Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Extricating oneself from the French administration

When we moved here it took us four years before all the various authorities recognised that we were actually living in France. That started quite a flurry of back-administration obviously and it still isn’t entirely cleared up (eg we still get three separate bills for the TV license).

However, it would appear that it’s going to take quite a substantial amount of time for the authorities to recognise that we have now left France and are no longer French residents. Although we ceased to be French resident in January we are still receiving reminders that we’ve not paid various social security and health charges some eight months on.

It’s not that we have ignored their demands for money though. In fact, we informed them in January that we had left, then again almost every month since using their Internet service, email, fax, letter and even recorded delivery letter. In fact, it would appear that all missives from us are completely ignored. Last week we even resorted to writing to them in English as it would appear that they don’t understand French!

Actually, that last letter from us was in a response to a demand from them that it would actually be illegal for us to pay!

Perhaps another couple of years will see it sorted out…

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Golfing in Bulgaria

One of the big surprises in many ways is just how fast formerly eastern block countries are moving into the first world.

For example, not so many years ago the thought of a  luxury golf property in Bulgaria would have been laughed at. No longer though for the likes of Tharacian Cliffs, starting from scratch, seems likely to become one of the top golf courses in the world according to Gary Player.

The reason is simple of course: they’re able to start from a blank sheet and have lots of cheap land and labour to construct the courses. For the rest of us there are increasing numbers of cheap flights available to get us to the area.

Overall, a win-win situation for everyone apparently.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Thinking of buying a gite in France?

When people think of moving to France their first thought as to how to generate an income is to buy a gite complex and rent it out to people from back home.

It sounds like an idyllic lifestyle, doesn’t it? You work one day a week and the rest of the week you can be sunbathing by the pool.

The snag is that you need to wash all the sheets and towels and carry out maintenance work during the week. OK, so two days work and five at the pool? In theory, you might get away with that though, of course, the guests will be using the pool too and, usually, expect you to do things for them like organise tours or the area, tell them all the best places to go and so on.

What’s frequently forgotten about in all this is the financials that go along with this lifestyle. From a typical six or seven person gite you can probably get around 700€ a week in the peak season. That size of gite equates to a small three bedroom house in size and, of course, amount of work to look after. In reality most people aim for a gite complex of around four or five gites. On the whole, you’ll eventually reach an occupancy of around ten weeks per year for the gites which translates into around 35,000€ a year of an income.

However, there’s the matter of expenses to consider. Bearing in mind that you only have four or five hours to reset the gite between guests you’ll end up hiring a cleaner to help you which eats into the income somewhat and you may need someone to look after the pool. There’s also the business of maintenance: unlike a normal house rental you’re getting a new set of tenants virtually every week and that tends to be quite hard on the furnishings so you’ll need to renew at least some items pretty much every year.

Oh, and don’t forget the taxes!

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Why is it that the diesel in Spain lasts longer than the diesel in France?

One thing that constantly confuses is that whenever we have a trip to Spain the diesel that we’ve bought there seems to last considerably longer than when the diesel that we ordinarily buy in France.

A LOT longer too. For example, we filled the car up Friday a week ago in Spain, have been running around quite a bit during the week and only needed to get some more last Friday. Ordinarily we’d have been expecting to top up at least once during the week.

Weird, huh?

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Post office staffing

The staffing levels of post offices often seems to be very much politically led and rather than being subject to whatever local demands would dictate seems merely to reflect that it’s considered as effectively a job creation scheme.

Thus, although the nearest post office to us is on a main road and in quite a large village, it has the same number of staff as the post office in the small very quiet village where our son goes to school. The net effect of us is that what should be a fairly well staffed post office is almost always virtually unuseable. Not only are the queues frequently out the door but they close quite often to catch up with the backlog of work that this generates.

By contrast, the post office in the little village rarely has queues and always leaves us with a good impression. However, a large part of that good impression is no doubt due to that office being effectively well overstaffed for the level of business which it receives.

Whilst I wouldn’t want to deny the small quiet village its own post office, that service should really be part-time with the staff working the rest of the time in the larger one thus improving the service standards considerably for a large number of people.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.