barefoot blogger moving to france
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Moving to France. Just a Dream?

Moving to France. Just a Dream? I’ve met many people during my ten-year journey as an expat in France. These days, I am thinking of those who turned around and went back home.

What were their expectations? Were they chasing a dream? What would they have done differently? Was I just “lucky?”


Moving to France

I fell for a fairytale village in France that has become my home. I had no expectations, except I could always return home if it didn’t suit me. I’m still here. What makes our stories different?

Moving to France is like any other move. You have to pack up your stuff to get there.


Different Outcomes

The difference in outcomes seems to boil down to adaptability, resilience, and a lot of luck.

What if I hadn’t changed my travel plans to return to look for a place to live in Uzès?

As you remember, I cut my travel adventures short when I decided to move to France. Instead of exploring Barcelona, I returned to find an apartment in Uzès. As fate would have it, a perfect place in the center of the historic village became available for rent. I couldn’t believe my good fortune!

What if the perfect apartment in Uzès, within touching distance of the Chateau de Duché, hadn’t just become available for long-term rent? My story would be different. I believe where you settle first along your journey is huge. It shapes your initial experience and impressions in every way.

Housing Options For Foreigners

Being an expat has its own share of housing issues in France. Personally, I was lucky to find the perfect apartment. But what other options exist when considering moving to France as a foreigner? How do you make such an important decision?

I asked one of my good friends in Uzès to tell me what he recommends as housing options to customers of his real estate services. Like me, he’s seen expats come and go. As a French native, he works with the French, too. So he knows things work differently for expats. Let’s ask Pierre.

Deborah: Pierre, can you introduce yourself briefly?

PIERRE: I am a real estate agent based in Uzès. I am a property finder, not a listing agent, meaning I work for buyers. I have been doing this since 2010, earning my broker’s license in 2011. My customers are usually English speakers with various budgets, so I have seen many situations. And I have been an expat myself, so I can relate.

D: How easy is it for an expat to find housing in France? 

P: I would say it depends on your objectives. If you’re looking to buy a home to live in France, it’s pretty easy. As a foreigner, you might need some advice to navigate the French system – but other than that, it’s not complicated if you have the cash.

D: But what if people want to rent before they buy? Wouldn’t that be a good idea?

P: Renting is another story. The reason is that even if you have the money (which you have to have to get a visa, right?), as a foreigner (or an expat – even a French expat), it is difficult to provide all the documents and proof that a typical French landlord or letting agent requires – that is if you want to sign a traditional long-term 3-to-9-year lease agreement.

D: Why is it so complicated?

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Be prepared to fall in love with France, all over again!

P: French law protects tenants, including those who don’t pay their rent, so landlords are increasingly picky about who they accept as tenants. An increasingly popular alternative in France is renting a furnished place with a short-term (usually 1-year) renewable lease. Under that scenario, you don’t have to provide as many documents—you just need to prove you can pay the rent!

Another idea is “long-term Airbnb”: You offer an Airbnb landlord to rent your place for 5, 8, or 9 months and pay them their monthly weekly fee. I have seen this work. The landlord gets money out of season and only has to deal with one single tenant, you. In my experience, it’s worth a try. To tell you the truth, that’s what I did when I returned from Ireland!

D: What about fractional ownership? Isn’t that another way to “try before you buy”? I have visited a fractional ownership home near Uzès lately, and I was excited at the thought of it.  

P: It’s an excellent investment if you want to visit France for a few weeks each year and you want to feel like you are “home” each time you return – without buying the place. I have been interested in that concept for 20 years and am surprised that it is still not more developed. Maybe that’s because people often confuse “fractional ownership” with “timeshare.” The primary difference is that fractional ownership means absolute property ownership, not just for the time you use it. Fractional means you enjoy the benefits of home ownership without the headaches and expense of managing a second home. It is a great concept: a lifestyle and an investment. When you want out, you sell your share, get your money back, and move on.

The property I showed you the other day in Arpaillargues is a perfect example. It’s completely renovated, tastefully furnished, with lots of space (with 4 bedrooms, so you can invite friends), in a lively village —and with zero hassle. A strong selling point for Americans is that the property is set up as an American LLC. Owners are not bothered by France’s somewhat restrictive tax and inheritance laws. Instead, as members of an LLC,  owners are governed by US tax and inheritance laws.

