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Experience is a great thing...and once you’ve done something it seems easy , beforehand just a bit more daunting, partly due to so many unknowns....
i’m startin out on the journey to move to France... I’m 56, male, semi retired, very practical (restored old English buildings as a job/hobby) and just feel a bit stuck in a rut in England with the bad weather, closed in feeling and just want a radical change of scenery.....
I currently live near Bath, on a farm, and looking for the same sort of setup in France... looking at the moment in Provence and around Bordeaux.... I realise I am pretty clueless and naive about pretty much everything so any help would be so greatly appreciated! Community is important, but space is as well. Looking idealy to be close to a large urban area for shop/life etc, and also near nice villages and if possible not too far from the beach etc....
looking to rent initially the buy once I’m happy about the chosen area.
Would be great to get some suggestions or pointers on good and not so good places. Things to consider and where the expat communities are etc, or aren’t. I don’t want to be isolated but also want my space.
have no idea really how much things would cost, I have a resonable amount of cash behind me and could be boosted by a mortgage, but that’s another thing to look into.
if you’ve been there ,done it and can offer advice to a decent english guy finding his way I’d be very appreciative!

All the best and thanks for reading.

Jonathan.
 

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Living in France is not always easy for Brits, even before Brexit.

My opinion is that you should only move to France unless you really love France. Of course, there are many different aspects of France, we all have our own reasons.

A few observations.

1. How's your French? It's much better if you can get by, and read the inevitiable admin documents.

2. Look around in France on a long holiday outside the tourist season. Then rent to see if you really like it.

3. Difficult question....ask yourself what will you do in France that you cannot do in some (other?) part of the UK?

Happy to discuss further....DejW
 

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This seems to be a major "issue" for many Brits hoping to move to France. Now that Britain is no longer in the EU, your "rights" to move here can seem severely restricted, but they are no worse than those for other non-EU nationals (Americans, Canadians, Australians or Kiwis, among others).

The key thing (at least until you are of retirement age and can start drawing your pension) is that you will need some "financial resources" other than just living off your savings. You won't have the right to work (and anyhow, finding a job as a foreigner with "some" French is pretty difficult, especially right now) so coming over as an "early retiree" may not be an option.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Living in France is not always easy for Brits, even before Brexit.

My opinion is that you should only move to France unless you really love France. Of course, there are many different aspects of France, we all have our own reasons.

A few observations.

1. How's your French? It's much better if you can get by, and read the inevitiable admin documents.

2. Look around in France on a long holiday outside the tourist season. Then rent to see if you really like it.

3. Difficult question....ask yourself what will you do in France that you cannot do in some (other?) part of the UK?

Happy to discuss further....DejW
Hi,, Thanks for the message.... in answer to your questions, my French is basic conversational but ok, and will look to improve it through classes etc... My initial plan would be to continue looking about, I’ve had various trips recently to the south of France, and the souuthern west side and would rent initially to get the feel.... the sensible option isn’t it.
Part of the problem is the ‘something to do’ issue, the idea of buying an old farmstead appeals... and something that I’ve done in the uk (house renovations) as a job for 30 years so I’m not phased by much. I think I’m attracted by the change and challenge as much as anything... I’ve looked around UK and, although it would I guess be easier I just like the idea of France.
It’s nice to be ‘challenged’ by your questions and thanks for taking the time to write. I’m looking for exactly that - getting me to think about things that aren’t immediately obvious.... so thanks again.
All the best, Jonathan.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Post Brexit, unless you have an EU passport or any other route to residency rights, I think that to avoid disappointment your journey will have to start here: France-visas.gouv.fr | The official website for visa application to France

Once you're sure you will qualify for a visa, you can move on to the fun part of the planning process.
Hi, thankls for the message. I’ve looked into the residency path and there seem to be two main criteria - having health insurance and enough money. Both of those I seem to be ok with.. although I’m an ‘early retiree’ I have an income from commercial lettings that would be enough to support me.
I’ve recently gone through the visa application process but at the time (a couple of months ago) the visas weren’t being processed due to Covid. It seemed fairly straight forward though... unless of course I’ve missed something!
i’m pretty sure, from doing my application that I’ll qualify for the Visa.

thanks again for the message,

All the best, Jonathan.
 

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Part of the problem is the ‘something to do’ issue, the idea of buying an old farmstead appeals... and something that I’ve done in the uk (house renovations) as a job for 30 years so I’m not phased by much. I think I’m attracted by the change and challenge as much as anything... I’ve looked around UK and, although it would I guess be easier I just like the idea of France.
It is a good reason to move to France.

But, a couple of things.

1) Unless you renovate something in a marketable area, you will lose an awful lot of money. Rennovation is very expensive in France. and you will not be able to sell it back at a profit or break even. So it will become an expensive hobby.

