Don’t listen to what people say about property in the Dordogne being scarce – there’s masses to buy, at all prices. The days of the tumbledown barn for five pounds may have disappeared, but barns are still to be had – even if at a price closer to 100,000 euros. So – the first question is: what’s your budget?

The next one, which follows quickly on the first, is: how much are you prepared to spend on the property once you’ve got it? A house may be described as “renovated” but when you get there you may feel it wasn’t worth the bother, and that it’ll all need to be redone. Then: how are the rooms arranged? do the bedrooms lead into one another without a corridor? how many bathrooms do you need?

A guideline price for renovation is 1,000 euros per square metre of surface habitable . This may well mean that, if a property needs renovating, you will be spending as much again as the purchase price.

The third question, which is linked to the others, is: how big a place do you actually need? And I mean need, not want. It’s easy to get carried away by the idea of lots of space, but remember that it will need to be heated and maintained. Similarly, how large a garden do you want? I’ve known people gesture widely to a distant horizon, indicating that that is where their land ends. But you may find that this means days at a time mowing grass, or getting involved in agricultural tenancies.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to get carried away by the attractive houses you see in the Dordogne. But keep your head about you, and you’ll be happier in the long run!

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