Forum home Road cycling forum The cake stop

Buying in France

ProssPross Posts: 29,549
Out of the blue we've decided to look at the possibility of buying a place in France. Initially it would be a holiday home for us and to let when we aren't using it. We've looked at Brittany and were amazed at how cheap it still is (5 bedroom detached houses with no work required for €150,000). Initially we'd be looking at something less grand and there are 2 bedroom places in a bit of land for €40,000. We could go halves with my younger daughter who has inherited a bit of money, we would then buy her out once she was ready to get a place of her own.

I know a few of you have or had places in France and was looking for tips on things to think of, hidden costs to consider, how easy the process is of buying out there. In terms of travel we would generally do the ferry to St Malo but I would also want to look at flight options in case we wanted to travel in the months where the crossing wouldn't be very enjoyable or so I could pop back if I was set up there working in the summer months.

All advice welcome even if it's "don't do it"!
«13

Posts

  • ProssPross Posts: 29,549
    Not sure what the visa situation is now either and also would WFH for a UK company require a work visa (I assume not or, at least, no-one would know!).
  • pinkbikinipinkbikini Posts: 756
    edited 28 March
    The drawback could be if you really like it, can work from there and realise how amazing the cycling is. Then the Brexit 90-day restriction needs to be considered. No knowing whether France will choose to allow easy visa extensions or not.

    Those prices look good though! Key will be deciding what market you want to rent to - proximity to markets, towns, beaches, cycle routes, walking, etc all come into play.

    Good luck, it’ll be fun!

    I don’t own a place in France, BTW, but have family and many friends who do.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,549
    I could certainly see us moving out there eventually but not while the in-laws are still around as I suspect they'll need the wife around in a few years.
  • Mad_MalxMad_Malx Posts: 4,368
    I’m following this thread in the hope of tips for similar. Got paid off from work last September and fancy a base on the continent if practicable.
  • Stevo_666Stevo_666 Posts: 46,772
    You probably want to get advice from @briantrumpet who I believe owns a place in France.

    I'll be predictable and say check out the tax angles.
    "I spent most of my money on birds, booze and fast cars: the rest of it I just squandered." [George Best]
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,565
    Long story short: shook hands on my place end of December 2012, was mine mid-March 2013.

    All legal aspects were handled by the notaire who acted on behalf of both the seller and me. French notaires are heavily regulated by the French state, complete with non-negotiable fees: both seller and buyer will each pay about 5% of the agreed price, but that was my only legal fee (though I did get the contract looked over by a UK notary public who has dealt with French property purchase, though you might want to consult a full-blown lawyer with experience in French property purchase.)

    Finance-wise, as soon as I had shaken hands on the property, I bought the euros from Travelex (at 1.22) for up to three months later, to prevent any nasty surprises between shaking hands and the day of transfer, when the funds had to be deposited in the notaire's account.

    Actually very smooth, but I've no idea how typical my experience is. I can dig out my contract if it's helpful to compare, in due course. And do ask specific questions, though I don't promise to remember all details!

  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,565
    Best thing I've ever done, even if Brexit has made everything more complicated (including notions of retiring there full time, without severe hurdles that weren't there before)

    Oh, BTW, property taxes are low - there are two: Taxe d'habitation and Taxe foncière, but in total come to about a third of my council tax in the UK.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,549

    Best thing I've ever done, even if Brexit has made everything more complicated (including notions of retiring there full time, without severe hurdles that weren't there before)

    Oh, BTW, property taxes are low - there are two: Taxe d'habitation and Taxe foncière, but in total come to about a third of my council tax in the UK.

    Cheers. How do utility bills stack up out there?
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,565
    Pross said:

    Best thing I've ever done, even if Brexit has made everything more complicated (including notions of retiring there full time, without severe hurdles that weren't there before)

    Oh, BTW, property taxes are low - there are two: Taxe d'habitation and Taxe foncière, but in total come to about a third of my council tax in the UK.

