View from the Foothills of France

Some personal views on living, working,
bringing up family and making the dream happen in the most beautiful region of France. View from the Foothills of France also includes some personal and professional thoughts and tips on finding and buying the perfect property in the Ariège and Haute Garonne regions.

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Top 10 things to do when looking for the perfect house in France

 

  1. Call me
  2. I’ll deal with the other nine…

 

Wishing you a wonderful 2018; may all your property dreams come true

if you want to discuss your property search, get in touch at:

nadia@foothillsoffrance.com

One small step forward for expats post Brexit

This is my last post of the year about Brexit (thank goodness) but, much as I try to switch off to it, there is no doubt that it impacts hugely on our lives and on the future lives of my clients and potential clients. All of us feel that life is currently on hold while we are used as pawns in a game we never wanted to play.

Finally it looks as if the EU and the UK have come to some agreement regarding the rights of Britons living in the EU and EU citizens in the UK. Under this latest deal, EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa will have their rights to live, work and study protected. The deal must now be ratified in the EU and UK Parliaments.

The UK Prime Minister held a joint press conference with EU Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, in Brussels last week where she said that British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Britain could ‘go on living their lives as before. The deal we have struck will guarantee the rights of more than three million EU citizens living in the UK, and over one million UK citizens in the EU.’

Provision has been made in the agreement for a process in which the UK and member states can ask expats to apply to obtain ‘a status conferring the rights of residence as provided for by the Withdrawal Agreement and be issued with a residence document attesting to the existence of that right.’

According to the agreement document, should France introduce a residency card scheme, Britons living here will have two years from the date of the UK’s withdrawal to start the application process without loss of any rights.

What has been lost in the negotiations and apparently will no longer be protected in the agreement is ‘onward free movement’; in other words, the right of British expats to retain full, free movement in the EU for life. So, for example, those of us living in France will no longer, at a later date, be able to go and live in Italy or Spain or other EU countries with the same rights as we will have in France. The other change appears to be the loss of our right as resident expats to vote in local elections; hence we will have no say at all in the country where we live and pay taxes.

In summary, some good news and some less good. What we need above all is some certainty to move forward in 2018 so here’s wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a very European 2018.

 

 

Why is there no option to pay to watch the BBC outside of the UK?

I have just visited a property where an English couple have had to install a satellite dish the size of car just to be able to watch the BBC (well Blue Planet specifically). They have owned the house for a while as a holiday home but have recently moved over to the foothills permanently and now feel the need for that occasional connection with home via BBC television and radio.

When we first moved to France, getting any TV or radio station was relatively easy with the installation of a small satellite dish and a set top box but, a few years ago, the satellite footprint was changed and large swathes of South West France lost the signal. Since then, the only way to be able to watch TV from outside France has been to install a dish so huge that it cannot safely be installed on the roof or to attempt to watch via the internet using proxy servers that hide one’s location which may or may not work and are illegal.

Of course, there is the argument that when you move to France, you should watch French television, listen to French radio and read French newspapers but, certainly in the UK, we are spoiled by the quality of output from the BBC compared to the endless American imports and game shows on French television and sometimes it is important to feel that connection with home and one’s friends and relatives there, however high-brow you might intend life to be in France. Plus it is nice to feel a sense of belonging to more than one country (Europe anyone?)

So here is my question – if it is illegal to watch the BBC in France, why are we not given the option of paying the BBC licence fee so that we can then access it via the internet perfectly legally? I know lots of people (and not just British) who would happily pay the £145.50 per year or a similar subscription fee to be entitled to watch the BBC wherever they live in the world.  Moreover, according to a report by GlobalWebIndex, more than 60 million people are already watching BBC iPlayer for free outside of the UK by masking their location so there appears to be huge potential here for allowing people to subscribe, just as they do for the likes of Netflix which will have the added benefit of providing a huge increase in funding for the BBC. It just seems that it could be a win-win situation for all concerned – so can anyone tell me why this can’t be done?

 

Ski property in the Pyrenees; the best of all worlds

It is that time of year when I suddenly start getting lots of enquiries about ski property. The moment it turns cold and photos start appearing of snow in the mountains and ski resorts, thoughts turn to skiing, winter sports, log fires, vin chaud and the idea of a ski chalet or apartment near the slopes combined with après-ski glamour, whether that be buzzing bars, cosy restaurants or luxurious spa facilities.

While the Alps have become overpriced both for property and for skiing, here in the Pyrenees, excellent value ski properties can still be found for buyers seeking bolt-holes they can use winter and summer, rent out easily and hopefully reap some eventual capital gain.

The last decade has seen massive investment in the resorts here in the Pyrenees, resulting in better access and faster lifts, many more snow-making machines and better infrastructure. Surprisingly, however, property prices have not risen at the same rate as these improvements so that ski property in the Pyrenees is currently looking like a very good buy.

In addition, skiing and holidaying in the Pyrenees is still relatively affordable, most notably, when it comes to ski passes, food and accommodation thanks to the fact that, in the mountain villages of the Pyrenees, the restaurants and shops are mostly small family run enterprises whose primary aim is simply to make a living. This is not an area of commercial savvy and most small businesses have been here for generations. They also tend to operate year-round as part of the local community, as they have for centuries, as opposed to fleecing the tourists as much as possible during the few short months of the winter season. It is the same story with lift passes which are around half the price of those in the Alps.

So not only is the dream of a ski property achievable here in the Pyrenees, you will also save money when you come on holiday and there is also an excellent year-round rental market.

For more information and advice, please do get in touch: nadia@foothillsoffrance.com