Brits favour the south-west

New research highlights an increase in the number of Britons buying property in south-west France

The study, carried out by INSEE, reveals that Brits are in the majority among “foreigners” in this part of the country. According to the research there are now 16,000 Britons in the Aquitaine region, and when expanded to include the neighbouring departments of Gers, Charente and Charente-Maritime the number could double.

Aquitaine is, of course, home to the perennially popular ‘Dordogneshire’, so this perhaps comes as no great surprise. In fact, according to the INSEE report, of all the Brits living in France, the majority (7,200) have made the Dordogne department their home. In certain areas, such as Eymet and Verteillac, Brits account for more than 8% of the population. In 2011, 78% of the 289,000 passengers who passed through Bergerac airport were British.

However, the study also revealed a marked change in the profile of those making the move. While traditionally the focus has been on retirees moving to France to enjoy their golden years, there is now a new breed of younger buyers leading the way.

Trevor Leggett, of estate agency Leggett Immobilier, has noticed this growing trend. “The press and TV tend to focus on retirees who move here for the weather and generally slower pace of life, but we have noticed the increase in younger buyers for some time,” comments Trevor, who sees this as a positive and welcome trend. “Working parents help stimulate the economy and, of course, pay taxes and social charges that boost public coffers. Often with young families, parents need to move to an area where they can find suitable schooling for the children as well as work opportunities for themselves. This has helped with integration.

“We feel that this trend of younger buyers is probably reflected right across the country and feel that the media portrayal of British retirees who stick together will gradually change.”

A separate study also revealed that Britons represent the largest “foreign” population in Lower Normandy, now home to 7,000 British residents. Between 1999 and 2009 the British contingent almost tripled as buyers were drawn to the region’s more rural areas. Yet in contrast to the new wave of younger buyers in the south-west, 45% of Britons in Lower Normandy are retired and more than half are aged 55 and over.

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