Moving to France

I’ve just read yet another survey where France comes top of 192 countries in terms of “quality of life”. This one from a website called International Living ranked it just ahead of Switzerland, thanks mainly to its’ healthcare, climate and culture.

It’s hard for me to agree or disagree with these findings as I’ve only ever lived in two countries and have no idea if hospitals have a shorter waiting list in Luxembourg (4th), Liechtenstein (20th) or Liberia (183rd).

However, I can say with complete authority that I’m receiving more and more inquiries from people in the UK who are disillusioned with the quality of life it offers and want to up sticks and move to France.

In truth this saddens me because I’m English and proud of it – when Jonny kicked his drop goal against Les Bleus in last years Rugby World Cup I was the only person in a room full of a hundred people who was cheering. Certainly my motivation to moving to France had more to do with the positive things it could add to our life than any deep-rooted dislike of our life in London.

However, it’s clear from the emails I’m getting that there are many people who have finally said that “enough is enough”. A quick look at the BBC website shows headlines about falling house prices, BP shedding 5,000 jobs and some amazing research from the Centre for Social Justice that says in eight years time more than half of all Glasgows’ families will be headed by a single parent. More than half….that’s an amazing statistic that simply wouldn’t be believed here in the Charente where life still revolves around the family.

If you are planning on moving to france then go for it.It’s a good thought.

I always respond to these emails by saying that, in my opinion, life here in France isn’t better than in the UK, it’s just different. The things that we find attractive here could well be an anathema to others. Many of my old friends and colleagues would go mad trying to find bars that stay open after 8.00pm in the Winter and shops closing on Sundays and Mondays would send them over the edge. As a perfect example we have a terrific “take-away” pizza and burger place in Jarnac. I went there at 1.30pm the other day and there was a sign on the door saying closed for lunch…I jest not. Lunch here starts at Midi and if you miss it then you have to go hungry!

In contrast the amount of time and space you gain by moving here is breathtaking. Land values are much lower than in the UK and I have recently seen some wonderful properties with glorious gardens and views.

I’m doing a property search for a keen gardener and you don’t have to break the bank to find something special. I visited a lovely collection of buildings last week. On the market for 245,000 euros they form a small hamlet and consist of a renovated farmhouse, a large barn (permission for three gites), small barn (permission for one gite) and 12th century cottage (permission for one gite). All this sits in just under an acre and a half of grounds including an old vineyard and views over rolling countryside. I saw it on a sunny day and would happily have stayed there all morning just chilling out.

Sadly I had work to do and spent the rest of the day looking at a motley collection of overpriced old rubbish. There are still bargains to be had in the Charente valley but sadly they are becoming more and more difficult to find. The locals aren’t stupid and they know that on a sunny day practically every property out here can look romantic and people will follow their heart rather than their head.

Be careful though, finding your dream house is just one part of the equation. The dream could turn sour if you can’t find work and don’t have the income to sustain yourself.

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