Articles Related to France


Property in the part of the UK of interest to my parents is much higher than this part of France, so the percentage of the budget for the French property has to be lower than the UK one. That got me thinking... What can you buy today in the Other South of France for around US$100,000 (currently 74,500 euros)?

Surprisingly, it isn't just a chicken coop. In this area, there's a wide range of property, from a luxury, six-bed modern villa for 600,000 euros to a two-bed, "ripe for renovation" village stone-house for 30,000 euros, and plenty in-between.

To narrow the search, I've added certain criteria to the US$100,000 budget:
  • Refurbished or requiring only cosmetic improvements
  • Good natural light
  • Two bedrooms, one bathroom, one extra water closet
  • Local shops, a market, or a cafe in walking distance
  • Garage or storage area
  • A terrace or patio
The last point, some outside living space did lift the price slightly but to no more than 78,000 euros. Here's what I've found in my visits and conversations with local agents Carroux Immobilier and Agence GTI...

In the village of Cebazan, where there's a baker, post office, bus line, and school (not directly important to my parents but it means the village is alive and kicking), a two-bedroom, 54-square-meter house with a garage is on the market in move-in condition. It has a living room with a fireplace, fitted kitchen corner, a shower room with a large shower, a separate bath, and a toilet, and another room that could be used as a snug with a toilet and a sink. The garage (29 square meters) is separate but just 3 meters away and has an upstairs room that would be perfect for storage of my parents' own things if they chose to rent it out. The upside is the 65,000-euro price-tag (agency commission included). The downside is there's no outside living space and only a local bread shop (though a minimarket is at the planning stages). You can see it here (ref M 3018).

In the small village of Aigues Vives, near the Cathar town of Minerve, I found a cute two-bed, single story 56-square-meter house with a 70-square-meter walled garden. The living room and kitchen open onto a terrace overlooking a courtyard. The property is completely renovated and very neat and tidy. It's on the market for 76,000 euros. Its downside is one bathroom only.

The center of the bustling and popular market town of Saint Chinian is the location for a newly renovated 60-square-meter apartment. It has a sunny, upper-floor terrace and two sunny bedrooms, but only one bathroom and a small kitchen. It's on the market for 77,000 euros.

A second property in Saint Chinian, a three-floor, 94-square-meter townhouse includes all the criteria: It has a pretty kitchen opening onto a private terrace with a barbecue. There's a water cabinet on the ground floor, two large bedrooms, and a bathroom. The kitchen has new wooden flooring and a fireplace. Flooring in the rest of the property is the original decorative or red tiles known as tomettes. It's on the market for 82,000 euros which includes the agent's commission and could be negotiable down to budget. Take a look here (ref M 2937).

And finally, I've included a stone house with a large sunny terrace for 99,000 euros. Although over budget, the price includes good-looking furniture and appliances, so all my parent's furniture could go back to the UK (or all yours could stay home), making this three-bedroom 90-square-meter house in Cebazan ready to live in.

Despite the growing popularity of this part of France, there really are, still, a lot of low-budget properties to choose from that would make part-time living accessible to many budding expats. And, if you're able to increase your budget to around US$150,000, you'll find more properties with more outdoor space, which gives you, the owner, more chance to enjoy al fresco living and makes the property more tempting to potential vacation renters.

Now, it just remains to be seen if this year's offering of Langedocian water tempts the horse to drink...

Lucy Culpepper

Editor's Note: As Lucy finds in the Languedoc, France can be much more affordable than you might imagine. Even Paris has options for the budget-conscious retiree. We'll tell you more about how to make the lifestyle of your dreams come true in France (or one of our other top retirement destinations) at the Retire Overseas Conference, Aug. 29–31, in Nashville, Tennessee. Continue reading: 

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Layer on top of this what Pau itself has to offer—the scenery, the climate, and the proximity to beaches and mountains—and you understand the appeal for the other group of non-locals that has established itself here. Brits and other North Europeans have been seeking out this part of France for retirement for many years. This is a really friendly bunch of people with a wide range of backgrounds and interests always ready to welcome newcomers.

However, the British connection to this region is much longer term than the current-day community of British retirees. During the Napoleonic wars, the British military hero the Duke of Wellington and his army passed through Béarn, winning an important battle at Orthez and setting up a garrison in Pau.

