Originally from Missouri, Bill describes life in his French village as “1960s with cellphones”. Now spending most of the year in France, he enjoys the slower pace of life, the friendliness, the weather, and of course the food and wine.
Bill took early retirement after 24 years working in insurance for large corporates in Missouri. As avid travellers, he and his wife had spent many years exploring other locations in the US, the Caribbean, Mexico and then Tahiti – which is when he first started to learn French.
He wanted to celebrate his 50th birthday in Paris, which saw the first of many trips to Europe over the next 10 years. Already keen on the idea of spending more time in France, he realised he needed a better grasp of the language and took a community college course at Dallas Community College.
By 2010 they decided they’d really like to put down some French roots, and a couple of years later, embarked on a house-hunting trip. The south of France appeared the obvious choice, with good airport connections and a very pleasant microclimate.
After viewing 4 properties offering fractional ownership the decision seemed easy. Buying a share in a French property was the simple but perfect option, enabling them to have ‘one foot in France’ permanently, but inexpensively, and without having to sell-up in the US. Their chosen 3 bedroom home is comfortably furnished and very well maintained. It also gives them somewhere large enough for children and grandchildren to stay.
The property they selected is in a Languedoc village that Bill describes as “30 minutes from everything”. He enjoys cross-country running, cycling and swimming – so having the beach in one direction and the hills in the other is ideal! They still also like to travel, and the south of France is a good base from which to discover other countries in Europe. Last year was a cruise from Barcelona, the year before that a trip to Germany.
7 weeks at a time
Bill’s purchased share of the house gave him 7 weeks to immerse himself in life in France, but a lottery style system allocated the dates, which changed each year. He desperately wanted to spend more time in France at dates more convenient to him, so 2 years later, he purchased another property of his own in the same village. His share of the original property is still available to family and friends.
A turning point
The local bar is at the heart of the village in a rural community. After living here for several weeks Bill described the welcome as “polite but not friendly”. A turning point came at a local fête, when the bar owners shook his hand and bought him a beer. He says “the next day I walked into the bar and everyone shook my hand!”
Bill now goes to all the local events, rugby and village fêtes, and has made many French friends. Hearing him speak about his new neighbourhood, he obviously feels extremely settled. He says “Everything in the village is a 5 minute walk, but it usually takes an hour!”
A new life in France
Bill now spends 7-8 months of the year in France and as a semi-permanent resident he definitely feels at home. He’s had recent experience of the French health service, got a French driver’s licence, and of course, had to tackle his fair share of French administration when it comes to visas and insurance.
When asked what surprises him the most about his new French life, Bill says “it’s the level of acceptance. I never expected to feel so welcome and would not have bought a house without it.”
Bill’s advice on moving to France from the US
- It’s so inexpensive here compared to the US, but spend some time here prior to investing.
- Cutting all ties back home to make it work is difficult, so if you have obligations in the States, consider fractional ownership.
- Be prepared to be confused, the paperwork rules always seem to change.
- Take time to learn the local customs and the language.
He seems to have everything he needs so I finally ask him what he misses from the States – “peanut butter and barbecue sauce” he replies with a smile.
If you’d like more details about Fractional Ownership and finding a property in France to suit your needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org – Renestance is a licensed real estate agency (among other things), and Dennelle holds a French Bachelors degree in ‘Immobilier’ so can answer your questions on the subject.
Annette is Renestance’s 'go to' girl for all things marketing and social media. Bilingual and originally from Surrey in the UK, Annette has lived in France since 2008. In addition to her web design and marketing consultancy, Annette is the founder of Languedoc Jelly (a network of free events across the region for anyone working from home) and also Urban Sketchers Languedoc (part of a global community of people that like to draw or paint on location). A fan of all things French and Franglaise, she also has a Citroen 2CV called Beryl.
All articles by: Annette Morris