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Buying a house in the Languedoc - the hunt begins

Buying a house in the Languedoc - the hunt begins

Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 07:51 AM
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Buying a house in the Languedoc - the hunt begins

After half a dozen trips to the south of France, DH and I have decided to address the biggest wish on our bucket list, and buy a house in the Languedoc. We live in Canada, and plan to spend up to six months a year in France once we've retired, which is not too far away now. Although we wouldn't count on rental income, we would like to be able to rent out during the summer, when we'd be in Canada.

Of course, we have a check list of must-haves and nice-to-haves, which in no particular order is as follows:

* In or on the edge of a village (bigger than a hamlet, smaller than a town), as we would prefer to have neighbours and become part of the community, but not far from a market town (DH is an ardent cook)

* A pool (small)

* A garden (small) and patio at ground level

* Old stone house in good repair (not a new villa)

* Proche to a major highway/autoroute as we would want easy access out of the region for short trips away.

* No viz-a-vis; private

* Perhaps no more than half an hour to good medical services (always a consideration when we're older)

* Relatively nice weather in the spring and fall particularly

We realize that finding our new home will require looking, and then more looking, but to begin with, there are two things that we need to start with.

First, what area of the Languedoc? DH loves Spain, and therefore the areas around Perpignan would be one choice. We weren't as enamoured of the landscape in the region around Carcasonne, although many of the towns of course are quite lovely. We enjoyed time spent in and around Pezanas, but don't know that area very well. All of our trips have been in the summer, so we also don't have any feel for the climates in mid and low season.

Secondly, any advice on finding a good estate agent. We will be babes in the woods, with some french (albeit with a Quebecois accent). I'm not familiar with how far afield one agent can go, so it may mean finding several agents.

We're planning our first house hunting trip in April, but I dont' want to book a gite until we have narrowed down the search parameters a bit.

As always, many thanks in advance for the invaluable advice Fodorites are famous for.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:01 AM
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Under the Schengen rule, you can only stay 90-in-180 days in Schengen (including France), so you need to space out your stays in order to be in France for 6 months in total.
This doesn't apply if you both have an EU passport. Getting a long-stay visa is another option.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:08 AM
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DH has an EU passport, and I had thought that by virtue of being married to him, or a combination of that and owning property, we could stay for longer at a time before Schengen rules kicked in. That's good to know. Thanks, Alec.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:26 AM
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Your husband needs to be exercising treaty rights in France for you to get residence right. Being retired and self-sufficient will be one, and you can get 5-year residence card from the local préfecture. If he has French passport, you will need a French spouse visa, as he cannot exercise treaty right in the country he is also a citizen of.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:29 AM
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Owning a property will have nothing to do with your ability to stay longer than 90 days, but being married to an EU citizen will. You will have to present yourself to the French authorities within 90 (or maybe it's 60, I forget) days of arriving, though, and apply for a carte de résidence and prove that you have health insurance and enough income to support the two of you. Google Freedom to Move and Live in Europe.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:31 AM
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If your husband loves Spain, why are you not considering it ? There are some bargains to be had.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:36 AM
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For clarity - DH is a Canadian citizen with an EU passport by virtue of his mother having been born in England.

Bedar - Happy wife, happy life (in France). Neither of us speaks Spanish, and so we (that is, I) would prefer to visit often than live there.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:38 AM
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You could look at Prades : half an hour from Perpignan and midway between the sea and the Pyrénées, it is a market town, there is a clinic in town with a 24 hr. emergency service. We've recently sold a house in the area through a very reliable local estate agent. If you are interested, I'll give you the name of the agency.
Weatherwise : I joke that we never have a real spring around here. The temperatures jump 10 or 15°C within a week or even less in May or June. Fall is usually beautiful - nice weather until mid-November, then a cold spell, then nice again until after Christmas. January and February are cold.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:44 AM
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UK passport holder can exercise treaty rights in France. It gets a little more complicated when it comes to healthcare. If he is of UK retirement age - 65 - then he will be covered for free and you as well under the French state health scheme. If he is under 65, some free cover may be available but the rest you will have to pay.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 09:06 AM
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We are also considering retiring in France, at least for 4-5 months per year. In the Languedoc, we fell in love with the town of Uzes, near Nimes. Unfortunately real estate prices are quite high in that area, so now we are exploring the Dordogne, where many bargains are to be had. Good luck with your search--I think the looking is just as much fun as the buying!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 09:31 AM
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Donna, I must say we love the Dordogne, but chose the Languedoc for the somewhat warmer offseason weather. And yes, searching (at least the online part we're doing now)is a great deal of fun.

Alec, thanks again for your advice. This is the first time I've run across a downside to having married a younger man! He's not that much younger, but you're right, we'll have to add in the cost of healthcare while we await his 65th.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 09:52 AM
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I spent an entire summer, a few years ago, in LUNEL. It is a non-descript town for tourists, but it seemed like a great town in which to own a home. It has great restaurants and nice scenery, and most important, it has a good and convenient railway station which connects to Nimes, Montpelier, Arles, Avignon and other important cities. Because of its central location, the fares to all these cities is pretty inexpensive. It also has good roads. The cost of living seemed to be very reasonable, and the people are amazingly friendly. If I were to look for a home in Languedoc, Lunel would definetly be my choice.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 10:09 AM
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I know someone who had a house in a village in Herault and it had absolutely everything that you are looking for. He lived there happily with his wife for about 10 years (they are British) but even though they participated in village activities and would have the mayor over for apéritif, suddenly they were being sued one day after a rock fall on their property. Nobody was hurt and it was not their fault. Anyway, he discovered that the mayor was behind this, absolutely impossible to imagine why, so he decided to sell his house and he is now living in a village in the Lot, where he is very happy. Neverthless, he is now selling that house because as he is getting on in years, and his wife has made it clear that she does not want to stay there if he dies (she still has lots of family in the UK), they are returning to the UK. I will try to see if it has been sold yet and will post the link if I find it -- the house appears to be really splendid.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 10:19 AM
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Also check French inheritance laws. they are very restrictive as to who you can leave property etc to.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 10:28 AM
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Plus French capital gains tax on selling your property.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 10:41 AM
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Check this out: http://www.connexionfrance.com/Inher...s-article.html
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 01:06 PM
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Thanks, Kerouac - interesting information on estates. And I would certainly be interested in seeing a link to the house where le maire drinks les aperitifs et puis sues people when rocks fall out of nowhere.

Walo - I will look at Lunel - cheers.

PVoyageuse - you know, I will think about Prades. We stayed once at a very nice place just on the edge of town, but because the owner stayed on site and was A Bit Of A Nutbar, it may have unfairly soured us on the town.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 01:18 PM
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I don't know if it is still for sale, but here is the link to the house in the Lot:

http://marminiac-maison.weebly.com/contact.html

(mcburja, that other house was sold to a French person very fast)
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 01:25 PM
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(Thread hijack)

How do you pronounce The Lot? I've been pronouncing the T at the end of Lot, and it's just occurred to me that it might be silent, as in merlot.

(I think we want to rent a house there next summer.)
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Old Dec 3rd, 2013, 01:32 PM
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Pavot, we stayed in Albas in The Lot a few years ago, it was a great place to stay and to use as a base. Initially terrible to find though even with a gps.
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