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Southern France Small Towns for Expat Retirement

Southern France Small Towns for Expat Retirement

Old Jul 28th, 2017, 11:42 AM
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Thanks for the suggestion sundriedtopepo! I can handle cool winters, grew up on the US eastern seaboard. Just noted perusing other sites like this, that some folks were complaining about really low temperatures. I enjoy the snow and I enjoy the changing seasons. Spent 4 years in rainy England too - not a problem.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 11:48 AM
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<These are really rich people with a French dream. They are nothing like us.They don't need Fodors and they certainly don't need me.>


Whathello, That comment hardly has to do with knowing the real estate market!!
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 11:59 AM
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Languedoc Roussillon is much cheaper than Côte d'Azur and for €700-800 you should be able to find a nice piece of property. I would look at the area around Montpellier, Narbonne, Perpignan. Small towns won't have a hospital, do not offerlmuch in terms of "cultural events" and very few people play cards in town squares nowadays. They watch TV ! You'll get as much mistral in Provence as tramontane near the Spanish border.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 12:25 PM
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Then again, the site greenacres will probably be listings in resort areas with golf, etc.

I don't know how you could avoid le mistral or la tramontane unless you just avoid that time of year.

I have been researching real estate companies in the countryside or in small villages, but can't afford
to purchase, renovate or furnish
them.

Sometimes you can ride a bike to get bread at the depot, sometimes there will be meat or fish, olives. But there's always a couple of bars...Sometimes there is a clinic.

I lived just outside of Montpelier in an old olive mill in the Summer for 3 months. The neighbours were always looking through their curtains to see who the stranger was. I speak fluent French, but only on the last day did anyone speak to me when I said I was leaving.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 12:36 PM
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Funny that several folks above who are adamantly against airbnb displacing locals are fine with ex-pats displacing locals or pushing up housing prices in those small towns.

Double standard fuzz?
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 12:40 PM
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"Then again, the site greenacres will probably be listings in resort areas with golf, etc."
There other sites than greenacres.
"I don't know how you could avoid le mistral or la tramontane unless you just avoid that time of year."
You can't. Mistral and tramontane blow all year round.
" but only on the last day did anyone speak to me when I said I was leaving."
It is not suprising. We owned a house in a mountain village with the grand population of 14 people and one kid told me once : " I have more right to be here than you".
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 12:43 PM
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700-800 k€ will get you a normal house in a nice place, nothing that fancy, or a (quite) nice house in a $hithole, err a remote area.

That should get you a decent house in the Périgord vert, but it is too far from the sea. Menton might be less touristy than the rest of the côte d'Azur.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 12:47 PM
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Ugh, can't stand golf, I avoid those properties. I am now thinking larger town, and maybe an apartment. BTW, I play cards here in a small beach side town on the Chesapeake Bay with strangers at a nice little outdoor bar with music. Quite fun and nice way to meet new people.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 02:17 PM
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The rose was excellent but we were 3 on a bottle. So I am now on some lagavullin 16 years old.
Ask your questions tomorrow I'll be happy to help.
Tomorrow.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 02:30 PM
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" I have more right to be here than you>

he may not have that right after foreigners buy up his house at higher prices, forcing locals out.

Yes double standard -what applies for fuzz in Paris and others in Amsterdam for dissing airbnb and tourism for displacing folks don't apply in southern France -what's the diff fuzz?
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 02:42 PM
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<now thinking larger town, and maybe an apartment>

Since you seem to be looking for a decent social life and other expats to hang with, I think that makes a lot more sense than a house in a small town.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 03:10 PM
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American friend just bought a house in Montlucon for 60,000 euro -will take 30,000 euro to fix up - but towns like Montlucon are not what you want - high and dry for swimming but prices do vary as to location.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 04:40 PM
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Palenq : the problem with village folks such as the one I was mentioning is that they want to have their cake and eat it. The point I was trying to make is that a "foreigner" should not expect to be welcomed with open arm in such close communities. I speak from experience. I am a local and I live 50 km away from the house mentioned above.
To give the OP an idea of current prices, Chalabre is 20 km from Carcassonne (far from the sea and in a mountainous area) : https://www.century21.fr/annonces/ac...-/b-0-/page-1/ We are far from the prices in Provence and Côte d'Azur.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 05:44 PM
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I'll second Collioure... I have never been there in the winter but it does seem to tick a lot of your boxes. Good luck in your search!
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 08:02 PM
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Have a look at the Côte d'Azur small town of Mouans-Sartoux, just below Grasse. It's on the rail line, has a boules court and cinema, and is essentially French. There's a Casino supermarket with a good cafeteria (we had a dandy dinner there one Christmas Eve), a fine nursery, an art museum, a nearby golf course, and an excellent open-air market. Not on the tourist beaten path, either. Nearby Valbonne might do as well, but no rail connection.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 10:05 PM
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PalenQ...nothing you have said applies to me.

