• Improved quality of life
For most people looking to buy in southern Dordogne, the main motivation is a change in lifestyle and they will find it here! For the fifth year running, France has come top of the Quality of Life Index, published by International Living magazine, whilst Britain has dropped to 25th place on a list of the best places in the world to live. No wonder – add to the best health service in the world and little crime, the beautiful Dordogne countryside, wonderful gastronomy and great golf courses and you have a recipe for the perfect place to live!
• Cost of living
Whilst the price of groceries and petrol/diesel in France and the UK is similar, there are some aspects of life in France that are much cheaper. Local taxes, the cost of education and child care, which are subsided by the French government and of course, health care, are the most important of them.
• Great climate
The Dordogne has a mild and agreeable climate overall with long hot summers. Spring weather is usually more changeable but can be very warm too. Winters are usually mild but can have short spells of crisp and frosty weather.
• Property market
Dordogne price levels issued by the Notaires de France indicate that in the area around Bergerac, the average house price is just €125,000 compared to €163,000 in France as a whole (excluding Paris). In spite of the global economic downturn, property remains excellent value for money with plenty of deals available for buyers. Now, because of a slower market, there are fewer buyers, hence vendors are prepared to accept lower offers for their property. British vendors especially are more readily prepared to drop their prices since they will see a real gain when repatriating their money.
• Type of properties
The choice of homes available in southern Dordogne and northern Lot et Garonne covers everything from small stone cottages to chateaux surrounded by vineyards, old mills to farmhouses, townhouses with colombage to pretty new villas with swimming pools, maisons de maitre to ruins awaiting restoration. Whatever your dream house is, you will find it in southern Dordogne.
• Easy access to the UK
Southern Dordogne is well served by several airports and is probably one of the easiest regions in France to get to from the UK and Ireland. There are several low-cost operators offering cheap flights between major UK airports and South West France such as London-Stanstead and Bergerac (Ryanair); Southampton and Bergerac (Flybe); Bristol and Bergerac (Flybe); Cardiff and Toulouse (Bmibaby); East Midlands and Toulouse (Bmibaby). These are just a few examples and routes are added all the time. It takes approximately an hour to fly from Bergerac to Stanstead, making your family and friends closer time wise than if you each lived on the other side of the M25.
• Beautiful countryside
The countryside in southern Dordogne varies from the Dordogne river plain to hilly vineyards, plum orchards, woodlands and meadows. Fields of sunflowers surround medieval towns, rivers, castles and stone farmhouses dot the most beautiful and unspoilt scenery wherever you are.
• Superb gastronomy and local wines
The Dordogne is rightly famous for its food and wine. Fresh produce is what you get, fruit and vegetables are grown right on your doorstep and weekly markets are the place to buy them. Depending on the season, you will find: cêpes, truffles, walnuts, peaches, strawberries and tomatoes, alongside traditional breads, pâtés and sausages made from wild boar. For the gourmets, wonderful restaurants, which range from ferme auberge to Michelin star, are also plentiful. For wine lovers and connoisseurs, the Bergerac vineyards that cover the southern part of the Dordogne department produce 13 Appellations d’Origine Controlees for red, rose and white (dry and sweet – such as Monbazillac – world famous) wines.
• Large expat population
Should your French still be a little hesitant or just needs brushing up on, one of the advantages of living in southern Dordogne is that there is a great expat community and many shops, tradesmen and services (such as the Tax Office) speak English. This is very unusual in France and it makes life easier for many Brits. If you do not want to mingle with other British people, the area is large enough so you can find a small village where you can integrate easily with the French population.
• Leisure activities
Finally, if you love outdoor activities such as hiking and horse riding, there are miles of nature trails waiting for you. Swimming and canoeing, rock climbing, hang gliding or kayaking are just some of the activities available. One of the big favourites is golf and there are plenty of courses to choose from.