This checklist will help you narrow down your French property search and decide where in France to buy a property
No idea where to start with your French property search? There are a number of factors from weather, amenities and budget which will help you narrow down the search area. Use these questions to help you.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
More sunshine is one of the main reasons many Brits give for moving to France but do your research before you head straight for the far south. Read our guide to the weather in France to get started
1. Check what the area is like in winter as well as summer. Many parts of France have more extreme weather than us so although your chosen location may be hot and sunny in the summer it could rain or even snow in the winter.
2. Don’t rely on general climate information. The weather in France can vary considerably from one valley to another and many areas have microclimates so you might not have to head to the south to find the sunshine you are craving – for example Charente-Maritime in western France claims to be the third sunniest area of France. Read where to buy if you want sunshine
3. Decide if you can cope with the hot weather long-term. While temperatures of 30°C are wonderful on a week’s holiday when all you have to do is lie by a pool, can you cope with it when you have to go to work, do housework and go to the shops? Would you miss having distinct seasons?
AREA AND AMENITIES
Think carefully about the area you want to buy in and the amenities you want to have nearby as this will help you narrow down your property search.
1. What sort of scenery do you want? Are you looking for mountains, beaches, vineyards, countryside? This will help you to narrow down the areas you are looking at. Read our guides to where to buy if you want vineyards, mountains, beaches,
2. Do you want neighbours or rural isolation? Think carefully about whether you want to be in a town or village with shops, restaurants, activities and a community or if you want to be out in the countryside. Many expats think they will love a rural retreat in the middle of the countryside but don’t consider the practicalities of going shopping and getting to work, not to mention meeting people. There are many small villages and hamlets which offer the best of both. Read our guide to where to buy if you want rural isolation or an expat community
3. Do you want a town or village? Locations in France can vary from large bustling cities like Paris or Toulouse to smaller towns, market towns, villages to hamlets of a handful of houses. The amenities you want will dictate the type you look at – would you be happy with just a boulangerie within walking distance or do you want more choice with restaurants, bars and shops? For many expats a market town is a good choice, it feels like a large village with a choice of restaurants and shops and a community to get involved in.
ACCESS AND TRANSPORT
Being able to get to your property quickly and easily is a key consideration no matter what you are planning to use it for. If it’s a holiday home you want to be able to get there quickly so you don’t waste a day or your holiday travelling. If you are planning to rent it out or offer chambres d’hôtes then your guests need to be able to get to you easily. Even if you are planning to move full-time to France you will still want to travel back and forth to visit friends and families and they will want to visit you.
1. How are you planning to get to your property? Think about driving time from the ferry ports in northern France, how close the nearest international airport is and if there are major train stations nearby.
2. How much will travel cost? Compare the costs of travel, in both peak and off-season. Don’t rely on cheap flights from low-cost airlines as in the summer prices will shoot up. Look out for deals for regular travellers and booking way ahead of time or picking up last-minute bargains. Don’t forget to budget for things like petrol, toll charges, insurance, the cost of hiring a car.
3. Is there more than one travel option? Try not to limit yourself to one option – what if there is only one flight to your local airport and it is discontinued? How would you get to your French property and would it cost you a lot more?
How much you are able to spend will influence where you can afford to buy. If you are looking for a two-bedroom house and have a budget of €150,000 then there is no point looking in central Paris or on the Riviera but you could easily find something in western or central France.
Don’t forget to budget for fees too. Notaire and agency fees can add around 15% onto the property price. Check whether agency fees are included in the advertised property pruce – if it says frais d’agence inclus or FAI then fees are included in the advertised price, if it says net vendeur then they aren’t.
Have you decided where in France you want to buy? Visit France Property Shop to find your dream home!
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