window1Sometimes we rush into romance on holiday. The sunlight streams down on the object of our desire and we give way to an irresistible attraction. Faults quickly reveal themselves but are excused as exotic characteristics.  Usual considerations about suitability and sustainability are foregone. Before we know it we’ve entered into a lifelong commitment.

These affairs are often regrettable but they are often, too, the shape and substance of a life. It’s just important to remember that if you invest in a long-term relationship, you’re in it for the long-haul and if you want to end it, it can take an uncomfortably long time.

Like much advice, the following suggestions might seem insultingly obvious, but these things cannot be repeated enough. When buying property in France be aware that:

While the price tag may be relatively inexpensive, the renovation experience can cost just as much, if not more, than you are used to. Neither materials nor artisans come cheap in France; it is crucial not to take the price of property as an indicator of the cost of renovation;

You must question what it is exactly that you want from the property. Do you need five hectares of farmland for a holiday home you visit twice a year? If you’re looking to live in the house, do you want to live in an isolated rural village? If it’s a place for a weekend get-away is it easily accessible from the airport?

You should always look for a second opinion, preferably a professional one. A report on the real state of the property is invaluable and can throw up questions in many different areas that you might not even have thought of.

Nearly everyone goes over budget. Optimism can be a factor that weighs heavily in personal budget forecasts. Everything that has to be done – and that list is rarely a short one – after the property has been secured (not forgetting the 7% for the notaire along the way) will have to be paid for. Items left off the list (who will think of new door handles when they’re filling the back of the envelope?) have to be paid for too. And then the property has to be maintained; the electricity and the water; the French taxes…;

Proper research is strongly advisable. You may want to indulge in a project where you renovate your space personally, but remember that while you may be very comfortable doing this on home-turf you may find France to be indeed a foreign country. Local advice on where to find the best materials is needed. Local politics are very important and politics here are very local. The mayor is the man to see for many of the many permissions you might need and it helps if he doesn’t vote Le Pen. Are your neighbours going to lodge formal complaints if you mow your lawn at the weekend?

Lastly, paperwork will eventually come out of your ears. This might not have a price-tag on it but if you believe time is money look forward to a massive spending spree. From setting up a bank account or painting your shutters, to installing a septic tank or obtaining permission to put a new window in a wall, you will have to wade through forms and weather waffle in amounts you could never have imagined.