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Everything posted by letrangere

  1. Even taking into account the inevitable tabloid press exaggeration, there are things mentioned by all women that ring true with many of us surely?  Upping sticks and moving to the middle of nowhere for retirement, couples who previously only met up in the evening after work or at weekends now stuck together 24/7.  This could well be a problem for some, and where do you go to get a break from each other if you live miles from anywhere?  (As one woman rightly asks.)   Then there's the language issue again.  We all know couples where one partner speaks the language far better than the other, which can cause resentment on the part of the one always having to do the talking and loneliness/frustration on the part of the one who can't communicate.  I know thousands of us do it and many do it extremely well but if you take a detached look at it, starting to learn a foreign language from scratch at 50+ isn't the easiest of things to do, especially if there's the additional pressure to achieve a reasonably good degree of fluency.  Spending more - invariably lots more - than planned renovating the dream house.  Most of us have been there and, in addition to this, we know how miserable it is living month in, month out in the mess especially if we're also aware of our precious capital being eaten into even further.  Add to the equation missing family and friends and things from home, no steady income, the struggle with the bureaucracy and it's no wonder that moving abroad adds such a strain on relationships.  The Mail has a massive female readership and I'd like to hope that at least some of those currently toying with making the move do sit up and take note of a few of the points mentioned here.  I'm not normally much of a fan of this newspaper but I for once felt this was quite a good piece.
  2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1276829/The-expat-dream-killed-marriages-Dont-pack-bags-sell-youve-read-salutary-stories.html I only looked in this evening to see if you were discussing this. Surely everyone knows at least one lady in a similar situation?
  3. Although nothing like the size of London, Paris is a largish place, where exactly will you be working as that will determine (presumably) where you live. My initial thought is that's not a huge amount of money to live on in the city centre where rents can be horrendously high, en par with London in places. Added to that, it isn't easy to find somewhere to rent in central Paris, especially if you're a foreigner. Unlike London, where so many local people own, most Parisiens rent and always have the advantage when it comes to finding the best places at the better rents. If you can, see if you're employer can help you out through the HR dept if possible. Budget-wise, local taxes are possibly lower, public transport is far cheaper, utilities about the same, ditto food and once you've found the family places in your quartier eating out will be more reasonable too. What mounts up are things like laundry (if you live in a city centre flat where can you dry sheets, for instance?) and running a car/parking can be a nightmare too. Great experience though; there really is nowhere else on earth quite so good to live.
  4. What struck me though was why bring "abroad" in to the equation? Surely it's broken dreams when a new life anywhere turns in to a nightmare? The problems the couple in France and Italy encountered were due to the fact that they had moved in to a BUSINESS venture with insufficient preparation. They could just as well have experienced the precise same problems had the French couple bought a camp site in the West Country, the Italian couple a biking business in the Peak District. Before starting up a business anywhere in the world business plans, a strategy, advertising/marketing, financials forecasts all have to be put together whether you are starting a car hire company, nuts and bolts factory, publishing house or, dare I say it, B&B or gites complex. It comes as no surprise to me to see that, more often than not, those that make a success of their start-up business in France/Italy wherever are those with business experience in their former lives. Sure, there are exceptions. But when I look around the gites complexes/B&Bs and other tourist related companies (ceramics, art holidays, etc) that have survived and, in some cases, thrived this summer near where we live, the common denominator is that their owners are all fairly astute business people who know their market, have refined their product to meet it and, importantly, researched how to bring in customers, which, yes, invariably does mean casting the net way beyond the British market. And will explain why one enterprising friend of mine is spending the long winter evenings in France learning German!
  5. [quote user="Sprogster"]Panda, the same consideration can be applied to those individuals who take early retirement in their early fifties, without any proper understanding as to the amount of capital you need to set aside to offset the effects of inflation over a further thirty year life expectancy.[/quote] I was thinking just this earlier in the week. 51 years young, 30 years since I started work with (hopefully) another 30 years ahead of me. Like a lot of people, we often toy with retiring early. I know our living costs are going to drop considerably when we no longer work (they're going to have to, too!). But it is quite scary to think that I could live for the equivalent of my working life all over again with my only income coming from interest on our current capital and modest pension. Somehow the office doesn't seem quite so bad when put like that.
  6. Why don't you find yourselves a long term rental over the winter ideally (easier to find than a long summer let), get to know the area really well and try and find something suitable through word and mouth.  This is always the best way for both houses and farms.  Drive around, stop and ask.  If nothing comes of this, try the notaires. 
  7. [quote user="NormanH"]I can't imagine anyone moving to rural France to make a living, unless in some countryside- related business.[/quote] Absolutely, neither can I but we've seen enough people on this forum over the years saying that was part of their plan.  (And invariably they didn't have a word of French or transferable skills.) Norman, re getting your thoughts in to print and being paid (albeit a pittance) for it, many magazines welcome articles from freelancers, I would have thought one like Living France especially...
