Is Buying a House in France for You: My 5 Point Quick Checklist
So you are thinking of how wonderful a holiday home in France would be and are interested in learning more? Yes? Well, you have come to the right place!
With any big change or momentous decision it is best to think things through, plan and gather information. I am a list person. I create lists of To Do Today, Jobs for the Week, Food to Buy, Meal Planner, Clothes and Things to Pack, Things to Discuss (this list is to remind me to go through stuff with my husband when he returns from his regular business trips), and so on!
So you get the idea that I really am a list person. Making a list crystallises my thoughts, helps me remember and makes me accountable for my time, finance etc. It makes sure I accomplish the things I want to without forgetting or postponing. It also makes me think about whether something really needs to be added to the list or not. If it’s added it gets done, investigated, researched, paid for etc.
So I have created a list to get you thinking; be honest with yourself by answering the big question: Is Buying A House in France for Me?
My 5 Point Checklist is for you to assess each point on its own merits as it applies in your personal circumstances.
1. Location: Is France for You?
Are you passionate about France? Do you read French books, watch movies, listen to the French News, buy magazines, cook French recipes, watch documentaries and wish you were living there, or wish you could spend more time there than you already do on holidays?
Do you gravitate to French history above all other history? Do you hunger to know more about their culture and attend cultural nights already?
And here’s the big one… do you lie in bed at night thinking of all the things you might possibly do or maybe need to change in your life to make a life in France possible? Do you secretly lie awake thinking of just how you could make it happen?!!
2. Financial: Making it a Priority
This is probably the most obvious point of the five. We cannot avoid the fact that an overseas holiday home incurs different costs than a local holiday home. Each home has however a purchase price, maintenance costs, furbishing and decorating costs, possible renovation costs, and utility bills to be attended to.
The extra costs of buying overseas include travelling from Australia as well as the international monetary exchange rate. Hire car costs can also play a big part in the overall cost of regular travel to your home. In saying this, many large caravans and recreational vehicles are initially costly and luxury holiday homes in Australia may well have a higher price tag than a smaller home in regional France.
Usually any equity in Australian property (residential and investment) will not be taken into consideration by your overseas broker and banker and I could not find any Australian mortgage loan product for an overseas purchase. Do you have financial options? Are you prepared to make any financial sacrifices to see your dream through? Will you work your way through the financial mine field to achieve your goal?
3. Health: What’s your Status?
Do you, your partner or your children have health issues? Do you need access to important allied health services? Would you be able to regularly visit foreign medical practitioners and be understood?
Access to medical practitioners will differ depending on what you require and travel insurance will not likely cover long term issues that have been pre-existing. Tourists are treated differently than residents; the full amount must be paid upfront. However, in some cases the cost of the visit may be claimable from your insurance company. At what stage of your life are you considering this purchase? Are you likely to be able to make many trips to your home to make the financial outlay worthwhile and is your level of physical fitness going to allow you numerous overseas long-haul flights?
4. Legal: Where Do You Stand?
The French inheritance laws have recently changed but, when we purchased our house, any French property assets upon the death of myself or my spouse would not automatically go to the surviving spouse but rather in equal shares to our children. We were comfortable with this and it did not affect our decision to buy.
This French law has seen many homes fall into disrepair as children squabble over whether to sell, renovate or keep their parents home. This is why many stone houses and barns are derilict as the children have not reached an agreement on what they want to do with the property. So if you are looking at a reasonably priced property intending to renovate it, be aware of the possible issues behind the affordable price tag. This can make for interesting purchases as you obviously need all children to agree to the sale.
French taxes need to be paid on your overseas property and any income earned, should you decide to run your property as a holiday rental when you are not there, need to be declared. You will need a good accountant familiar with international property and tax laws. This is not difficult and it is something you need to attend to. Are you comfortable working your way through these issues?
5. The ‘What If I Don’t’ Scenario
How grand an experience! Do you think Life-is-Just-Too-Short to not follow your dreams? Would you always wonder about what you could have done, would have done etc if things were different? Do you think you will look back on your life thinking you should have taken the risk?
My husband and I take life by the horns, which sometimes is a bit more than we can handle, but hey, I will never look back wishing I did more. Yes, sometimes it gets overwhelming balancing everything, but we believe life is too short; so why not to fill it to the brim?
If you are sitting there reading this going, ‘that is exactly what I think’ then maybe Buying A House in France IS for You.