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Home Stays in Europe

Old Aug 7th, 2000, 06:59 AM
  #1  
R Smith
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Home Stays in Europe

Message: Hello Fodorites,

I would like to start a new thread on this forum, if it is acceptable to other readers and the Fadors staff.

There seem to be at least several participants who own property abroad. They are private individuals that own a second home and rent it to help defray expenses. They are not large profit making corporations but travelers like most of the people that read this board who want to maximise their travel experience and have done so by actaully establishing a homebase abroad.

There are also readers who are interested in renting such property rather than staying in a traditional hotel or travelling with a tour group. These are independant individuals who actually wish to spend a week or two in a location more as a resident than as a visitor.

The thread that I propose would allow interested readers to exchange ideas on home stays, and even communicate with other readers who own property in Europe. I agree with the concept that this forum should not be used as a commercial site. At no time should anyone on this forum receive any unsolicited email from another reader.HOwever I frequently see many posts for requests for such property, the response is usually someone will give the web-site of a large rental service. I've rented property both through large rental services and from individuals and have found the individual the better travel bargain. But it can be difficult to find individuals who have property available.

My wife and I are in the process of remodeling an apartment in the Latin Quarter, which is the realization of a dream. The dream of actually owning our own little corner of Paris. I would be glad to share our experiences, the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, with others and would love to hear about the experiences of other adventuresome souls.

I think this subject is an extension of the travel experience and is an appropriate subject for this forum.

I would like to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Sincerely,

Randall Smith
 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 03:44 PM
  #2  
John
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Hi, Randall,
Heck, yes, I'll bite. We have a couple of of British acquaintances or their friends who've acquired houses or flats on the continent (principally France) for use as a second home or retirement property, and we're intrigued by the thought. We've looked at some internet listings and are truly tempted by the relatively low prices (by big-city US standards, anyway) for gorgeous - really gorgeous - homes in places like the Dordogne.

I wonder how many US nationals have done this, or if owning property is harder for non-EC residents than for member countries' citizens, and I'd welcome some stories, as well as indications of costs of living seldom encountered by travelers, like taxes, utility expenses, costs of repairs and renovations, etc. If one rents out the property during the time one's not using it, how do the numbers work out? How about estate agents, management services, security, insurance, all that? We'd love to hear back and start fleshing out something which is now just pure fantasy.

I think this is in keeping with the use guidelines, provided any actual business dealings happen off-forum.
 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 03:55 PM
  #3  
nancy
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I am always wary of sticking my foot out on this site,(but it usually does not stop me)because some just love to jump on anything *They* do not feel is in keeping with the Fodor policies.
I think others call them the "fodor police".
I think this would be a great topic to be able to get info on.
We are renting an apt. in Rome next June (for our first week in Italy, )it belongs to an Italian family that uses it periodically.
We ended up going through a travel agent who deals with Italian Itineraries , agency that deals in properties.
I would love to see this happen,but I am not sure Fodor's would feel this is the appropriate place for it.
But it is a great idea.
Nancy
 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 04:00 PM
  #4  
Me
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Hi Randall, and thanks for starting this thread.

When you were shopping for your property, did you do it in person, or through the internet? Or both?

While in Paris, I've picked up several flyers about properties for sale. There seem to be a wide range of prices. I live in an area with a very hot real estate market - everything goes into a bidding war and is sold way over asking price. Is this true in Paris?

Thanks for any info/tips you can provide. We have started to think seriously about a purchase in France, so this thread is very timely.
 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 04:27 PM
  #5  
Art
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Another thought. A few years ago I heard about the concept of swapping houses with residents of European countries for a period of time. This would seem to me to be a great way of traveling for both sides. Has anyone done this lately and would this be approate for a site here?
 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 04:32 PM
  #6  
Linda
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This is a brilliant idea if it could possibly remain 'non commercial'. I am always looking for rental properties abroad, but hate having to go through an agency. It will be interesting to see if it works out.
 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 04:42 PM
  #7  
John
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Art, there are a number of home exchange agencies which arrange for home swaps. It's a wonderful way to experience Europe (or Australia, or Canada, or...) at low cost, plus offering the advantages of someone looking after your place while you're away, and for you, having a rather nicer, usually very much nicer, place to stay. The chief problem that we've encountered is the short holiday/vacation terms most US residents have versus their European counterparts. Try http://www.homelink.org/ for an example.
 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 06:02 PM
  #8  
Randall Smith
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Greetings to all,

I was happy to see the positive response my topic received.