  8. [quote user="NormanH"]I can't imagine anyone moving to rural France to make a living, unless in some countryside- related business.[/quote] Absolutely, neither can I but we've seen enough people on this forum over the years saying that was part of their plan.  (And invariably they didn't have a word of French or transferable skills.) Norman, re getting your thoughts in to print and being paid (albeit a pittance) for it, many magazines welcome articles from freelancers, I would have thought one like Living France especially...
  9. [quote user="NormanH"]"As for retiring, it's fine if you have a substantial pension, or money from the sale of a property,  but no easier then anywhere else if you are poor..[/quote]   Of course the quality of life during retirement is improved if you have a good pension, though I'd argue maintaining reasonably good health is a very important factor too.  But think about life in rural France and unless you're very fortunate and can combine living somewhere very beautiful with a decent job, surely it lends itself more to retired people living a quiet life than those needing to earn a fair living and/or those with young families?    There was an article somewhere recently about people moving back from the countryside (Cornwall especially) to the cities in England as early retirees/downsizers had suddenly realised they needed to live in a place where they could generate cash.    So this isn't an issue unique to France. 
  10. It is a he and it is in part why they left and surely we can all recognise something of France in the piece?  I can certainly see the bank issue - though they should have expected that - and the bit about all foreigners appearing as hugely rich is something many of us have probably come across whilst house hunting.  And even in our small circle of friends an alarming number of people have moved on in the last 12/18 months whether because they want to cash in as a result of the Euro/Sterling exchange rate or because they're bored/life in rural France isn't what they hoped/expected or they can't hack it or have run out of cash or whatever.  But what rang true with me more than anything was Rupert's comment at the end and how France is a great country to retire to.  The first Brits I ever knew to live here were retired friends of my parents, one of whom is still there now (in her late 80s).  And when we first moved to the country 20 years ago everyone said, "it's not a good place to live and work in but it's terrific if you're retired".  And I personally still believe there's an element of truth in that.
  11. http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090813/BUSINESS/708139939/1058&template=columnists   Knowing how much you all enjoy Helena FP's writing(!), here's hubby's latest contribution in this morning's National. 
  12. Lots of people get a job because of who they know - it's commonly known as "networking" - and is both a socially acceptable and perfectly normal method of finding a job today, especially in France.   Along with many of my French friends, it's certainly something I relied upon when I lived and worked there full time. But how many of you criticising Helena's writing are published authors and/or commissioned on a regular basis to produce articles for major UK newspapers/French magazines?   If you can do better, show us.  Look forward to seeing you all in the Daily Mail next week.
  13. [quote user="NormanH"]IOr are you just an empty- mouth? . [/quote]   Reluctant to reply to such rudeness but I've lived in both countries for a considerable number of years so ably qualified to comment and compare.  But why does everyone dislike Helena so much, I can only assume it's jealousy.  Like the rest of us, she's only trying to make a living and it's not as if people are forced to read her writing. 
  14. [quote user="NormanH"]" Someone mentions Helen Frith Powell.  She left France for Abu Dhabi, an altogether very different place to Dubai, and she didn't leave for the shopping.  She left because, as we all know, the taxes/social charges in France are absolutely punishing and it's virtually impossible to earn a decent living. " As far as she tells it herself she left because her husband got a job there.Then his newspaper offered her a job too... Of course at that point (and because she was writing for the Sunday Times) she wrote about the 'the sclerotic bureaucracy'. [/quote] Yes, but as she has also gone on record as saying that the move to Abu Dhabi was prompted by economics.  And "sclerotic bureaucracy" where, in France or the UAE?  It's a very close call as to which is worse.  France probably though, the people are far ruder.  
  15. I feel some of you are being a bit unfair on Daisy Waugh's article.  First off, you've got to hand it to the ST for publishing an article like this just as everyone is about to set off on their summer holidays for despite the economic downturn, some people are bound to be tempted to include a spot of house hunting.  And her extraordinarily rude house guest aside, it does give a more accurate view of owning a holiday home than so many others I've read.  I remember many years back there was a long thread running on this board one summer along the lines of "when was the last time you had a proper holiday in your place?".  And it's true, even when your holiday home is fully renovated, decorated, equipped, you have a gardener coming in when you're away, a housekeeper to have everything read when you arrive, you still find yourself spending far too much of your precious holiday searching for obscure things you don't know the name of in stores, having things repaired, meeting lawyers, accountants, builders or whatever.  We've all experienced the freeloaders that pop up when you own a desirable house somewhere sunny.  We tend not to even tell people now when we're going, and few family members and even fewer friends have our address so as to avoid what I've heard neighbours describe as people simply showing up on your doorstep ("we were just passing") hoping for a bed. Then you have the other aspect that she covers well, that of expecting at the outset to be popping over for long weekends, half terms and every single holiday but, of course, after the initial euphoria you don't.  Besides which, not everyone wants to go to the same place each and every holiday for the foreseeable future.  Unless the exchange rate or the housing market moves in your favour when you decide (as the vast majority do) to sell, owning a holiday home could be regarded as the most expensive way of taking a vacation. Someone mentions Helen Frith Powell.  She left France for Abu Dhabi, an altogether very different place to Dubai, and she didn't leave for the shopping.  She left because, as we all know, the taxes/social charges in France are absolutely punishing and it's virtually impossible to earn a decent living.
