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Buying Property

Rhone-Alpes - Buying Property

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

The Rhone-Alpes region has no less than eight departments: Loire, Savoie, Ardèche, Haute Savoie, Ain, Drome, Isère and Rhone itself. The region is home to the city of Lyon, which is one of France’s major cities. It is the second largest region of France and has over 6 million inhabitants. The borders with Italy and Switzerland mean that the area is popular with those who want a base for exploring other parts of Europe.

The area covers land in France from the Massif Central to the Alps, taking in the Rhone valley. The area is attractive for those who enjoy sporting activities such as skiing and hiking, while the mountains are also popular with those who enjoy extreme sports. The area has excellent transport links, with the major cities of France easily reached via the motorway network and several major airports in the region.

Due to the number of departments in the region, property prices vary widely. Some departments are home to ski resorts and are popular with expats, which can send prices soaring, although some departments are fairly quiet and offer the buyer a much more reasonable average property price, particularly in more remote areas.

The Ain department is situated between Geneva and Lyon and visitors can take in the countryside or the mountains. It attracts many skiers and other holiday makers. The average price in this department was €2592 per square metre in 2009 for a house, while apartments were priced at just over €2000 per square metre, making this department very affordable and well below the French national average. However, prices do vary between towns. The town of Belley is below this price, with the average house costing €167,000 in 2009 compared to €450,000 for a home in the town of Gex.

The Ardèche department is home to approximately 300,000 inhabitants and offers a range of landscapes and climates to the residents. The north of the department is more temperate, while there is a Mediterranean style climate in the South. Nearly half of the area is covered with forests and agriculture is one of the main industries. The average price of a property in 2009 was €1818 per square metre, which is much lower than some of the neighbouring departments. An apartment was priced at around €1530 per square metre, although new apartments were priced much higher. More than half of the inhabitants of the town of Privas are renting their homes, while the town of Viviers has properties which range from brand new to more than a few hundred years old.

French mortgages for expats The Drôme department has nearly half a million inhabitants and is the most southern part of the Rhone-Alpes region. Visitors will find fields filled with lavender as the climate here is extremely good, with many hours of sunshine each day. The average property price at the beginning of 2009 was €1858 per square metre after 2008 saw a decrease in prices due to the economic crisis. This price is lower than both the regional and national averages, which makes the Drôme department a good investment.

The Haute-Savoie department has borders with Italy and Switzerland and has more than 700,000 inhabitants. The main town is Annecy and the area is world famous for its ski resorts. Nearly 40 million tourists have been known to visit each year and tourism is all year round. Many expats are drawn to the area each year but prices here in 2009 were above the national average and calculated at €3611 per square metre. Prices are consistent across the whole department with very little variation.

The department of Isère offers its inhabitants much in the way of industry, and employment is quite strong there. Expats are moving to the area all the time as they are attracted by the job opportunities and the outdoor lifestyle that the area offers. The average price for a property in the area in 2009 was €2688 per square metre which is fairly high but the department has a number of top class ski resorts. Further out into the countryside there are many bargains to be found, particularly if interested in a renovation project. The ski resorts also offer buyers the potential for rental income.

The Loire department is home to the towns of St Etienne and Roanne and has more than 700,000 inhabitants. Many people visit the area to take in some of the spectacular scenery and historical houses and monuments, as well as take part in sporting activities such as hiking and cycling. The average property price in 2009 was €1719 per square metre, which is relatively low when compared with some neighbouring departments. Apartments were much lower at a cost of around €1300 per square metre, although brand new apartment were much higher at around €2500 per square metre. Nearly half of properties in the department are apartments and there are opportunities for a rental income for those who are interested in buy to let.

The Rhone department is very much a tourist area, due mainly to its wine growing industry and the countryside. The average property prices there in 2009 were €2804 per square metre, which is relatively high in comparison to some of the neighbouring departments but this is due to high demand. This department is home to Lyon and as one of France’s major cities, prices are very high there. As with Paris, many people choose to work in Lyon but live outside the city, where prices are a lot cheaper.

The Savoie department also has borders with Italy and Switzerland and has over 400,000 inhabitants. Over 80% of the department is mountainous and offers the visitor a number of top class ski resorts. Unemployment in the area is fairly low and expats are drawn by the good weather and employment opportunities. The average house price in 2009 was €2995 per square metre, which is relatively high but is affected by the tourism industry. It is still lower than the national average and is ideal for those who are looking for a home in a ski area but do not want to pay the high prices of some other departments.

One of the main property types in the area is Chalets. They are frequently seen in the mountainous areas, particularly in ski resorts. These are wooden buildings which usually have stone foundations and are usually not lived in full-time, with owners preferring to rent them out for much of the year.

The Pisé houses are a familiar sight in the Isère department and date back to the 1940s. They are made from earth and water and are becoming a popular choice again for new builds as they are much more environmentally friendly to construct.

Expat Health Insurance Partners

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