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More than a holiday but less than a move abroad

(3 Posts)
EmergentWriting Mon 30-May-11 12:15:46

I've posted this in Living Overseas as well because I wasn't really sure where it belonged! So apologies if you've read it twice smile

DH and I are considering the possibility of renting a house in France for all of July and August next year, with a view to me taking the children out there for the whole time (improving French, experiencing what it's like to 'live' somewhere else for longer than a fortnight's holiday, that sort of thing). He would come out and join us for a good 2-3 weeks break, but also maybe an odd weekend or so.

I know that finding somewhere to rent for just two months in the summer could be easier said than done, but from a bit of preliminary searching, it looks as though there might be places available. And we're not really bothered if it's not a prime picturesque holiday location, it's more important to us to stay somewhere in a town or village with plenty of other families around and a bit of a central hub to it.

Has anyone done this, or anything similar? Can anyone recommend a good agent or website to help find property? Any monumental pitfalls to avoid?

Thanks in advance.

teenyweenytadpole Mon 30-May-11 12:40:37

Ha. We did this last year but DH came too. We did three months in the languedoc and one in the bearn. It was good in some ways and bad in others.

Beautiful part of France, nice to spend time together as a family, enjoyed all the "French" stuff like shopping in the markets, the lovely food, beautiful places to visit, etc.

One aspect we didn't bank on was the loneliness. We were in a small village and the locals were friendly enough, but that did not go beyond saying "good morning" in the breadshop. We did have some visitors during the time we were there, but we did spend a lot of time just by ourselves, the girls really missed their friends and things to do like going to the cinema. We hoped we might meet people to socialise with but the reality was that "permanent" expats already have their own social lives and don't feel the need to be friendly to "transient" visitors, the French are very family orientated, and other holiday type visitors were just busy being on holiday. So that aspect of it didn't really work out for us, but perhaps that's just us! Also if you were in a bigger place that would not be an issue.

We found our place by looking at the AngloInfo forums and responding to ads, I think I also placed a "wanted" ad. The Gite type places were too expensive per week. One place we thought looked nice from photos and the owner seemed lovely via e-mail turned out to be a complete dump and unsafe. So we left. So make sure if you stay somewhere that you see reviews or get some letters from other tenants before committing yourself - perhaps pay a deposit and the balance when you arrive.

Lack of internet access was a problem for us too so I'd suggest you make sure you have wi-fi or at the very least take a Blackberry. Also take lots of books and DVD's with you as delivery charges from Amazon etc are high.

To be honest 2-3 months is basically just a long holiday, it's nothing like living in a place where you have to open bank accounts, sort out schools and so on. If you can view it as just that then you might enjoy it, but be sure you have enough to do to keep yourselves happy and occupied (access to a nice pool might help!) and be aware of the downsides.

teenyweenytadpole Mon 30-May-11 12:41:45

By the way, I found my DD's (age 9 and 6) were too shy to speak French other than to ask for an Orangina! It did improve MY French though, especially when our car broke down and had to be in the garage for two weeks!

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