Park life

There’s lots to con­sider if you’re think­ing of buy­ing a mo­bile home. Kelvin Brem­ner re­veals the key con­sid­er­a­tions

Living France - - LES PRATIQUES -

Buy­ing a mo­bile home or a lodge in France is a pop­u­lar al­ter­na­tive to a bricks and mor­tar property. There are, how­ever, so many vari­ables and op­tions in the whole process that it can seem a lit­tle daunt­ing at first glance. It needn’t be, but it is worth think­ing about a few things be­fore you get started: 7Lo­ca­tion: re­gion, weather 7Hol­i­day park or res­i­den­tial park? 7Do you want ac­cess all year round? 7Do you want this as your pri­mary res­i­dence? 7Pitch rental or free­hold? 7Big park with all the fa­cil­i­ties/en­ter­tain­ment or a qui­eter smaller park? 7Bud­get: for pur­chase and an­nual costs

Make a list of your re­quire­ments, pref­er­ences, and deal-break­ers, and then give some more care­ful thought to the lo­ca­tion and where you’d like to live in France.

FIND­ING THE RIGHT SITE

Lo­ca­tion: Many peo­ple get too caught up in the ac­tual home be­fore they have de­cided where they want to go. The most im­por­tant part of the process is find­ing your per­fect lo­ca­tion, so think in the or­der of re­gion, then parks, then pitches and homes to­gether. Hol­i­day or res­i­den­tial? To find out whether you need a hol­i­day park or a res­i­den­tial park, ask your­self if it will be your pri­mary place of res­i­dence. Most parks in France have hol­i­day park sta­tus, and as a re­sult, you can­not live on-site full time. Some sites do have year-round ac­cess for own­ers when they are closed to tourists, but most have shorter sea­sons such as March/April to Oc­to­ber/Novem­ber; very of­ten, the closer south and closer to the sea, the shorter the sea­son. Go in­land slightly and the rates get cheaper, pitches larger, sea­sons longer and the parks qui­eter. There are, how­ever, Parcs Rési­den­tiels de Loisirs (PRLs), which are res­i­den­tial parks that you can live on per­ma­nently. Th­ese parks are a lit­tle harder to come by but there are some great ones out there, as well as some that are not so great! PRLs will of­ten of­fer pitches for rental as well as free­hold sales.

BUY­ING SEC­OND-HAND OR NEW?

New or used? This will gen­er­ally be dic­tated by your bud­get. Used mo­bile homes: It is harder to find pre-owned homes that suit your needs, and you are of­ten re­stricted to buy­ing a home that is al­ready sited. Many sites won’t let you bring a sec­ond-hand home onto their park, un­less it is bought through them. Peo­ple of­ten see a cheap home with a lo­cal dealer, and then think they will be able to take it onto a park. How­ever, this is of­ten not the case.

Sell­ing mo­bile homes (new or used) is of­ten a main rev­enue stream for a park. So if they do let you bring your own home onto their site, they may ask for an en­try fee to make up the lost rev­enue.

A home that is worth £10,000 un-sited from a yard, could be worth £15,000 on one park or £17,000 on an­other; again it’s all about lo­ca­tion. Two iden­ti­cal houses built in dif­fer­ent parts of the UK will have dif­fer­ent val­ues; it is ex­actly the same. New mo­bile homes: The main ben­e­fit of a new mo­bile home is that you can pick and choose your model and spec­i­fi­ca­tion in terms of op­tions and ex­tras. Prices and build qual­ity vary greatly be­tween man­u­fac­tur­ers; UK-built homes are gen­er­ally built to be more com­fort­able and homely, whereas Euro­pean mod­els are more geared to­wards a week’s hol­i­day in the rental mar­ket. Top tip: Ask your dealer who they rec­om­mend in terms of build qual­ity and af­ter-sales ser­vice. Be­lieve me, they will rec­om­mend the com­pa­nies that re­solve any prob­lems the most ef­fi­ciently. The fewer prob­lems you have af­ter pur­chas­ing, the fewer prob­lems they have!

AD­VAN­TAGES OF BUY­ING A MO­BILE HOME

The big­gest ad­van­tage is that you don’t just get a home, you get the fa­cil­i­ties and com­mu­nity that come with the park. De­pend­ing on what you are look­ing for on a park, you can get full use of swim­ming pools, bars, restau­rants, ac­tiv­i­ties and en­ter­tain­ment, lakes and beaches, or none of the above. But what you gen­er­ally do get is a great com­mu­nity and a fan­tas­tic out­door life­style. All this, and the cost ben­e­fits, too, of course. You can have a brand-new, lux­ury two-bed­room hol­i­day home, in the grounds of a château, for less than £50,000!

LAWS AND TAX IM­PLI­CA­TIONS

Law and tax im­pli­ca­tions in France de­pend on the home and the park as well as the us­age of your home. Hol­i­day homes: Gen­er­ally, there is a 40m2

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