Second home in France. Anyone done it/think it is a good/bad idea?

(14 Posts)
savvymoo Sun 04-Aug-13 23:26:21

DH currently very keen on buying a property in France in somewhere like Normandy/Brittany/Pas-de-calais which are all reachable from where we are in the south east uk. We have inherited a bit of money which we need to decide what to do with and although we would need a mortgage we could get loads more for our money on France for a second property on comparison with pretty much anywhere in the uk (from our limited research so far) even taking into consideration cost of travel over.

Anyone done this and have any positive or negative advice? DH speaks fluent French having lived there for a while with work. I have an A Level but admittedly very rusty.

Calvados or around Le Touquet/Abbeville appeal. If we bought the property would need to earn an income so we would need a keyholder/cleaner etc locally.

Aware tax is an issue and have sent dh to investigate as this is more his area than mine.

BewitchedBotheredandBewildered Sun 04-Aug-13 23:41:28

The main thing I would say be very clear about is Tax Fonciere and Tax D'Habitation which are levied annually, sort of like council tax in the UK, but subject to seemingly arbitrary increases, especially if you make any improvements to the house.
There's been a lot of talk about taxing foreign owners on second homes but don't think it's been implemented yet.
The capital gains tax used to taper to nothing after 10 years ownership and that has changed to tapering to nothing after 30 years!
The tax on your rental income will probably be unpredictable but it sounds like you're on to that.
It's a bit stressy but if DH is fluent that will help a lot.
On the whole, do it!

Itsnotahoover Sun 04-Aug-13 23:42:13

Watching this thread with interest as I was about to start one asking pretty much the same question!

VegasIsBest Sun 04-Aug-13 23:46:06

Inheritance tax is hugely complicated in France. While this probably isn't something you want to think about now, you need to plan ahead and buy property in the right way. Otherwise your kids can be left with a huge legal headache. Voice of experience I'm afraid :-(

JC74 Sun 04-Aug-13 23:46:59

Having lived in France and assisted family/friends with their properties I would say that if the rental income is viral research your area & property well. Gites/holiday lets are ten a penny and you'll need something to set yours apart.

JC74 Sun 04-Aug-13 23:47:19

*vital smile

steppemum Mon 05-Aug-13 00:00:18

my parents have one, have had several over the years, and we stay in theirs every summer.
They bought a lot further south because of the weather. If you buy in northern france it is same as uk, so you won't be getting a sunny place for summer holiday.

the letting season is short. Half term at end of may until 1st week of sept, so if you want it to slightly pay for itself with rental, it is very hard to do. If you do want to do lettings, you need someone on the ground to be your cleaner/clean sheets person/trouble shooter etc.

Because we are further south, we have a pool. You won't let it where we are without a pool. Everyone wants a pool.

Be prepared to say either 'no' or 'it costs xx per week' to all your friends as soon as they know you have a place.

We love going, it wouldn't be affordable for us if we had to pay a commercial price, we love pottering round markets and cafes etc. But it is quite a lot of upkeep, it doesn't really cover its own costs, they don't rent out commercially any more, as the family all want it in the school holidays now, so that is the prime rental period.

savvymoo Mon 05-Aug-13 21:49:51

Thanks. This is all very helpful. I am interested in any other thoughts too.

ifink Tue 06-Aug-13 09:27:20

My parents did and bought a small place in Normandy more for themselves than for income. Their biggest headache was burglaries, be warned holiday properties are well known targets and very easy to stake out. Twice theirs was cleared out of literally everything...including light bulbs, fittings, etc...you need to consider security which definitely includes a reliable janitor who lives very nearby.

steppemum Tue 06-Aug-13 21:23:26

wow ifink, that is pretty shocking.

we have never had a burglary and they are not common round us, but we are very rural and not near a big city etc

holidaybug Tue 06-Aug-13 21:25:23

I have no experience whatsoever but I've never quite gotten the idea of having a holiday home - isn't it more fun to go to different places and explore the globe? Completely personal view though!

Roshbegosh Tue 06-Aug-13 21:41:01

Forget doing it for income, it is unreliable and an awful lot of hassle. If you have time to go over frequently, if you can afford it and if you find the right place then go for it. Don't buy something big just be amuse you can afford it as it is extra expense with maintenance. Not sure about taxes, water rates, pool and garden maintenance costs etc, you need to consider all of that. If you can afford it and you use it enough then I am sure you will love it, but it is not for the faint hearted. It might be a better investment in your quality of life to pay down the UK mortgage instead.

FriedSprout Tue 06-Aug-13 21:59:31

Hi I have friends who did this and for a few years it was great, while their dc's were young. They lived further south and used to go quite regularly using a local airport.

They found that unless they employed a gardener and someone to keep an eye on the house, the first thing they had to do each visit was maintenance on the house and shedloads of gardening.

There is a lot of "same shit, different place" when you spend long holidays in the same place. Housework, gardening, bill paying etc.

Now the kids are older, they don't want to spend entire summer holidays away from their friends either.

They are hoping to find a buyer soon.

Personally I would prefer not to have to maintain two houses, but get a holiday cottage somewhere different each year.

SquidgyMummy Sat 10-Aug-13 08:20:50

We live in France (Dordogne SW france.) Our original house was DP's holiday home, he use to lock it up and leave it and it cost him about 1,000 euros a year in taxes.

There are lots of large gites, with pools and lots of maintenance. We have a small gite sleeps 2 (basically the back of the house with it's own terrace and entrance) we don't charge much, about 300-400 euros a week and it is let from about mid april to end september, not non-stop but we have managed to make about 7,000 euros per year.

My advice is don't overstretch yourselves and go for perhaps a house with a granny annexe (small gite) which you could let out independently whether you are there or not.
if you want some more advice feel free to pm me

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