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Secondaires - would you do it again?

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Following Hoddy's recent thread, a related question.

If you had your time again, would you buy a maison secondaire?  We've seen a house that meets most of our requirements and I'm having difficulty making the decision to buy it or to hold on to the funds and rent as required instead.

Renting seems more logical and lower risk, but I suspect it will be less fulfilling.

We're in our 60s so I guess we have a 10 to 15 year horizon.  Our ambition is to spend about 3 months a year in France - perhaps more once we've retired.

Thanks in advance for your advice.


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We've had our maison secondaire for 8 years.  For the first five, we spent all available holidays in France. Now it's a few weeks in the Spring and 3/4 months in the Summer.  We've now decided to sell - at first we had lots of visitors but now it's only been my daughter who came for a week in June. She loves the place but her husband and son find it boring.  We're 6 kms from the nearest small town, so a bit remote.

So - if the house you have found, ticks all the boxes, is within walking distance of amenities, has neighbours who are friendly, then go for it. I'd probably rent just to make sure it was what I wanted.


Bon chance!!

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I may have seeded doubt with my post on the other thread.

It depends on what you are looking for.

Many people enjoy the business of owning/improving/designing their house as an activity in itself, and for that you really have to own it.

I wanted to live more cheaply in town, which I could no longer do in any sizeable place in England, and have no interest in 'improving' the property, so renting would have  be a strong contender for me in hindsight.

I would have rented because I could have moved to another place with no problem.

The sorts of issues about areas going downhill which have strongly affected me are much less likely in the country, although be careful about transport and local shops and services closing (including areas where there are fewer and fewer medical facilities)

So if you want to live in the country and do up your own place you may well decide to buy.

If you want to live in town but are not too sure about where your town is going it might be better to rent.

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Jean has highlighted the main consideration and that is how much do you want to be tied to one location? As if you think you might want to travel around for a few more years, then rental is probably the better option, until you are content to settle in one place. Also arguably buying a property in France makes less financial sense at the moment, with the prediction of falling or stagnant house prices for several years to come.

PdeR one of the contributors to this forum who is a property professional in France, says statistics reflect that most second home owners sell within ten years. Probably because they become bored with the same holiday year after year, and you are right that visitors including family do fall away once the novelty has worn off, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how social you are! 


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 I suppose it all depends on what you are expecting to get out of owning a maison secondaire  and if it is going to get used enough .

If its just for your holidays then probably it would be better to rent a Gite . You then have the option of moving on to a different area if you get fed up with it and try places new and somebody else has the job of paying the taxes and painting the shutters ..

If  like me you have family who love the surf and the beaches and would go to the area every year anyway.  Also they do the hard work for you keeping the place up to scratch as you get older. Owning a place in France becomes easier as they seem to take more maintaining than in  the UK   . Especially if on a windy coast  .,

I read on here posts about house prices by people concerned about time taken to sell .

If the fall and rise of the Euro is going to concern you about your investment...That's another thing to think about  Along with whether you want to profit from owning it and having the problems that come with renting out  and management of it all  that some have .

If you are going to look  at it as  " owning a second home "  to get away to in your retirement because you want the calm to relax in the clean air and warm weather  As and when   you feel like going down to it and you have found a house and area you are happy to stay in .Then its  great to have one .

I look at it as having to pay out for food water gas electricity wherever I lay my head .Switch off in the UK switch on in France  costs work out the same  overall .

Getting nearer to and over 70 will mean much higher health insurance  premiums for your stays in  France especially if you pick up or have a reportable medical condition for insurance purposes . Over 70 and some companies will no longer give you cover or restrict you to the number of days out of the UK. ..You may be as fit as a butchers dog but multy- trip insurers have visions of coffins when you ask them for cover .

Perhaps compared with some tales I have read on the forum over the years . I have been lucky and am very happy to have a second home in France

Its not just owning a French house that makes for having a good experience as a second home owner.

Its the area.  The people who live round you . The part you may wish to play living among them . The support you choose to give to your commune in supporting its businesses . There is more  required of you than just turning up unlocking the door putting the chairs out then locking up and going back to the UK when the sun goes in   .......but then that's the fun of it all...... Good luck in your decision ...give it lots of research ....and I hope whatever you decide you have a good experience .  Would I do it again..... of course I would !