D: So what do you tell your clients when they call from abroad and ask for advice?

Uzès is heaven on earth
My AIRBNB apartment on my “scouting” visit to Uzès 2013

P: I suggest they visit and explore first—for a few weeks or months. The most efficient option is to rent a place, like Airbnb or others. You can stay in a hotel, but that’s more expensive and less flexible. Some people decide that buying is not for them yet, so a short-term rental or “long-term Airbnb” is best for them.

D: What other avenues to you suggest for learning more about life in France? 

P: I would say that it’s important to get in touch with other expats as quickly as possible and meet them when you’re around. They will happily share their experiences with you and possibly help you find a place—who knows! I would say that following Facebook groups is a great way to connect. In fact, reaching out to other expats may be the first thing to do

.D: Thank you, Pierre! There’s some priceless information here. I’m looking forward to more of your professional input and advice. My quest to help others reach their “dream” destination is just beginning!



There are some fantastic views .





For more tips on expat life, please roam through the Barefoot Blogger website, especially “Expat Tips.” 

Frenxh Footsteps
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11 Responses

  1. Hi, Deborah. I still love reading your blog. Meeting you and your friends in Uzès was a highlight of our year in France. We were planning on selling our house in KC and moving to someplace between Uzès and Avignon when my cousin got cancer. Since I’m her person we decided to stay. I was able to go to each doctor visit and chemo treatment with her and be with her when her mom died. And then John suddenly died and I found out how important a strong network is. I am so thankful that I have that here. You have that in Uzès. I don’t think that has much to do with luck, but more to do with your ability to draw out people and your sense of curiosity. You have a wonderful zest for life. I do miss you.

    After John died I thought I could never return to France without him. It will be hard, but I’m thinking about returning for a couple of weeks next year in May. I hope to see you then! Xoxo

    1. Trudy,
      I’m so happy to hear from you. YouTube can’t imagine how often I think of you and John… and Jewels! It’s definitely every time I pass Fornes on the way to Avignon. We had some great times together. There are days I’m still in disbelief that John is gone. I’m so happy to have been part of your life and memories of France.

      Please do come to visit when you can. Our lives change in so many ways. You may find this is your perfect place now!

    1. Thanks for commenting, jane. Let me know if you have more you’d like to know. I’m really happy to help others find a place to live in France.

  2. Deborah,
    I love reading your blogs! If you recall we had lunch with Nancy McGee when I came to Uzes as a participant on her tour. We had both worked for IBM in previous lives. I was in awe of how you settled into Uzes. I agree that luck plays and important role and more importantly I believe people can make their own luck!! I truly love how you write and share. I keep returning to Provence each year as it is a place to cherish joie de vivre. Best, Phyllis Brock

    1. Yes, I remember, Phyllis. So happy to hear from you again. I really appreciate your note. Hope to see you again?

  3. I’m glad to see more information about long term rentals. We research Airbnb and VRBO to gather website addresses for property owners and then we contact them directly to inquire about pricing for off season, long term rental. They are generally very happy to consider our request and will offer lower prices. It’s a win/win!
    We hope to see you either Autumn 24 or Winter 25! It’s always such fun catching up with you!
    Stay well❤️

  4. Love your posts! Patty and I just returned for a month in Beaufort, SC, where we stayed at a perfect little Airbnb cottage by Scott & Duke Streets. We could walk downtown to the shops and coffee shops on Bay Street. Everyone was kind and helpful. We loved the Pat Conroy Literary Center and got to attend an event at the Penn Center on Lady Island. We met authors and bought way too many books. The Beaufort International Film Festival happened while we were there and we went one day. We loved Beaufort! After eating way too much shrimp & grits, we ventured up to Patty’s old stomping grounds in NC where we had some serendipitous events she’ll have to share with you. Now it’s back to chilly Wisconsin which is okay.

    1. Rod, so good to hear from you. Yes, Beaufort was a tough place to leave, but France was calling! I had a wonderful time living in Beaufort, especially experiencing life in the historic district. Maybe that was a good entre here?! Hopefully you and Pat will visit here. Pat’s last visit is still enshrined in this blog!

  5. Great blog post, very helpful to anyone interested in moving to France. I particularly noted the difficulties of doing a long-term rental. Thanks for providing this very useful information.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m glad to know the post is helpful. I remember needed help desperately! Let me know other questions/ concerns and I’ll hope to bring some answers.

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