Sandrine - it does sound as if you would be more comfortable in a city, where there will be more things to do - rather than staying in a small town or village.

You could probably find an affordable apartment in the region around Arles, Aix-en-Provence or Montpellier.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 03:20 AM
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I would agree with those who have suggested you rent a place for a year. Obviously, you will need to do a good bit of research to determine where to rent.

Things that impacted my happiness in a relatively small village were: took 45 minutes to drive to any major shopping, FAR far too many tourists from Easter to September - dodging bikes all summer long, 45 minutes drive to my doctor's office (needed a specialist - GP's were available locally), the mistral could often drive you insane, finding good professional workers, such as plumbers, macons, tilers, etc. was always a challenge. Also, at the time we arrived, public transportation was next to nil. It has improved somewhat since then. In my case, a major airport is 1 hour 20 minutes away.

You don't say much about what you want from your 700 to 800 thousand euros. Do you want hectares of land, 300m2 or more of habitable space? It sounds like you want it totally renovated and modern..? If so, I can tell you that you 'might' find something in the Vaucluse for the high end of your budget. But, it would be a challenge if you aren't willing to do any renovations. If you can settle for less land and less habitable space then you have a chance in the Vaucluse. Be careful though, the issues I mentioned above can have a serious impact on your happiness in your day to day life.

One thing I would say is that sinking the majority of your money into a home you hope to retire in in a place you have never really lived should be very seriously thought through. Selling in many areas of France is not an easy task and can take quite a long time. Be sure to look at the taxes on the properties you consider also as a home in your price range in Provence can come with a hefty taxe d'hab and taxe fonciere.

Rent first.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 04:54 AM
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In a village, you can find a perfectly acceptable house for 100,000 euros or less but not one that will ever appear in a magazine. However, if you put another 50,000 euros into renovations, it will become immensely better, especially in the kitchen and bathroom.

You probably really want a small city, though, if you ever need to see a doctor or dentist and not lose power for 48 hours after a thunderstorm.

I will therefore recommend Sète.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 05:59 AM
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You speak French, but what about your husband's facility with French? Can he speak it well enough to go to the hardware store or bakery or make friends and contacts on his own without you constantly being there to translate?

How and where are you going to make friends so you won't be totally isolated?

Can you visualize what would be your typical daily routine in your new home? How people spend their days when on vacation is very different from how the days progress when living in a place.

Different types of properties are less or more conducive to interacting with other people. Do you want isolation or more a sense of community where other people are within easy reach?

Moving to a more socially closed type of community is very different from moving to a place where there are lots of other people like you who are also trying to make new friends and connections.

I am not trying to be snarky, but we had thought about buying property in the southern US just as a winter retreat and these (not the language difficulty obviously) were some things we thought about. We ended up not doing anything and rent when we want to get away.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 06:16 AM
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PalenQ...nothing you have said applies to me.>

Oh I thought you were opposed to tourists taking up local housing?

Actually I was just joking as I realize that there is no comparison to folks buying up housing in dying villages in rural France where locals have long ago fled to urban areas to the situation in Paris with airbnb which displaces locals in a city desperate for more affordable housing.

My friend who bought a house in a small village near Montlucon for 60,000 euros says the village cafe and boulangerie have closed and many houses are vacant and deteriorating -no French wants to live there so foreigners buying up such properties and living in them only revives a village. His neighbor is Dutch -

I asked my French adult son why so close to Montlucon no city dwellers wanted to live in these old villages -'nothing to do there' he said. Period.

I assume the situation is about the same in more desirable tourist areas like Provence - old villages dying on the vine revived by foreigners and urban French themselves looking for vacation homes who buy upgrade and help revive the local economy and provide jobs to serve to locals to serve their needs.
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