Pros and cons of buying a house in France

Elise Baarsma,  Friday, 5 April 2024

Countryside in France 

Disadvantages of a home in France

  • Water Management Issues: In certain regions of France, particularly in the south, water restrictions can be imposed during dry periods or droughts, affecting home maintenance and garden upkeep.
  • Significant Additional Costs When Purchasing Property: The total additional costs of purchasing a home in France, including notaire fees, taxes, and potentially agent fees, can amount to around 7-10% of the property price.
  • Varied Crime Rates Depending on Location: While France enjoys relatively low crime rates in many rural and suburban areas, some urban neighborhoods can experience higher levels of petty crime and vandalism.
  • Traffic and Pollution in Urban Centers: Major French cities, like Paris, Lyon, and Marseille, face challenges with traffic congestion and air pollution, impacting quality of life.
  • Natural Disaster Risks: Certain areas in France are prone to natural disasters, including floods in the south, avalanches in the Alps, and occasional earthquakes in the Pyrenees and the Alps.
  • Tourist Season Congestion: Popular tourist destinations, especially along the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur), in the Alps, and in parts of Brittany and Normandy, can become extremely crowded during peak seasons.
  • Complex Bureaucracy: The French administrative system can be daunting with its complexity and the amount of paperwork required for property transactions, renovations, and even daily life.
  • Political Fluctuations: While perhaps not as unstable as Italy's post-war government history, France's political landscape can be characterized by significant policy shifts with each administration, affecting economic conditions and regulations related to property ownership.
  • Higher Operational Costs: The cost of maintaining a home in France, including utilities, taxes, and insurance, can be relatively high, especially in sought-after areas or cities.
  • Tax Burden for Property Owners: France is known for its high taxation on property, including local taxes, wealth tax (for higher-valued properties), and capital gains tax on property sales, coupled with a general high cost of living.

You should also consider the following pitfalls:

  • Unexpected Renovation and Restoration Costs: Buyers might not fully anticipate the costs involved in renovating or restoring French properties, especially historic homes, which can require significant investment to meet current living standards and regulatory compliance.
  • Market Volatility Risks: There's a risk of purchasing a property at a high market price and then being unable to sell it at a profit or even recoup the initial investment, due to fluctuations in the real estate market.
  • Overextending Financially: Potential homeowners might not fully account for their budget, taking on excessive mortgages or underestimating ongoing costs, leading to financial strain.
  • Time-Consuming Maintenance: The upkeep of a house and garden in France can demand considerable time and effort, more so for properties in rural areas or those with extensive land.
  • Travel Costs and Logistics: For international owners, especially those coming from countries outside of Europe, the cost and time to travel to France can be significant. While France is well-connected by various airlines, including budget options, the travel logistics and expenses can add up, particularly for those making frequent visits.

Advantages of a home in France

  • Pleasant Climate: France boasts diverse climates, from the Mediterranean warmth in the south to milder, temperate weather in the north and central regions, offering beautiful weather for much of the year.
  • Value for Money: In many parts of rural France, properties come with significant land at prices that can offer excellent value, especially compared to more popular or urban areas.
  • Spacious and Well-Built Homes: The French countryside is dotted with properties that are not only large but also well-constructed, reflecting France's rich architectural heritage.
  • Diverse Architectural Styles: From the charming stone farmhouses of Provence to the timber-framed houses of Alsace and the elegant châteaux of the Loire Valley, France offers a wide array of architectural delights.
  • Stable Real Estate Market: France's real estate market is known for its stability, with a consistent demand for properties, especially in sought- after regions.
  • Secure Purchasing Procedures: The French property purchasing process is well-regulated, with notaires (notaries) playing a crucial role in ensuring the legality and security of transactions.
  • Regulated Real Estate Professionals: Similar to Italy, in France, real estate agents are required to have a professional card (carte professionnelle) to operate, ensuring reliability and integrity in property transactions.
  • Culinary Excellence: France is world-renowned for its cuisine and wines, offering a gastronomic paradise for foodies at reasonable prices, especially in local markets and rural areas.
  • Accessibility: France is easily accessible from many parts of the world, especially Europe, with extensive flight networks, high-speed trains (TGV), and well-maintained highways, making travel to and from the country straightforward and often affordable.
  • Strong Rental Market: Many areas in France, particularly those in tourist destinations like the French Riviera, Paris, and the Alps, have a robust rental market, offering potential income opportunities for property owners.
  • High-Quality Local Services: France prides itself on its healthcare system, public services, and infrastructure, ensuring a high quality of life for residents.
  • Relaxed Lifestyle: The French way of life, especially in rural areas, is characterized by a slower pace, with a focus on enjoying life's pleasures, such as leisurely meals, nature, and family time.
  • Friendly Communities: The warmth and welcome of French communities, particularly in smaller towns and villages, can offer a sense of belonging and social cohesion.
  • Natural and Cultural Richness: Owning a home in France means having the country's stunning landscapes, historic sites, and vibrant cultural life at your doorstep, from the beaches of the Atlantic and Mediterranean to the vineyards of Bordeaux and the ski slopes of the Alps.

Our comprehensive guide is the perfect companion if you are considering moving to France or are already living there. Learn all about buying a house, mastering the French language, finding a job, experiencing the culture and discovering tourist attractions. With this guide, you'll have all the information you need to live successfully in France. Read on now to discover it all!


French village in the countryside
Search for French property and real estate for sale in all regions of France. Fermettes, gites, houses, B&B’s for sale by owner. Houses for sale in Gironde, Dordogne, Landes, Calvados, Manche and Orne 

Vineyards in the Bourgogne If you own a home or rent a house in France, you have to pay local property taxes. Taxe Foncière is a land tax paid by the owner of the property; Taxe d'Habitation is a resident tax paid by the resident. 
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