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Just back from our 1st house hunting trip to Charente/North Dordogne.  We have fallen in love with the area but now our only concern is now can we afford to live in France?  I'm not asking anyone, out there, what you earn - only if you think we will have enough money to survive (& have a few treats!!).

We are both medically retired, in our 40's & will have an annual pension of about £12,000 (gross) & about £5,000- £7,000 a year, in savings, to live on.  We have no kids, 3 cats, will be growing our own veggies, do not extravagantly spend money on luxuries & intend to quit smoking (not to sure how that will go, though).  If possible we will also be buying a property with seperate accommodation to supplement our income, if necessary.

Please let me know if you think we can make a go of it - I really would hate to look back in 10 years time, still sitting in Northern Ireland, on Incapacity Benefit & wish we had been braver & had made the move.

Any advice is welcome - good or bad.

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Difficult to answer without knowing a lot more info, but on balance, I'd say "Just about". Your health situation needs to be thoroughly researched beforehand though, in terms of social security coverage.

The thing that I would counsel you to plan for though is the amount of capital expenditure you're likely to get through in your 1st year or so of settling in. There are so many things to get / replace as a result of making a major move. Probably no different to what you'd have to do for a move within the UK, but the cost can mount up frighteningly. You also need to budget for those necessary trips 'back home' to see relations etc.

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There are so many things to get / replace as a result of making a major move. Probably no different to what you'd have to do for a move within the UK, but the cost can mount up frighteningly. You also need to budget for those necessary trips 'back home' to see relations etc.

Absolutely, unforeseen costs such as these and the house renovations if applicable can add up and escalate as Ian quite rightly says.

Bon courage 

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Not sure by you having £12000 pension and £5-7000 per year savings when you say you both are not working and are well below 65(none of my business),but if by pension your mean a UK benefit,just make sure you can still receive it once living in France,you might be in for a shock.
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That isn't such a big amount (me, MOH and our menagerie would have a job surviving on that permanently). It also very much depends on your lifestyle and the regular outgoings (such as heating costs, rates and utilities), as well as maintenance, on the property/ies you will own.

...and don't forget folks' first year here is generally spent in holiday mode (sightseeing, eating out, shopping etc), so the money just vanishes!! On the plus side, living out in the sticks means that you spend less than living in a town and passing tempting shops!

As the previous poster says, check that you will be able to transfer your IvB permanently.
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Thanks for the replies, already received.  The pension is my husbands Civil Service Medical pension, which can be paid into a French Bank & I may or my not be able to continue receiving Incapacity Benefit - but didn't include it in the figures.  I should also have said that the house we buy will be mortgage free, which can be a large part of the expenditure.  Any more thoughts would be really appreciated, as the hubby is concerned - I tend to go with the flow & see what happens!!
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You must remember that even on a pension or sickness benefit, you will still have bills and taxes to pay,  heating and lighting is not cheap, neither is the cost of living that much cheaper than in the UK.   You say you are going to grow your own veg, great idea, but what are you going to do in the winter when you cannot get out in the garden?

If your £12k figure is net income in France then you may be OK, but local taxes can be quite expensive it depends on house size, amenities and location, remember the exemptions on these local taxes here may not apply to you.  Medical treatment is not free and you will certainly pay social charges even though your O/H's pension may be taxed in the UK.  There is also house and car insurance to pay for.  You will also pay for your CMU on that income unless you are entitled to an E121 and if you need medical treatment you would be wise to get a top up medical insurance policy, at your ages you can say goodbye to 60€ to 100€ a month if you get a decent one.  The other word of caution already mentioned is that the UK Government wants to get people off the sick and back to work, to continue to receive incapacity benefit you may have to be available for work in the UK and see a UK doctor, although I notice that you have wisely discounted that income. 

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My advice would be to keep your savings for emergencies, and keep

topping it up as a savings account. There is no end to unexpected

expenses. eg last year we had a huge car repair bill, expensive

emergency dental treatment ( only a tiny amount re-imbused) need to go

over to uk with extra expenses there. This year we are going to have to

update our fosse septique among other things. But we just about manage

on the amount you have in pensions. Pat.

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[quote user="le bouffon"]Nice one,I missed that one.Savings of what £5000 to£7000 per year means £100000 capital and a £12000 pa,sure that would be nearly twice smic.[/quote]


Le Bouffon - excuse my lack of knowledge, but what is the mimimum wage in France.  I'm not sure if you meant we would both be on about twice smic or not.  It would be good to know how close to the knuckle we would be!! 

Oh & by the way - I am retired because of my back! - but the hubby will be responsible for the veggie patch.  I'll just tell him what to plant & when to pick them!! 

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I would agree with Zeb and Ron.  You might JUST make it.  It

depends on so many things that you have not mentioned and perhaps don't

know yet.

The fact that you will not have a mortgage is a lovely thing !

Some of the basic items to tally up:

Home insurance (can be paid monthly or otherwise to suit your

budget, but still has to be paid) You can ask what previous owner paid

OR get a quote prior to buying

Car insurance  (same as above)

If car is used inspection every two years if licensed in France - 51 euros for inspection

EDF (ask what the house was paying prior to your taking it over - you can get this from EDF)

Water bill  (ask what previous owner paid - and determine how many people lived in the house previously to try to compare)

Again, this can be obtained from the water company - owners tend to fib on these issues.

Home heating - is it fuel, solar, electric? - we have fuel, but

what-ever you have, this can be a shock - it was to us, but our house

is big and old

Health coverage - can also be determined prior to making the

move - speaking French would help enormously when contacting the French

Health authorities to verify/ask anything.

