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- August 12, 2018 at 10:03 am #77688Les BoisParticipant
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May 18, 2016
Welcome to the forum.
Just a point, you say you have a house in Normandy in the Mayenne dept’ 53. I hate to break the news to you but the Mayenne is in the Pays de la Loire and not Normandy.
Cheers.August 12, 2018 at 10:21 am #77698Positive ThinkingParticipant
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April 16, 2016
Just to answer John Doe
Positive Thinking, still waiting for the thread you were going to start on 6 July. We can’t comment on it until we see it.
Here it is, Guess you missed it:
Been two or three others since then too.August 12, 2018 at 10:48 am #77710
I think that Bess has hit on the main problem of living in rural France particularly well.
As a single person, before making that final decision, and it is a big one, it is imperative that you really know that you are able to live for a lot of the time with your own company and with that alone. This will particularly be the case during winter when people really don’t go out that much and a real feeling of isolation can kick in if you’re not prepared for it.
Building up a social life here can be long and arduous and there will be times when you will inevitably miss the friends, family and general contacts that you have left behind in England. Please don’t underestimate this as it is really important that you are sure that you can cope with this aspect of life here.
Before taking French residency, it is worthwhile ensuring that you are completely conversant with French inheritance laws, particularly relating to property. If you have children by one single relationship or marriage, this is fairly straightforward. However, if stepchildren are in any way involved, the situation can become a lot more complicated and it’s worth being conversant with the finer details over this.
It is aspects like these which can trip you up when moving here permanently, so it is well worth while spending time making sure that they won’t trip you up in the future.
This isn’t necessarily a negative reflection, more a case of being forewarned.August 12, 2018 at 11:01 am #77719Positive ThinkingParticipant
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April 16, 2016
There’s a lot to think about when you up sticks and move to another country, and of course we don’t know all your circumstances.
The thing that most bothers me about your post is at the end when you say “having spent the whole of June at my house, I ended up very bored and quite lonely once the DIY was done”, and that you are also on your own. Perhaps it would be a good idea to try longer stays, particularly in the winter, before you make the leap. That would give you more time to do research about various admin issues while you’re actually in France and can visit the various offices, and also allow you time to find activities that you like doing if you are a “joiner”. If you’re not a joiner I think you will find it very lonely.
I don’t know if your house in France is in a rural area. Would you be OK driving on your own at night in the winter? Is your French good? There are pockets where there are a lot of British ex-pats of course. I don’t know if that’s the case where you live. Where I live the ex-pat community is rapidly diminishing as a lot of post retirement age Brits are now selling up and moving back to the UK.
The other thing to bear in mind is that France is more family based than the UK. There are less clubs and activities, and during all the school holidays a great many retired people disappear on grand-parent duties. However there are organisations like Université inter ages if your French is OK. There are choirs everywhere if you like singing for example. I don’t know what is available in your area (perhaps other members can make suggestions?) or what you’re interested in.
And we have the dreaded B word to consider. None of us know what will happen after March next year. Will we have health cover, will we have jobs, what will the exchange rate do (thinking of your pension), and so on…
If you can afford to keep both of your properties it would be worth thinking about delaying your decision for another year. You can still be in France for almost half the year. Also bear in mind that the UK and French property markets are totally different and French property prices have fallen rather than risen. If you own your UK property it would be a good idea to hang on to it.
And finally, French administration is a nightmare. It will take you days and days to sort it out if you move here, and weeks on end to change it all again if you decide that France 365 days a year is not for you. Take your time to really think about it, but keep asking questions on this forum. We don’t always agree with each other but there are usually some useful and constructive comments.
Whatever your decision I hope it all works out for you.August 12, 2018 at 11:19 am #77726Chapeau rougeParticipant
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April 24, 2016
Good morning. @positive thinking has just spoken for me. As far as an adventure and changing your life for one full-time in France goes, my advice to you, Sue, would be “Don’t!”
