Norman conquest

A traditional stone-built house in the northern region, on the market for ¬214,000

A traditional stone-built house in the northern region, on the market for ¬214,000 - Credit: Archant

One in four expats in Normandy are British

New research has shown that one “foreigner” in four living in Lower Normandy is British, making them the most represented expat nationality. The study, carried out by INSEE, the French national statistics office, shows that Lower Normandy is now home to 7,000 British residents. It also reveals a particularly high concentration of British expats in the south-west of the region, as well as a preference for more rural areas. Compared with 35% of French residents, 70% of Brits have chosen to settle outside of urban areas. They are notably absent from the regional capital of Caen, where only one resident in 1,000 is British.

Patrick Joseph of My French House agrees with the findings. “Typically, buyers searching for property in Normandy will have a budget of around €190,000 and will be looking for a three to four-bedroom house in a countryside or semi-rural setting,” he observes.

“We think that British people are buying in this region because of the ease of access to the UK,” says Jean Bernard Le Fur of JB French Houses. “We find that the British like the rural areas as they get so much more space for their money than they would in the UK, and retirees can enjoy the peace and quiet here.”

The INSEE report also reveals a profile of Lower Normandy’s British residents. Of those living in the region, 45% are retired, while those who still work are either self-employed or employers. They are mostly concentrated in the building, accommodation and catering industries or work in the education sector.

More than half of Britons in Lower Normandy are aged 55 and over, while just 17% are below the age of 25. In comparison, those aged 55 and above represent a third of the French population, and 30% are under 25.

Patrick Joseph believes Normandy is perfect for retired buyers for a number of reasons: “Property prices are very reasonable, and the region offers countryside living without being isolated. It enjoys mild and moderate weather too.”

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Lyn Barker of Labadie Immobilier also agrees that the popularity of this part of France could be explained by its proximity to the UK.

“The importance of this area to British buyers is the superb connections to the UK, as there are a number of ferry ports all within two hours’ journey,” she observes.

The agency is currently seeing two main types of buyer in the region. “The first group of buyers are in their mid-30s to late 40s and are looking for a holiday home for now, with the option of a permanent residence later on.

“The second are often of retirement age and are buying properties rather than leaving their money in the bank and gaining zero interest,” she continues. “As a retirement location it is perfect, as friends and family can always get here for holidays as a result of the many travel options.”

A further contrast highlighted by the research is that nine in 10 British residents own their property, compared with six in 10 French residents and just three in 10 of those belonging to other nationalities.