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BEFORE YOU START

If you have made the decision to buy a French property, there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself to narrow the search and decide exactly what it is you are looking for. The answers to these questions will save you a huge amount of searching time and ensure you find a property which is perfect for your needs.

Why are you buying?

Probably the most important question of all.

  • Are you planning to live full-time in France, either for work or retirement ?

  • Is it for a holiday home ? ,

  • Are you looking for an investment?

The answer to this question is vital because it will make a huge difference to the area in which you should buy and the type of property that is best for you.

If you plan to live in the house full-time, you may want to be close to amenities like schools and shops, in a region where you will be able to work, even if that simply means an area with a reliable internet connection. You may also want to be in an area that offers things to do all year round.

If you are looking for a holiday home, you will want to choose an area with easy access by road, rail or air, and which offers a good range of activities to suit your own holiday lifestyle, be it frenetic or relaxed!. If you are considering renting out your holiday home for some of the year, you need to compare the income you can achieve in different areas.

If it’s an investment property you want, the main criterion will be to find an area where property prices and rental returns or re-sale potential fit into your calculations. Don't be taken in by developers' promises. Ask to see proof of potential income, or ask an independent estate agent if promised returns are realistic. 

What do you need close by?

Once you have chosen a broad region, ask yourself these more specific questions to narrow down your search area. Do you need a school, hospital or shopping facilities close by? Do you need public transport to get about? Will good leisure facilities make your life more enjoyable? Remember that an idyllic countryside hideaway with no neighbours is wonderful for the Summer, but can feel very remote in the middle of Winter when the nights draw in. 

Perhaps the most important is, do you need a peaceful, pretty location? We know all our properties first-hand and can advise on anything planned for the area that may affect them -  wind farms, road construction, new railway lines, solar panel installations, high-power electrical lines, housing estates.

Which region best suits you?

France is a big country and different areas vary hugely in terms of landscape, climate, transport links and property prices, all important considerations when choosing where to buy. 

Do you prefer to be near the sea, in a rural area, or perhaps a smart city? Are mountains important to you or do you prefer gentle rolling countryside? These questions are particularly important if you have a specific hobby you enjoy, such as golf, skiing, walking, cycling, sailing or horse riding.

The weather could play a big part in your future happiness: could you endure the bitter cold in many inland areas in the winter? Do you dislike being too hot? Many areas of France have long hot, dry summers. How do you feel about rain? Certain areas of north-west France have rainfall levels similar to those in the south of the UK.

Transport links are also vital, particularly if you plan to rent your property at any time. Is the region easy to access by road, or will you have to rely on air travel or train? Even if you are not planning to rent out your property, you may want to visit family and friends back home, and they will want to visit you. The low-cost airlines offer tantalisingly low prices but are  constantly changing their routes so it's best to keep more than one transport option open.

Prices vary hugely across France so check out how the different regions compare with each other and with your budget. You may find that a different region offers exactly the kind of property and area that you are looking for at a lower price.

Finally, don’t underestimate the role of familiarity. If you know a region well, perhaps because you have spent several holidays there, you may feel drawn to it. This can be a good reason to consider a region as you already know it. However, make sure you are not over-estimating its attractions because you have had enjoyable, relaxing holidays there: real life is something else altogether.

See our regions guide for some ideas, and let our local agents guide you - they live and work in the area and would love to share their knowledge to help you find the right place for you..