The French do not seem to have any sense of urgency….This is one of the qualities I most admire about them, and one of the reasons we are planning to re-locate to France, but the logistical nightmare of trying to move a renovation project forward from 1,000 miles away can get really frustrating and it’s really bringing out my control freak tendencies. Whilst some aspects of our French property purchase have fallen into place frighteningly easily, I am having a hard time coping with the inexorably slow time-scales.
Please be prepared for this if you are thinking of following in our footsteps.
Yes… if you have the dosh you could get a quick job done and be sunning yourself on your terrace within 3 months of purchase, but you could also be skint & bitterly regretting your lack of forethought when you casually sited the plumbing and electrics without due care and attention..Whilst taking time to work out the best use of space and how you will actually live in the property when completed is a good idea, it’s really tough having to wait for your dream to materialise.
We have had some lucky breaks, like meeting our ex pat buddy Fran who has been living the dream for a few years now and has been indispensable as a one-woman advice line, ally and greatly instrumental in getting the building work started at last. She recommended Jean-Marc, a very good (but unfortunately very busy) builder who lives minutes away.
We also bought at a good time, bargains are getting harder to find if you don’t know where to look.
With completion in sight (we thought) on the French house, we celebrated by deciding to throw some more money at our UK house and put it on the market as I felt that an economic slide and inevitable property crash was imminent. If we were going to sell, the time was now, and we hoped to make enough to fund the renovation work and buy a second coastal property.
The expression “gluttons for punishment” springs to mind. There is nothing like stretching your financial, emotional and practical resources to breaking point. Especially whilst simultaneously masterminding your daughter’s wedding, relocating your elderly father from 200 miles away to just around the corner, coming to terms with and recovering from major surgery for a potentially life threatening condition and holding down a full time job that was the source of increasing disillusionment, not to mention supporting your son, who finally decided at 22 and after the world’s longest gap year that he does want to go to University to do a totally impractical degree and will probably starve in the process!
All this and more has happened since we decided to buy in France.
Do we regret it? No!…………it is probably the second best decision we’ve ever made, Am I daunted? sometimes, on bad days and when I look at the bank balance.
Can we offer advice; certainly, almost all problems are surmountable.
Have we completed the house? ………………………errrrr no..
Full of excitement and big plans we booked 14 days holiday and decided to drive over to France in April 2006 taking camping essentials, & some tools to make a start on the work. This entails a thousand mile journey, which we managed over two days thanks to excellent French roads & lots of “refreshment stops” which UK motorway service stations could learn a lot from. Our buddy, Fran, had picked up the keys from the agent & offered to leave them in the front door. Imagine doing that in England! This epitomises how safe our village is and is one of many reasons why we love it.
We parked in the square (which is actually round) and said bonjour to our bemused but polite neighbours, who were perched on the vantage point bench at the end of the street wondering who the new nutters were, and who watched with amusement as we started dragging our first load down to the house.
I trundled jauntily down Rue De La Plage with my overstuffed suitcase, brimming with excitement and anticipation whilst trying to look cool and au fait with southern French village etiquette. I looked up at the house and came to dead halt.
“s**t!” I said
“Wouldn’t stand there with your mouth open like that bab” said Trev, as he hove into view, the flies are b****y huge down here!”
“Trev” I said “didn’t we buy 8 Rue De La Plage?”
On the front wall of “our” house was a large and unmistakeable number 5.