Archive for the ‘Moving to France’ Category

Buying a house in France: part 12: housing: where to look for a house

The housing sales market has been very slow in France during 2006 which we’ve noticed through the large drop in house buyers staying with us during the year.However, it does seem to be picking up fast as we’ve had quite a flurry of house hunters staying with us recently and bookings into the new year for house buyers are well up on what they were over the same period last year. That in turn appears to be taking the prices being asked for up too so if you’re planning on buying somewhere over here it might be as well to get moving on that idea sooner rather than later.One of the best ways to get a feel for the market here is via the major property exhibitions in London. The best one is Vive la France which is a combined French property and culture exhibition held each January. If you miss that one, the next best is the French Property Exhibition in early September which is basically Vive la France without the cultural section. There are regional versions of both of these but it’s usually best to get to the London one if you can as the exhibition there is on a much larger scale than the others.

In both cases, you should go on the first day of the exhibition because it’s quieter and the exhibitors aren’t nearly so exhausted. As 90% or more of the people going to these things are just window shopping with no real intention to buy, it’s important to separate yourself from them in some way. In our case, we took along a short specification of the type of place and sort of area that we were looking for and made it clear that we were returning to France 2 or 3 weeks after the exhibition on a buying trip.

I thoroughly recommend writing a little specification of what you’re looking for as both exhibitions are enormous and you’ll need to be quite clear in your mind what you want. With our little specification we were able to go through the list of exhibitors and rule out all those that weren’t of interest in about 10 minutes. You really need to be ruthless doing this as even with that we spent over five exhausting hours going round those that remained on the list!

Rather than picking out specific houses at the exhibition, it’s best to pick out agents working in the areas you’re interested with the type of properties that you want. The reason for this is that a lot of the houses listed sell very quickly indeed. In our own case, we had picked out about 20 properties to look at yet all but one were sold by the time we went to look at them just three weeks later.

Use the Internet in your searches too. Sometimes excellent properties are poorly listed so you can sometimes pick out a bargain if you research the area. For example, searches looking for “house for sale in the pyrenees” may not pick out “house for sale in maury” or even “house for sale near perpignan” when you might assume that it would. Use synonyms too eg “house for sale”, “property for sale”, “farmhouse for sale”, etc. Searches in French will usually turn up a completely different set of properties (often at lower prices) eg “maison a vendre pres de perpignan” usually won’t give you the same list as “house for sale near perpignan”. Search for agents too (“agence immobliere”) as often their property pages aren’t properly indexed on google. Don’t just google either as often and turn up quite different results.

If you are hoping to buy in France, the best times are out of season as that will give you a better impression of what the villages and towns are really like. There’s normally a flurry of house hunters around just after the two property exhibitions mentioned above but any time from mid-September to mid-June is excellent (avoiding the Christmas, New Year and Easter breaks) and will give you low flight and hotel prices too.

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

Buying a house in France: part 11: housing: what’s available

France is massive and so is the variety of houses that you can get with everything from small apartments to large castles on the market and locations varying from the city centre of Paris to rural areas with just the odd passing cow for traffic.The first things that you need to decide for yourself when looking for a place in France are what type of property you want and what kind of area you would like that property to be in. These two aspects are closely inter-related in that you won’t be able to buy a chateau in the centre of Paris nor buy a chic apartment in rural Roussillon.The days of run-down barns available for a few thousand pounds are long since gone and prices these days start at around 50,000‚€ which will buy you anything from a reasonable townhouse in the country to an apartment on the outskirts of a town. What that price won’t buy you is a chic apartment in the centre of Paris nor will it buy you a massive farmhouse ready to move into.

On the other hand, there are still bargains around. As we write this, there are a number of quite charming chateaux for sale at around the 600,000‚€ (£400,000) mark although at that price level you should expect to have some work to do to them. Similarly, if you are prepared to move outside the brit-enclaves and into the real France you will find quite substantial properties for perhaps 300,000‚€ (£200,000) although again you should expect to do some work at this level.

Where are these brit-enclaves though? Well, one easy to find them is to pick your favourite B&B listing site (which must be, of course, Chambre-d’Hote) and look at areas with large numbers of listings. At the moment, you’ll find these mainly around Brittany/Normandy, Poitou-Charentes, Dordogne and Cote d’Azur. Prices in these ares are, generally, that little bit higher than in the surrounding areas for comparable properties.

If you haven’t got your heart set on a particular region in France, the best thing to do is to make up a list of the characteristics of the type of area that you are looking for. For example, we wanted a place that was within 10km of water that we could swim in which meant that we looked at properties near the coast and near lakes etc. We also wanted somewhere broadly in the southern half of France which narrowed down the search a little. Finally, we wanted somewhere with views of the mountains which reduced the areas somewhat more.

