It’s an eternally popular destination for Brits to holiday, invest and even live in, but why is France becoming an ever-more desirable location for expats – on a par with Spain – and what are those house buyers looking for?
Property Guides – a step-by-step online resource to help people purchase their dream home overseas safely and successfully – recently carried out research on why people across the globe are aspiring to own a new home in France.
The company surveyed 2,200 participants to find out. In the UK alone, search volumes for 'property for sale in France' almost doubled in June 2020 compared to June 2019.
The survey revealed that 81% of participants are looking to buy a property in France. Aside from Covid-19, 43% of participants said their main concern about buying in France was Brexit.
Meanwhile, the median price people are willing to pay to live in France is around £170,000 (compared to £135,000 in Spain). In France, some 36% would pay over £200,000 compared to 21% in Spain.
When it comes to the reason for purchase, 67% of participants want to buy a property in France for a new adventure, 66% want a happy retirement, 62% want a healthier lifestyle and 52% are eager due to affordable property.
One of the main reasons why France is so attractive to Brits is its easy access via ferry or car, with 55% saying they would make most trips this way due to it being the most eco-friendly option.
A worry-free zone?
The research found that while 43% of buyers had worries over Brexit, the other 57% didn’t, while 71% said they are relaxed about France’s legal process when purchasing a home. Some 78% of respondents, meanwhile, said they are quite happy about the current value of the pound.
Only 11% are yet to persuade their other half to buy in France, while two in three are confident they’ll be able to find affordable healthcare.
According to the research, 80% of people already have the assets or money to buy, while 13% are looking to buy this autumn/winter, 26% plan to purchase in the spring/summer of 2021 and 34% are aiming for late 2021 and beyond. Meanwhile, 22% said they would be buying as soon as restrictions on flying were lifted.
With regards to keeping EU rights, 63% of those surveyed said they understood that they need to be resident before 2021 to keep their EU rights. Half want to move by then but think they won’t be able to do so in time.
The research also revealed that three out of four of those surveyed want a country cottage – the sort of classically French abode you’d see in a film or on a postcard. Some 36% are buying in France for a holiday or second home, 56% are retiring or relocating and some 3% are investing in a French property.
Most buyers, unsurprisingly, are looking for homes in the South of France – a world-famous holiday, wine and foodie region – with 38% eager to purchase in Nouvelle-Aquitaine (which includes Bordeaux, La Rochelle and Biarritz), 15% searching for a home in Occatanie (home to Toulouse, Montpellier and Lourdes), and 11% opting for Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (home to iconic locations such as Marseille, Saint Tropez, Cannes and Nice).
The only other region that comes close to the South of France in the eyes of buyers is Britanny, with 9% of purchasers looking to acquire in an area home to Rennes, Brest and Lorient and with long-term historical links to the British Isles.
You can see a handy graphic displaying the survey’s findings by clicking here.
Christopher Nye, senior content editor at Property Guides, said: “Since 2004, Property Guides has provided trusted advice and resources for British people buying their dream home overseas.”
“Our 2020 survey, conducted at the height of the lockdown, gathered an incredible 2,200 responses from property buyers looking for homes in France. The survey revealed that despite Covid-19 and Brexit, Brits still want that dream home abroad, and many want it NOW! More than one in three buyers want to complete within six months.”
He added: “What makes people looking for property in France different from buyers in Spain is how they’re willing to spend £35,000 more on a property. They know where they want to buy. Nearly one in four want to buy in the same corner of France.”
“It’s also a great option for the eco-conscious. For one in three buyers, being able to get to France without flying was very important in their choice of country.”
What is the current travel advice for France?
Since July 4, France has been exempt from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against all non-essential international travel, based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks.
You can find out more about the current coronavirus situation in France, and the measures being taken to prevent it, on this gov.uk page. Wearing masks in enclosed public spaces was made compulsory from July 20 for those aged 11 and over. It’s also compulsory on public transport, with fines for those who don’t comply.
Travellers arriving in France from the UK are no longer required to self-isolate, to demonstrate their travel is essential or to hold an international travel certificate. You can find out more about the current entry requirements here.
While the UK has now left the European Union, the rules on travel to EU countries will stay the same until December 31 2020 (when the transition period ends), during which time the UK and EU are expected to negotiate additional arrangements. You can find out more about the rights of British citizens resident in France, and how these are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, by clicking here.
Around 17 million British nationals visit France every year, with most visits entirely trouble-free.