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I have read with horror some of the stories on here and have immense sympathy for those who have had such traumas letting their property.  I would point out that not all tenants are like that.  We live in rented property in the Uk and have done so for many years, and are now retired.  We are thinking of moving to France to enable us to have a better life. We are unable to buy a property and would wish to rent.   Reading these stoies  makes one wonder if it is actually possible to rent long term or is it just renting from British people who no longer live in their properties there who have had problems..  If the legal system is so bad how do the French manage as there would appear to be a high preponderance of property rented out in France.

Not wishing to cause offence by that comment I am just curious as having had conversations with someone trying to get work done by builders over there  and also in Ireland , does  being  an absent landlord affect the progress or any difficulties or work.

M of A W


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I think the horror stories on these forums by brits are because they are very naiive in the first place. Most have no idea about french laws on rental, how to vet a prospective tennant and the importance of having a legal contract with the paragraphs written out in french by the prospective tennant as part of that contract so they understand what they are liable for etc. My children have rented properties here for the past eight years from french owners privately for their studies and we have never had any problems with the landlords, in fact the opposite as they have bent over backwards when things went wrong at the building/the aftermath of a fire and leaking windows etc. People come over here and rent out their holiday homes or a property to give them extra income without realising this is not the UK and tennants are highly protected in France against eviction between October and March. Many people also do not realise that if their tennants are on benefits, they as the landlords can have the CAF pay them direct for the rent or part of it and also they can take out landlord insurance.

For you to rent longterm here the rule is usually a minimum of three years unfurnished and you usually supply the previous year's Avis d'Imposition for the landlord as well as a month's rent as a caution payment.The utilities are usually in the name of the tennant and the tennant also pays the Taxe d'habitation as well, Foncières is the owner's tax to pay. Again, many brits do not insist on putting the utilities into the name of their tennants and then moan when huge bills arrive for them to pay as they are liable,not the tennants as the holders of the accounts. Rental in France is with less stigma than in the UK and many people rent to start whilst saving to build or just rent so they can move around easy with work. On the whole, rental charges are a lot less than the UK for a lot more space but as with all rental, its dead money at the end of the day because you do not own anything but that is a personal choice.

As a foreigner in France you maybe asked to provide a letter from your bank and proof of income along with a hefty deposit as you would not be a tax resident until you have made returns.

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[quote user="Val_2"]

and the importance of having a legal contract with the paragraphs written out in french by the prospective tennant as part of that contract so they understand what they are liable for etc. [/quote]

That alone should put off most English hoping to rent in France [:D]

Joking apart what were you trying to say as I cant work it out?

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Basically within the legal contract, there is a large paragraph that outlines all the legalities etc and there is then a large empty space whereby the prospective tennant copies out that paragraph again as proof they have read and understood the terms and conditions under which they are renting. We have done this as guarantors on all four private lets for our children and its the same for people without guarantors. It protects both parties and we even had to write out a similar paragraph on a garage rental contract with an agent immobilier for our son to again make sure we understood the legalities of the contract to be signed. End of the day, would you let some stranger take over your property without all the protection for you that you can get in place first? I sure wouldn't and neither do clued-up french landlords. English people should be aware that practices are different in France and not assume anything is the same here regardless of what it might be. A lot of them also never do an "Etat des lieux" which is a must have so it can be used as proof at the end of the rental if the place is left in a state.
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I am in a relatively uncommon position

in that I am both landlord and tenant.

I have several horror

stories to tell as landlord, despite being pretty clued up legally,

but they come about because of people who have no respect for the

contract or any sense of responsibility.

I would strongly advise against

letting out propert unless you really know what you are doing


side isn't all that relevant to the OP however,, who I believe hopes

to rent, not let out.

I also rent a small  place as a

'résidence sécondaire'


It is easy to do as long as you

have proof of adequate income, and I would recommend it in any case

as a first step even if the ultimate aim is to purchase as it gives

the flexibility to move if you find you don't like the area you first


Possibly the easiest is to use an agent

You pay a

one-off commission of around a month's rent, and there is a deposit

of a month plus the first month's rent. So you need about 3 months

rent available up front.

The deposit is supposed to be

refundable if you leave the place in good order, but agents are

notorious for trying to nit-pick to find a reason not to give it


You have a detailed description of the property asnd the

state it is in called an” état des lieux” on which you should

yourselves insist that every blemish is noted. Only sign this once

you are happy that is really reflects everything, and ask for obvious

faults to be put right first.

I recently rented a flat on a 3 year

lease (the standard)

I can give a month's notice at any

time, but the landlord has to keep me for 3 years, and if she wants

to sell I have first refusal on the purchase.

