When it comes to looking for your ideal home in France there are a few things that are key to getting it right. It’s astonishing how many of us buy a French home on a whim (me included). It’s something we generally wouldn’t dream of doing normally. Somehow, we see a picture online and we’re instantly smitten with the looks, the possibilities and the dream of what could be. However, if you want to make sure you’re getting a home that’s a keeper, these 5 tips will help.
Location, location, location
We all do it – fall in love with a photo of our dream house on the internet. But, it’s important to consider what you need, as well as what you want. For instance, if internet access is essential, bear in mind that rural properties may have slow internet download speeds. These days we take it for granted that we can get fast internet and a mobile phone signal. This isn’t the case in France. There are hundreds of towns that still have no or poor internet and no mobile signal. Satellite broadband could be a way round it though it’s not guaranteed. If you’re working in France and need the internet – then make sure you can get it before you fall in love with that gorgeous rural property.
If commuting to the UK is important, think about transport options. Is there an airport, train station, fast TGC to Paris good road access? Make a list of your requirements to help you concentrate on what is your ideal location.
Try before you buy
Plan in advance: Get the basics of daily life sorted as much as you can before you repatriate, for instance healthcare, bank account, utilities, transport, phone and internet. You may be surprised by how long these things take to sort out compared to back home. And, if you don’t have the basics under control – you will almost certainly have extra stress.
Learn the language
It’s always in the top three tips – learn French when you have a home in France. There’s a reason for that, it really is fundamental. Not speaking the language of your new home makes everything harder from buying the shopping to paying your taxes. Increase your language skills by watching DVDs with the foreign language subtitles on. You’ll be surprised how much you pick up this way
Make friends with the locals
Volunteering is a really great way to meet like-minded people – both expat and local. Ask at the local town hall about opportunities to get involved. Don’t turn down an invitation from the neighbours because you’re worried it will be hard work trying to communicate or you don’t know anyone. It’s a great way to integrate successfully, however painful it can sometimes seem.
Never ever tell the locals you moved there because it’s cheaper than in the UK. You’res guaranteed to rub everyone up the wrong way. The question of why you chose that particular place will certainly come up. Make sure you get the right message across – the culture, history, beauty of the area, the friendly people. That way the talk about the new people in town will be positive!
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Janine Marsh is the author of My Good Life France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream