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the ethics of owning a second home in France

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We've worked hard. My husband is self-employed working long hours and we live in an average semi in England. It upsets me when people berate second home owners ( and sometimes it IS jealousy ). We can barely afford our house in Brittany, but we've had so much pleasure from it so far. We've spent money in our community, and pay our taxes. The locals are very welcoming. This year we are also renting it out to holiday makers, so it will be used more.

I too resent the fact that others can criticise how we decide to spend our hard-earned money. We have no Ferraris, jewels or designer goods, but presumably that would be acceptable. The house was on the market for a long time before we bought it, so locals did have the opportunity to buy it first, but it is a small hamlet, and like others said, no work.

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Hi Gay

           Thats prob where I read it , every thing has been a bit fuzzy since Saturday as you can imagen ,thought at one point I had more Brains inside me than Steven Hawking, I know what the poor sod feels like now pushed home in a tesco trolley, can only move one finger and can`t talk sorry mate

          right my view on people with second homes anywhere ,good luck to you , you must have earned it ,although I don`t view myself as a 2 home person I do at the moment have 1 in wales and 1 in france but the 1 in france is on a loan on my u k property ,but I worked 12 hour nights for 12 years to pay for it week ends renovating property in the uk on my own and other peoples , building and selling furniture, making and fitting kitchens and any thing else I could turn my hand to ,just to make a stake claim in France .

                 so why is every one moaning ???

     isn`t life tough enough


P.S. put your money on Wales in the next world cup


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High and ever higher house prices are only a problem for those without one.

IF high and ever higher house prices are really seen as a problem introducing CGT would seem a way of controlling things and , as with some business assets, tax might be deferrable until it is time to shuffle off. Though if only the DM is trailing this rumour, remember it is allegedly time to re-elect TB.

John (who has only 1 house but not remotely jealous of course )




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JANB who started this thread asked us to consided the ethics of owning a second home in France.

I think that all us 2nd home owners have got a tad defensive. Ethics being a beast not much seen outside University life, we need to treat this as an exam question. We need (like all good ethics students) to look at the question and how it is asked. It is asked with the persumption that 2nd home owning is wrong.

JANB seems to be advocating a sort of Enid Blyton return to the 1950s. Then there were less people alive, less cars less plane travel and holidays were a fortnight in a guest house by the seaside, reached JANB would hope, by bicycle or by the train.

Not much pollution caused by these holidays (leaving aside the cooking oil style sun lotion). No young locals lost the chance of buying a local house, except maybe the wages they got serving out the cornflakes for the season of two months a year hardly would generate enough capital to buy a house. Still the main losers were the international crooks and spies rounded up by the Famous Five.

JANB permitts holidaymakers sample the 60's luxury of travel abroad to France - probably subject to a James Callaghan style limit of taking £200 with us. She lets people rent "a locally owned property", or stay "at a locally owned hotel", by locally owned JANB means French owned, be very sure of that. I feel the train would be the only correct method of travel. - Maybe the Famous Five would round-up some mobsters in Cannes. Second thoughts, Timmy if taken abroad could not get back into the UK without six months in a dismal kennals.

So the real ethics question JANB and the Green Guide are asking is: Wouldn't it be better to return to the 50's and 60's style of holidaying than owning a 2nd home and flying to visit it.

The great thing about ethics is that it is divorced from the pragmatic world.

The trouble with JANB's question is that once the genie is out of the bottle it is hard to cram back in.


So enough of ethics - what happened to The Famous Five?

Well they gave up crime fighting after they left school. Julian, now retired after a career in investment banking, views crime in a rather different light. He owns a flat in the Barbican, a house by a golf course in Florida and a Maison de Maitre (+ 5 hectares) outside Sarlat. His ex-wife got the house in Pimlico. Their children (Antonia and Crispin) holiday in Ibiza and the Seychelles.

Dick after a failed career in the BBC's Blue Peter, worked as an estate agent in Guildford before leaving for Sarlat in the 80's. He is still an estate agent and lives in the gate house of Julian's spread. Although a 'ladies man' he never married. His French is still sub 'O' level.