Well, certainly not until the turmoil over Brexit has ended and you have spent a large amount of time in your home here. I would think it would be easier for you to come to France now that you are retired, just on an impulse and just to please yourself. A month or so in France, back to England, few weeks in France etc., until you can see yourself staying longer and longer at your second home – and loving it. And be sure to spend time here in the longer winter months. You may be a “joiner” as @bess has mentioned, but you still have to actually find things to join!! The French countryside can be a closed and lonely place in winter, even if you speak the language. It “sorts out” many relationships and marriages too. If those are not really sound, couples too often find the stress of relying on just themselves is enough to cause a breakdown in that relationship.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE IT HERE. But it can be very hard and after many years I have seen many people sell up and move on in their lives. The bureaucracy alone can be enough break a sensible and sane spirit! Coping with that on your own…..well, you really need to be made of sound stuff and be a 100% glass half full person. I think you would enjoy spending lots of time here but if you can get bored in England, in a culture you know, with friends locally and speaking the language fluently?! I honestly feel that leaping full-time into French life without trying it for all 4 seasons first, would lead you to having lots of regrets. Sorry, just being realistic. Good luck whatever you do.August 12, 2018 at 12:07 pm #77742AnonymousInactive
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- Super Star
January 1, 1970
Positive Thinking, sorry I overlooked your earlier posts. Keep it up.August 12, 2018 at 12:50 pm #77759
The British have always had this “love hate” relationship with France. For myself, even from a very young age holidaying with parents over here many, many years ago, I convinced myself that it would be absolutely wonderful to spend part of my life living here – never thinking for one moment that I actually would.
The decision to move here a dozen or so years ago was made for a number of diverse reasons – probably mostly the same as those made by the majority of “long termers” who now reside in France. At the end of the day, we probably all just felt that if we didn’t try it, we would live to regret it.
That decision was a whole lot easier – then. The pound was actually worth something half decent and you could buy property for a sane amount – something you’ve never really been able to do in the UK. The cost of living here was cheaper and so pensions and, for that matter, all UK income could buy considerably more than we were used to.
This, of course, has now all changed and for a great many of us who have become retirees in the interim, the twin prospects of Brexit and an ever decreasing devaluation of our home currency have caused major concerns in our lives. However, this is only because we are actually British and these problems are totally irrelevant to the French or indeed those who have taken French nationality – at least as far as the Brexit part is concerned.
Generally speaking, apart from the traditional strikes and political uprisings that have always occurred in France, French life tends to continue as it has always done and the end decision to move here must be based on this knowledge. There is a stability here that is a complete contrast to the UK where everybody is totally determined to destroy everybody else and this is not a pleasant environment in which to live.
So this is your choice. As always it’s the balance between “head and heart” but, as CR has already mentioned, this time, with a good dollop of realism thrown in and this would include the ability to speak the language as fluently as possible.August 12, 2018 at 9:01 pm #77795smileyfaceParticipant
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February 14, 2017
Hello Sue, I think there has been some very good and sage advice given to your enquiry. In a similar situation to you, female and single I have had a second home in France for some 10/11 years in two different parts of the country. Since having this second house in Normandy I have thought long and hard about living here and decided firmly against, the Winters are grim and can feel very isolated on your own; although my French is OK it is by no means fluent and that I feel increases the isolation. I have also found over time that things I wouldn’t think twice about at home are a bit frowned upon here or a lone female is made to feel uncomfortable. The French are conformist where as the Brits tend to be more free fall. I have experimented by spending long periods here but got so bored ended up longing to be back home. I have now sold the Normandy house and am only hear to sign the final sale documents and will be relieved to get home and get on with my life, so think very carefully before making the jump.August 12, 2018 at 9:30 pm #77805Sue SlaterParticipant
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August 10, 2018
What can I say? Thank you to everyone who has offered me advice and the benefit of their experience so promptly. So much wisdom & practicality. You have enabled me to make my decision. For the time being, I will continue to live in Devon and visit my 2nd home as often as I can, preferably dragging the odd friend or two along. Although my French is fluent, if and when I do move to France I need to be somewhere less rural, so I shall start to prepare my house for eventual sale, knowing it may take years. In the meantime, I shall continue to ask silly questions – be warned! Thanks again everyone!August 12, 2018 at 11:10 pm #77812BlueRoseParticipant
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August 16, 2017
I would like to add a comment as someone who made the move relatively recently, I remain very happy and content with the decision to move here. I am not an expert in all things French as many on here will claim, but here is my contribution. I have had this house for about two years but this is my second foray into France as I had a house here fifteen years ago so am not naive about the reality of the move.