    Cheers. How do utility bills stack up out there?
    'Lectric is cheap (nuclear, innit!), water/sewerage OK (roughly £200 a year), I cook on bottled gas and heat by woodburner. I've got a good mobile deal, but fixed line phone is in a state of flux if you haven't got a line already - so internet might be problematic if you don't have a current fixed line.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,565
    Bottom line: for something between £500 & £1000pa, I've got somewhere I've averaged about 9/10 weeks a year in. Yes, it's only modest, but, TBH, I'm hardly ever in the house when I'm there. Why would I stay indoors?


  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,577


    All legal aspects were handled by the notaire who acted on behalf of both the seller and me. French notaires are heavily regulated by the French state, complete with non-negotiable fees: both seller and buyer will each pay about 5% of the agreed price

    Paid by the purchaser.

    For a 150,000 euro property in the Cote d'Armor you would pay an additional 12 300 € to the notaire but it varies a bit for each department.
    BASI Nordic Ski Instructor
    Instagramme
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,549

    Bottom line: for something between £500 & £1000pa, I've got somewhere I've averaged about 9/10 weeks a year in. Yes, it's only modest, but, TBH, I'm hardly ever in the house when I'm there. Why would I stay indoors?


    Would love to be somewhere like that or maybe the Ardeche but with the dogs we need to be able to channel hop on the ferry and that's a bit of a trek the other side unfortunately.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,565
    davidof said:


    All legal aspects were handled by the notaire who acted on behalf of both the seller and me. French notaires are heavily regulated by the French state, complete with non-negotiable fees: both seller and buyer will each pay about 5% of the agreed price

    Paid by the purchaser.

    For a 150,000 euro property in the Cote d'Armor you would pay an additional 12 300 € to the notaire but it varies a bit for each department.

    Thanks - seller pays some too though, I thought. And does some of that filter back to the state? Can't remember...
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,565
    Pross said:

    Bottom line: for something between £500 & £1000pa, I've got somewhere I've averaged about 9/10 weeks a year in. Yes, it's only modest, but, TBH, I'm hardly ever in the house when I'm there. Why would I stay indoors?


    Would love to be somewhere like that or maybe the Ardeche but with the dogs we need to be able to channel hop on the ferry and that's a bit of a trek the other side unfortunately.

    Yep - as I get older the 750 miles will be a downside, but the upside is Mediterranean summers, virtually no British people, and hardly any English spoken. Brittany is like Cornwall but with a different accent (and no pasties).
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 23,190
    Warning - Brittany is like Cornwall for Cycling too ;)

    /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,577
    edited 28 March


    Thanks - seller pays some too though, I thought. And does some of that filter back to the state? Can't remember...

    No paid for by the purchaser, they are correctly called les frais d'acquisition. The seller would pay estate agents fees if they used one, around 7% is typical.

    As for whether it is a good idea for the OP hard to say. I would try renting for a few weeks a gite or AirBnB to get a good look at the area. The south can be insanely hot for long periods which may not suit everyone. The winters long and isolated. Brittany is very wet, more so than Cornwall for some reason.

    Brexit means Brits can only stay for 90 days in 180 unless they apply for a Visa. Another issue is that as third country nationals the govt can chose to levy higher property taxes on you if it so wishes.

    WFH would be a no-no in theory but it depends if anyone can find out I suppose.

    I can't comment much on expenses. Where I live it costs more than the UK to live with property taxes, bills etc. for a similar property in a similar sized town but I'm restricted by my job and the missus would never live in the sticks so that's a factor for me.
    BASI Nordic Ski Instructor
    Instagramme
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,565
    davidof said:


    Thanks - seller pays some too though, I thought. And does some of that filter back to the state? Can't remember...

    No paid for by the purchaser, they are correctly called les frais d'acquisition. The seller would pay estate agents fees if they used one, around 7% is typical.

    As for whether it is a good idea for the OP hard to say. I would try renting for a few weeks a gite or AirBnB to get a good look at the area. The south can be insanely hot for long periods which may not suit everyone. Brittany is very wet, more so than Cornwall for some reason.