I would like to answer some of the questions that have been raised.

At least in France, I was impressed with the ease of at least the first phase of buying property. John is correct the cost for property in France is a bargain by most large US city standards. I've looked at periodicals such as "Les Belles Demeures de France", checked internet listings, and what you get for your US dollar is quite suprising. We did spend time in Paris looking, visiting, and finally choosing a property that seemed to fit our needs and expectations (and our budget). We did both private visits with property owners, either using "De Particulier a Particulier" a weekly listing of realestate available listed by the owners or calling ahead when we saw an "a vendre" sign on the outside of apartment buildings that we thought looked interesting. You can check out the web-site for "De Particulier a Particulier" at http://www.pap.fr/. We also visited property with several realtors.

I would not advise anyone to buy property without visiting the property in person. For us it was a major investment and certainly worth the time we spent on our visit. We did offer less than the property was listed for and the owners accepted our first offer.

The problem in Paris currently is that it seems after a long period of stagnation in the realestate market, activity and prices have begun to increase significantly in the last 12 to 24 months. Demand has increased and supply seems to have dwindled. Our realtor told us that he had only about 130 apartments available compared to 6000 buyers who were looking in our area. Properties sell in a matter of days, usually 2 or three, and you need to be ready to make an offer if you find something that you want to purchase. That means that you will need a French bank account with funds available to place in an escorow account, I think in our case it was about 5% of the purchase price. The good news is so far I find the taxes, utilities, insurance, and even the cost of furnishing to be quite reasonable.

Our big headache now is our major remodeling project. It is difficult to find a property that dosen't at least need some work. I'll be glad to share our stories as things progress. At this point the apartment is gutted and we are in the process of putting in two full baths, two fireplaces, a new kitchen, redoing the walls and finally what we think is going to be beautiful Versaille parquet on the floors throughout the apartment. We think that the project is going to take about 3 to 4 months total. I'll believe it when I see it!! The bottom line on this is that you need to be there or have someone you trust there to manage the many facets of remodeling.

In closing I would like to say that this is a good topic for this forum because many readers are frequent travelers many of whom I'm sure would prefer the comfort of a home stay verus a cramped hotel room. It's wonderful to get up and brew you own coffee and tea, and have a leisurely breakfast in your own kitchen or dining room, as opposed to having to go down stairs to the hotel restaurant or breakfast area. I love having my own stock of Kronenbourg 1664 in the fridge or a nice bottle of wine.

I hope the topic can continue. I don't want it to be a commercial site. Now one should advertise on this board. But it should be a place where readers can exchange ideas and information that will greatly enhance the travel experience.

Sincerely,

Randall Smith

 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 06:31 PM
  #9  
traveler
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Randall

Thanks for raising this topic. We did a house exchange with a family in Luxembourg and it was a great experience. Loved staying in a home and being a part of a European neighborhood.

Would love to see a non-commercial house exchange opportunity section on this site as well as a section for people who own property in Europe to let prospective renters know about availability.

Go for it, Fodors!
 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 06:36 PM
  #10  
Me
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Thanks Randall. Can you recommend a real estate agent or firm in Paris?

Keep us posted on your apartment - it sounds lovely.
 
Old Aug 7th, 2000, 07:27 PM
  #11  
Randall Smith
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Hello,

I would be glad to give you the name of my realtor. His firm deals in properties in the 5th and 13th, in fact he will be our neighbor. He has kept in touch with us after the purchase. He's a typical Frenchman (smokes too much, which I told him, he smiled), has two children and pictures in his office that his 5 year old drew in crayon.

I'll give you his name and email address if you want. You can email me.