I pay 300€ a month and had to put up

890€ to move in, plus the cost of taking over the electricity

(about 35€)


I noticed a small fault with the

electrics, a leak from the hot water cylinder which had rotted the

floor in the cupboard over the cave making it unsafe, and a leak

where the washing machine supply was coming off the main.

I was also unhappy with the security of

the post boxes.

All these fault have been put right at

the owner's expense.

So the good news is that you can rent

in France and reasonably cheaply.

I wish I had done it years ago

Here is the official French site giving the tenant's obligations


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Thank you all for your extremely helpful replies even if I didnt understand the french terms.  We have 2 adult daughters living with us also, they are both self employed one as a textile designer and the other a jeweller, and I have been given to understand by some french friends that they would do extremely well in France, better than the UK I would hope/  Roughly what would we have to pay for a 3/4 bed house a decent size rooms etc. and where is a good place to look.  I thought of Toulon (simply because Johnny Wilkinson has gone there and half the worlds rugby players) LOL but dont know France at all, except they have some good showjumping arenas.

Anyway thank you all again for your kind replies

M o a W

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Please do not take this the wrong way but I feel you are little misguided about moving to France as you say you do not know it at all. Its not a step to take lightly and for your daughters to find work,they will get rather a shock and to be self employed in France is one of the worst places to be because of the high social charges even if you are not earning,you still have to pay.

Renting yes to find your feet but please do not be under the presumption that the grass is greener on this side of the channel, indeed you may find yourselves in for rather a nasty culture shock especially if you do not speak the language well before you come here which you need to do to survive basically.

There are many things to address before you come here and for your children, the question of them paying for private health care as they are not retired and the french state will not fund their expenses after their equivalent E form expires from Newcastle, hence why they need to find work and become part of the paying system. For yourselves, a top up mutuelle will be needed to cover care that your pension rights do not. Please do some very thorough investigation into moving here, there are so many brits here now trying desperately to sell up and return to the UK because they have found their lives are not what they expected, their pensions don't go as far these days or the family left behind is too much of a pull for them.

Whatever you decide, I wish you luck but take note of information on forums such as this because you will be entering a very bureaucratic culture where paperwork comes at you from all directions.

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Thank you for your reply, indeed it is a very different culture, our daughters do work and earn. not enough to move out of the family home but keep themselves going, with internet sales etc. and fairs, shows etc. One of our daughters has a disability (not physical) and has dla and the other does have wtc and we obviously have our pensions including a private one.  I was given to understand that because we are all in the EU benefits etc are relatively the same..  I think it is the actual lifestyle difference that we are interested in, we are pretty much self sufficient here as we have land etc, here and whilst not looking for a chateau or vineyard, we have been given to understand that a french rural house has land with it.

Anyway it is all very much in the sky at the moment and we wouldnt dream of moving until we had a good smattering of the language to say the least, I came on this form to ask questions and to find out what we so obviously dont know and we are very grateful for all the answers and information.


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I rather think that you have been misinformed on many many levels.

Benefits in France are very different from the UK and who ever suggested that they were relatively the same is incorrect.  ie unemployment benefit is not paid unless one has worked for specific amount of time and then they are only paid for a specific amount of time too.......and then stop. There is a safety net these days called the RSA, however, it is not for the under 25's. I doubt that unemployment for the under 25's has ever been so high, in fact unemployment is very high in France. In fact I do believe that if they left home, they could ask you for financial aid until the age of 25.

They would need to find work or start businesses immediately, and businesses can be expensive to run due to the cotisations.

Your top up health insurance could cost £1000 and more a year and no free prescriptions for over 60 year olds.

It is usual for rent and other loans to not cost more than a third of income. I'm not talking about any savings, but actual income and many landlords or agencies will ask for proof of this. The deposit, for all, there are rules about how much landlords can ask for, when somewhere is in demand, then the landlords may ask for more and get it.

What is rural France? Not all properties in villages have any land  and some further out can have next to none. Depends how rural you go, but then remember that public transport can be non existent or dreadful in rural France. And if there was, there are no bus passes.

Food isn't cheaper as far as I can tell. Clothes are more expensive. Petrol and diesel, sometimes friends tell me it is cheaper and then dearer, so I reckon that it isn't that different as a general rule.

And what is the lifestyle??? I was nearly thirty years in France and I was lucky enough to have in the main, a pleasant enough life there. My lifestyle has only changed since I moved back to England, in so far as I have far more choices as to what I do with my leisure time. Everyday life is not that different, but money does go further.

