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

French Property News - - Contents -

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?

Bar­gain hotspots…

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.

Ren­o­va­tion pro­ject…

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.

Coast…

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.

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