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Buying Property

Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur - Buying Property

QUICK LINKS: France Guide - France Discussion Forum - France Property Listings

This region of France is often referred to as PACA and is located in the south of France to the East. There are six departments: Alpes Maritimes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Var, Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhone. There are nearly 5 million people living in this region and millions more visit each year as tourists.

The area is famous for its lavender fields and wines and has a wonderful climate. The main industry in the region is the tourist one, closely followed by agriculture in a number of forms. The area is served by excellent transport links with several airports and a good motorway network.

It is not wholly unexpected that property prices in the PACA region are among the highest in the country, although prices do vary according to the area you are in. The average price in the region for the beginning of 2009 was €419,000 for a house, while apartments averaged €3470 per square metre.

The Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department has a number of excellent ski resorts, which attract not only the tourist but the expat looking for a permanent base. The average price of property in this department in 2009 was €2554 per square metre which makes it one of the more reasonably priced departments in this region. Property prices in some parts did decline during 2008, but this situation is now recovering and small increases are being seen once again. This price is still well below the national average which means that this department is the ideal location for those who do not have vast wealth.

The Hautes-Alpes department is one of the most peaceful in the region as there is very little industry. The scenery is excellent and many visitors are attracted by the outdoors life that it offers. As with other departments, the average property prices depend largely on which area you are in. The ski resorts, for example, attract high prices, while some of the towns further away from the mountains are relatively cheap. The average property price in this department was €3080 per square metre in 2009, which was very close to the national average, and the cost of an apartment works out to be the same as the national average. Towns such as Briançon and Embrun offer excellent properties in a more traditional setting.

French mortgages for expats The Alpes-Maritime department accounts for around 1.1 million inhabitants and includes the major towns of Nice and Grasse. The area is one of the most popular tourist spots in the world and has over 300 sunny days each year. Tourism is the major source of income for the area. The average property prices in 2009 were €4387 per square metre, which is over €1000 higher than the national average. This is due to the high demand and the wealth of those who are attracted to the area. Apartment costs were around €4100 per square metre, which is also higher than the national average. Home owners who want a house in this department are advised to begin shopping with no less than €500,000. Nice, Cannes and Menton are three very expensive towns in this area, with Menton having a higher average price than the rest of the department.

The Bouches du Rhone department has both mountainous and countryside areas and the area’s main industry is tourism. The weather is good all year round, so tourism is not seasonal. The average property price in 2009 was on a par with the national average at €3202 per square metre. Some of the more touristy towns can prove to be more expensive than this but if looking in a quiet spot out in the countryside then there are still property bargains to be found. Aix en Provence has a higher average property price but attracts many buy to let investors. Marseille property prices are also high, but the further away you are from the city centre the cheaper they become, so it is advised to look in some of the outlying areas of the city.

The Var department consists of mainly hilly countryside and over half of the area is wooded, although there is over 400 km of coastline. The climate is very Mediterranean and the main industries are tourism and wine production. The 2009 property prices for this department were above the national average at €3867 per square metre, but this is due to the demand and the high influx of tourists. Many properties are bought in order to rent them out, as the holiday season is all year round and there are good investment opportunities in the area. St Tropez property tends to be reserved for those who have millions to spend but Sainte Maxime has properties which are more reasonably priced.

The Vaucluse department has over half a million inhabitants and is home to the towns of Avignon and Orange. The area has a strong agricultural industry and wine production is important to the area. The prices in the Vaucluse department for 2009 averaged at around €2409 per square metre, which is much lower than the national average as well as some of the neighbouring departments. The average price for an apartment was €1850 per square metre, which was also fairly reasonable when considering the location. Many people who want to be in the south of France are choosing this department as it does not have the hefty price tag of other areas near the coast.

Provençale style houses usually have shutters at the windows which are painted in soft colours. These are usually reasonably sized family homes which often retain many of the original features. The area is also home to the Camargue style huts which are often bought as holiday homes. These are fairly small cottages which usually have a thatched roof and are the former homes of agricultural workers.

Villas are a familiar sight, particularly along the coast. These are usually fairly large houses, often with at least four bedrooms, and usually have a good sized garden and a swimming pool. These are fairly expensive to buy due to the location.

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