Buying a property in France is a hugely attractive proposition. Although prices do not generally tend to increase as rapidly as they often do in the UK, the property market in France is stable, and buying your dream home there is a relatively safe option compared to some other European countries. In addition, obtaining a mortgage on a property is relatively straightforward, and interest rates are currently low.
The key to a successful purchase in France is forward planning: France is a large country; and making the right decision will be easier with good knowledge of the various regions. Is the purchase for a holiday home or a permanent move? How does life in your chosen area compare from season to season?
Renting a property in France is one way to find out if you really do want to live there, and has the advantage of allowing you to get to know an area before committing yourself to purchasing there. A winter let will give you real insight into what life there is really like, as opposed to basing a decision to live there on perhaps a couple of weeks’ summer holiday. If you like it in the winter months when it is darker and quieter, you are likely to love it in the summer.
A long-term rental of, say, 6 months – possibly in 2 different areas – may well be the answer for those who are very tempted to buy, but not entirely confident of getting it right.
Although renting a property can sometimes be seen as dead money, it may give you a feel for staying longer term in France without the immediate commitment of a purchase. Since buying a property abroad is a big decision, money spent on renting first may in fact make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful purchase later. By renting, one is also likely to make friends, learn to speak French and integrate into the French way of life before committing oneself to buy. It is an excellent way of testing the waters.
On the other hand of course, if you already know and love France, this is now a wonderful time to buy there: the pound retains its strength against the euro, recently reaching the highest point for 8 years! Your property purchase in France will most certainly cost less than it would have done a year or so ago.
To summarise, to buy or rent in France really depends on how confident you are of your decision to go there. Renting could serve you well as a stopgap. If, however, you have done your homework and know where you want to be, how you are going to fund your purchase, and how you see your life in France, buying a property will give you the comfort and pride of knowing you own your own home there at the outset, with no landlord in the background to answer to.
The decision to rent or buy is very much one of personal choice. In France, particularly in the major cities, renting is very much seen as the norm, and you will find that many French people do not have as strong a desire to purchase somewhere as perhaps the British do. Both options may be good ones: renting may simply give you the confidence to take the plunge to buy. Weighing up the pros and the cons is the best way; and hopefully this will have given you some insight into both! Happy France property hunting!