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No, french benefits etc are not anything near the same as UK handouts I am afraid. The french government takes the view that to benefit from them, you must have first paid into the social security scheme for pensions,health and unemployment etc- everyone who works whether employed or self employed has to pay mandatory charges either taken direct from their salary at source or paid direct to the body that covers their particular trade and its expensive. You don't sign on here and get unemployment benefit just like that, it can take months and months and you must attend interviews even to be eligible, the government RSA payment is tightly regulated and only awarded after a decision on your circumstances by the local CAF from a directive by the Conseil Generale and then it is reviewed yearly as is CMU-C healthcover, nothing is given without months of form filling and decisions from a higher level.  Therefore you do need either a regular steady income or a pot of savings for a few years until you are solvent,there is just no handouts here and they are tightening up all the time with the high unemployment the country is currently undergoing. People are not given socialhousing without helping themselves at the same time either.  For the type of property you specify in the countryside, regardless of where it may be at the moment, you will find the rent probably well over €650/month for a basic house without any other bills. Best have a look on the Leboncoin.fr website which will give you ideas.
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And what nobody has mentioned is that since some time ago, there is a requirement that if you move to France as a permanent resident,you must be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds in the form of income or saving so as not to be a burden on the state. Now, many people will tell you that this requirement is essentially not policed. However, if you are planning on renting, then your finances will, as mentioned, be subject to greater scrutiny as you will need to provide proof of income to be able to rent.

As have many before you, you may well believe you can managed adequately on whatever separate or joint income you have. Sadly, it's not your belief that will count, as the decision as to whether you can "manage" will be made for you, and not by you.
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Having been self employed in the UK for over 10 years and now self employed in France for a number of years, in my experience there is absolutely no question of which country is the easier for me to make a living in. On similar earnings - slightly higher in France because they have to be - I pay between 3 and 4 THOUSAND euro a year in contributions and taxes in France. In the UK I used to pay a couple of hundred tax and if memory serves me correctly, around 20 pounds a month NIC (it may be different nowadays). Also, my NICs in the UK counted towards my pension pot; my cotisations in France, as an auto entrepreneur, count next to naff all towards a pension. AE is not a good idea for anyone who hasn't already got a pension paid up, and other small business regimes are far more complex and need accountants.

If you need to make an income from being self-employed, you need to really love France, or have a particular reason to want to live here.

When French people say you would do well over here, I think maybe they don't realise how much easier it is in the UK. People are truly shocked when I mention how much less taxes businesses pay in the UK - in fact, I think they often just plain don't believe me.
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Well I believe you, we were never so poor as from being self employed in France compared to being self employed for the same business in the UK. In France its the self employed who pay through the nose to give the foncs a good pension and salary and they do not exactly exert themselves to work,hence why being a fonc is a desired profession. People say why did you not go back then, well nearly 20years ago it wasn't that easy and still isn't just to stop here and return especially with children in school then, the house paid for and all our money invested in our business - we would have gone back with literally nothing and even now those selling here are less well off with prices falling all the time and most will never recoup the comfortable life they had previously either. Pension cotisations here for the self employed will not yield much at all and if you have less than 40years of paying in, even less. France is a country obsessed with insurance too for just about everything you can think of and the cost of health treatment without any form of insurance will run into thousands of euros in just a few days should you need it and are not covered in any way. However we love France,have a good home and friends and neighbours and I would never go back to the UK now but then we have had to find our way without help or the internet and without the language,could not have run a sucessful business.
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Val2, are self employed people in France actually worse off than any employer in France with an employee?

When I look at the pay slips, and I look on the side where the employer has to pay, then they are paying out to the state, for their part of employee contributions, almost half as much as the actual pay is and then the employee pays a further 25%.

I'll have to put this is figures so I don't get it wrong.


Salary (brut)   3000€   Employer pays a further 1450€ on that to the state, costing them approx  €4450 per month. And on the 3000€ that the employee gets they then pay about 25% in stoppages, so pick up approx 2250€ on which impots, income tax has to be paid.

So again, are self employed any worse off, as I would suppose that employers still have to pay insurance etc on top of that.

These are 'rough' figures not going to the exact percentage.

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And we got stuck in France too, or as I called it at the time 'exiled'  in the late 80's early 90's. The odd mortgage we had, and the only one available when we got it, meant that after several years we owed more than we had borrowed, it was about 15 or 16% at the time. Our old house in the UK which we had sold for £17500 was almost £60K and so if we had moved back, we would have returned with huge debts, whereas we had moved to France with some savings. And we had no jobs to go back to.