2) Once it is finished, you will bored out of your mind.

You know, trading in Bath for France. You would be mad to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This seems to be a major "issue" for many Brits hoping to move to France. Now that Britain is no longer in the EU, your "rights" to move here can seem severely restricted, but they are no worse than those for other non-EU nationals (Americans, Canadians, Australians or Kiwis, among others).

The key thing (at least until you are of retirement age and can start drawing your pension) is that you will need some "financial resources" other than just living off your savings. You won't have the right to work (and anyhow, finding a job as a foreigner with "some" French is pretty difficult, especially right now) so coming over as an "early retiree" may not be an option.
Hi, Thanks for the message, very much appreciated.. this is the first time I’ve ever used a Forum so ‘finding my way’ but every comment is fantastic so thanks again.
Although I‘ve described myself as an early retiree i still run a business but very passively. I have a numer of commercial lettings in the uk which give me a very good income. It gives me the income and flexibility to enable me to consider the move to France. I won’t need to or be looking to work other than possibly to renovete of do work to a property I may buy. My current tax returns show an income significantly higher than the level needed for the Visa application plus I may be able to buy a property outright, obviously depending on price.... So I think I should be ok.
Again very much appreciate your comment. I realise I’m ‘starting at the beginning‘ with this but everyone does i guess!
Any comment welcome.
Kind Regards, Jonathan.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It is a good reason to move to France.

But, a couple of things.

1) Unless you renovate something in a marketable area, you will lose an awful lot of money. Rennovation is very expensive in France. and you will not be able to sell it back at a profit or break even. So it will become an expensive hobby.

2) Once it is finished, you will bored out of your mind.

You know, trading in Bath for France. You would be mad to do so.
Hi , thanks for the message. And I get what you’re saying. identifying the Marketable areas is sensible and if you have any pointers to identify those it would be appreciated... I guess a chat with a few agents is the first call....
I am actually bored out of my mind at the moment lol... I do seem to have an idilic life in most peoples view but I need as in NEED a change. I’ve renovated a number ( more than 20) buildings in England and like the (right) French architecture and building style. I realise also that I need to be challenged over all sorts of things to make me sit up and think but that’s always welcome.... so thanks again for your comment.
Making a profit on the project wouldn’t be the main objective... having an expensive hobby would be ok... i just want to enjoy the journey. I think the main idea behind it is to enjoy the journey and do something new.
Thanks again...

Kind Regards,

Jonathan.
 

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This is just an oddball thought, but there are always items on the TV about people "passionate" about their local patrimoine - old châteaux, for example, but not just that, there are all sorts of weird old buildings being restored by groups of friends, amateurs, charitable associations etc. It might be worth looking at that sort of project. It would certainly be a challenge!

On the plus side, it would be a way of getting to know a community; it might spare you some of the costs; it could be a project with a real aim (rather than 'just' doing up a house as a hobby). On the downside, you might need a lot more French; it could be hard to be accepted and to integrate (although if you've got the skills and the enthusiasm that would be a huge bonus); you might have to give up some control of how the work progresses; you might need to respect building standards, qualifications, safety standards, etc that you could short-circuit on your own ... well, you get the picture.

How to find such a project? Don't know, but I'm sure there are ways and means.

Edit: some after thoughts ... you could be lucky and fall into (or look for) a project that allows - or encourages - you to come and go, and do the work every few weeks with breaks in between. It might also helpful in getting a long stay visa, or citizenship, if that appeals.
 

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One thing about renovating a property yourself is that artisans in France have to have a 10 year insurance on their work so if you come to sell this could be a problem Also the electrics are different so you may want to employ a french sparky
One thought- as you are into property why not set up a small company to do minor work for others once you are sorted?
 

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This is just an oddball thought, but there are always items on the TV about people "passionate" about their local patrimoine - old châteaux, for example, but not just that, there are all sorts of weird old buildings being restored by groups of friends, amateurs, charitable associations etc. It might be worth looking at that sort of project. It would certainly be a challenge!

On the plus side, it would be a way of getting to know a community; it might spare you some of the costs; it could be a project with a real aim (rather than 'just' doing up a house as a hobby). On the downside, you might need a lot more French; it could be hard to be accepted and to integrate (although if you've got the skills and the enthusiasm that would be a huge bonus); you might have to give up some control of how the work progresses; you might need to respect building standards, qualifications, safety standards, etc that you could short-circuit on your own ... well, you get the picture.

How to find such a project? Don't know, but I'm sure there are ways and means.

