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Property Options and Types

France - Property Options and Types

Expats looking to move to France are often drawn by the fact a house needing renovating or one that has been partially renovated can be bought relatively cheaply. Those with the time and the resources tend to choose this option as they can then turn the property into their own home, with their own individual stamp. However, this is not a realistic option for most people. As much as the dream will allow the creation of a wonderful home, finances for many people will not stretch that far, and they look for a home that is already habitable, with perhaps just a limited amount of cosmetic work to be done.

Expats tend not to look at new build homes when considering buying in France. This is because France has so many beautiful older properties that are full of character and original features, which is what draws people to the idea of buying a home in the country in the first instance. A small percentage of people however will decide to buy land and have their own home built on it to their personal specifications.

Those looking for an apartment in Paris for short breaks may consider a shared ownership property or timeshare, as property within the capital is very expensive. This is not convenient for many people as then you can only stay in the property at pre-determined times. Most people when deciding on a making the move to France want a property in which they can spend all year or at least the whole summers there.

There are several types of property to choose from when considering your home in France. Village homes are extremely popular. This is due to the fact they are predominantly rural locations which is ideal for those looking to move to the countryside, while still having easy access to facilities, shops and roads. French villages also have a strong community feel and are found by many expats to be welcoming towards foreigners.

The types of houses you can expect to find in traditional French villages are predominantly longère properties. Although other types of residential properties can be found in villages these buildings are what many people think of when discussing purchasing a property in France. They are typically French and are in abundance in the northern areas such as Brittany and Normandy. The houses are long, rectangular shaped and often single storey. There are now many which have been renovated to provide bedrooms or additional storage areas in the attic space.

A fermette is a small farm similar to a smallholding. For those looking for a taste of country life then these can be popular choices. Often in need of renovation work, they usually come with a good amount of land. If planning permission can be sought then any outbuildings have the potential to be turned into gites, and provide the home owner with an additional source of income.

The Masters House, or maison de maître are usually grand looking homes located in villages and towns. They typically have high ceilings and appear to give an air of authority as one might expect from the master who originally owned the home. They can vary in styles and size but are usually laid out with 4 rooms per floor.

A Villa d’architecte (architect’s villa) is a name given to fairly modern built villas. Villas such as these are popular with those who have purchased land with the intent to self- build, or for developers constructing a complex of homes to be sold off plan. These can come in all shapes and sizes, some can be created to a traditional style in keeping with current homes in the surrounding area, or can be completely modern, with top of the range fixtures and fittings and also come complete with swimming pools.

You cannot mention property in France without referring to Chateaux. There are around 30,000 in France in a range of shapes and sizes. There are homes classified as chateaux that are of a similar size to a regular house, and there are of course chateaux that are imposing, with many rooms and acres of land. It is possible to buy a chateau and they regularly come up for sale. There are both advantages and disadvantages to owning a chateau, particularly a large property. The upkeep of the home, repairs and maintenance for instance can be expensive. Those with outbuildings or cottages on the land can rent these out for additional income to help cover the main home’s maintenance costs although permits are likely to be required.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.