Is French Country House Your Perfect Home

By: Jeff Seems

The French countryside is lovely and what better place to choose to look for your French property. France is four times the size of the United Kingdom yet has the same population. The result? Much more space per head and a land filled with the kind of beautiful French country houses that many of us dream of.

What makes it even better is that most of the French don't want them!

There are several reasons for this. The first is that there's very little employment in a lot of the rural areas. Farming is more mechanised and one or two guys (or gals) now do the job of ten. Aside from tourism there's very little else to bring in jobs so the young French people are moving into the bigger towns and cities.

Then there's cost. If a French country property needs restoration it's frequently cheaper to buy new. We foreign buyers might be willing to take on a bit of work and get our hands dirty but the majority of the French would rather not. Finally there's the fact that many French banks and mortgage companies are happy to offer funds to us moving into their country but reluctant to lend to young couples who want to buy a place that needs restoring. It adds up to either a lack of interest or a lack of ability to finance that leaves many French country houses unwanted.

It's as true of many a small village home as it is for a large rambling French farm house so if you're looking around the countryside you're often spoilt for choice.

Of course it's not all a peaceful idyll. There are certainly bargains to be had but there are also a number of important considerations.

With the general move to the bigger towns and cities it's become more difficult for the rural communities to provide the infrastructure that a town dweller takes for granted. Small villages have lost or are losing their schools, shops, doctors, etc., and in many areas public transport is just about non-existent. If you're young and fit with your own vehicle it's not really a consideration, but if you're a bit older...

I wouldn't want to put people off, France is a great place to live and I thoroughly recommend it. I wouldn't swap my country home for anywhere. But you have to be realistic too, but I'd be lying if I said it's all champagne and roses.

Renovation work isn't just expensive for the French, it's expensive, period! The very things that make your French country house so charming are also the things that give you the headaches. None of the doors are the same size, nor are any of the windows so if you need to change them it's no good looking at the DIY store and seeing a bargain price, oh no. Yours are all going to have to be individually hand made.

Those lovely ancient beams might have not-so-ancient woodworm or, heaven forbid, termites. The quaint old plumbing might actually not comply with the new regulations - 8,000 Euros for a new septic tank anyone? I'm not kidding, these are exactly the things that happened to us.

Is it all worth it? Absolutely. The only traffic we get is the lady with the mail and the occasional tractor. The air is full of birdsong. The field opposite is full of sunflowers. At damn and dusk we have deer that graze at the edge of the garden.

Do a little research, have a little patience and a sense of humour and your French country house can provide you the same superb lifestyle that ours gives us.

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