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Buying your first home in the country - Part 1

When we decided to move from Paris to live in the Drôme, we had a project that seemed completely banal. In the eyes of many, we were the umpteenth Parisians, fed up with Covid, to leave the big city for greenery, space and a decent quality of life. But when we got down to the concrete search of a house, we weren't so ordinary anymore: few were looking to buy first, while the others were looking first for an apartment in a medium-sized conurbation.

And looking for a house in the country from Paris, when we're used to living in an apartment in a condominium, isn't so easy. You need to ask yourself the right questions and have the right advisors if you want to recognize the dream house when it presents itself, especially from a distance. The stakes are all the higher when you're moving from the city to the country, and it's always comfortable to have a firm foothold at home, with no surprises.

This is the first in a series of 3 articles detailing the important elements for a successful and worry-free change of life. In this article, we'll be focusing on the criteria to be studied beforehand. In a second article, we'll look at the characteristics of the house you've selected for your move, and finally, we'll look at how to optimize the first few weeks of settling in.

1. Location

This may sound like a bit of a mouthful, as it's the number 1 criterion for any real estate project, but when you move to another region, it takes on much greater proportions. Whether you're looking for a place to work, to go to school, to find baby sitters or for relatives to visit you regularly, it's best to think carefully about this criterion. It will also save you precious time in your search.

2. Work

Here again, I won't surprise anyone, but it's important to bear in mind that if you're looking for a house with renovation work, the stakes are much higher: having a roof to redo or poor insulation to repair will be much more costly, because you're no longer relying on your neighbors, you're financing 100%. This is all the more problematic as it is often difficult to identify the extent of the work to be carried out (cf. roof structure, seepage...). When buying in a condominium, you can rely on the syndicate of co-owners (who is supposed to be neutral), whereas for a house, if you're looking on your own, you have to deal directly with the seller or his agent. Work can quickly represent 50% or even 100% of the sale price, so you need to know how to anticipate it, because you could be disappointed once the budget's up.

3. Old stone or modern house

This is probably the criterion that can be analyzed in the same way as when looking for an apartment. It's closely linked to the amount of work you're willing to put in, even if you can find beautiful old farmhouses that have been completely redone, but you'll have to pay the price in that case. For us, the question was very simple because we're very sensitive to the charm of our home (in Paris, it was Haussmannien or nothing). But old stones mean less light, less functional rooms and, above all, potential work surprises.

4. The size of the plot

When you decide to move from Paris to the country, you're going to want a huge plot of land. You need to think about the upkeep that comes with the land and the budget you'll need to allocate. The same applies to the size of the house: if you want 8 bedrooms so that each child of the couple of friends has a room when they come for 4 days on Ascension Day, you have to remember that they will need to be heated for the remaining 360 days. A huge plot of land requires pruning, mowing and specific landscaping work for fire procedures....

5. The pool

This doesn't apply everywhere in France, but it's a filter that will save you a lot of time. With droughts on the increase, it's best to have your pool already built and officially registered. Many buyers also ask for a plot of land suitable for swimming pools if it hasn't already been dug, but PLUs (local urban planning schemes) change quickly...

Here are the 5 things you need to consider when looking for a house in the "countryside", even if you've just bought an apartment. Going through a property hunter can help you with each of these questions, as he or she has the local knowledge, experience and technical skills. More information on each of these 5 elements to come very soon.


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