  16. Yes, but that place never really existed, Ron, as I'm sure, judging by your very sensible postings, you know.  I remember this Forum 5+ years back.  I remember being shouted down for saying this "craze" for moving to France, which it undeniably was, was only going to end in tears for one helluva lot of people.  And finding it incredible to read about all these individuals saying how they were planning on moving to France and intended to do this, that or the other. And I remember posting at the time, "look, I have lived and studied for five years in Paris, and, believe me, it isn't that easy to find jobs even THERE as a foreigner with fluent language and skills that companies require.  How on earth are you going to make it in the middle of nowhere with non-transferrable skills and barely able to ask in the local language for a loaf of bread?".  And people replied  "oh, no things are changing, dah, dee, dah, I can be a mechanic/check out girl/gardener and make enough for me and the family to live a comfortable life less stressfully."  And we'd say, "hul-lo, don't you realise that unemployment is nudging 10% and if you are a foreigner with limited language skills, you're going to be way at the back of the line for jobs."  But still people came.  And I really hate to say this, honestly, but couldn't they have seen this coming???
  17. http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/28/asia/wine.php Front page of the International Herald Tribune this morning.  Anyone been to one of the referenced all you can drink "open bar" evenings at French high schools?  
  18. Everyone should move to southern Tuscany where it was a balmy 20 today, bit drizzly at times but mild enough to barbeque tonight.  Desolee...
  19. We always find the best thing for scraping ice off windscreens is an old credit card!  So maybe we'll do our bit for the credit crunch and cancel all our cards and use them instead them as ice scrapers...
  20. [quote user="chrisb"] The worst thing about changing the clocks is that it engenders the tired old debate about whether we should.[/quote] But why is it done, I can never remember.  It was dark where I am last night by 5.30 and it's like a summer's morning now at 06.30. 
  21. [quote user="Hoddy"] As for Domme out of season, I think I can pretty well guarantee that it will be deserted and if you can get to La Roque early in the morning when the mist is still rising from the river you'll have a treat most tourists miss. Hoddy [/quote] Oh absolutely, one of the most atmospheric scenes in Europe, truly lovely, and the view from the battlements at Beynac is one of the best anywhere.  (Morning misty valleys starting around now, surely?  I always think Perigeux is at its most beautiful in the autumn.  (Think I need a French fix soon!) As for tourists invading (and ruining?) the beautiful place you live in, and like you we've had far fewer Brits this year though lots from the Eurozone, do what we do in Tuscany in July/August: shop really early and then stay home all day, knowing that everyone driving by is going to be saying, "gosh, wouldn't it be won-der-ful to live there..."
  22. [quote user="Hoddy"] I don't talk about house prices to my friends and neighbours in England or the Dordogne.[/quote] The only Brits I've encountered in the last two weeks were sitting next to me at a table in the main piazza in Siena and for 20 minutes their conversation was exclusively speculation as to how much an apartment overlooking the piazza would cost.  ("Must cost a bomb", "Such a good investment", "You could rent it out for a fortune during Palio")  So for some Brits it's not just their own house, their friend's house, it's ANY house!    
  23. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7661079.stm I hope someone else out there tonight is as happy as I am about this, I adore this man's writing and he saw me through the darker days of my French literature degree.  If you don't know him already, maybe start with his short stories.  The Villa Aurora describing the downfall of the golden days of Nice from an arcitectural perspective is, I believe, one of his best. 
  24. You don't think the major problem is that people have seen property as a provider of a quick buck rather than somewhere to live in, enjoy, make a home in and, yes, see mature in financial terms in the long run?  The situation throughout Europe in areas popular with expats is pretty grim, I'm writing this from Tuscany where real estate agents are currently crying in to their Chianti.  But we lived in France in the early 90s and saw many of our friends and neighbours suffering hugely for the precise same reasons that people are in pain now.  If you have a home, be it your prime residence or second home, and can afford to sit out the current climate, there will eventually be an upswing, it's guaranteed.  I remember in the winter of 91/92 talking to neighbours in the Dordogne who thought the bottom had fallen out of their lives.  But those that managed to hang on are, even today, laughing all the way to the bank.  If you buy a house in France for the right reasons, using your head, you're going to be OK.
  25. The stupidity of the woman Jill met is extraordinary for there's absolutely no excuse for her not being able to eat well at home, especially in summer when the local markets are crammed with a wonderful assortment of vegetables.  And, as others rightly point out, even the smallest grocers stocks rice, dried pasta, etc.  However, depending upon where precisely she lives, eating out might be more of a challenge.  I recently went to stay with old friends in the Lot.  Eating at home was fine but whenever we ate out in local restaurants in the evening, I found myself stuck with either omelette or, if I was lucky, roast chicken.  You see, I don't like duck and you see an awful lot of it in the south west.
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