Living in the countryside is the dream of many people in France and current trends seem to indicate that it’s becoming an increasingly popular one
Everyone in France knows the proverb La campagne, ça vous gagne (loosely translated as “The countryside wins you over”) and it seems that more and more French are being won over by the good life, with more fresh air, less smoke and less stress.
Today’s average French citizen isn’t content with just a few weeks’ holiday in the countryside in the summer. More and more of them are taking the plunge and moving permanently out of the cities and towns in pursuit of a better life. According to a recent survey conducted by French auctioneers Guy Hoquet l’Immmobilier and the Paris-based survey specialists Opinion Way, more than a third of city-dwelling home-owners said that they would like to own a B&B or a guesthouse in the country. In the same survey, 42% of respondents said that they would like to be able to live in the countryside and work remotely (referred to in France as the télétravail, eliciting jokes that those who do it watch telly all day).
“We have lots of clients suffering from burn-out, looking to re-calibrate their lives or simply change their way of life to allow themselves more time,” says one agent in Aubenas in the Ardèche. This is one of the most popular areas sought by people looking for a change of lifestyle. Along with the Drôme, the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the Gironde, the Lot-et-Garonne, the Charente-Maritime and the northern Loire, it represents the kind of place that most people go for. What all these regions seem to have in common is an optimum balance between of quality of life that is the very antithesis of city life: nice weather, a wealth of cultural and natural heritage, a manageable level of tourist activity and affordability.In departments such as the Eure, the Charente-Maritime and the Ardèche, stocks of second-hand homes are diminishing as a result of increasing demand, according to the pollsters. These days, about €240,000 will buy you a charming home with several hectares of land in one of those departments. In the Aude, the Pyrénées-Atlantiques or the Lot-et-Garonne, availability of stock is higher. The same kind of property in the Aude with a swimming pool thrown in would cost you about €200,000, for example.
“We’re talking about a very particular market segment that is taking off right now,” says Fabrice Abraham of Guy Hoquet, “particularly given the considerable price falls that have affected towns with populations of less than 20,000 in the last few years – which has been by as much as 20% or even 30%.”
If you’re thinking of making the move to France, then those are the areas to have a closer look at. With property values in Ireland currently rising strongly, it could be the optimum moment to strike while the conditions are perfect.