House Hunting in France

Old Jan 13th, 2017, 09:33 AM
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House Hunting in France

Hi all - I'm interested in buying a second home in Western France, one that is old, large, in need of some renovations and with a bit of property. This will be a home that we can have family and friends visit, not planning on renting out.

My husband and I are trying to decide the best region though. I was thinking of the Pays de la Loire area, as I've seen many old chateaus and farmhouses available and the proximity to Paris is quite doable. My head is spinning from online searches, etc...

I'd like to try and narrow a region or two down before we fly over and take a look. Any suggestions as to other areas I'm overlooking or tips in general would be much appreciated!
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 09:40 AM
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I haven't done it but my suggestion would be that buying a house in an area that you apparently have never been and don't know is crazy.

You should buy a second home in an area you've already visited a lot and love.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 10:01 AM
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Well, call me crazy then...
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 10:25 AM
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Perhaps I must call you crazy because I completely agree with Christina -- you should personally know about the areas that interest you.

For example, can you tell us why western France interests you?

However, I will throw out a bit of bait to entice you. Over the next two years, there is a huge possibility that a lot of the British who have bought property (often in Dordogne) will be involved in panic selling as they lose their status of being EU citizens. It is highly likely that there will be bargains to be snapped up at that time.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 10:33 AM
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With the existence of the TGV, the distance from Paris has become less important. I think that the entire south of France is more popular than the Loire valley when it comes to secondary homes for a reason. If you have extended vacation time, rent a vacation home for one week each in different areas of France (Southwest, Dordogne, Languedoc, Provence, Loire) to have some minimal means of comparison.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 10:47 AM
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Friends of mine bought a house in south-east, a region they knew well and sold it because they were in a hole.

They sold and bought another one in a town.

So for me criteria would be
- love of the region
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 10:50 AM
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- knowledge of the language
- crazyness
- weather
- size of the town

etc.

For instance I have never been really in Scotland but I know I could go there and finish my life there. But I'm crazy too. Spending a week there is not only useful it is mandatory as yoiu will need to look for properties and you cannot buy one without seeing it.
So select a region (whatever criteria work for you) preselect properties. Go there visit everything and buy if in love.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 11:15 AM
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Coteetcampagne.wordpress.com

I follow this ladies' blog and you might enjoy reading her story about finding the house she is renovating in France. Nothing as grand as what you are looking for though. There are many blogs like that. An agent told her to find a region she loves and just concentrate on that. Which is what most people here are saying.
Good luck! Wish I could do that but would not want to renovate.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 11:25 AM
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What's your nationality? How much time were you planning on living in this house per year?
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 11:45 AM
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It is OK to be a little crazy. By the time you find and settle on a place, I am sure you will have been there many times.

I have been to several places that I fell in love with the first time I was there, and wanted to move there immediately, but the more I visit, the less fond I am of some of the places. I still like many of them, but only to visit. There are others that I was lukewarm about that have grown on me over the years. I think I would need two or three longish visits at different times of year to be sure. I am curious. Have you spent much time in France?

I do think it is hard to get a house fixed up if you are not there to oversee it most of the time. We renovated a house about five hours away. It was not a good experience. Everytime I was not there to approve, changes were made that I was not happy with, but we did not have time or money to redo. After living there 10 years, we finally corrected things. Anyway, it does sound wonderful if you find a place that works for you and have the time, money and energy to do it all.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 11:48 AM
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Thank you for the replies, but to clarify, I'm not planning on buying sight unseen. I'm researching now, planning a visit to check out our areas of interest, then another trip to actually purchase.

I was hoping someone could give me their opinion of the Loire area (I was there many, many years ago just passing through and I liked it) Looking at Brittany and Normandy as well because my husband has been and enjoys being close to the sea. We've eliminated other areas for different reasons.

I travel to Paris quite often for work, my husband is fluent in French so the language barrier shouldn't be a problem (at least for him)
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 11:48 AM
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Any requirements for non-EU citizens for buying property in France?
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 12:04 PM
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thursdaysd: I have dual US/EU citizenship so staying longer than 90 days isn't a problem.

Sassafrass: We plan on an extended renovation project, something we enjoy doing ourselves.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 12:30 PM
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My DH and I really wanted to buy a place in Italy but could never decide where! I hope you find what you want in France, Brilliantsulk.

Our travels in France, less frequent than in Italy, were based on 4 days or so in a larger city with day trips nearby. We never drove a car. Anyhow, here's what called out--perhaps you could find something more rural in the environs:

Montpelier: Nice university city with good tram to train station. Found the best cheese store one Saturday;

Aix-en-Provence: Another university city. Better bus links than train;

Lyon: We had to cut this trip short but very much enjoyed the foodie aspect and for me, fabrics history.

While taking various tours, I thought the Loire River area looked nice.

This past spring, I visited Bordeaux for a few days and used its tram and train easily. Very near wine country. StCirq, whom I visited while there, has done all the heavy lifting and owns her home in France and has moved there permanently with her DH.

From what StCirq has written and from what little I saw in France, I think being someone near a good shopping place would be very important.

For me the books, A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun made me think about some of the practicalities of moving and rehabbing in another country!

Please share what you end up doing.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 12:36 PM
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someonewhat near!
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 01:15 PM
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I have looked in to this same idea and for me, it was too scary, in terms of taxes and inheritance laws in France. A second home in France is taxed at a higher rate, and when you die (sorry!) , your heirs may find that it isn't uncomplicated. The same is true when you sell your second home, in terms of your taxes. Please consult an expert tax lawyer here in France, who has lots of experience with foreign buyers.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 01:16 PM
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Perhaps you've thought of this as well but until next year or the following, I woud be leery of buying and renovating a house in euros unless you plan never to sell it or leave France, or at least not for a very long time. If France leaves the eurozone following its next election, the value of the French franc is likely to be a fraction of the value of the euro, relative to the pound or the dollar. So if you end up needing to sell the house and move out of France completely, it's likely to be a loss to convert the francs you'd receive from the sale of the house into another currency.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 02:08 PM
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A Frexit is about as likely to happen with a return to the French Franc as Trump's wall being effectively built.

If people do take these kind of scenario in mind they should do nothing.

The tax for a second house in France is negligible.
It is in the range of a few hundreds of Euros for a house half a million worth. Peanuts.

Rebuilding a house from afar is indeed an extremely bad idea.

Just for my knowledge what is a EU citizenship ? I was born and live in Europe but I haven't got this nationality.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 02:11 PM
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If France leaves the eurozone following its next election, the value of the French franc is likely to be a fraction of the value of the euro.

Thank you for my Fodor's laugh of the day. Even the National Front no longer believes that France will ever leave the EU or stop using the euro. Perhaps you can tell us a bit more about your alternate universe, frencharmoire.
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Old Jan 13th, 2017, 02:18 PM
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Where's StCirq?
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