Personal experience: how I chose a house in France

Ten years ago, Oleg was excited to buy a large piece of land in the foothills of the Pyrenees – for the future. To invest money and then build a house where you can have a happy vacation in retirement. The only difficulty – in France, it has never been before; therefore, when choosing a place, there were no problems without choosing a place …

  • Very good life here is set up for children and pensioners. 
  • Photos that show in advertising objects, completely uninformative. For them just do not make a real idea of ​​real estate. 
  • From the point of view of French law, it makes absolutely no difference which agency to choose – decent or not. 

– Why France? Still, when the budget allows you to buy real estate in this country, then there are enough for many others too.

– For ourselves – a  mystery. Maybe genetically somehow laid (laughs). Rather, it was due to the Russians, who already own real estate in France, a lot of good reviews. We still considered Italy, but nevertheless decided in favor of France.

– And before you made the decision to buy real estate, you were in France, rested, maybe you went to work?

– Were not. Skated around the world, and here they decided to buy land for a start. They wanted a large plot of land, but it turned out that they acquired land with a house. With an eye on retirement.

First, we went for a vacation, and then stayed for good. Life here is very good for children and retirees – for those who do not work. Comfortably for children, there are schools, various entertainment: horseback riding, skiing, football, rugby, swimming. Choose what you like. All sports with quite “social price tags”, it is not worth the space money. Rugby – € 50 or € 70 a year, tennis – € 120 a year, guitar – € 30 a month. And everything is close – 15-20 minutes from home.

For adults, its advantages. Thermal springs nearby. The first from us in 10-12 minutes, the second – in 25, the third – in 30 and so on. I’m not talking about great air, beautiful views …

– Did you plan to buy real estate for relocation or investment goals, too, pursued?

– Of course, investment! Yes, they are for the long term. For a short time there is no sense to invest. But for a long time – it is advisable. I just dealt with finance and continue to do a little bit. I understand that all these papers – is nonsense. Today they have value, and tomorrow they may lose it. Therefore, the money must be turned into something more substantial.

– If so, did you have the temptation to invest in the same German market? It shows enviable stability, profitability is growing.

– No, we did not consider real estate, which purposefully brings income. We looked for housing for ourselves so that we could come and relax in the fresh air. But at the same time it was supposed to be real estate liquid. Due to this, we get the preservation of capital. Combining business with pleasure.

– And how were you looking for real estate, how did you come to the conclusion that you would buy not just land, but land with a house right away? What happened?

– In the summer, we looked at offers on various sites, then contacted the agent, said that we would like, after that we went to France for views … As a result, we chose a completely different object. That is, not from the list of those on which we laid eyes beforehand.

For myself, they concluded that those photos that are shown in the advertisement of objects are completely uninformative. 

According to them, you definitely will not get a real idea of ​​real estate Because everyone hides the exact addresses where what is located. And within a radius of 20-25 kilometers, everything is very different here.

So, in the initial search, the main thing is to find a decent agency. And they are not.

– How so?

– Well, there are, but the price tags there are appropriate. For example, we did not plan to spend as much money as we had spent. But, again, I repeat, we made the decision on the spot after viewing the objects, so that everything can be replayed with the agency.

In this case, it can not do without. Of course, you can find, choose and buy property yourself, but if you own French and have an idea of ​​the area. For example, in Spain, I myself would look for the land or house directly from the seller, because I know everything there, I would not need an agent. About France, I could not say that at the time of purchase.

– Where did you find the agency you could trust?

 – From the point of view of the French laws, it makes absolutely no difference which agency to choose … Everything depends on the object, and the law here is one for all. No fraud will not be carried out, since such things are strictly monitored and immediately denied a license. It’s all clear.

If you buy land with a building permit, then until you confirm your construction plan, the transaction is not closed.

For example, from personal experience, the guys from St. Petersburg helped buy the plot. First they signed a preliminary contract, made a deposit, then prepared a project for the house, submitted it to the city mayor’s office, from there it was sent to the prefecture. And when the prefecture replied that everything was agreed and approved, they immediately set a date for the meeting to sign the contract of sale. When people paid off and signed the documents, they were already 100% sure that there is permission and you can start building a house at any time.

But in Australia it is not. I have a friend in such a case. I bought a plot with the expectation that there would be a building permit, but did not do anything. And now it is not clear what this land is for and what to do with it. Spain also has its difficulties, I know cases. It happens that there seems to be permission, and the foundation of the house is worth it, but nothing can be built, since there are violations somewhere.

So, in my opinion, the French have all the most civilized in this regard. Just after choosing an agency, check its registration in the registry, tax number, to make sure that it works legally in the country. And then you can be calm.

Money passes through a notary, the agency receives it from a notary. There is no cash settlement, so there are no financial frauds either.

–  So how did you find your agency?

– To be honest, I don’t even remember. I searched, searched, and it seemed like some kind of connection through a young lady from St. Petersburg. She gave me the coordinates of a Russian-speaking employee, I contacted him and had already agreed to meet. For their part, they prepared objects for us. That is, there are no representative offices of the company in Russia, but there are some connections through friendly agencies that redirect contacts.

In general, it is even correct. Being in Russia, the agent can tell little about specific objects. Only general information. We must look and communicate on the spot.

My friend managed to buy a house near the waste recycling plant – 500 meters away. Of course, everything is clean, technologies are used to ensure maximum safety. But the fact remains.

Much more important is the choice of location, not the company …

– And what difficulties can there be?

– In the subtleties you need to understand. For example, not far from us, in the Lannemezana area, living is almost impossible all the time. There is a plateau, there is a sharp rise to 4000 meters, and when the cold wind blows from the Bagnères de Bigora in the spring , they simply don’t want to live there, it rains regularly. Here the valley is very different from the valley. Here we have the “Spaniard” blowing, it passes between the mountains and gets to us already warm.

