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Everything posted by zeb

  1. Do some research in your locality to find out how many builders or carpenters there are. You may find that there are lots (as well as all those who are not registered), or you may be lucky and find that there are very few. If he wants to be self employed, he must be sure that he can find enough work to keep you all as once he has registered (it is obligatory and is done at the Chambre de Metiers), the cotisations (health/accident, pension and social charges) are hefty and have to be paid from day one whether you have work or not. It would probably be a good idea to find work with a French builder (as my OH did) to learn French building/carpentry methods and language skills, before striking out on his own. It would give him a chance to test the water and learn the craic. Good luck.
  2. Emma - I hate to say this, but I deregistered with the MSA at the end of March last year. They then told me that I had to carry on paying cotisations until the end of the year as you can only deregister at the end of the year (31st December). My OH had registered his business (Chambre de Metiers) on April 1st so we had to pay TWO lots of cotisations last year. I even went to the MSA in July to tell them that I wasn't earning anything, so couldn't pay, and the woman at the reception desk laughted at me and wouldn't let me talk to anyone higher. I came away nearly in tears of frustration and spent the whole year fuming that this was one of the things that they didn't tell me when I registered three years previously! I found that we had to work a 40 hour week to survive. There is no way that we could've managed by doing a three day week as my cotisations during the first couple of years were 3800 per annum. (I don't understand why we all pay different amounts in the first two years - I though they were worked out to a formula). Your OH should have been told at the start to work on the cheque d'emploi system rather than registering if he only wanted to work a three day week as the MSA doesn't really recognise part time work (or the wish to work part time). If things are really tough Emma, go and deregister (you may have to pay for the year but you should get it back next year) and then make an appointment at your Mairie to see a social worker to try to claim RMI. Good luck. PS I know I shouldn't say this, but when I was working I used to get really peed off with all the "garden maintenance" outfits which sprang up around here every summer and were obviously au noir. But now, after all the hassles, I can't say I blame them!
  3. LOL - sorry, I really have problems doing the quote thing on this site. I won't bother in future as it's just too damn confusing! Anyway, we are hoping to move south of Pau ourselves from sunny Charente but it won't be for sometime, otherwise I'd offer as that's what I've been doing around here. There don't seem to be many Brits around Nay - we went to a really busy vide grenier in Nay in September and didn't hear one English voice or in the supermarkets! Good luck anyway, there must be someone around who does that sort of work. You could advertise in French/English in local shops.
  4. Nich, as a guest, I would never rent a property which was part of a complex/owners accommodation/cottage in courtyard etc. I want to relax on holiday and not be watched (I won't say spied on as I don't really think that happens - or does it?), greeted when I'm in the garden, or be on tenterhooks worrying that I'm a) using the washine machine too often, b) entertaining friends (yes, we often take the opportunity to rent close to friends' places in other parts of France) when I should have asked the owner, c)stayed in and read a book for the whole week, when I should've gone out every day. These are all complaints about "guests" that I have read on this forum! I just want my own private space for a week and am quite capable of dealing with any emergency myself. Touch wood, nothing has cropped up yet. Anyway, I have to be honest - I always rent a 3 epie (pets allowed) gite rural through gites-de-france and have never been disappointed yet! They have all been fantastic - beautiful old places with all the best mod cons, and friendly owners. On the other side of the coin - I'd be quite happy to own and run a gite 4 kms away, but never on my own property, for all the same reasons as Lori.
  5. [quote user="SunnyAquitaine"]ANYONE HAVE ANY CONTACTS SOUTH OF PAU AREA IN THE AQUITAINE REGION. ITS A NIGHTMARE TRYING TO FIND ANYONE THAT COVERS THAT AREA. HELP![:D] [/quote] Have you tried asking on www.laymyhat.com ?
  6. Hi - you could go to your Mairie and tell them that you can't afford the upgrade, and ask if there are grants or financial aid available. I think this is what the French would do first. Good luck.....zeb
  7. It's interesting that many of the posts are by people who don't live in France permanently. We do, we've been here for five years and are living and loving a completely different life to the one we had in the UK, gardening and building as opposed to professional careers - not quite in Kathy's socio economic bracket (so she probably would avoid us like the plague) but close. Now I garden for A1 people and have my fill of them that way - LOL. Back to my point. I can understand why folks move back, move on etc etc. We have lived in this house longer than we have lived anywhere. We are serial movers, so now have itchy feet and will have another adventure elsewhere. But really, why should it matter to anyone else? Why do you all smugly think that you have got it right and everyone who wants a new challenge has got it wrong? Have we failed? Have we not done our research, got the wrong locality, watched too much Place in the Sun, got bored with winter or the great unwashed and uneducated around us, not got a high enough income, not learnt the language etc etc? No, I don't think so, and, as you know nothing about anyone else's lives, nor should you.
  8. [quote user="Ac50"]How can you be bored in France in winter? Even if you don't drive you can get on the train, there is so much to see. All those museums, churches, art galleries, cafes, markets, .[/quote] Um - what train?
  9. 1) As you have to declare interest from savings in the UK, and indeed any worldwide assets for tax purposes once you become resident in France, yes, you will have to pay CMU on it. 2) I seem to remember writing out a cheque for a small amount when I registered our micro at the Chambre de Commerce 4 years ago.
  10. Lochinvar - you really need to be further south for the best weather, beaches, food, scenery etc etc and soo easy to get to. My fully renovated house is for sale, so just pm me!! Edit: sorry....forgot to say, I'm in sunny Charente!
