Rural Property in France

France is the largest country in Western Europe and thanks to its massive 551,500 km2 of land (the UK has 242,900 km2) rural French property is not in short supply.

As a general rule of thumb the French market is the opposite of the UK market in that the more rural a property is, the cheaper it becomes. This is good news if you like ‘remote’. If you have children or are hoping to have paying guests however, then ‘the back of beyond’ might not be a good idea.

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Most buyers prefer a semi-rural property – perhaps on the edge of a village – and here factors such as proximity to an airport, motorway, TGV station or town push prices up.

Many visitors to the French countryside are astonished to see how much rural French property has apparently been left to go to rack and ruin. British families who renovate such properties and relocate are warmly welcomed by villagers who see the new family in their midst as breathing new life into the community, the village school and local commerces. You can double the welcome if you save your piece of the local architectural heritage while respecting any local build vernacular and using local labour! Usually, living in a pretty village where everybody still has time for each other and where crime is non-existant is thanks enough!

If being part of the rural community isn’t for you then France is big enough to allow you to shun humanity almost completely! If you’re not afraid of your own company and don’t mind mounting a monthly expedition into civilization for provisions then ‘La France Profonde’ (deepest France) will suit you down to the ground. Here, our agents in the remoter parts of Centre, Limousin, Auvergne and Burgundy can still find rural property bargains hidden up lanes and down tracks - so make contact with them and keep the communication channels open.

With land being in such abundance and so much cheaper than in the UK, rural French property often comes with quantities of land which buyers can only dream of at home. You should remember, however, that land requires upkeep and maintenance - so make sure you’re prepared for either putting in the hard work or shelling out the hard cash to meet the responsibilities of becoming ‘landed gentry’! You might be lucky and find a farmer who will give you firewood in return for allowing him to graze his cattle on your land! Such stories are legion.

When buying rural property with land, you should be aware that notaires are obliged by law to notify SAFER (La Société d’Aménagement Foncier et d’Établissement Rural) of the sale of any land over 5,000m2 or the sale of any agricultural buildings. If SAFER considers that the land or building is essential to the survival of a local farming concern then it can pre-empt the sale and offer it to that local farmer instead. In most instances this is a mere formality, but should SAFER exercise its right then you are automatically protected by the Compromis de Vente which will ensure that your deposit is returned.

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