Like today's retirees, Wellington and his men were well received in the area and many soldiers from Wellington's campaign set up home in the Béarn when they retired. These British retirees built holiday villas in and around Pau, which they rented out when they were not in residence. Pau became the "in" place of the 1900s, during the Belle Époque, building a reputation as the "hub of the sporting world." English, Russian, American, and South American visitors spent their winters in Pau playing and practicing golf (Pau golf course, built in 1856, is the oldest on the European mainland), polo, tennis, royal tennis, hunting, salmon fishing, mountaineering, and ballooning...all of which continue to be enjoyed by retirees in the region today.

Barcelona, Spain

The expat community in Barcelona is huge and thriving. Most every nationality in the world is represented there. As in Pau, there is a mix of working expats, either employed by multinationals like HP, self-employed (running laptop-based or tourism-focused businesses), or running local businesses (everything from bars to playgroups and real estate companies), and retirees.

As a result, Barcelona offers the most enlivening, stimulating scene you can imagine. A good way to connect with the English-speaking community in Barcelona is through the Metropolitan Magazine (print and online), which lists places and events where expats are likely to meet.

In addition to their big and growing expat communities, Pau, France, and Barcelona, Spain, have something else in common. These are two of the most affordable places to enjoy a rich and full Continental lifestyle. A couple of retirees could live well in either of these cities on a budget of US$2,000 per month, including rent.

Resident producer Joey Bonura worked with Euro-Editor Lucy Culpepper to create a little video showcasing some of the best of Barcelona. Take a look.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. France and Spain are two more of the 21 countries we'll be focused on during this year's Retire Overseas Conference in Nashville. Details are here.

Kathleen Peddicord

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An added bonus of the Languedoc region is that it's just three hours' drive to my joint-favorite European city, Barcelona!

Lief Simon: Medellin and Buenos Aires

I prefer cities over more rural areas. Two of the best cities in Latin America to spend time in, whether it's full- or part-time living, are Medellin, Colombia, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In Medellin, the weather is pleasant year-round—though some would argue that it isn't "spring-like" weather as it's generally referenced to be. Temperatures regularly break 80 degrees. Having grown up in Arizona, that's like winter weather for me. In other words, it's all relative.

It's pleasant enough to walk around Medellin, which is important to me, though I wouldn't call this a walking city.

Medellin has First World infrastructure and amenities (also important to me), and museums, festivals, gardens, and parks all add to the variety of activities available in this city of about 3.5 million people. And, to make the point, despite its history, Medellin is fairly calm these days unless you wander into the gang neighborhoods.

Bigger and livelier is Buenos Aires, which also has four seasons. I like change and contrast, so I like this part of the world a lot. Argentina rides an economic roller coaster that cycles harder and faster than economic cycles in any other country I could name, thanks to general and gross mismanagement by the government.

Argentina is right now close to another breaking point. I'm watching for the coming next crisis, which will be another good time to be considering an investment here.

From a lifestyle point of view, Buenos Aries offers all the activities that Medellin does and more. It's a city of about 15 million people (around one-third of the total population of the country). It has a tremendous variety and diversity of restaurants, shopping, museums, and parks and does qualify as a walking city—though it's too big to walk across in one go. For me, Buenos Aries' core neighborhoods of Recoleta and Retiro offer an ideal way of life.

Just be prepared for big ups and downs and lots of drama. For me that's all a big part of the charm of this place.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. The countdown is on. You have three days remaining to register for this year's Retire Overseas Conference in Nashville next month taking advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

More details here.

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Asia Correspondents Wendy and David Justice: Hanoi, Vietnam

Of all the places we could pick from in our travels, Hanoi, Vietnam, is the city we have chosen to call home. The city is an energetic and chaotic jumble of ancient neighborhoods, tranquil parks and lakes, modern high-rises, and centuries-old pagodas. It is also home to one of the most healthy and varied cuisines in the world. In more than two years of living in Hanoi, we are still discovering delicious and exotic new foods.

Even more important to us are the people. They are curious, polite, friendly, and generous to a fault. They really want to get to know you and to make friends. Friendships we've formed here have lasted many years.