  11. I paid 0.614 for 1000litres in Charente last week.
  12. [quote user="BJSLIV"]You are given the opportunity to notify the absence of a TV on the annual income tax return. When the collection system was changed they wrote to non income tax payers, asking whether there was a set in the property.. [/quote] ...and it's also on the Taxe d'Habitation bill. If you contest it, you just write and tell them you haven't got TV equipment and they send you an updated bill. Yes, we pay everything by prelevement; taxes, EDF, FT, TPS, cotisations, car/house insurances etc etc and never had a problem. We need to spread our bills as most things seem to hit us in November/December and it makes sense. PS That's a typical British insult isn't it; assuming that the French are incompetent due to having a 2 hour lunch break? Why are you in France if you don't approve of French cultural differences?
  13. .....and in doing so John, I presume you abstain from commenting on how a country is run?
  14. Well, our neighbours were pleased with the manifesto but are kicking themselves that they've just signed over their property to their son (at a cost of 3Keuros) to avoid inheritance tax, as, if they had waited and if Selogene wins, she plans to cut inheritance tax in succession (which would affect us all!). Unfotunately, we can't vote in the Presidential elections, but which parts of the manifesto might sway you?
  15. riffraff - am I missing something here? Have you not been out and seen this property or are you basing all your future plans on photos and secondhand information?
  16. Look in www.pagesjaunes.fr at chauffage in your area and then look for energie solaire/geothermie/aerothermie etc and get someone round for a chat and a devis. There are several listed in our area (16). PS I think you get what you pay for. The solar panels and tank at our friend's house are large and, like anything related to heating in France, look industrial (but luckily their roof is positioned in such a way that they are only visable from their own garden and not from the hamlet). They had to get permission to install the panels. Since then they have had a air/heat exchange pump installed to heat the pool and run the central heating in the house. The electricty used costs little, and again, a grant from the region and tax credit on the system. Yes, installation cost a lot but running costs are minimal (it's a big house) and is guaranteed for 10 years. This winter they have only kept one woodburner going and that was really unnecessary. If a comparison is useful my oil fired heating (including water) costs for a much smaller house have been around 1350 euros plus wood (this is double what oil cost when we installed the system). If I renovate again, I'll certainly go for solar power.
  17. Hi - friends had solar panels installed by a local contractor last year and a tank with electric backup (which they never use) for their large farmhouse. They paid 6K euros and claimed the tax credit back on the panels. I've house sat there in late autumn and also early January; the water wasn't hot hot, but OK for a bath!
  18. Just out of interest, are there books available in French which explain UK wiring?
  19. I think you also have to think about your lifestyle. Tiles are dead easy to hoover and mop. Wooden floors look great but are high maintenance if you have animals/children or MOH! Carpets are impossible for the same reasons and also the summer heat (tiles are cool). If I had the choice of heating I'd certainly go for geothermic/or air/heat exchange underfloor (environmentally friendly and you can get tax credits on that if you are tax resident).
  20. Yes, our garden and property maintenance business lasted for over three years, but my partner then registered in his own trade with the Chambre de Metiers and we wound down the garden maintenance (I found it extremely hard work (probably an age thing), garden machinery is expensive to buy and maintain, and during the winter months there is little to do except hedging and vine pruning, so it was not worth carrying on by myself). For a proper business you need all your own equipment - tractor mower, hand mowers, strimmer/brushcutter, hedge cutter, chain saw, van and trailer etc as well as all the hand tools - garden maintenance in France is nothing like garden maintenance in North London!!! Think hard and do plenty of research in your area. We had a thriving business, mainly second home owners; British, French and Dutch and it was great during the summer and good weather but we had to take on other work for an income during the winter. Weeks of rain can be a real drag. You could start off working under the cheque d'emploi system and see how it goes. We found it easy to get work but as Will says, you won't be able to charge decent rates for maintenance gardening. How much would you pay a gardener in the UK? Beware of the MSA (the agricultural organisation who you have to pay your cotisations to - I'd rather work on the black than have anything to do with them ever again - and our accountant won't have anything to do with the MSA either! Sorry to sound bitter and twisted - I cancelled my registration with them last March, but had to pay cotisations for the whole year!! Good luck.
  21. If you are in 16, the Charente Libre has an on-line English version. Don't know how exensive it is. We have the CL delivered daily and to start with I just read the Obituaries (now how sad is that) and the Meteo as my French was poor. But 4 years on, I can read the whole paper now, and understand most of it!!
  22. Why not go for a Dell laptop? They always have several specs on offer, you can buy an English keyboard model in France if you want, and friends who have bought Dell are happy.
  23. Actually if you have two kids the tax allowances are quite good, but as the others have said the health and social charges are high in France so you need to do your homework, and have capital which will keep you going comfortably for a couple of years while you get fluent and job hunt. AFAIK a proportion of taxes in most other countries go towards paying unemployment benefit, disability allowances and state pensions etc etc. It's just that in France it's more obvious as they usually tell you on your health statement, payslip etc whats gone towards what. I think 1 euro goes towards paying off the national debt every time you visit the Doctor and to me this is an excellent idea - didn't the Liberals in the UK propose the same sort of thing in their manifesto for the last GE? Anyway, buy an up to date copy of Living and Working in France by David Hampshire. It's available on amazon and usually ebay. This will be a good start as well as browsing and asking questions on the forums. The others are right, it isn't all milk and honey here and we've found many things more expensive than in the UK. But, after five years we still have no plans to go back - for a start I don't think we could afford the same lifestyle there. That will probably come as a shock to folks who keep telling you that wages are so much better in the UK - but, we can live quite happily on much less than we needed in the UK, in a country cottage out in the sticks. I'd just like Tescos to do a home delivery here a couple of times a year!!! Good luck......hopefully someone will give you a useful answer about driving jobs.
  24. LOL - everyone has different needs. Maybe sugarfree is planning to buy (and maintain) a chateau somewhere?
  25. We had something which looked like an invoice a couple of months ago which may have been from the same people; we binned it, as we always do!
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