If you’re one of the many visitors to France who hope to make a return trip as soon as possible, you may have also considered settling in the country, buying a property in France
Visiting a foreign country is a priceless experience that can expand your worldview and introduce you to new cultures. In many cases, that experience remains in the forefront of your mind long after you return home. If you’re one of the many visitors to France who hope to make a return trip as soon as possible, you may have also considered settling in the country on a more permanent basis.
France has become a popular destination for foreign expats in recent years, with the annual migration rate into the country topping 58,000 between 2016 and 2018. Some of those immigrants are renting French property, while others may wish to become property owners. Fortunately, it’s easy for expats to invest in property in France, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate the process.
Newstrail reports that “France has no restrictions on foreign ownership and most properties are freehold.” A “freehold” property or estate is one that is free from any sort of hold of any entity that is not the property owner, such as a bank. That’s good news for foreign expats looking to buy property, as it offers you nearly endless flexibility. Once the property deed is in your name, you can use the land for any purpose as long as you adhere to local zoning regulations.
The Modern French Housing Market
Once you have decided to buy property in France, the real work begins. The perfect property for you depends on your budget, family size, and residency needs. You’ll also have to decide on the location, as the various regions of France are exceptionally diverse, and each have their own benefits and downsides.
Expats wanting to live in a fast-paced, urban environment may be drawn to the excitement of France’s biggest cities, including Paris, Marseille, and Rouen. If your French home dreams involve a more laid-back, idyllic lifestyle, you may choose to invest in a seaside property. Keep your eye on French property trends and average prices as well.
Home prices on the French coast have risen in recent years, but some area price jumps are more significant than others. Between January and August 2018, for example, property prices rose by nearly 4% on the Atlantic coast, while the popular Côte d’Azur saw an average price increase of 2.9%.
Considering Property Age and Condition
The age of a property is another important consideration for buyers no matter the location. If you plan to reside in France year-round, for instance, you will have more time to spend fixing up an older home than someone who is splitting their time between two countries. And, as French real estate options are likely to include a number of historic properties, age should factor into your buying decision.
Older French homes may fall into the category of “fixer-uppers,” but that’s not necessarily a negative trait. If you’re drawn to a particular property that is in need of renovation, it may be the perfect opportunity to customize your living space. Further, kicking off your French property ownership experience with a DIY home improvement project can help you feel better connected to both your new home and community.
In older and historic French homes, kitchens and bathrooms may be in need of an upgrade. Consider swapping outdated appliances and fixtures for modern versions. For example, expats can embrace European culture in the bathroom by installing a bidet. The popular bathroom fixtures offer the benefits of superior cleanliness and fewer clogged drains.
The Evolution of French Architecture
Even the most creative and determined expats can’t necessarily handle a large-scale home renovation project without inspiration. The rich, lengthy history of France equates a wide array of architectural styles used over the centuries. The famous Notre-Dame Cathedral is France’s most notable example of Gothic architecture, which was common across Europe between the mid-12th and 16th centuries.
The Renaissance and Baroque periods also heavily influenced French architecture. But the building style that has remained most prominent in modern France originated in the 19th century. Mansard roofs, a cornerstone of French architecture, was popularized during this time. The boxy roof style is still in widespread use, often seen in new home construction.
The vast range of architectural styles that make France a unique destination also have downsides. Notably, potential French property owners should keep in mind that building materials used in previous eras may be hazardous. For example, asbestos was a common component of drywall and other building materials for decades. Exposure to the substance can scar the lungs and lead to serious conditions including mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer. French officials banned the use and production of asbestos in January 1997, so any homes built prior to that time should be inspected before purchase.
If you have made the decision to change your life and immigrate to France, you have a long road ahead of you. Whether you’re ready to invest in a property from the get-go or plan to rent an apartment, knowing the ins-and-outs of the French property market is in your best interest.
Guest Post by Devin Morrissey