Buying a home in France

With the advent of the European Union, it has become much easier to move to a different country and, for many British people, France is a popular destination.  Some people wish to move because they like the lifestyle, others enjoy the warmer climate, or wish to live somewhere that inspires them in their particular art or craft.  Others are looking for a holiday home, which they can visit frequently themselves, but also let out either commercially or to friends and family.The first thing to decide is whether you wish to live in the town or in the country, on the coast or inland, near an airport (if you will be making frequent journeys back to the UK) or in a remote area.  Then consider whether you prefer the older style of property – many houses in rural France are around three hundred year old – or more modern architecture.

Whatever your choice, you'll find it among all the adverts or on the websites of estate agencies, or by going there direct. You can also search the listings for private sales, for which there are several websites, or on those sites that include a bit of everything and where you simply specify the type of property, price and the region or the city where you want to buy.

To do this, it is advisable to take the time to look carefully at all the ads you can find, because it may be that the same property is advertised with more than one agent, or possibly privately as well, for considerably different prices.  It is also best to visit as many houses as possible instead of deciding on one very quickly because, again, prices sometimes vary greatly depending on the property, for no real reason except what the seller wants.

Be aware that the advertised price is always negotiable, and that in the current environment, sellers prefer to announce a price too high initially so that they can then negotiate. Do not hesitate to position yourself and make an offer that seems fair, even if the starting price is too high for you. Currently, sellers prefer to conclude that a fair price which is lower than they had asked is better than not selling at all!  

Once your choice made and your offer accepted, it is best to have a first agreement signed by the seller and yourself and subsequently a sale agreement with a notary, to avoid any future problems. At the same time, unless you have the full amount available, you will need to apply for a loan from your bank for all or part of the amount to suit your needs.

It will take time to consider your application: it depends on the banks. After the loan agreement, you will again need to visit the notary to sign the deed of sale and it is only then that you will finally become the owner of your new French property.

To summarise, don’t rush into anything.  Make sure it is what you want, where you want and at the right price for you.  It is no use buying something that is just a little more than you can afford as you will have to find the repayments for many years.  Remember that it is easier to buy than to sell.  Remember too that France is a beautiful country and you will almost certainly be very happy there.

Moving to France Q&A


Question: My husband and I are considering leaving the rat race of teaching in London and are moving to Paris with our two children (aged 10 and 12). He can make a living from working remotely doing graphic design, but I have heard that it can be very difficult to find English speaking jobs in Paris.  Any sensible suggestions would be appreciated.

Answer: As you are a qualified teacher, you may wish to consider becoming a homestay in Paris family, for French children who are looking to learn English.  You take between two and four French children (friends or siblings) at a time for periods of either 6 or 13 days, who make all the arrangements, provide suggested lesson plans, materials or projects for daily activities, as well as continuous support during the duration of the stay.  Some host families take children in for several months a year, during school holidays, whilst others prefer to earn some extra cash for just a few weeks during the peak times.

Sally Cornan Daily English