And somewhere you come, you look – a clear field, from silence already ringing in your ears, there is nothing around.

We looked still close to the ocean object – about 30 minutes. The house is a good new one, even the place for the pool has been dug, but the duck farm is near. Nothing terrible, but did not want such a neighborhood.

– You finally found something that fully fit your requirements?

– Yes, they were looking for privacy and mountains. A large plot of land in a place where you could live in peace and privacy. You do not come here to watch the French or the neighbor’s farm. Well, that’s my opinion. Although, someone takes housing right in the village, where everyone sees everything. Everyone knows who does what. But we were looking for another.

By the way, the most important thing here is not to succumb to the temptation to choose something, just so that the trip will not be in vain. Do not do this here. If something is not liked, do not persuade yourself. You can always find something that fits perfectly.

– That is, it is better to spend money and come again, but to make a choice that is completely satisfied?

– We must begin with a familiarization tour of the regions, examine the place where you like. And only then proceed to the selection and inspection of real estate. Then you will not encounter the problems that we, when the expectations from the object and the reality do not coincide, and you have to go back in search.

– Why did you just switch from land to house with land?

– We haven’t completely switched. Thought, either just land, or with a small house. The main requirement was a large area of ​​the site. Now I would not have taken such a huge one, “ate”. Still, 1.5 ha is a bit much. Would take on the slope, 20 acres with views of the mountains and it would be good. The main thing – a panoramic view. Someone wants the sea, here we are – on the mountains.

– What about the house? Its characteristics are usually considered first.

– The price of the issue. That’s how much money you can spend, so much and pick the appropriate option. We started with € 150,000 and finished € 250,000. But honestly, we chose a plot, the house did not matter. It was such a small chalet, and we understood that it would have to be redone.

– Did you immediately make a request for a particular region?

– Yes, the Pyrenees, like mountains. “Azure” immediately disappeared, because everything there is yellow and terrible … Plus, the factor of refugees, the problem of which this solar region did not pass. And in general, the sea is not particularly impressive. I was born and raised in Odessa, so for me this is not unusual. And lying on the beach, when a huge plane flies over you, is also somehow unpleasant. And the nature there is poor. There are pines, but apparently, it will all burn out soon. Because some bugs have started that eat up these pines, they dry up.

Biarritz is better, but the price tag is completely different. The difference in price in comparison with our region, you can separately buy a small house near the ocean and periodically fly there to rest.

So we chose the mountains near Lourdes. Lourdes itself is a pilgrim city, several million tourists annually. We even looked for solitude, but after Moscow we wanted an active life nearby. To five minutes, and we are already in the city, where you can walk, wander among the people.

“Is your home completely outside and not a soul?”

– Well, how to say, we relate to the village, to it is 300 meters. On the sides there are 2 neighbors, but they are far away. And so forward for 5 kilometers –  no one.

– After several years of life has not changed in relation to their secluded living, not tired of it?

– Not at all. If people are worried that they will wither away from anguish, now there are many opportunities for communication. If there is Internet, but there is one, then there are no problems at all. It used to be when a person went into emigration, then he suffered from a lack of communication with friends and relatives. And now at least several times a day, you can call up on Skype.

As for me, our valley is one of the most successful in terms of transport, accessibility, climate.

There are no terrible winters with endless snowfalls, although here the mountains and children skiing. In the summer heat is 28-30 degrees, only in the evening it becomes cool. No sweltering heat. Still, the foothills.

To the ocean (Biarritz) go two hours. But we love the Spanish coast, in the vicinity of San Sebastian. Go for three and a half hours, but really like it. We found there a nice town with a beautiful bay. Children surfing there. And in Biarritz, a crowd of people do not wade, around the noise, din, as in the classic southern cities. In the same Nice exactly. And there is only a ride on the waves. Two days is enough, it makes no sense to stay longer.

And the prospects in our region are not bad, it is developing. Road in the mountains are going to do. So, as we were pleased with the choice, we remain.

– How much time did it take you to find this ideal option for you?

– Three days. But we prepared in advance and knew where we were going, we knew approximately what we wanted.

– It’s amazing how you were able to collect so much useful, I would say, unique information for a foreigner about the region, separate valleys. For example, about the same climate. How is this even possible?

– Oh, we are already overgrown with knowledge. Much the French have told. After all, this is a common thing that after living in a place, you begin to learn a lot of useful information from local residents that you cannot hear from anyone else. The agent will never tell anything like that, because he has another task – to sell. And he doesn’t care what to sell.

– How could you choose such a good valley?

– Fate. Plus, I read that there is a special microclimate that differs from Lourdes. And while the land with the house we liked it here. Transport access is good. The nearest airport in Lourdes – 15-20 minutes. Not far from Spain. A few hours, and you’re in San Sebastian – a beautiful “bourgeois” city. To Barcelona –  five and a half hours.

To Bordeaux – more than two hours. Now we have made a new track, it’s very fast. The Geranson vineyards are close by, near Pau – these are white sweet wines. For a quiet, but rich life is very good. There are lakes with beautiful fishing, incredibly beautiful  waterfalls in Kotra. And in the neighboring valleys to get much more difficult.

So this is our choice due to objective factors, and some luck.

– I understand that without a car there is nothing to do here?

– Yes, there is public transport here, but it does not give much mobility. Sometimes it is convenient to get to a city by train. For example, it takes two hours to Toulouse. The same will be on the car, but do not need to sit behind the wheel.

There are no problems with buying a car. Having a property, you can get a visa D and live here permanently as a visitor.

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