George left school rather earlier than expected, in cercumstances not much discussed in the family. However she found fulfillment and modest fame running an experimental dance troupe. Now a west end choreogragher she has a flat in Hammersmith and still owns Kirrin Cottage.

Timmy died broken-hearted that he never got to star on Blue Peter. He blamed Dick.

Anne married a solicitor the second she left finishing school. She had no choice as her sole talent was for making sandwiches. Two divorces on she owns a former fishermans cottage in Southwold and a small farmhouse near Riberac. She has a horse and three spaniels whose company she prefers to that of men. Rupert, her only son left on a gap year three years ago and is getting by as a part-time barman in Brisbane.

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Famous five who are they?do they have a second home in france?Maybe they went on to be part of the self perpetuating teaching profession and enjoy their second home for at least 12 weeks a year,when most worker only have 4/5 weeks a year to "enjoy" their second home ,if they have one that is.



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Well Renaud if you are getting analytical about it...

The ethics of owning a second home at all are unrelated to where. As a paying consumer/acquirer the effect must be to add to demand and this force prices up.

Presumably ''locals '' are the initial beneficiaries of the price rises and they put their money into....?


The OP quoted:

'The danger is that by living between two communities, second-homers contribute fully to neither and can actually adversely affect the local community where the second home is located. Renting a locally owned property, or staying at a locally owned hotel, would be a better option.'

It is a danger but that does not mean it is necessarily true in most cases and so the quoted recommendation (in bold) about renting a locally owned property is a bit heavy handed.


If we are worrying about the local economy then net inputs matter. Using local suppliers/ tradesmen, paying taxes etc. are surely more imporatnt than 'ownership' ?

 In fact holiday lets which do all of that but are not a drain on schools or medical facilities etc. must be a boon ?  (e.g. compared to second homes of the 'drive from London' type where goods would have been bought in a London Waitrose and very little local input would be made at all.)



 Ecological / Environmental concerns are different.

The plane is indeed a massive consumer/destroyer of natural resources.  Why we can Ryanair to South of France at a small fraction of the price we can train there is grossly illogical, but nothing to do with second homes.


I sort of feel this is a good debate to have but not sure why or where it leads to.  Does that mean its philosophy ?

Cheers all

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Bravo Renaud!  I was always very fond of Dick.  And although I wouldn't have known one if I'd met one at the time, on reflection I think it's very astute of you to label him a ladies' man.  Mmmm, the already numerous attractions of Sarlat increase, will look out for him next time I'm there...

Now going completely off the thread (sorry), it used to be great fun going to France in the 50s and 60s, I posted a thread on  the subject a couple of years ago.  A surprising number of people did drive, we certainly did - to Sarlat several times ironically - but from around '63 onwards prior to that we always took the train.  Boat train from Victoria Continental, Dover, the Maid of Kent, Boulogne Maritime to Gare du Nord, night in Paris, lug bags across town on Metro and onwards from mainline station to wherever.  Not as quick (or as cheap) but far more fun than today.  It was also so much more of an adventure (very Famous Five) and you were eased into France and the foreigness of the continent in a way that simply doesn't happen now.  Great shame.

Incidentally, re second homers in UK, all those I know who have one use "access to local Waitrose" as a key marker for deciding where to buy and would never dream of relying solely on stocking up beforehand at their London store.


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  • 2 weeks later...

[quote]Well Renaud if you are getting analytical about it... The ethics of owning a second home at all are unrelated to where. As a paying consumer/acquirer the effect must be to add to demand and this f...[/quote]

England has its share of foreign purchasers too! Any farms that go up for sale of a reasonable size, in sort after areas in the South of England are being bought up by Arabs. And another thing, no-one has mentioned here that French companies are buying up some of our UK utilities companies. I am personally happy for anyone to buy any properties or business ventures wherever! Similarly I would be disappointed in anyone who critised us for having our French retreat! We are so grateful that we do have it as we have family members and friends who need the tranquility that the countryside brings and it is lovely to share it with them.

Live and let live I say!

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If you want the point of view of a French native, it's more fun to be in a village where who have Brits who love the place and has choose to relocate here, that to stay only with rural french people who are just thinking of living that same place !!!
But as i'm working with second-home owners, i guess i don't have an unbiased opinion...








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