    Brexit means Brits can only stay for 90 days in 180 unless they apply for a Visa. Another issue is that as third country nationals the govt can chose to levy higher property taxes on you if it so wishes.

    WFH would be a no-no in theory but it depends if anyone can find out I suppose.

    I can't comment much on expenses. Where I live it costs more than the UK to live with property taxes, bills etc. for a similar property in a similar sized town but I'm restricted by my job and the missus would never live in the sticks so that's a factor for me.

    Thanks for filling in my memory gaps. I actually had some UK friends in the general area, so with a couple of weeks actually there and quizzing them lots before viewing, I had a good enough feel for the place... it was about six months from first going there to shaking hands on the sale.

    The local prices were low for modest/unmodernised properties, not least as it's got poor employment opportunities and is not close enough to easily commute to the nearest (100k) city (and that's not exactly a technological hub). Obviously for holidays that makes it attractive, even if the sea is 140 miles away over some mountains.
  • Mad_MalxMad_Malx Posts: 4,368
    Apart from the number of days without visa, has Brexit affected buying property?
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,549
    davidof said:


    Thanks - seller pays some too though, I thought. And does some of that filter back to the state? Can't remember...

    No paid for by the purchaser, they are correctly called les frais d'acquisition. The seller would pay estate agents fees if they used one, around 7% is typical.

    As for whether it is a good idea for the OP hard to say. I would try renting for a few weeks a gite or AirBnB to get a good look at the area. The south can be insanely hot for long periods which may not suit everyone. The winters long and isolated. Brittany is very wet, more so than Cornwall for some reason.

    Brexit means Brits can only stay for 90 days in 180 unless they apply for a Visa. Another issue is that as third country nationals the govt can chose to levy higher property taxes on you if it so wishes.

    WFH would be a no-no in theory but it depends if anyone can find out I suppose.

    I can't comment much on expenses. Where I live it costs more than the UK to live with property taxes, bills etc. for a similar property in a similar sized town but I'm restricted by my job and the missus would never live in the sticks so that's a factor for me.
    Thanks. We've holidayed in Brittany a few times and like it which, along with access, is the attraction (although we've tended to spend our time in the western side of the region around Dol Dr Bretagne and the houses we've looked at are generally a bit further west). Realistically it would be mainly spring and summer so pretty happy with our experiences with the climate there.
  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,577



    The local prices were low for modest/unmodernised properties, not least as it's got poor employment opportunities and is not close enough to easily commute to the nearest (100k) city (and that's not exactly a technological hub). Obviously for holidays that makes it attractive, even if the sea is 140 miles away over some mountains.

    Yes, you are much better placed to comment whether it is a good idea or not as a holiday base.

    BASI Nordic Ski Instructor
    Instagramme
  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,577
    Pross said:



    Thanks. We've holidayed in Brittany a few times and like it which, along with access, is the attraction (although we've tended to spend our time in the western side of the region around Dol Dr Bretagne and the houses we've looked at are generally a bit further west). Realistically it would be mainly spring and summer so pretty happy with our experiences with the climate there.

    The south side has a better climate.

    It is a property hotspot at the moment with prices having increased by up to 20% over the last 12 months. This is due to Parisians escaping the city to WFH in a house rather than being cooped up in an apartment in the city.

    I mention this as agents will tell you the market is very hot but don't feel pressured. AT the same time information about the French property market is very opaque and tightly controlled by the notaires who have their own interests.
    BASI Nordic Ski Instructor
    Instagramme
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,565
    edited 28 March
    ddraver said:

    Warning - Brittany is like Cornwall for Cycling too ;)

    /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\


    Mind you, the only pretty bits of Cornwall are on the coast, and properties there are silly money, and it's still Cornwall, the land of Camborne, St Austell, and Bugle. Not my favourite cycling destination, I'll admit.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 9,585
    I'll be watching this with interest - had always been my plan to move to France in the not too distant future, but with the exhange rate, and all of the other complications caused by leaving the EU, I struggle to see how it can be viable.