Dental care - regular care is quite reasonable - anything else can do a real number on the budget.

Petrol - will you need to do a lot of driving - cost me 50 euros to fill up my tank.

Food - whatever you spend there, you could spend here.  Obviously this varies from person to person.

Garden care - will you have a garden?  Will you need a

mower, strimmer, etc. or will you bring them with you.  Will you

be the one to do the yard work or will you need help?  Any

planting will need to be accounted for in plant/tree purchase,

fertilizer, and maintenance products.

White goods - will you be buying them here or bringing them with

you?  Prices for these things can be determined prior to the move

if you are here for a visit.

Tax d'Habitation    -  can be verified by the

local Tresor Public (can change somewhat from year to year, but we

haven't encountered huge changes) due during last quarter of the year

Tax Fonciere   - can be verified by the local Tresor

Public (same as above unless you plan to put a pool in or something

that could raise the bill somewhat) due during last quarter of the year

- can't rmember - one is Oct. the other is Dec.

Pool    -  if there isn't one, then it is a mute

issue - if there is one, determine the annual maintenance fees - easy

to get data.

Internet / Phone/ Portable   -  Not a huge addition to the budget, but when the budget is tight, it shouldn't be forgotten

Wood    - do you have a fireplace?  Don't forget the cost of wood - depending upon how much you use, it isn't cheap

TV Tax    -  116 euros per year unless you have NO TV in your house

Cost of Xmas (or the like), birthdays, vacations, outings

   -  you can say you will forgo those types of

luxuries, but HAVING to might have an impact on your true happiness


Guests   -  will you be hosting any guests?  This too can break the budget.

Regular home / garden / car / mower, etc. maintenance  

-    We have our chiminey swept every other year 60

Euros.  We have our fuel heating system opened up and cleaned

every other year 140 euros.  We have our car maintenance done -

liquid, filter changes, etc. around every six months - cost varries,

but avg.  70 euros.  Mower gets air filter, oil and spark

plug changed, with blade sharpened or replaced depending on use, every

two years - 40 euros.

I'm sure I have left out a million and one things, but the above are

pretty basic.  As has been stated, there are always the unexpected

things that occur - plumbing problems,  dental issues,  etc.,

but if you are fairly confident about the basic things, you can get a

better fix on what you can handle in the "out of the ordinary"


Good luck.  I think it is very wise to be determining this BEFORE you make the move.

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I am somewhat more than bemused,you want to move to France and dont know how much things are cost of living etc.Go on tell you do not speak french eithier,some folks on here will hold your hand and tell you what you want to hear,others will tell you as it is,there is no sub. for doing your own leg work.
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I've done some calculations and agree that Ali will have about twice what a French couple(both working full time) living on minimum wage would bring in. She also has a decent amount of savings which said French couple might well not have, she has  no mortgage or rent, which this mythical couple would probably have to pay, no children and the possibility of some rental income. We often are told about the number of French people who have jobs earning the minimum wage, so this scenario is not unusual. I  know also that one person's survival income is another person's wealth and everyone has unexpected expenditure. However, given the above facts I can't see how anyone could question the possibility of managing on considerably more than twice what a typical French family might have to live on. If I've missed something somewhere I would be glad to know, as I am making my own calculations at present.
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Apologies for the total miscalculation in the above post, I can only blame the alcohol and misunderstanding of an earlier reply. I got carried away with multiplying by 2.  Ali and her husband would be on a similar gross income to a French couple who were both working full time on the minimum wage. In addition, they would not be paying rent or mortgage , have no children and have 2 possible sources of extra income. Not as brilliant as I worked out before, but, I would have thought, more than manageable.Apologies for the c*ck up, I think I better go to bed.

You'll recognise me when we eventually move out; I'll be the middle-aged English woman begging in Periguex because she thought she had twice as much money coming in than she actually did.

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Thank you, to everyone, who have probably done more calculations on our behalf than we have!!  Moving from two full-time wages to both suddenly being retired hit us very quickly - & we were worried that we may have overlooked some "French" expenses. 

Le Bouffon said - "do your own leg work".  We have done what we can from Northern Ireland.  We have bought every book, magazine, web searched our fingers to the bone & watched every TV programme possible.  Unfortunatley, it's not easy for us to get over to the Charente/Dordogne area, with no local direct flights.  It took us 13 hours to get from Belfast to Angouleme last week!!  My back problems only add to the difficulties - which I hope will be drastically improved by the French weather & lifestyle.

The forum members have been more than helpful with the various queries I have had - everything from cat food to hair straighteners!!  Thank you all, again.


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[quote user="Debra"]13 hours - you're lucky!  A supposedly 5 hour trip to Dover (according to the AA) usually takes us 9 hours and then we still have the same, or more, at the other end to do a supposedly 7.5 hour trip!  So - about 19 hours for the journey, assuming we can spell each other driving and sleeping and don't stop (which the kids wouldn't be too happy with).  Hubby off on a trip on his own tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to see how long that takes - needing sleep breaks but not needing kiddy breaks![/quote]

Ouch!!  I take it back!!  I thought Belfast to Leeds, Leeds to Paris CDG, TGV to Angouleme was bad!!  It should be better in the summer, though, with better connections to Bordeaux or Bergerac - I hope!!  Just bugs me that Belfast Airport has the nerve to call itself "International"!!  They only fly to Paris or Nice & neither flight can connect with the train service. Aaaggghhh!!

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