April 9, 2014

HOUSE HUNTING

Step one of our house moving is under way and hopefully proceeding according to plan.  Just to remind you (and me, as I still can hardly believe we’re actually doing it), we have a buyer for our current UK home and have arranged to buy a much smaller one here.  It will take a few more weeks before the legal processes are all in place and we physically move from one to the other.

Step two is to find a larger house in France than the little cottage we already have, with a good sized garden and either a garage or outbuildings, and so far we have not seen anything like that for sale in the village.  We decided to take a break from the packing and sorting and make a flying visit to Le Grand-Pressigny so we could see a house that our friend had spotted on the internet.

It was a 1970’s build and although the exterior was nice and the position lovely, inside it seemed just too modern and not for us.

The one good thing that came out of it was that we both realised that what we really like is old houses.  The one we have now is probably at least 250 years old and we would really like something of a similar age.

We contacted our favourite, rather lovable agent, Antony, and he took us to see this:

drop dead gorgeous

The property consisted of a small house, nicely renovated to a good standard, about the same size as the one we already have.

drop dead gorgeous2

The really interesting part was that it also included this beautiful house plus barn conversion.  It was drop dead gorgeous both inside and out, and was much more like what we were looking for.

drop dead gorgeous3

The property also included the ruins of yet another house where just the walls had been left standing and were used as a screen for a leisure area.

drop dead gorgeous4 drop dead gorgeous5 drop dead gorgeous6

There was a good amount of land which would be easy to look after, cultivating part of it as a garden, part as a vegetable plot and leaving the rest as orchard or just grass.  It was situated next to a horse breeding business, had fabulous views over open country and sat beautifully in its own plot.

drop dead gorgeous7

On the fourth side of the plot was yet another little building which had lovely original features such as a bread oven and was currently used as a little office.

drop dead gorgeous8

We didn’t buy it.

The main problem is that although the renovations were to a good standard, the main building wasn’t finished.  We didn’t need the little house, which was finished, although having somewhere to put visitors or even rent out was a nice idea. 

The inside of the main, large house was full of lovely old features which had been tastefully retained and there was little or no bodging of the type we encountered the last time we were house hunting.  But the upper floor was half missing, there was no kitchen, staircase or bathroom.  All of which would be quite costly to put in. 

The current owners had done a quality job so far and had fabulous ideas about the restoration, such as a custom made glass staircase linking the two floors, but they ran out of money before they could finish it.

drop dead gorgeous9

If we were ten years younger and had twice our budget we would have bought it.  It was beautiful and in many ways exactly what we wanted.  But what we don’t need is a huge and expensive project.  It’s easy to get really excited about how much of a truly gorgeous house and land you can get for your money in rural France but we are wary of ending up with something that will sap our energy and use up all our money before it’s finished.  The so-called “money pit”.

It was with great sadness that I walked away from it as it ticked so many of our boxes and was almost perfect.  I also felt sorry for the owners who were having to sell their dream house before it was finished.  We are at the stage in our lives where the adventure of moving to France is the right thing to do but we can’t afford to be reckless.

So we drove a few kilometres further down the road where Antony showed us another one………..

21 comments:

  1. What an adventure! But those dots at the end are telling me that something's coming...

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  2. When you said "We didn't buy it" I was so disappointed! But I'm sure there are better things to come.

    "Dot dot dot" always hooks me, and apparently Walt too.

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  3. Hello Jean:

    Oh dear, all somewhat disappointing. But that said we can readily see that such a project, however exciting, might well turn into a very expensive one and be a constant drain on one's resources. But how thrilling for you to be planning the next stage of your life and we are certain that, given time, the right property will appear and that when it does you will know it.

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  4. We had the same experience, we like the old properties BUT they all had... not been completed... had toooo many out buildings... were toooo remote... and would need a moneypit to maintain... Hence we bought what we did!!
    One will turn up and you will instantly know... Just like it did with us,,,

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  5. I agree. We were looking for a new build chalet in the Alps and ended up with a 1970's house in LPP!
    The right thing for you will come along and you'll know it when you see it. I understand your reluctance in retirement to fall for the 'money pit'.

    Good luck with your search...