    I find it very depressing - so depressing I would dearly like to leave the country, but then we come full circle to not very easily be able to move to another country in Europe :-(

    I truly hope you can make it work, even if only for the holiday/rental element.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • surrey_commutersurrey_commuter Posts: 14,590
    I know a few people who have done it and would say research as much as you can on whether the flights could stop and what that would do to you and prices. Also when you come to sell it can take several years.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 7,565

    I know a few people who have done it and would say research as much as you can on whether the flights could stop and what that would do to you and prices. Also when you come to sell it can take several years.


    Mine had been on the market two years and had dropped 20% to sell (and I offered 5% less than that). I certainly didn't buy it as an investment, especially given the costs of selling/buying.
  • womackwomack Posts: 475
    edited 29 March
    Pross. Not France but we have had a place in Portugal for 20 years.

    So far Brexit (after covid ends) will curtail our length and timing of trips obviously cos of the 90/180.

    Portugal is now making all non residents who own there appoint a Fiscal Representative even if you have no Portuguese income. As we pay IMI (council tax) we have to have a rep. We have paid the IMI ourselves no problems for 20 years, now we have to pay someone circa 200 Euro to do it. Our bill is 336 Euro!!

    Lots of UK based holiday home insurers have stopped offering insurance.

    With regard to France, the Algarve is now overrun with French retirees and are overtaking the Brits for purchasing there. I don't know the full facts but talking to some French neighbours it appears taxation on French pensioners is punitive.

    Another point that attracts retirees to Portugal is the NHR scheme which gives 10 year's tax free on most UK pensions (not all) income.

    Other post Brexit stuff, in Spain if a British holiday home owner rents out their property they will now pay more income tax than an EU holiday home owner.

    Also certainly in Portugal and I would imagine in other Schengen countries where as you could just turn up and obtaining residency was pretty straightforward with no test now proof of solvency and income are required to see if you can support yourself / family.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,440
    You also need to look at the practicality of spending 90 days/180 in France. I understand the the EHC card is still valid, but one needs to read the small print carefully, to see whether you need to purchase a "travel" insurance. Equally, you need to check how much is going to cost you to insure your car to drive in France for 90 days, might be nothing, or 10 pounds, but worth checking. How easy will it be to get broadband without being resident?

    All in, if the dream of retiring there is taken away, then the idea of owning a property abroad is a lot less appealing and sounds like a ball and a chain. Ultimately, it means your ability to go on holiday in different places is probably restricted by finances and you will always revert to that place. It might well be that once you do the maths, it's more convenient to just rent a flat/house when you want to go on holiday, wherever you feel like going...
    Of course a property is an asset, but when things are cheap, it's because the market is slow, so it might take you years to sell it, if you need to
  • surrey_commutersurrey_commuter Posts: 14,590

    You also need to look at the practicality of spending 90 days/180 in France. I understand the the EHC card is still valid, but one needs to read the small print carefully, to see whether you need to purchase a "travel" insurance. Equally, you need to check how much is going to cost you to insure your car to drive in France for 90 days, might be nothing, or 10 pounds, but worth checking. How easy will it be to get broadband without being resident?

    All in, if the dream of retiring there is taken away, then the idea of owning a property abroad is a lot less appealing and sounds like a ball and a chain. Ultimately, it means your ability to go on holiday in different places is probably restricted by finances and you will always revert to that place. It might well be that once you do the maths, it's more convenient to just rent a flat/house when you want to go on holiday, wherever you feel like going...
    Of course a property is an asset, but when things are cheap, it's because the market is slow, so it might take you years to sell it, if you need to

    It can also become an emotional ball and chain as you feel the need to keep going. One of the advantages of Brittany is the remoteness which makes popping over for short breaks harder
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,549
    We've had static caravans for years so are quite used to that. One of the attractions of buying in France is that you can get a house for about the same price as a reasonable caravan in the UK, you aren't at the whim of ground rent increases and don't have the threat of being kicked off the site if you don't buy a new £40k 'home' in 10 or 12 years.
Sign In or Register to comment.