Just £2 per issue Subscribe to one of our France Magazines click here

7 essential criteria for househunting in France

PUBLISHED: 09:03 14 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:42 09 November 2015

Be realistic about what your budget will buy in a chosen region

Be realistic about what your budget will buy in a chosen region

Archant

How do you decide which area is right for you when you’re househunting in a country as large and diverse as France? Nadia Jordan shares her top tips

France is a large and varied country, so how do you choose exactly where to buy a house? There seems an impossible number of options and the difficulty is how to narrow these down without simply putting a pin in a map.

I would start by making sure all the background basics are in place from which you can narrow and then further refine your search.

 

1. The city

Even if you are looking for a country property, it makes a lot of sense to be within striking distance of a decent-sized city that has a major airport with international carriers, rather than rely on regional airports and low-cost routes which change frequently. Toulouse is the capital of the Midi-Pyrénées and one of the fastest growing cities in France. It is very dynamic and underpinned by the aero-industry (with Airbus as its main player), high-tech industry and the healthcare sector − it is home to the new ‘Oncopole’, the largest specialist cancer hospital in Europe.

It has a large and growing international airport with flights departing for worldwide destinations, plus there is also has a very efficient railway system with lines to Bordeaux and Paris, as well as to the south and Spain. Moreover, Toulouse is both a vibrant student city, with one of the best universities in France, and also a sophisticated and elegant metropolis full of world-renowned museums, galleries and theatres.

In fact, there is something for everyone here and I would suggest that it makes sense to be within an hour of a similar-sized city for anyone looking to buy a property in France.

 

2. Scenery

If you are looking for space and an unspoilt environment then, again, you are spoilt for choice in France. If you want flat, open spaces and châteaux, you will find them in the Loire Valley, whereas if you love mountains and chalets then the Alps are the place for you. Here in the Midi-Pyrénées region, however, we have a bit of everything, with some of the most varied countryside and most beautiful scenery in France. In addition, there is the backdrop of the snow-capped Pyrénées mountains for ever-changing views all year round.

 

3. Weather

There are seven different climates in France so it makes sense to decide what sort of weather you prefer before you pinpoint a particular area. If you like it desert-hot then the Côte d’Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon are for you (beware the Mistral and the Tramontane winds though) and if you like it cooler and damper then the regions north of the Loire will suit you better.

Here in the Midi-Pyrénées it is a mixture of both, and the region enjoys 2,000 hours of sunshine a year. There are long, hot summers; short, cold winters, and mild, sunny autumns, while spring rains ensure the lushness and beauty of the countryside and keep the farmers and gardeners happy.

 

4. Sports and activities

Most people want to continue with their sports and hobbies when they come to France, whether to live permanently or while on holiday. Sports and activities are also the perfect way to meet local people and become involved in the community. Certainly in the Midi-Pyrénées there is almost every conceivable sport available.

What is more, there are no elitist sports here, which means that things like tennis and golf are open to everyone from all backgrounds, at whatever level and without the huge membership fees often applicable in other countries. Plus, new members are welcomed with open arms.

Skiing and winter sports are, of course, a big draw in this region too, particularly in the Ariège and Haute-Garonne departments where a number of ski resorts can be reached within an hour from most areas. Skiing in the Pyrénées is hugely varied with 38 resorts offering slopes for every level of skier, but at a fraction of the cost of most Alpine resorts.

 

5. Business and work opportunities

Do your research. For example, many areas of France are saturated with incomers trying to make a business by running gîtes or chambres d’hôtes. There are, however, large pockets of Midi-Pyrénées where there is a real shortage of quality holiday accommodation, particularly in Ariège and parts of Haute-Garonne. Generating an income will be much easier if you are filling a required business need.

 

6. Year-round communities

You are never very far from a boulangerie in France but access to local services and amenities is also likely to be important. And yet in many parts of France where tourism is the main industry, some towns and villages can be closed up for much of the year. Haute-Garonne and Ariège, however, are departments where people live and work all year round and, as such, have a wealth of lovely market towns and villages to choose from where you can really become part of the community and mix with local people, rather than just other tourists and expats.

 

7. Budget

You might like the idea of a Provençal mas, a villa on the Côte d’Azur or a Parisian townhouse, but if your budget does not stretch to the prices of those areas then you are going to be disappointed. In the Midi-Pyrénées region we are lucky that there is a huge variety and style of houses available to suit all budgets, from renovation projects to ski apartments, farmhouses, manoirs and châteaux. It is rare that I turn down a client search for lack of budget, as long as their expectations are realistic.

Once all these elements have been taken into consideration, you can start narrowing your search to tighter parameters, such as being close to a lake, within 10 minutes of a market town with facilities, close to a good restaurant or a property with a mountain view.

From here, you can then further narrow down your choice to particular towns, villages or ski resorts, or to places close to walking and cycling trails and then to the specifics of the type of house, such as the size, the amount of land and how much work, if any, you are prepared to undertake.

Do not rush the search stage – it is this groundwork that is most important and a big part of my job. Equally, do not get too tied up in the details because, certainly if you end up in the Midi-Pyrénées region, I am pretty sure that you will find not just your perfect property but also your coin de paradis.

 

Nadia Jordan runs Foothills of France, a property search service in the Midi-Pyrénées, and is a licensed search agent

Tel: 0033 (0)6 45 23 62 48

Browse a selection of French property for sale here

If you are thinking about buying a French property but don't know where to start check out our buying guides, which cover everything from structural surveys to the role of the notaire

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Complete France visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Complete France staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Complete France account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from French Property

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

One of the best ways to find out if France is the place for you is to take out a long winter let in the area you’re thinking of moving to. Here’s how and what you need to think about

Read more
Renting in France
Friday, September 23, 2016

Planning to rent a property in France? Make sure you understand how the renting process works in France and a tenant’s rights and responsibilities first

Read more
Renting in France
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Are you curious about when your French house was built and who else has lived there? Find out how to discover the history of your French property

Read more
Thursday, July 27, 2017

Take advantage of MGM French Properties’ flexible leaseback offering at exclusive new development in Les Saisies in the French Alps

Read more
Thursday, January 19, 2017

Don’t lose out on your dream French home because your French mortgage application takes too long, instead find out how to get ahead by preparing your finances and paperwork

Read more
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

There are a number of different ways to buy a ski property in France including a mortgage, buying leaseback or off-plan. We take a look at the advantages and disadvantages

Read more
Thu, 11:54

The Pound to Euro exchange rate has continued to slide, presenting headaches for Euro buyers with Pounds. What seemed unthinkable a few months ago has now become a reality. What will be the main drivers on the rate for the coming weeks and months and just how low could this go?

Read more
Currency exchange update
Monday, July 10, 2017

One year after the EU referendum, currency broker TorFX asked their customers how Brexit and the subsequent currency exchange movements have affected them

Read more
Brexit
Fri, 12:10

If you’re selling a French property through an estate agent you will be asked to sign a mandate. These are the crucial things you need to understand before you sign

Read more
Thursday, July 20, 2017

The legal timeline for property transactions in France is quite different to the UK – learn the different stages of a French property purchase so you know what to expect

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now