Doing this will bring up a number of regions that you may not have thought about before and give you a much wider selection of properties. Note too that it’s best to think about why you want a particular feature eg we didn’t say that we wanted to be on the coast but rather that we wanted to be near water that we could swim in. Likewise we said that we wanted somewhere scenic rather than with views of the mountains.

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

Buying a house in France: part 10: visas & immigration: non-Europeans

This section very briefly covers the variety of circumstances that may apply and how you might go about moving to France if they apply to you. There are just too many combinations and special circumstances to adequately cover all of the possibilities so hopefully this will give you a feel for how you might ease your transition to France.

If you are a visa national (ie a citizen of a country requiring a visa to enter France), then your first hurdle is the French embassy in your country of residence. There are many visa categories but the simplest lie in the areas of family reunification or if you already have a job offer in France.

I imagine that for most people the “job offer” option is most likely to apply. Obviously if you already have a job lined up there’s no problem but if you’d like to organise one, see our section on employment coming soon.

Finally, don’t forget that if you have parents or grandparents who are Irish or were born in Ireland pre-1922 or in the Republic of Ireland after that then you are Irish and can simply apply for an Irish passport and thereby come under the very simplest case which we covered at the start of this segment.

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

Buying a house in France: part 9: visas & immigration: non-European citizens with European spouses intending to work

European flags We covered the very simplest case last week ie that of Europeans from established European countries intending to work. This case is almost as simple but does involve some paperwork.

If your spouse is from a country that’s been in Europe for less than four years then transitional arrangements may apply and will almost certainly be applied if there are any as France really loves documentation.

As before if you have “sufficient resources” (generally 1000‚€ a month or more) you are treated as though you were intending to work.

If you are from a country which requires a visa to enter France, then you still need to get it from the country in which you are living. However, they aren’t allowed to charge you for it and they can’t refuse it either. Once you reach France, you should go along to the mayor’s office (mairie) in your commun and apply for a Carte de Séjour Européenne. You’ll need to bring along your passport, that of your European spouse and proof of relationship (eg marriage certificate) plus two passport photos of you (none are required for the European citizen). Within 90 days, you should receive the Carte de Séjour (residence permit). These are the only documents that they are allowed to ask for but in practice they will often ask for considerably more; if this is the case you aren’t required to provide them but will probably need to quote the European law. You can get the same permit for the parents, grandparents, children or grandchildren of either you or your spouse regardless of their nationality. Before you bother to go down this path, bear in mind that if you have parents or grandparents who were Irish or born in Ireland pre-1922 or the Republic of Ireland after that then you are Irish and can therefore apply for an Irish passport which in turn means that you come under the simple case covered last week.

This section is one that doesn’t apply if you are French (unless you have dual/multiple nationalities) as the European law being used only applies if you are moving countries. Actually, in theory you could apply if you had lived in a European country other than France: there are always exceptions in immigration law.

Next week we’ll venture out into the more complex circumstances that can arise.

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

The blogging bigtime: post number 200!

FireworksIt doesn’t seem that long ago that I was writing the first post of this blog to say that we’d gotten the mortgage for our place in France yet that was 199 posts ago, hence this retrospective on life as a blogger since then.

Those of you who have been reading this since the start may remember the days when it was Mas Camps News. At that time, the bulk of the postings were on topics relating to the preparations for our move to France and later on various aspects of settling into life in France. We’re gradually collecting the fruits of our experience of this on our Buying a House in France postings so that others can learn from our mishaps and mistakes.

Eventually we managed to pass the hurdles that the French administration put seemingly at every step of our journey though it wasn’t really as bad as that. In fact, most of the time all we needed was a “roadmap” to guide us as to where to go at each point and hopefully the reference version of our series on moving to France will eventually amount to that for those who come after us.

The end of the hurdles seemed to come all of a sudden and y’all can see when that happened by glancing at the number of posts per month. One day we looked and found that there’d been nothing written for months! It wasn’t that we weren’t busy but that there wasn’t much particularly new or striking to write about after we’d broken through the barrier of French administration, or nothing that would fit within the confines of Mas Camps News at any rate.

But over that time of nothing there was quite a buildup of topics that we should have been writing about and so the blog was reborn in its new home just last Summer. No more is it “Mas Camps News” for we’ve pretty much settled into life here and though it retains aspects of its incarnation as “Living in France without a TV crew” it’s quite a different beastie these days touching on pretty much everything that we come across here and when we’re out and about.

The main thing that has changed though is that it’s living as a proper blog these days rather than a hi-tech newsletter for the folks back home. That’ll probably change things a lot over the next 200 entries as we’re attracting readers from the outside world these days. Indeed just recently we were asked by France24 to contribute our views on the upcoming French election.

We’ve also recently given birth to a second blog where Wendy’s getting started on discussing life from an Australian perspective and we’re even considering a third (’tis an addictive hobby).

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