybe an apartment in a place with all commodities and daily life might be better?

Park Homes seem to be gated communities for retirees in lesser populated locales, still requiring a car. You would need to be very sure such a lifestyle appeals to you because reversing the investment is difficult.

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One thing I do not really understand is why British nationals, after having chosen to be French residents, still wish to return to live in UK for health reasons?

I have found the health care system in France to be, frankly, far superior to the NHS. Is it possibly a language barrier?

I appreciate that it is not possible for some to take private healthcare cover but are not all CdS holding British residents fully covered in France?

This puzzles me and I am wondering if there is some hugely important immigration issue that I have missed.


Thanks Susannah for the Pros and Cons on Park homes, being a grumpy bugger part of the appeal is actually the location of Park homes, if the site is on a bus route then it’s fine. I accept that the value much the same as here in France will never increase, I’m comfortable with this. Like I posted earlier obviously one needs to do their homework about Park home sites and its owners.

I may have misstated returning to UK for health reasons, since I know Brits who’ve had treatment for cancer, leukaemia and heart attacks, stents fitted etc in France. All praising the level of service they received.


Some more good research for you @Grumpy_OldMan

Is it possible to rent a short, say fortnight, stay in an OAP village before you invest in a purchase? Might confirm or put you off.

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You’re making me feel old before my time :grin:, we’re both 54.

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If money is not an issue then I would keep the UK property for now, there is a big difference between visiting France for a few weeks a year and living here full time so give it time and see how things go.


That’s what we did @tim17 and don’t regret it, but there is a financial price of course.

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