There are always other foreigners to socialize with if we want, and there is always something to do. And the cost of living is so affordable. Here in Hanoi—anywhere in Vietnam, for that matter—we don't have to worry about money. We know that Hanoi isn't the right place for everyone, but we can easily imagine living here for many more years.

If we ever had to leave Vietnam, we would probably head over to Pai, Thailand. Its funky, mountain-town ambiance reminds us of the small towns we knew in the Colorado Rockies. If we developed ongoing health problems or became too elderly and frail to tolerate the stimulation of Hanoi, we would strongly consider moving to Hua Hin, Thailand.

Asia Correspondents Vicki and Paul Terhorst: Lviv, Ukraine

Vicki and I are perpetual travelers, which means we wander around the world without a fixed home base. By default, therefore, wherever we are at the moment becomes our favorite place. Otherwise, why would we be here?

I'm writing this in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which makes Chiang Mai a favorite place.

Recently, we chose to spend time in Lviv, Ukraine, because of its combination of European culture (historic buildings and churches, art museums, opera and ballet, convenient public transportation, cafe society, hearty food, robust wine) and low prices.

Lviv also makes a useful base for exploration to the rest of Eastern Europe, with six international borders within 200 kilometers or so. Just jump on a train or bus and you can get to Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, or Belarus. The rest of Europe lies just a bit farther along.

Ukraine's pro-Russia rebel insurgency remains far to the east of Lviv, more than 800 miles away. Your biggest day-to-day problem in Lviv will be the language. Ukraine uses a different alphabet, making it hard even to guess at street names or menu offerings.

Along with Lviv and Chiang Mai, I'd choose Paris as our third favorite place. Having three favorite places makes it easy to avoid running into trouble with 90-day visa rules in any one of them.

Asia Correspondent Robert Carry: Cambodia

Cambodia might seem an unusual number-one pick, but it has some serious strikes in its favor. First up is cost of living. Put simply, this is the cheapest place I've ever been to. You can get a great apartment in a city center location for less than US$400 a month. A Cambodian-style meal in a local eatery will run you less than a dollar and some of my favorite watering holes charge 75 cents a beer (and as little as 25 cents during happy hour). Everything here is just unfathomably inexpensive.

Then there's convenience. You can turn up at the airport unannounced and get a one-year visa, renewable at the end of the 12 months, on arrival. It's almost too easy. Plus, the U.S. dollar is the main currency here, English is widely spoken, and there's a sizable expat community in place.

However, Cambodia's real draw is its people. After decades of war and continuing poverty, the Khmers have somehow managed to keep their smiles. They're warm, welcoming, and infectiously optimistic. Cambodia's enchanting culture and Buddhist ethos underpins its peoples' relaxed, live-and-let-live way of life. When I retire, Cambodia is where you'll find me.

Tomorrow, top picks from key correspondents in Europe and the Americas...

Kathleen Peddicord

Editor's Note: Want to learn more about what Live and Invest Overseas correspondents really think about living and retiring overseas? Join us for three days of live discussions next month when we'll be convening with dozens of our normally far-flung experts and expat friends for this year's Retire Overseas Conference taking place in Nashville Aug. 29–31.

You have four days remaining to register for what will be the biggest retire-overseas event of the year taking advantage of the Early Bird Discount. This discount, which can save you up to US$300 off the cost of registration, expires this Thursday, July 31, at midnight.

Complete details of the event are here, and you can register online here.

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I don't want to give anything more away at this point...other than to say that the fully updated budget for each destination in the Index, along with comprehensive overviews on residency, health care, taxes, and the property markets in each case, will be featured in an expanded special edition of our Overseas Retirement Letter that will be delivered to subscribers Aug. 15.

Every attendee at this August's Retire Overseas Conference will receive a copy, too. This year's Index will serve as a starting point for discussions in Nashville to be led by dozens of expat experts. We continue adding speakers to the program to ensure we're covering all bases. This will be the biggest retire-overseas event of the year. 

If you're considering the idea of retiring overseas but not sure where to go or how to get there, you want to be in the room with us in Music City Aug. 29–31. This is your best chance this year to consider all the world's top retirement havens at one time and with the help of real-time, real-life experts.

Details of the program we're planning are here. I look forward to meeting you there.

Kathleen Peddicord

 

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

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