4

How to Buy a Home in France

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Start out an ugly American who thinks France is a "once in a lifetime" destination and not a place where a freelance writer and a music teacher can afford to buy property. Smile and nod when your spouse returns from a trip abroad and announces, "We must own a house in the south of France!" even if you think he's nuts — and mistaken. Stand gape-mouthed and thrilled when he finagles a way to bankroll the purchase with a stateside loan, in order to avoid attempts at financing property in another country. Cheer. Begin packing.

Go to France. Be a person who has forgotten words like "condo" and "realtor." Practice saying "immoblier" and "village house." Know that an apartment is something an American lives in, and a maison is often something built before plaster and indoor plumbing were invented and therefore more desirable. Say, "I'd like something on a place." Say, "Who needs air conditioning with a view like this?" Claim to be overjoyed that your final choice is the former servants' quarters of the town's only celebrity: a 17th-century physician who authored an encyclopedia of mental illness.

Redecorate. Pretend to be amused that a cup full of interior latex house paint costs 30 Euros in France. Discover that junk shops in Provence are filled with hundred-year-old breakfronts and French Deco bedsteads at fire-sale prices, because in France they're just "old furniture." Tell your new neighbors, "We love that the electrical wiring is on the outside of the walls!" even if you don't. Remove from your new home four tons of taxidermied birds, broken appliances, and erotic novels left behind by the former owner. Say to yourself, "I thought crocheted toilet paper cozies were an American thing!" Try to convince yourself and your spouse that a leaky sky light is not a bad thing; it's a French thing. Learn to drink wine with breakfast.

Info

How to Buy a Home in France

Return to America. Practice answering dumb questions. Say, "Yes, they have running water in Europe. Also electricity and toilets." Say, "No, the French aren't awfully mean, so long as you don't expect them to speak English, approve of your politics, or claim responsibility for Celine Dion." Say, "I don't know how my chalet in Paris is, since I've never been to Paris, and am not really sure what a chalet is." Smile when people ask how you like living part-time in France and reply, "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Tips

Americans do this weird thing. Say the word "France" to them, and often they hear the word "Paris." Know the difference, and keep in mind that while Paris real estate is always pricey, homes in cities and towns in other parts of the country are often less expensive.

Learn a little French — and a little decorum. The French prefer that you begin any question with an apology, particularly if you're not French yourself. You may not like this, but on the other hand, will it kill you to say "Excuse me" before demanding to be shown a villa or two?

Forget all those snobby things you've learned about wine and when to drink it. The French, who know a thing or two about wine, buy it in cardboard boxes from the marche and in plastic jugs from a local vintner cave.

Dump the propaganda about the French not liking us. It's churlish and frankly inaccurate. Like all civilized people, the French dislike impolite clods, regardless of their nationality. Be respectful when you visit, and you'll be fine.

In some of the smaller villages of France, the maire (mayor) gets to decide whether you can buy the house you've put a bid on, and can weigh in on whether the asking price of the property is okay with him. Often this decision is based on whether he likes you or not. No one in France cares how you feel about this rule; it simply stands.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.