Buying a house in France cheaply (2/2)

Picking up where I left off earlier this week – we were about to sign the compromis

After re-viewing the house we took a little walk around the village to the local boulangerie (we have to be sure the essentials are there after all!) and to one of the two bars in the village (C’est occupé, non?!) for a coffee. Now when I say bar – it’s not a bar such as you might find in the UK. It’s a tabac. Which is basically a corner shop/newsagent with seating and alcohol. Sounds like a winner to me too.


After our fantastic and incredibly cheap coffees, we headed down to the local lake. Its about 3-4 minutes drive from the house max, and maybe 15-20 minutes walk (I have short legs, honest). It was deserted. So tranquil, so litter free, just gorgeous. Here are a few pictures:




On from there, we drove on to Saint Léonard de Noblat for a walk around, nosing in the windows of the medieval-looking village and the closed shops that we were presented with as we had arrived in the middle of the French lunch-time. It was bitterly cold so we were more enthused than we might otherwise have been to head over to the notaire’s office.

A great thing about Haute Vienne that we have noticed so far, is that parking is plentiful and free. Even a small village usually has a large free car-park, I suppose recognising that la voiture is probably the most common means of visitors coming to the village, and so they are catered for. And we are grateful.

Meeting the notaire we switch back into French, and here I had a rude reminder that my French – while perfectly adequate for ordering in a restaurant, or resolving a question with a shopkeeper – is still woefully behind. The speed at which the notaire spoke made me glad of our lovely translator. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t understand what was said, I could pick out words, phrases and housebuying terms which I have now become familiar with, but that I was anxious that I would miss something. Signing the Compromis-de-Vente is in the

favour of the purchaser. Once signed it binds the vendor into the sale meaning that they cannot find another purchaser – however I as the buyer have 10 days within which to change my mind. I can cancel within this period and not have to complete the sale. That in itself is a comfort. Because while our new (old) French house is not expensive by British standards, it is still a considerable amount of money and we have decided to spend a little more so as to have a house which we hope will have fewer issues than some of those that we visited.

After environ 30 different sets of initials on each side of the contract papers, as well as signatures and writing out of statements (in English, mercifully) we were complete, and we bid the notaire goodbye with the promise of sending 80€ via our new French bank account to take care of the processing. It was all over within an hour and fairly painlessly, we are due to return in a few months – all being well – to sign the acte de vente, however, we anticipate (big fingers crossed here) being in the country by then and so booking in a firm date for that was not necessary.

The rest of the weekend was spent mooching around the local shops, finding a reasonably local bio-shop for our plant-based foods and catching a flight back to the UK. We are now sat in England waiting for our chain to reach the stage where they can exchange so that we can get on with the tasks of giving notice to jobs and booking channel crossings. I am crossing everything that this happens very soon… and you can keep up-to-date with all the latest happenings over on my Instagram account.

Buying a house in France cheaply (1/2)

This weekend we had the pleasure of visiting department 87 Haute Vienne again to re-view our house-to-be, and to attend to the bigger issue of signing the compromis de vente. The purchase of a house in France is very different from that of the UK, and from our experience so far, much more satisfying.

On Friday we headed over from Bristol to Limoges on a budget Ryanair flight costing the princely sum of £9.99 for a single. Given that the price of a ticket for the bus to the airport has gone up to £4.50 single, and decreased frequency of buses to once every 30 minutes (First Bus sticking one last knife in before we escape…) this seemed like a bit of a bargain. This time our flight from Bristol was uneventful, and after a game of musical chairs with the people sat next to us on the flight, we even managed to sit together (Ryanair charge around £6.99 for the pleasure of being seated with your travelling companion, and we can live without each other for 1 hour and 15 minutes…) but our neighbours couldn’t, and so we benefitted.

We chose to stay at a yoga retreat in Sussac this weekend where we met some fantastic Brits who have already started their French adventure. After welcoming us in and a brilliant dinner with our hosts we slept soundly knowing that we would have the whole of Sunday with NO JOBS. Can you imagine? The list of jobs in the UK is as long as your arm. For example – sell the sofa, sell the fridge, buy a new bigger car that can fit the cats in, sell the insensible car, get a French bank account, close down the business etc. We have so many jobs we have a shared Trello board. I kid you not. So with our job-free-Sunday, we decided to explore the area in our hire car and visited the enormous Lac de Vassiviere on the border of Haute Vienne and Creuse. Being eternal optimists we had not bargained on this weekend being the weekend that the French winter would begin, so we were suitably admonished by the freezing cold for being coat-less but had a great day out which included visiting a traditional monthly market in La Croisille Sur Briance (pictures over on Instagram).

Monday was crunch day and the reason for our visit. We spent the morning visiting The House again and decided on all the things that the vendor would take or sell. Since we have aspirations to start a business as brocanteurs together once we arrive, we decided that most everything could stay if the vendor can’t be bothered to take things, and made a note of a few things to ask the estate agent about once we returned to the UK and have the facilities of Google Translate. We have been having all of our visits and communication with our agent in French, so this has really been testing my abilities, but we manage and anything that isn’t understood we iron out over email.

This post has become way more full than I intended so I shall close here and continue again tomorrow with details of our encounter with the notaire – and that’s where it gets spendy…

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