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I'm with Frederick, who has summed things up very well. [:)] We have had our second home in France for 9 years now and this is our sixth summer here since I retired early in 2007. We still love it, are never bored, enjoy feeling part of the community while we're here and have a number of friends  and neighbours with whom we get on with very well. We're in a small commune without any facilities, but we're used to that in home in Wales too, so it doesn't worry us to have to drive a few miles to get to shops of any size. We have never been ones for holidaying in a different place every time and love the feeling of 'coming home' which we get when we arrive each summer.

Would I do it again? Definitely and only wish we'd done it years before we actually did.

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I'm with Frederick and KathyF.

12 years down the line I have to say that our house in France has given us enormous pleasure. Bought as a very early retirement project it has provided a joint interest and activity for OH and myself. It's not only a second home but also a second life.[:)]

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Here's another who would definitely do it again. We spent holidays all over France for many years, and found out by chance that a new apartment block was being built in one of our favourite small towns, which we visited regularly, but didn't ever think we could afford to buy there. We flew out straight away to check exactly where it was situated, and signed up to buy off-plan.

Instead of just popping out for holidays mainly in the grey months of the year in UK as we'd expected, we stay for 6-8 weeks at a time, adding up to 6 months of the year.  In France we have a lock-up and leave apartment, with a house in UK which is checked on by neighbours and family nearby.

Frederick put it very well when he talked of owning a property not being the only thing that makes it a good experience. We've made a lot of friends amongst our neighbours and others around town, mainly French, Dutch, English and Belgians. We're very involved in the running of the apartment block, are members of a mainly French social organisation, spending time with other members on visits, joining in the 3-times weekly walks etc, and we are taking English classes there for mainly French people. We spend a lot of time pottering around our small pretty town, enjoying it in all seasons, and love the two markets each week. We find it difficult to do the 5-minute walk in to town in under 45 minutes, as we meet so many people we know, and have to (and enjoy!) passing the time of day - although remembering whether they are 3-kisses people or just handshake people took a while to get right! Then there's the walk home to come!

We've lived in our apartment for just over 4 years, and can't wait to get back each time. We love our life in UK too, also living in a pleasant place, but here we have a big garden, a large-ish house and all the upkeep and decorating, as well as the joy of having family nearby. In France we're not on holiday, as we're at home there too, with the chores to be done etc; but it's a small place, and cleaning tiled floors doesn't take long. We think of it as having the best of both worlds.

With the current state of the euro/pound, you might end up deciding to guard your money for now, but if it's a dream you really want and can afford, I'd say go for it - I'd do it all again.

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There was a headline in yesterday's newspaper LeParisien, which reports that notaires and estate agents are talking of a 17% to 40% decline in property sales in some areas of France during 2012, so no need to rush, as prices will probably be cheaper by the end of the year!
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If you need another reason for dillydallying -

it took us two years to find this place; we looked at over fifty places altogether.

Something no-one has mentioned is the ease of internet connection. Having been driven almost to distraction at times by France Telecom and Orange it would definitely be on my list if I were starting again.

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Yes, Yes, Yes I would do it all again.

Many of my friends thought  I was mad going to the same place every holiday, and they still think I'm mad for spending three months twice a year at my place in Burgundy.

Over the 22 years we've owned our house, we've had bad times and good. We've learned to say that the bad experiences make great stories told over the dinner table, even though at the time they happen they're very stressful. I keep a diary from time to time when we're in France, and I love reading it again and remembering the angst. From time to time, (usually when things have gone wrong again) we think we'll sell, then we think how much of ourselves has gone into this little "shack" as our girls call it. We're sentimentally attached.

We have friends in our nearest village and when we're there, I run an English class (as someone else on this thread does), we are adherents in our local little vineyard and have managed to be there once for the vendanges. We have friends in the community and keep in touch with them when we're in England. I love my two lives. OH who has the upkeep of both our homes has more reservations than me though.....

Sometimes I think it would be nice to visit other places too, so I've been doing that since we retired. There will come a time when we won't be able to or even perhaps won't want to keep up the long visits, but till then we'll continue as we are and count our blessings.

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