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
If you’re thinking of buying and relocating in France, it can be very sensible to spend some time in the country before you make the permanent move and to ‘try before you buy’. One of the most practical and economic ways to do this it to take a holiday rental on a long winter let.
Finding a winter let in France
Long winter lets can run from 1-6 months and many property owners offer lets up to late February or March, depending on the region and local weather. Browse holiday let websites specialising in France and look on the dedicated sections for owners advertising winter lets. Some will specify a rental for winter months while others will say that rates are ‘open to discussion’. In this case, use the weekly rental quoted as a guide to where they sit in the market. It’s also worth searching for suitable summer holiday properties and contacting owners to ask whether they would be open to a winter let.
If the price is right…
Once you make contact with the property owner, it will be a matter of negotiation. Remember that renting properties off-season will be a lot less than peak months and, in general, the longer the let the lower the monthly rate charged.
Once you have negotiated the rent with the owner, discuss other details, clarifying whether or not utilities are included etc. Under French regulations, if electricity is not included, you should only pay the amount used as shown on the meter. The owner must not charge a fixed amount per month as an extra.
Making a house a home
Heating is, of course, vital. If open fires and log burning stoves are on offer, find out whether logs are included and, if not, the source of supply and cost. You’ll want to feel cosy in the house so look for a comfortable lounge with soft furnishings and, ideally, an open fire. A well-equipped kitchen and quality bathroom will be important – and one very useful piece of winter equipment is a tumble dryer.
Check whether the owner lives on site or close by. If they do not, then clarify whether the house will be ready and warm for your arrival and that you will be greeted with full information. Also check whether you are expected to do any maintenance, such as keeping the garden tidy.
Obviously you want to find a property in the area in which you are thinking of buying, but if you’re looking for a rural location, then it might be wise to make your winter base close to a town and be willing to travel around to house hunt. Many rural areas in France have very few facilities during winter and you’ll get more of a taste of French life and language practice if you go to markets, independent shops, restaurants, cafés and places of interest.
Glynis Shaw is joint MD of French Connections holiday rentals and property sales online. frenchconnections.co.uk