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Making a living out of a gite business


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I am in discussions with my husband about the viability of moving to France and making money from a gite and B&B business. I am also a yoga teacher and would hope to keep this going (I teach pregnant women and children predominantly).  We have also thought about building an indoor pool to hire out year round.  We would be able to hire out the yoga studio for other classes/ training, and a treatment room for therapists.
My husband is concerned that a gite business can make max 20k and is only a 6 month a year income. He won't consider a relocation unless we are financially safe and risks are kept to an absolute minimum.
We have two young children and woud not want to disrupt them and their education and their current comfortable life by coming home broke!!
Can anyone advise on cost of living/ bills/ etc. so I can work out how much we would need to make to make this work???
My husband seems to have gone too far the other way - 'we would need to make 40k pa even if we were mortgage free', etc, etc...
We had also thought about my husband retraining to be a plumber before we came out for additional income but the plumbing course costs 5k!!!
Any advise welcome.
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Lots of things are inter-related.

For example costs depend on location, and the cheapest are not those where you can make money apart from the B&B

For example if you buy an idyllic rural place, where will you find your 'pregnant women and children' to teach? (I assume that you are not  bilingual )

If you live in a city where you can both (perhaps) find employment, it isn't the ideal location to buy  a B&B, unless you have a large capital.

For cost there was a recent thread.

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Unfortunately one of the first rules of running gites and B&B seems to be that if you need a mortgage, it will be very difficult, or involve an inordinate amount of luck/marketing skill, in order to make a living.

I know that about seven years ago I looked at the costs of establishing gites etc in a barn building we owned at the time and decided that we would get a better return from just putting the money in the bank. We investigated tourism grants, but they were far too restrictive (even if we could have got anything). I don't think things have changed much overall; I know interest rates are lower but so are exchange rates, which puts you at a big disadvantage if you want to attract clients from outside the euro zone.

The French system certainly doesn't favour the sort of 'extra' enterprises you are considering; although the autoentrepreneur scheme has eased things somewhat, you have to remember that this regime puts an upper limit on your turnover, and prevents you from reclaiming either your true costs or TVA. It's OK if your costs are low, but because a lot of what you plan would count as provision of a service rather than goods, not all of your business would qualify for the higher allowance.

On the whole, I would agree with your husband, and Norman. Sorry to pour cold water on the scheme, but a firm grasp on reality is needed now more than ever before. With so many gite businesses for sale you might strike lucky and pick up an existing one cheaply, but you would have to look closely at why the present owners were selling.

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The problem is that the French market has become flooded with Gites and the general consensus is that it is a way possibly to supplement your income, if youare mortgage free, but not a way to make a living on its own. Also the very high social charges in France, make life very difficult for self employed individuals. There is only one member I recall, who has bucked this trend, but he is based in Provence with a Gite probably worth a couple of million, targeting the top end of the market. Even then I don't think they have children to worry about.

Another consideration is that because of the weak £, visitor numbers from the UK to France are about 20% down, which does not help if you are going to be targeting the UK market.

Most members of this and other similar forums are either retirees or second home owners, because whilst France is a great country to retire or go on holiday, it is a very difficult country in which to make a living, especially if you are not a fluent French speaker, with higher average unemployment than the UK.

In all honesty as a young family you should be thinking further a field like Australia, which is booming and far easier to get into to than it used to be.
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I have no experience of this myself- but there was a thread here sometimes ago about new rules and regulations in France about offering B&B with meals. It seems a good part of the profit is to offer meals, but now (if I remember correctly) kitchen, equipment etc get inspected, but more importantly the 'chef' needs to be qualified. Could you remind us Quillan please.

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We run a B&B and serve evening meals. I have not heard of any inspection or needing to be qualified and have friends in the same position and they haven't heard of it either.

If it is true would appreciate a link to information but I doubt it because the whole B&B business was established to help people to earn a little more from their homes.

If you need a mortgage then a B&B or a gite (rented house or apartment) is difficult to make a living especially with young children.

You have to pay tax and social charges and if you decide for auto-entrepreneur social contributions for health (none of this is large but it adds up).

Insurance for guests (again not large but...)

Syndicate fees if an apartment.

Electricity will be higher (and it is expensive in France).

You need to really cost this out before taking such a risk if you have no other income.

Happy to help if you want - sent a private email.


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Just as an aside - I know there is a real demand in our area for a year-round heated swimming pool as all the piscines locally are outside and open only for the summer school holidays.  Anyone who enjoys swimming, or needs to swim for medical reasons or just to keep fit, has at least a 45-minute drive to a pool during the rest of the year.  Not a deciding factor, maybe, but something to bear in mind if you do decide to move across.


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