Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Living in France - what's it like?
A phone conversation with a friend and a typical Daily Mail article have prompted this post.
Let's start with the phone call. I spent twenty minutes or so chatting over a potential property purchase with a friend of mine. We spoke about buying property with both the head and the heart.
There's a convincing argument for French property as an asset class by itself at the moment. UK equities are tied in with the ropey economy, gold looks over-valued, UK property could go either way, gilts & bonds have low returns while France has a stable economy and property is realistically priced after recent falls.
Then, of course, there's the added bonus that owning a place in France gives. Decent weather, high standard of living and the chance to own somewhere that makes your pulse race as you drive up to it. Owning a place in France can bring pleasure that a share certificate simply can't match.
However, life isn't better over here, just different.
This article in the Daily Mail typifies this. It's well written and after reading it through you have to feel sorry for Mrs Booth (although a little less for her husband who was driving at five times the legal limit. My best friend out here lost his wife and left leg fifteen years ago due to a drunk driver).
Pause for even a nano second though and you can see where it all went wrong.
Looking to "escape" is not a good reason to live here - despite the name of the TV series. If your marriage/career/life has problems then they will probably be exacerbated by a move to France. Particularly if you don't bother to learn the language. It won't be the fault of France Telecom, Ryanair, EDF or your local bartender either.
However, come here because you want to embrace the culture or because you love the scenery, pace of life, politics and/or weather and you stand a good chance of happiness.
Be realistic and do your research - then move for a positive reason.
Believe me when I say that whilst I adore my life here and am very happy, my kids still get sick, it can rain, earning money is difficult, I sometimes argue with my wife, my dog chases rabbits and - above all else - French tv is dire.