I hope you have some time for reflection while you are trying to sell your house and as helpful/unhelpful as you may find some of the comments in this forum, this is a very small segment of the view of expats in Normandy/Mayenne. Yes, politically things are a little up in the air at present, but some common sense and a reality check is required here; are the French going to make us return to the UK; really? You also need to think about the dates to take up residency in France as you may miss the boat in terms of the deadlines.
You appear to be in a positive position, being fluent in French etc. Maybe some time to concentrate on the positives rather than the negatives that are being advised here.
Are winters in Normandy/Mayenne really that different to the UK and isolation is a matter of ones situation, one could be isolated anywhere; its just a matter of geography.
Vive la France.August 13, 2018 at 10:15 am #77837
I’m sure that you’ve made the right decision here Sue – at the moment you really have got the best of both worlds and preparing your house for sale in the future makes perfect sense as it may take some time to go through unless you’re prepared to give it away.
The practical aspects of living in rural France have changed immeasurably in the last decade and those of us who live here permanently certainly have plenty of uncertainties to contend with at the moment. There’s little point in adding these concerns to your life if you don’t actually have to.
Having said all that and taking on board everything that has been said in the posts relating to your situation, I, for one, have difficulty spending more than a few days at a time in the UK. I find the current culture there totally alien to my way of thinking and I would’t want to be a permanent part of it. I suppose that over the time I have lived here I have just become European and that is something I probably wouldn’t have experienced if I hadn’t decided to live here on a permanent basis.
In any event, please let us know how you get on.August 13, 2018 at 12:45 pm #77846AnonymousInactive
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- Super Star
January 1, 1970
My experience was quite different. My mother died, and a few months later I came over here to have a look. I liked what I saw, returned to England and put my house up for sale. Sold in a matter of days. Put furniture in storage and bought a small town house in Basse-Normandie. I disregarded nearly all the advice I would now give to anyone interested in coming here to live (rent a house for a few months to give you time to search for a suitable house, try different regions, don’t pay the asking price, don’t buy the first one you see because there may be an even better one nearby, find out about healthcare, taxation, consider what facilities are available locally, town or country, is there land with the house and are you prepared to work to maintain it, restoration costs, brush up your French or start learning it before moving, etc ). I did have O level French, but had never had to use it since leaving school many moons ago.
I just sat in the hotel I was staying in, saw the house over the road was for sale, and bought it. One thing I did do was haggle over the price, which seemed cheap by UK standards but was high by French standards. I got it for 60% of the asking price. I later saw a small farm house, and bought that. Had to pay the full price because they wouldn’t budge. The first house was restored and sold just before the financial crisis at a substantial profit. I have lived in the farmhouse ever since, and have totally transformed it.
So I did nearly everything wrong, but I am still here 16 years later, with no intention of ever returning. Never had any problems with carte vitale, tax, or anything else. It seems that it was meant to be. Je ne regrette rien!August 20, 2018 at 9:53 am #78078NParticipant
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January 8, 2018
JD it’s so refreshing to hear that someone arrived here permanently in a similar way to us ie just did it. We too have not had any problems with french administration just understanding the forms was and still is the biggest headache but we’ve done it and have no wish to return to the UK (not using the word intention as who knows what the dreaded ‘B’ may bring!). Everything from day one has fallen into place for us and we sometimes say to each other how lucky we are and it was obviously meant to be.August 20, 2018 at 10:53 am #78087Ray GregoryParticipant
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April 19, 2016
We decided to move, in 2011, visited, looked at numerous houses, until we finally found our house, sold our house in Wales and moved permanently in February 2012. Did all our dealings with French beauracracy without too many problems and haven’t looked back. Have no wish to move back permanently. Just enjoy!!!August 20, 2018 at 2:33 pm #78099caxtonParticipant
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June 25, 2016
When we came here over 12 years ago, as said in another post, the topics were mainly where one could buy food items, where can I find an English mechanic/electrician etc. Now Gordon is a haven for Brits with a wonderful English butcher who now delivers to a very wide area, Steve with his English grocery shop and cafe with another English restaurant opposite Elliott’s the butcher, questions of this type are rarely asked. The other trades are apparently catered for as well. This in itself has had a significant effect on forum content which is further affected by the reduction of Brits moving to France at present who needed to know the answers.
In other cases the subject of the posting is so boring and long winded I personally cannot be bothered to read it let alone respond.
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