Edit: some after thoughts ... you could be lucky and fall into (or look for) a project that allows - or encourages - you to come and go, and do the work every few weeks with breaks in between. It might also helpful in getting a long stay visa, or citizenship, if that appeals.
Hi, thanks for the thoughts... I’d be looking for a place for myself but a good idea to do something like that as well... I’m open to the idea of buying a ‘fully done up place’ but as we all know that just means you pay for things yoiu don’t like and pull them out and replace them. I’ve always renovated houses I’ve lived in and , whilst not looking necessarilyt for a huge project just fancy something a bit run down to put my mark on and also hopefully get at a decent price.
As Smeg said earlier (POST 7) area is critical and I need advice on that... I’ve been looking around Dordogne, Bordeaux and Around Marseilles... but quite a large radius... I guess I’ll know when I see it.... !
thanks again for your thoughts...
All the best, Jonathan.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
One thing about renovating a property yourself is that artisans in France have to have a 10 year insurance on their work so if you come to sell this could be a problem Also the electrics are different so you may want to employ a french sparky
One thought- as you are into property why not set up a small company to do minor work for others once you are sorted?
Hi, Thanks for the message... I intend to employ local tradespeople for any work... and get involved where I can... The bits that need the insurances I guess I’ll have to... something to look into so thanks for the thought...
I’m actually trying to simplify my life down lol so don’t want to do any work for anyone... just happy to work on my own place... I’m lucky to be in a situation now where I don’t need to work for anyone to get the income...
thanks again for the thoughts...

All the best, Jonathan.
 

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What is your budget OP ?

I would rather renovate a flat where I could sell it on than a farmhouse that won't sell for anything.

I am sure you know what I mean.
 

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Would that work, with the visa?
I don’t think it would.. but not something I want or need to do...although in different circmstasnces might be an idea. I’m not tooooo fussed about the financial side, just want the right place, in the right place that works for me... Asense of space and just doing something different if you know what I mean!

all the best, Juonathan.
 

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What is your budget OP ?

I would rather renovate a flat where I could sell it on than a farmhouse that won't sell for anything.

I am sure you know what I mean.
Hi.. you’ll have to tell me what OP means , sorry, new to this. Budget could be anything up to about a million euros.. but the main thing I’m looking for is quality of life rather than doing a place up to sell on... It would be my intention to live there then use it as a base...if I get the right place I probably wouldn’t sell it... but who knows!

Kind Regards,

Jonathan
 

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As ET pointed out, the new status of Brits in France makes the notion of setting up a business rather iffy. But one other consideration in the home renovation plan - people in France aren't as into fixing up places and then selling them. It is changing (isn't everything?) but people here tend to buy a home and stay in it - fixing it up the way they want it and either living in it to the end (and then passing it to their kids) or just selling up when it's time to move on without much thought to "making a profit" on resale.

The other factor you'll have in all this is the exchange rate fluctuations - if you're making your income in Sterling but living and spending euros you need to be prepared to handle swings both directions in the exchange rate between the two currencies. It may be no big deal, but I know a number of expats who had either had to move back "home" or who felt themselves "stuck" due to sharp swings in the exchange rates. Something to plan for at least, usually by setting up some reserves in each currency to see you through times when one or the other takes a dive.
 

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As ET pointed out, the new status of Brits in France makes the notion of setting up a business rather iffy. But one other consideration in the home renovation plan - people in France aren't as into fixing up places and then selling them. It is changing (isn't everything?) but people here tend to buy a home and stay in it - fixing it up the way they want it and either living in it to the end (and then passing it to their kids) or just selling up when it's time to move on without much thought to "making a profit" on resale.

The other factor you'll have in all this is the exchange rate fluctuations - if you're making your income in Sterling but living and spending euros you need to be prepared to handle swings both directions in the exchange rate between the two currencies. It may be no big deal, but I know a number of expats who had either had to move back "home" or who felt themselves "stuck" due to sharp swings in the exchange rates. Something to plan for at least, usually by setting up some reserves in each currency to see you through times when one or the other takes a dive.
I’d be looking to buy a home... wouldn’t be interested in doing it up to sell it... and planning on not working so won’t have the issues associated with that... I’m actually open to the idea of buying a home that is completely done.. just interested to know where the ‘good’ places to buy or at least look, are... Thanks again for the thoughts, I should be ok with the currency fluctuations and will obviously need to set up a french bank account (probably need advice on that too)...
All the best, Jonathan.
 

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OK, as for where to look for a place - what do you plan on doing with your time? (Other than perhaps some fix-up work on the house.) Do you want to be in or near a town? How large a town? With what basic facilities? (Think shops, medical facilities, restaurants, bars, entertainment, transportation, etc. etc.) If you want to be out in the "country" are you planning on hunting and fishing? other sporting activities (hiking? biking? skiing in season)? or gardening/small scale "farming" (aka a really big veggie garden). Any particular sorts of activities you'd like to have reasonably close by? Those are the sorts of things that will lead to ideas where to start looking.
 
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