Hi Lindsay, I too am from Gloucestershire, I've got a small cottage there but it's rented out mostly to cover the mortgage for another 10 years, so I guess psychologically that makes me feel I could bolt home but then I'd have to repeat the cycle of sitting at the computer 10 hours a day to earn a living to cover the bills and at my age I felt it was slowly killing me after 35 years of it! I haven't been to France much but studied French at school; am a massive fan of the all the property programmes; 3 years ago on "Home or Away", they featured the Limousin as undiscovered and "you get more for your money" so I thought, that's where I will look and it stayed in my mind. When I got divorced 10 years ago I wanted to move to France as you get more house for your money and I love old properties and renovations and entertaining/B&B etc. I don't know why, I just feel so comfortable here. I see the communication via the internet so I never feel alone as I still do some work online just not so much, I have an elderly mother in the UK but otherwise nothing to return to the UK for. My daughter was young then and said no to France. Then a year ago things changed and I could do it.
I spent a year researching France online and properties. Budget for me was a serious consideration. I looked from the line from Bordeaux to Bergerac to Brive-la-Galliarde. I don't like too much heat all the time and although my heart wanted a country property with land for rescue animals, my head and my friends said at my age I needed to consider communications, ease of travel for my daughter, and to be in a town so I would have company when older and a manageable house, not a "money pit" in the country. I also did not want to spend time and money on viewing trips, so I cashed up and put my offers in, drove over, rented a property via AirBnB for 5 weeks and completed the purchase of the only house I viewed inside - a massive, very old stone townhouse in the medieval old town of Uzerche, (dept 19) in the Correze, overlooking the river Vezere. I love history, the family was delightful, the house amazing - just enough for me to do without too much and I am still awaiting my own furniture to arrive from the UK, yet you'd think I'd always been here. Haven't found out yet how to dispose of my rubbish but I will, have even managed to return to the UK as a holiday for 10 days to sort some stuff out. A neighbour stopped to chat yesterday; two neighbours chatted to me the other day. Some other English people saw me move in and came round with a homemade cake. The river walks are stunning, the countryside beautiful for dog-walking. I decided against the Creuse (too remote) and did not want to be as far up as Aubusson. The other property on my shortlist was even bigger, set in the country over towards Rochachouart and had 2 acres - I was sorely tempted and I did drive over one day and sit on the wall outside wondering whether to buy that or the townhouse. In the end I plumped for the town house being sensible and taking friends advice who have a house in Italy. I did like Haute Vienne and also the Charente, I found Charente Maritime more expensive, and I did not want to go on airplanes cos of the dogs so I drive up to Le Havre, so did not want to be down as far as Carcassone or that heat - too much for me! I found Provence too expensive for me. I love history so for me it's perfect here and I feel I can make a life here. Anyhow the house is easily set up as 3 or 4 apartments so can rent it out although the tourist season is short in Uzerche. As we are a bit higher if there's a cloud, we catch it but for me I got more house for my money and spectacular beauty and a friendly community and good communications via Limoges, Brive or Bergerac and it left me enough money in the bank to be comfortable and to be able to start again with work and new projects before I felt too old to do so. I am 60 next year, so I can see some similarities with your situation.
Happy to meet up while you are over here. If you'd like to come over and visit you'd be more than welcome. I moved on my own but in Gloucestershire I was struggling to pay all the bills, tired of the work, feeling old and stiff and my big idea of a treat was going out to Waitrose Cirencester to treat myself to a coffee once a week.
Last Christmas my mother was ill, my daughter was with my ex and I spent 4 weeks including Christmas day - and the dog died on Xmas day too - on my own with tree and presents wrapped up - I just thought I don't have to be in this state any more so I set about changing it. Stopped work, did the house up spent 300 hours cleaning and painting from top to bottom, got a buyer at full asking price - first person who walked through the door, sold up and completed my purchase here in France in 5 weeks, the Notaire and estate agent were all marvellous.