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Recommendations For Places To Live

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Hi, new member here.

I know this question has likely been asked a million times before but everyone's situation is unique, so I'm hoping someone can help me with mine.

I'm a British Ex-Pat, who has been living in the U.S. for the last 22 years. I'm looking to take early retirement and would like to relocate to France with my Wife and Daughter. I hold a UK passport and an American passport. My Wife and Daughter both have U.S. passports. The primary motivator for this (aside from the fact that I'm fed up with the U.S.) is that our Daughter will be graduating High School and I would like her to have the opportunity to experience living and studying in another country. We have a tuition fund in place for her, which will more than cover the cost of her studies.

I'm looking for recommendations on regions to live that would be best for our circumstances. I'm looking for a house (maybe a villa) as opposed to an apartment and my situation looks like this:

  • We will be selling our home in the U.S. and plan to buy a house in France. Our budget would be in the region of 450,000 Euros
  • I need proximity (preferably via public transport) to a large city
  • Proximity to an airport and train station that offers international connections
  • Proximity to hospitals (I have a medical condition)
  • I'd like to have a garden or some land (we have dogs)
  • I'd like somewhere that has reliable power (no frequent outages) and good, fast internet
  • Somewhere that I can make my retirement last. We would have an income of around 4,000 USD per month, so if I could find a place under my housing budget that would help even more.

I realize this could be a big ask and I may not get everything on my list but even getting close might help me to narrow my focus a little.

My sincere thanks in advance for any help or advice you may be able to offer

Ideally, I'd like to be somewhere with a warmer climate, but I know certain regions can have microclimates where things are more temperate

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I'm assuming you need to be able to fly to the US which is actually not that easy from France unless you're okay with non-direct flights. Paris is pretty much the only city that has direct flights so I would look for somewhere that has good connections to the capital or pick a city that flies to London or Amsterdam where the choice of flights to the US is excellent, Bordeaux's airport is expanding and flies to both daily.

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Thank you for the quick reply.

TBH, I don't think we would be in any hurry to return to the US so that wouldn't be a deal breaker for us. I'm thinking more in terms of travel to other countries in Europe (in case our daughter decides she's rather study somewhere other than France).


Best regards.

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These are always difficult questions and that’s probably why you haven’t been inundated with suggestions !

I’ll take the plunge though and offer 3 suggestions:  Bordeaux, Montpellier & Lyon.  I know Montpellier best of the 3, but they’d all tick most of your boxes.

From whatever kind of ‘short list’ you come up with, most on here would suggest that you do a serious recce (3 days minimum) at each location just to get a ‘feel’ for the place and surrounding area.  

Hope that helps a bit.

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Excellent. Thank you so much.

Montpellier is already on my shortlist (having 3 universities I believe) and we had planned to visit next year to take a look.

I'd heard that Lyon could be expensive so hadn't really considered it. I went there a few years back and we loved it, so I will definitely take another look.

I've also been checking out Bordeaux, based on the first response I received, and it looks lovely. Property prices are certainly in the ballpark.

We also visited, and loved, Narbonne but never ventured far from the apartment we were staying in so wasn't sure about internet, hospitals etc.

Really appreciate the feedback everyone. It is very helpful.

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Narbonne is good, a new hospital on the outskirts, gets good reports (i've been there, as I live locally), a second smaller hospital in the centre - sous-prefecture of Aude so you have all the usual services, tax office etc. Theatre which acts as a cinema, rail route (Spain, Bezeiers /Montpellier or Carcassone / Toulouse / Bordeaux), so 3-ways possible, bus services etc, canal etc, not too large, human sized, close to lovely scenery, and the coast but not on the coast, but can be windy .., but has most of the services you'd want.  An hour to Spain by car (less by train). 

Montpellier has a good reputation too, also Bordeaux, both which I know a little.  Only changed trains at Lyon so cannot say any more. 

I'm no longer a big city girl, but the only one of those I don't think I'd like to live in if needs must is Lyon. 

Have you thought of Toulouse, also fits the category you seek.

Internet, with fibre optic being installed all over, is as good as you'd get almost anywhere now. I am in a large rural village about 30 mins drive from Narbonne, if it works well here, well it will work well in big cities too.


Edited by Judith
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Fantastic information. Thank you everyone!

I didn't know Narbonne had so much rail access. We flew into Toulouse and were going to take the bus to Narbonne but missed it due to flight delays, so we wound up renting a car at the airport and driving there. We really enjoyed it but, aside from a trip to the swimming pool, never drove much outside the centre. What's the situation like with supermarkets nearby? Great to hear they are rolling out fibre. If our daughter were at home studying a good internet connection would be essential. I'm an IT professional, so run a lot of servers and equipment at home, a lot of which I would probably bring with me (hence the need for reliable power).

We looked at a lot of estate agents while we were there and saw some beautiful properties listed. Do you know if there is much new construction going on there, or are they mostly selling older houses?

Again, really appreciate all the great info. It is helping to affirm some of our initial selections

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Hi again Spotlizard.  You only have to look at where Narbonne is placed to see why it is well connected .. there was a reason why the Romans made it their local capital.  Plenty of supermarkets, Carrefour, le Clerc, on opposite sides of the town, Intermarche (I don't often shop in Narbonne itself, quit a few choices of supermarkets for us closer to home), Grand Frais (which is the one thing I do go into Narbonne for), easy access to motorways (west, east and south), not much to the immediate north but the hills of the Minervois and the Montagne Noire and the Haut Languedoc.  But beautiful countryside very close by. Plus 30 mins to the beach. Corbieres with all its history close by too,  and of course excellent wine!!  As in all places there are the usual lotissements, but some I know in Narbonne are in the higher echelons.  You do not get the sense that it is as built up as some cities, as it has the canal du Robine running through the centre .. bus service, navette to get around town etc .. though they will keep changing the one way system!!

Edited by Judith
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Both our sons were/are being fully educated under the French education scheme.  Both are currently PhD students.  As they started at ages 2 1/2 and 3 they are both bi-lingual.  Hopefully your daughter has enough French to get into Uni/Prepa here.  That said, our eldest had a Columbian girl join the first year of his Masters degree, she spoke very little French but in short order got up to speed and passed her Masters (equivalent) with him. 

You mention a "fund".  Neither of our boys have had to pay for their education here in France.  We did have to pay out over €20,000 for one year at Imperial College London for our eldest's double  degree.  For their PhDs, they are fully funded and get paid a salary.  That said, they are both STEM students.  I understand that some other areas you have to fund your own PhD.  You will get various input as to the quality of the French education system.  From our point of view, village school up to Uni, we are/have been very pleased with it.

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