Dream homes under €100,000
Can you really find your dream French property for under €100,000? Karen Tait goes househunting to what’s available
While a ‘ pieds dans l’eau’ villa overlooking the Med, a chic Parisian townhouse or an elegant château in the Loire Valley would be rather nice, unfortunately most of us have to ‘settle’ for something a little less grand!
Luckily, France offers househunters great value for money, with rural homes being particularly affordable. So what is available if you only have a budget of €100,000 or less to spend? Could you still achieve your dream of a seaside holiday home or a place with room for all the family, or will your only option be renovation projects in the back of beyond?
With average departmental house prices ranging from under €66,200 (Creuse) to over €400,000 on the Côte d’azur, there’s something for most budgets, although clearly €100,000 should buy you something rather nice in Creuse and perhaps less so at the other end of the scale! A search on Francepropertyshop.com alone reveals some 130 properties to choose from in Creuse, starting at farm buildings to renovate for €11,500.
Other bargain departments, with average house prices under €100,000, include Nièvre (€75,000), Meuse (€78,600), Haute-marne (€81,200), Indre (€82,500), Cantal (€90,000), Cher (€90,000), Corrèze (€92,700), Allier (€95,000), Ardennes (€100,000) and Vosges (€100,000). A quick look at our map on page 112 will reveal that these are all relatively central and remote, not on the coast or in the south of France. What they do offer, however, is beautiful scenery, tranquillity, fresh air and a wide choice of affordable rural homes, as well as towns and villages with real community spirit – la France profonde awaits.
…or chic but ‘cher’
Outside of the capital, the most expensive department is Alpes-maritimes (€425,100); a search on France Property Shop only throws up two properties under €100,000 here, one of which is a building plot. So rather a lot less choice than in Creuse!
Other pricey departments include Haute-savoie (€350,000), Var (€300,000), Bouches-duRhône (€291,000), Rhône (€275,000), Gironde (€229,300), Haute-garonne (€222,000), Hérault (€215,000), PyrénéesAtlantiques (€205,000) and Loire-atlantique (€205,000).
On the map you’ll see these are mostly coastal departments (the price of a sea view or proximity to the beach), ski areas or those with a dynamic city (Lyon, Toulouse, Montpellier, Bordeaux).
This doesn’t mean that you can’t afford the south of France or a ski resort though; you’ll just have to compromise on features, size, condition or setting – maybe fewer bedrooms than you’d like, an apartment instead of a house, a terrace not a garden, a property that needs renovating, a location an hour inland instead of with a sea view, and so on.
Off the beaten track…
As mentioned before, the best value for money tends to be found in more remote, less wellconnected areas – which will be music to the ears of those seeking peace and quiet. In ascending order, the departments with the lowest population density (30 or fewer people per square kilometre), with their average house prices, are Lozère (€92,000), Creuse (€66,200), Hautes-alpes (€194,900), Cantal (€90,000), Ariège (€105,000), Alpes-de-haute-provence (€165,000), Haute-marne (€81,200) and Gers (€134,500).
These locations offer wonderful scenery and a traditional way of life, with little or no pollution or industry. While in the past they may have been poor areas, cut off from the rest of France, today they attract tourists seeking back-tonature holidays as well as househunters after a simple life. This is definitely the place to be if you love the Great Outdoors; indeed, several of the above departments are home to national or regional parks, such as the Cévennes, Mercantour and Perigord-limousin. There are clearly opportunities for those planning a holiday business too.
…or a tourist favourite If you have a lower budget, you might think you can’t afford a tourist hotspot, but think again. While it’s probably true for the Riviera or Paris, there are plenty of other popular holiday destinations where property is surprisingly affordable too.
Take Dordogne, for example, where the average house price is just €120,000, some €60,000 below the national average. Down south in Aude, home to Carcassonne’s fairy citadel, the Unesco-listed Canal du Midi and laidback Mediterranean resorts, the average price is €129,000. In Brittany’s Côtes d’armor, where tourists flock to the river port of Dinan and the seaside resorts of the Côte de Granit Rose, it’s just €123,000. Head west to the Atlantic coast, and Vendée, with its chic seaside resorts of Les Sables d’olonne and St-jean de Monts as well as the waterways of the Marais Poitevin regional park, and the average house price is €147,000. So, you see, there’s plenty of scope for a dream holiday home, business premises or place where you can retire.
You can pick up renovation projects from as little as €7,500 on France Property Shop, so €100,000 represents a sizeable budget for a building to do up. Everything’s relative though – compare, for example, a stone house for complete renovation in Morbihan, Brittany, for €9,990 to a vineyard property with a mansion to renovate in Charente, for €1.35m!
Of course, renovation can mean different things to different people – one person’s idea of a renovation project may be a perfectly habitable house to someone else! From properties that need a lick of paint to those that require modernising (perhaps new wiring, plumbing etc) to those that are little more than four walls (a ‘romantic’ ruin!), there are plenty of options on offer for anyone with a €100,000 budget.
Before stepping into the breach though, a few things to consider include whether planning permission is in place or needs to be applied for; does the property have electricity and water supplies, and if not, are they close by; will you do the work yourself or employ artisans, and if the latter, French or British; do you have accurate costings for the renovation work, and will it add value to the house or potentially take it over market value?
…or ready to move into If the idea of spending all your spare time doing up a place in France doesn’t appeal and you’d rather be exploring the towns and countryside and lingering over long lunches, you’ll be pleased – and perhaps surprised – to hear that you can still afford a property needing no work. If you’re lucky, you’ll find one fully renovated, complete with original features.
To find a property right by the sea for a budget of under €100,000 is a challenge, especially when average prices reach the heady heights of over €425,000 on the Côte d’azur.
Luckily, not all prices are that high; by region, the cheapest seaside departments are Somme (€127,000) in Hauts-de-france; Manche (€120,000) in Normandy; Côtes d’armor (€123,000) in Brittany; Vendée (€147,000) in Pays de la Loire; Charente-Maritime (€175,000) in Nouvelle-aquitaine; Aude (€129,000) in Occitanie; and Bouches-du-rhône (€291,000) in Provence-côte d’azur.
Clearly a home on the glitzy south coast is going to cost more than one near Calais, but affordable homes close to the sea can still be found, especially if you’re willing to look a little inland and not right by the beach.
…or country With vast swathes of breathtaking countryside, it’s no wonder so many British househunters are seeking a country cottage in France. Pretty views, a garden to tend and maybe keep chickens or other livestock in, and access to a slower rural way of life are all attractions of a country home.
And with 643,000 square kilometres to explore, you’ll be sure to find a corner of France that’s just right for you, whether you’re seeking vineyard views, fields of sunflowers or dramatic river valleys.
Farm buildings often prove particularly popular, including old ‘ fermettes’ and barns to convert or already renovated.