Randall Smith
 
Old Aug 8th, 2000, 01:28 AM
  #12  
ann
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hi, we are belgian and have been exchanging houses for 6 years through homelink now... spent wonderful time in europe, as well as in canada & USA...
I think it is something to consider when travelling as a family... it doesn't only get you the place to stay, but a social network of new friends et al!
 
Old Aug 8th, 2000, 08:25 AM
  #13  
Art
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Thanks John. I looked briefly at the site. It looks very interesting.
I'll be retiring in 3 - 4 years and will have the time to do exchanges.
Ann, maybe in a couple of years we can do an exchange.
Art
 
Old Aug 8th, 2000, 08:59 AM
  #14  
Karen McAuley
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We are the private owners of 2 beach front holiday rental apartments in Estepona, Costa del Sol, Spain, with 1 and 2 bedrooms, swimming pool, tennis, large terrace overlooking the sea, self-catering. Also posibility of long term (maximum 6 months) winter rentals (Oct. to March) for a very special rate. See photos and details on the following web site : www.royalwd.com/bahia
Regards, Karen
 
Old Aug 8th, 2000, 11:56 AM
  #15  
Randall Smith
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Hello again,

I want this topic to remain available to Fadoites who are looking for this type of travel experience. I think it's probably acceptable for readers who have property available to describe their property and if they have a web-site list it in their post. It should remain the prerogative of individual readers to make any contact not visa versa.

I would like to see this remain a topic where individuals with a second home may communicate with interested readers. I also see that actual home exchanges could be discussed here as well. I also think it is ok for readers to refer to web-sites of larger organizations who specialize in such properties.

I would like to share one very good source which we have used with our friends to rent homes in the south of France. It's call Chez Nous, web-site:http://www.cheznous.com/, in keeping with the spirit of the topic, this is a listing of private properties, mainly British - usually quoted in British Pounds.You will need to contact the owner to make arrangements. Prices are very reasonable. As I remember we split about $600.00 US with our friends for the week for a 3 level home with a nice bath, beautiful marble floors, a very nice patio. The area was in the Luberon, just a few minutes from Peter Mayles stomping grounds. Our friends used the service again this summer and were again very happy with the accomodations.

I would like to thank everyone for making this a viable topic on this board and for respecting the privacy of others.

Bon Voyage toutes et tous,

Randall Smith
 
Old Aug 8th, 2000, 12:26 PM
  #16  
ann
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art... indeed... why not ?!!
 
Old Aug 12th, 2000, 04:57 AM
  #17  
Laurence
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We are the private owners of a bed & breakfast in chamonix,France. We also propose to rent the chalet in selfcatering for a maximum of 10 pers. in 6 rooms with 6 private bathrooms,TVs, private balcony, view mont blanc, garden & parking
location: just a 2 minutes walk to the center of Chamonix
minimum stay required: 7 nights
See photos and details on the following web site :
www.Chalet-beauregard.com
Best Regards,
Laurence & Manu

 
Old Aug 16th, 2000, 09:10 PM
  #18  
Jo
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Thanks for starting this topic. I have rented many homes or apartments in Italy and France. It usually costs less than a hotel, and you have all the comforts of a home. I prefer to work with the owners thru the internet and e-mail, and they begin to seem like old friends. Am in the process of looking for a one bedroom apartment in Paris for a week at the end of October. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. You can e-mail me if you want. Thanks,
 
Old Aug 18th, 2000, 06:29 AM
  #19  
Marsha
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Thank you for starting this thread. My husband and I rented an apartment in London from an American couple and it was a very successful experience. We found out about the place by word of mouth. It is not a "commercial enterprise," but rather a service to both travelers and owners.
A question about home exchanges: Do exchangers ever want to exchange with someone who lives in the MidWest, but not near the usual tourist sites? Should I even sign up with Homelink if I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota?


 
Old Aug 18th, 2000, 08:51 AM
  #20  
ann
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hi... sure, it is all a question of getting someone interested in exchanging with you ...
belgium is not the most popular place to exchange with either, and yet we find people to exchange with every time !
 

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