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    1. Gaynor, your 1970's house has a good deal of style and charm. The one we looked at was thoroughly depressing.
      They had even removed and wallpapered over what could have been its only redeeming feature, the fireplace!

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  6. I can't remember how many houses we looked at in France and we ended up buying one that did not tick any of the boxes we started out with. Well that is all except it was very old! Thankfully we are very happy here and love our French neighbours, well there is one exception :-) Think we told you about him! Keep well and keep looking. Diane

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  7. Don't forget to ask Lulu if she approves, too!! We were thinking of moving, but decided we couldn't face the (absolutely necessary) decluttering and sidposal of said clutter at our relatively advanced ages and states of health and mobility - and we really like our present house, anyway!! All good wishes for the house-hunting - I'm really quite envious of all the wonderful opportunities.

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    1. Helva, the availability of dog walking right on the doorstep is at the top of our list of priorities. We don't mind letting her into the garden when necessary, but being able to take her for a good walk from home is very important to us.

      I know what you mean about the age problem. We've reached the "it's now or never" stage. If we leave it much longer we may not have the energy or inclination to do it.

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  8. Attention! attention! said with a French accent! ....You have wisely declined and not worn those rose tinted spectacles! You should be all seeing after your own career! If you need any independent viewpoint I would be happy to help. For me, it has been the best thing in the world to buy into a magical village avec La Place, bars, shops, Office du tourisme, International and French residents, circular walks and cycle routes, beauty, the river... and exercise!!!!!!!!!
    Though I once lived where sheep were like stones where often not another human person did I see, I would never advise the deep profundity of France, which indeed I truly love, unless you are a complete hermit!
    Caution and Mathematics and Realism are essential viewing credentials...........

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  9. Oh I do so enjoy house hunting, but not for me though. What I enjoy is watching other people house hunt, so will watch your house hunting with much interest.

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  10. The "money pit" looked fabulous. At least there's plenty of choice in the area. Lulu will agree with me that there must be a nice range of interesting walks.

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  11. Oh, that money pit would have been so tempting. I was fantasizing about the multiple homes on your property: Someplace for San Geraldo and me to move when we run out of money. Keep that in mind.

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  12. It's so easy to b seduced by the amount of property and land you get in France isn't it? You showed great discipline from walking away. We're still at the research stage (I have difficulty sticking to one area!) and am easily seduced by sprawling properties in acres of land. But I know that really we'll be happier in a small town or large village. But those rustic properties...

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  13. I agree with Sharon. In French, they would say " c'est un leurre " -- don't get lured in by the sprawling property and old stones. The windows in that main building, and even in the smaller house, look very small. The rooms might be dark. Is there a septic system? What kind of maintenance does it need? Does the roof need to be replaced? Friends of ours who decided to buy a sprawling old house are now having to replace the entire roof. Other friends have a beautiful house way out in the country, but they are really isolated and have to drive many miles just to go the supermarket and get back home. That gets old, at our age.

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  14. Sorry you didn't find what you were looking for on the first go. Best of luck in buying two houses at the same time.

    Personally, I would have just swapped your houses — the British one to France, and the French one to Britain. Then someone explained that moving houses — as in moving the whole building — is quite a bit more complicated than a Bear might expect. So, condolences on that one.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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    1. Bear, that would be the perfect solution and we would be thrilled if it was possible, but sadly, it's not!

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  15. I can see the attraction of so much property in such a beautiful situation, but you're right to resist the money-pit trap. It's already broken the bank for the current owners, who sadly will almost certainly have difficulty selling, since most house-hunters don't want someone else's half-finished project. Out there is a house with your name on it and you will find it.

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  16. good luck
    I would want an old french maison with one or two ghosts, if possible.

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    1. I could find you one of those quite easily and very cheap too.
      It becomes more tricky if you want a whole roof, a kitchen with more than just a sink and a bathroom that doesn't leak.

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  17. I personally would’ve loved to buy that barn house. I think it looks very rustic and has that cottage-y feel with large open spaces, instead of cramped small ones. House hunting can really be a bit tiring and taxing, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find a lovely house very soon. Good luck! :D

    Marjorie McKay @ Chestermere Real Estate

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