Is a maison secondaire for you ?

You would think that one home is enough for anyone, but owning a second home has been a popular dream for generations. Many may be content with a caravan by the sea, but for a growing number that it just not enough …they want a house or apartment and they want it in France. But before you jump in your car and head off to estate agents, stop and think. What do you really want? Will it be a delight …or a millstone?

Firstly, why do you want to buy a second home at all? If you just want holidays by the sea or in the country or near a ski slope, wouldn’t just renting do? There are plenty of rented properties and these can be very reasonably priced in many areas of France. Do you really want your own property?

Do all your family members want a second home? Do you agree where it will be? It‘s no good Mum and Dad wanting the rural cottage with roses around the door and teenagers wanting discos in Paris! Even just a couple may have different expectations. Country life may be catastrophic for someone with hay fever. Would you be happy to spend lots of your holidays in the same place? Do you want to get to know somewhere else well… perhaps warts and all?

OK, perhaps you all agree and want to go for it..

Now before you get all excited, start to think about two things TIME and MONEY. These are going to feature a great deal in the months and years ahead. Start thinking about them now.

TIME. Do you have enough of it …to go and find a property… to negotiate and buy it…to do it up…to sort out all the everyday problems …to get to know the neighbours…to learn the language … and (not forgetting) to enjoy yourself?

Some of these may be flexible as sometimes people like to buy a property and do it up slowly, or not spend much time there for a few years, say until they can retire. But at the end of the day, a second home needs you! It needs your time and energy to find it and nurture it.

Time is a very important consideration before you start to look for a property. Where do you want it to be? How will you get there and how long will it take? What is the maximum time you want to spend each time you travel to France?

MONEY. Do you have enough of it …for travelling regularly to France to look for property… to buy the house you want…to renovate, decorate and furnish it…to pay for running costs and taxes… to visit it as often as you want to?

You need to have a realistic budget. Houses are usually cheaper in France, but building and decorating work is comparable. You may need a mortgage and must remember to add the purchasing fees, which can be more than in the UK. Whatever you think it will cost you …add at least 50%! You may get cheap wine, which can make owning a second home extremely pleasant in France, but sadly this is not the only item you have to buy. The French word ‘bricolage’ (DIY) soon becomes part of your vocabulary. Of course this is after you have leant the words ‘notaire’ and ‘taxe fonciere’, all of which will consume your money before you have a chance to drink much of the wine.

Think …why do I want a property in France? Think TIME. Think MONEY. Hang onto the dream, but be realistic. It will stand you in good stead.

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