If you’re thinking about living in France, you might be one of the few people who’d like to live in perfect isolation. But many Brits buying property in France want to be close to a thriving expat community.
For many Brits thinking about living in France, the idea of being close to a thriving expat community is reassuring. The additional support and opportunities to make friends with fellow countryfolk can be appealing when you're moving somewhere relatively unknown. Once you’ve found your dream home, settled in, made connections with other expats, plus learnt to get by in French, you might be happier to be enjoy the seclusion that rural France offers.
France is so easily accessible for Brits, either by ferry, air, or the Eurotunnel, and can have such a better climate and cost of living, that moving there permanently or buying a second home to live in part of the year is attractive to many.
As such, many areas of France have become popular with UK expats.
The region has some of the prettiest villages in the country, gorgeous scenery, plenty of sun and offers a relaxed way of life. And you can get all of this with average property prices of just €125,000 (according to the latest figures from the Notaires de France). It’s rural, but with reasonable access to airports such as Bergerac or Bordeaux. Sometimes referred to as 'Dordogneshire' or 'Little England' because so many Brits buy property in France here.
Buying property in France need not be overly expensive in the south of the country. The Languedoc-Roussillon region around Montpellier has become increasingly popular with Brits in the last ten years or so, offering average prices of around €190,000.
The area links Provence in the east, to the Pyrenees to the west, affording good transport links and plenty of options if you want to base yourself there, perhaps as a holiday home, but travel around a bit.
You’ve got nothing to lose by living here. Okay, a terrible pun, but the sentiment is accurate. Toulouse and the surrounding Midi-Pyrénées region is idyllic. There’s said to be around 16,000 of the Brits living in France right here, perfect for that support when you need it. There’s a large airport at Toulouse, and if you fancy a change of scenery, it’s an easy hop over to Spain, including the delights of Barcelona or even a short stay on the sunshine islands of Ibiza or Mallorca.
The area is attractive, with access to skiing during the winter, and sensational walking and cycling during warmer months.
Moving back up the country, but staying on the west side, is the Vendèe where to buy a house in France will set you back an average of €150,000. You’re still getting a great climate, and there’s excellent airport access via Limoges, La Rochelle and Bordeaux to the south. And, of course, it’s easier to drive to from the UK.
If you like your seafood, there is a wonderfully diverse array of fish and shellfish at the local markets. Washed down, of course, with plenty of the excellent French wine.
At the other end of the price scale is the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, or the French Riviera in the South of France. It’s the most cosmopolitan and trendy area outside of Paris, and one loved by the Brit expat community because of its superb year-round climate, access to the Mediterranean Sea, lovely coastal towns and inland hills.
Property here will set you back an average of €300,000, in the exclusive Bouche-de-Rhône area, substantially more than homes in the Dordogne. But, come on, it’s the Riviera! While it takes ages to drive all the way down through France, air links via Nice and further north from Lyon are excellent. You can even put your car on the back of a train.
For those who want to experience living in France, but who prefer to remain nearer to home, making it easier to pop back to the UK, or for friends and relatives to visit, there is a thriving UK expat community in Normandy in northern France.
Expect to pay around €160,000 for an average property, and a little less in neighbouring Pas-des-Calais. Work out how much you’d pay to live in the same property in rural Kent, then you might even consider buying in this area and commuting on Eurotunnel. You’ll certainly have enough cash!
There are around 14,000 Brits happily living in the Brittany region. Close enough to the UK but far enough to be a little cheaper than Normandy, you can pick up an average home in the Côte d’Amour area for €121,000, although this rises to €175,000 in Ile-et-Vilaine.
And despite being quite close to home, you’ll get more sunshine – an average of 1,717 hours a year compared to 1,341 back in the UK.
If fresh mountain air, skiing, and expensive property is your thing, then join the 12,000 or so expats living in the French Alps. The advantages of such an incredibly beautiful landscape are obvious but come with a cost. Average property prices in Haute-Savoie weigh in at €366,000, as steep as the mountains.
The Savoi area itself, north-east of Grenoble and south of Geneva, is much cheaper at €228,000.
There will be lots of Brits living in and around Paris, one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world. There will be get-togethers and groups to join, but because of the size of the place, you won’t have that same expat feeling of togetherness that you might experience in the other parts of France we have listed here.
If you were to buy in Paris, expect to pay an average property price of €9,000 per square metre. Quite a lot, in other words!
Fancy living in France? Take your pick
This whistle-stop tour of France shows there are strong expat communities all over the country, perfect for helping you get settled into your new permanent or holiday home community. All you’ve got to do now is find your perfect place to live.
If you’re thinking about setting up a new life in France download our Moving to France guide