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Picardy (Picardie) - Buying Property
The area has an interesting history and is filled with castles and museums that cover the heritage of the region from prehistoric times to the 20th century. Many expats are drawn to the region because of the impressive architecture, which is Gothic in style and is evident in the cathedrals and many of the older buildings. Those who enjoy outdoor activities will find much in the region to keep them occupied, from hiking to kayaking.
Despite the proximity to the capital and the northern coast, Picardy has only attracted a relatively small number of expats when compared to other regions in the country, but the lower property prices and variety of properties on the market show that there are bargains to be found here.
During 2009 the average house price per square metre in France was €3197, but in the Picardy region it was just €2200, making it one of the cheapest regions in France. The average house price in the Aisne department was €129,300, while in the Somme department it was €138,900. Prices were slightly higher in the Oise region with the average house price at €206,200. Those who bought apartments in 2009 found that the price per square metre in 2009 for an existing apartment ranged between €1490 and €2050, while it was higher for a new build apartment with the range from €2500 to €3040. The Oise prices are higher as this is closest to Paris, while prices in the Somme department are high because of the beauty of the area.
The recent economic situation did affect property prices in France but the strength of the property market in the Picardy region is good, as prices are beginning to rise again and this trend is expected to continue.
Amiens is the main city in the Picardy region and property here is very popular with expats. The St Leu district of the city is known for being a lively area, but property prices remain consistent with the Somme average. Amiens is just 90 minutes drive from Calais, making the area popular with expats from the UK.
Chantilly is situated 24 miles from Paris and is actually considered to be a satellite of the capital. Chantilly has a large museum, which rivals the Louvre in size. This city is located in the Oise district and property prices are higher there than in the rest of the department.
The town of Laon is situated in the Aisne department of Picardy and dates back many centuries. Prices in Laon are well below the department’s average though prices are gradually rising, though much more slowly than in other areas. There are around 27000 inhabitants in this medieval hill town.
The town of Soissons is part of the Aisne department and has 29000 inhabitants. The town dates back over 2000 years. Property prices in Soissons are around a third less than the national average, at just over €2000 per square metre, but there is only a few hundred Euros difference in the square metre costs of an apartment and a house. However, only a small proportion of the residents there are actually homeowners, with nearly two thirds renting.
Compiegne is filled with half timbered houses and gothic architecture and is popular due to its laid back lifestyle. It has around 40,000 inhabitants and is just a short distance from Paris. The city dates back nearly 1300 years. Average prices in 2009 were much less than the national average and just a few Euros less than the average for the rest of the Oise department. Prices dropped when the economic crisis was at its height but have now started to recover and this trend is expected to continue.
Those wishing to buy in the area will find that houses are available in a range of styles. The Longère house is a long house but tends not to be over large. They are usually laid out over just one floor and average 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and living area. These houses usually have a reasonably sized garden. There are also many half timbered houses in the Picardy region though they can be seen all over France. The upper part of the structure is timber, while the lower part of the building is usually brick or stone.
As Picardy is a very rural area of the country, farmhouses are always available to buy, particularly in the smaller villages. These will vary from those that need a complete renovation to those that have been recently renovated. Obviously a building that requires more renovation will be cheaper to buy but the cost of repairs can sometimes be prohibitively expensive. Buying a former farmhouse will also give you a larger garden than you would normally expect.
Picardy also has a coastal area and those who prefer that to the countryside can invest in a villa. A villa will be located very close to a beach and have a wonderful view. These houses are usually much larger than those located inland and come complete with big gardens and more often than not, a swimming pool. They are often seen as a good buy-to-let opportunity as holiday rental demand is high, though some people prefer to live in them full time.
Apartments are available in all the main towns, and will range in size from studio-style apartments to those with 2, 3 or more bedrooms. The architecture will vary depending upon the building and location but in some of the older towns there are traditional French apartments to be found, with large rooms and high ceilings. Apartment living is ideal for those who do not want a garden and who prefer city life.
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