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Can anyone help?

My family, consisting of mother, stepfather, hubby and 18 month old baby daughter, are looking to move to France (Southern), within the next 12-18 months and have started to research facts for the move now, hence my post. We are hoping to buy either an already est concern, self catering or B&B or a proepry that is habitable with buildings we can renoate for self ctaering lets.

Can anyone give me advice on: areas, education, pitfalls/positives, any info gratefully received!!!

Very best regards
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Have just watched 'No going Back' where a couple sold up and took a caravan to Spain armed with little other than dreams. They had never even been to Spain before, did not speak the language and even seemed surprised it was so hot! I was astonished that anybody could have so little idea what they were embarking on.

This forum has surely got to be an excellent starting place and glean as much information as you can from other people's experiences - both good and bad. But there can be no substitute for looking around the areas yourself to decide what you want and what you don't need.

We have lived here now for five years, and from a renting point of view it is by far the worst. More and more properties available for rent, and 20% fewer Brits coming to France this year. Keeping fingers crossed that we may pick up some more business, but nothing is certain. Whatever you do, make sure you look at worst case scenarios (ie no income!) as well as all the rosy dreams.

My very best wishes for your future, and I really hope that you succeed in doing what you want. We love our life here and feel we have been extremely lucky, and can only wish other people starting down the same path the luck we have had, but keep your feet on the ground, your eyes wide open and make sure you really do your research.


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I wish you all good luck, but bear in mind that 5 is quite a lot of people to keep if you have no other income. Also you will need a huge property as you will need a minimum of 3 bedrooms for yourselves before any rental space. Huge renovated properties are very expensive and unrenovated properties need a lot of money and most of all time thrown at them.

We have been here for nearly 2 years and spend almost 18 months full time renovating our house (which didn't actually need any major structural work) and spent as much on the renovations as the original cost of the house. We had budgeted for that, but have met many prople living in half finished projects who hadn't!!

We have 4 letting rooms - opened the B & B in March - and although we have a nice steady trickle of guests I can't see it earning enough to keep even just us 2 (and I don't give him indoors too much pocket money) for quite some time. My husband is in the process - complicated and costly - of registering for other work. We love our life here but it doesn't do to underestimate the amount of time, money and patience needed.

I wish you luck whatever you decide - but go into it with your eyes open.

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I think that you are very wise to start your homework so far advance of your planned move. Im sure that you will receive many (sometimes contradictory) pieces of advice, and here is my twopennyworth, all of which I should stress is solely personal opinion.

Firstly I would advise you to be clear in your own mind as to why you want to move to France to try and make your living this way. If it is simply as a means to an end (i.e. a belief that this would give you a lifestyle but the job would be secondary) rather than arising from a desire to work in the hospitality industry as a career choice then I would strongly suggest that you think again. This can be a rewarding way of life but requires a high degree of commitment and motivation. Anyone believing that this involves one day per week of flicking a duster around while spending the rest of their time sipping cocktails is in for a shock. I can safely say that we have never worked so hard before starting our venture.

Secondly, you seem to be planning to do this with the involvement of your mother and stepfather. While I know nothing of your family I would advise you to think long and hard about how you are all going to get on when working together. Ive seen a number of close friendships and family relationships broken on this particular wheel. That said, working within an extended family can have significant benefits, for example when it comes to child care or breadth of experience, the value of which should not be underestimated.

Thirdly, talking of value, MONEY. While every venture is individual, gite businesses typically yield between 8% and 15% return on capital employed (ROCE). This kind of ROCE might sound attractive compared to bank yields but note that it is gross of costs. As a general rule, most importantly, where a significant proportion of the capital has to be borrowed (50% or more) it is very difficult to make sufficient income to offset all costs and still be left with a living. As far as renovation is concerned, do your sums very carefully and whatever figure you arrive at, double it. This is not being unduly pessimistic there will be items that arise only once work has commenced and for any delays in opening you will be incurring living expenses. If you consider buying a going concern make sure you fully understand why it is being sold there may be good reason, but make sure its not because their market has just evaporated or the property is going to become blighted in some way. Prices for going concerns are grossly inflated at the moment, in my view, probably because the owners are quite understandably taking advantage of the rush of interest arising from the No going Back genre of TV program. Or perhaps they are concerned about market saturation, which certainly is an issue in some parts of France. Either way, the value that they are placing on goodwill seems to vary between 30 and 50% of the asking price based on the acquisition of approximately equivalent un-renovated properties.

Finally, perhaps obviously, make sure at least one of your party speaks good French; surprisingly people attempt to establish themselves here with sometimes only a glimmer of language. You will be dealing with artisans and officials practically from the off, so make sure that you can communicate.

Whatever you end up doing and wherever, I wish you luck.
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