The dream of packing up and moving to France often hinges on finding a way to make an income. Here are some tips on how to buy a property that earns its keep
If you need to earn a living in France, top up a pension or simply keep busy, there are many ways to go about it and create an interesting lifestyle into the bargain.
The obvious way that springs to mind is running gîtes or chambres d’hôtes, and for some very good reasons. If you already know how to run a house, you are well on your way to being able to make people welcome and comfortable during their holidays.
The big benefit of buying an up-and-running business is that it is, well, up and running. Check out the reviews that it already has on TripAdvisor or Booking.com to see what people are saying about it. Good reviews mean you can just pick up and do more of the same (or even better), whereas less rapturous responses will give you good insight into the key areas that need improvement.
One man’s chambres d’hôtes is another’s family home, of course, so it is perfectly possible to find the right house and create your own B&B from scratch.
The most important piece of advice is to do proper research regarding your finances. Living in France is generally cheaper than living in the UK but there are still local taxes, utility bills and deductions from your B&B income which have to be paid.
7 things to consider before taking over a business
1. Get to know the current owners and grill them about how they have run the business.
2. Get a list of employees, suppliers, service providers and local contacts. If appropriate, keep the current staff to provide continuity.
3. If the current owner is staying local, will they act as consultant?
4. Every business needs a website – get in touch with the website team and talk about maintenance and development costs.
5. If the business has forward bookings, clarify whether or not these are included in the sale, as well as fixtures, fittings and furnishings.
6. Consider taking a specialist course.
7. Budget for marketing – consider online advertising (website, other sites, Google adwords), print advertising (specialist press, flyers, business cards) and branded goods such as pens and bags.
Some more unusual business options
A plum, alpaca or stud farm
A kennels or cattery
An electricity-generating mill
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