So we simply stayed. 

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Idun - to take your example - on those figures an AE would pay around the same percentage of their monthly income, as a salarié. The difference is that a salarié, thanks to the employer's contributions, is also accumulating rights to chomage and pension, which an AE isnt. Maybe other things too but those seem to me to be the important ones.

So I would say that being employed is better than being self-employed, and I think that employers are pretty heroic really, not that they have much choice.

Then of course there's the difference that employees get paid holidays, and job security, whereas if a self-employed person's work dries up over the summer because their clients are en congé, that means zero income for a month or so (look on the bright side - no taxes to pay!).

When I was in the UK, 'working for myself' seemed to be what a lot of nine-to-fivers dreamed. Here, there is nothing aspirational about working for yourself, it is generally viewed as what you have to do if you can't get a job; very few employees envy the self-employed. (I say this because I teach English conversation to French professionals, and one discussion topic that I often use to get the students talking is 'would you rather work for yourself or somebody else, and why).

Part of Pinel's objection to the AE regime is that it offers no security - which it doesn't - but having identified that problem, what's the answer, to squash the regime or to improve it by introducing more security?
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 Wouldn't there always be something of the ephemeral to being self employed. As there is a certain freedom to the idea of it, ie working when one wants and as hard as one wants.

[blink] And there is no way I would ever have other than given it vague consideration in France which I would quickly have rejected, as the government simply doesn't get small business and I'm not sure that they get big business either.

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Well I certainly got a lot of information, thank you all, but I really wonder why anyone lives in France at all, judging by the various downs of the place. I do appreciate that it is very different and as far as we as a family are concerned you go to a new country accepting their ways not trying to live as you would in your own country, but I really wonder why some of you people stay there if it is so bad.(again not wishing to offend) but a picture has been painted of a not very nice place to live and I am really surprised after having some french friends who have been in England for many years but are going back as they cant keep their business going here.

Anyway many thanks for all the information, it is really appreciated and gives lots of food for thought.

M o a W

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It's not the sort of thing you would have read on here half a dozen years ago. Back then, zillions of Brits moved to France and 90percent of them went on about the place like it was the promised land. It just isn't, that's all. It has a really awful social system which involves people paying an extortionate amount IN and getting not much OUT. it has a very protectionist approach to employment, and it's generally not cheap to live there. There are lots of positives, but mostly, as I said here not long ago, the Brits who can make france work for them are retired and have enough money to be comfortable. There are well over quarter of a million Brits in France, apparently, most of them retired. That's about the same as the number if French in London. Just London. And those French aren't retired, they work. In London. Because they can't get jobs in France.

I like France, but I don't have to deal with its bureaucracy on a daily basis and I am luckily able to keep France quite separate from my personal finances, and my personal finances separate from France. For me, that's a blessing.
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I really wonder why some of you people stay there if it is so

bad.(again not wishing to offend) but a picture has been painted of a

not very nice place to live

I don't think anyone would say it isn't a nice place to live.

The problem is making that living.

I answered your first post about renting showing that it is perfectly possible to rent a house providing you can show that you have the means.

It is much harder to find work or start a business, and I doubt that anyone could post in the same way about that as I did about renting

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[quote user="Cendrillon"]Well put Betty.


Thank you...but...only if you ignore the somewhat random use of capitals, punctuation, spelling etc. ! Have just arrived back in the land of high-speed internet and laptop, so hopefully there'll be less of the above, plus no more of the 20 lines of gobbledygook which have accompanied my every attempt to quote for the last few weeks! Hooraaaaay!!

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maidofallwork, it is an aceepted fact that France is not self employment friendly due to very high cotisations and if your French friends are sef employed I would be amazed if they thought any differently. Check for yourself by researching, as it does worry me you presume benefits are similar in both countries being part of the EU, when nothing could be further from the truth.

I don't see any problems in you retiring to France, other than if you are on a lowish income, as with the weak £ you might not find your pension stretches as far as you think and unlike the UK health care is not free at the point of delivery.

As for your daughters, it is a different kettle of fish as they will probably find it a struggle to make a living, especially with the economic problems France is currently experiencing.

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Again thank you all for your comments and replies, please dont think I was being icky in any way. that was not my intention, your replies  and honesty are really appreciated. The EU has a lot of answer for (at least the information you are given) in that we are all supposd to be one happy family (that I have never believed as we are so many different cultures) and you dont realise that the benefit system is not as easy as in the UK.

You have all given us much to think about, incidentally our friends are in the restaurant business.

M o a W

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