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Moving and Buying Property in France from Great Britain - A Detailed Guide

Moving from Great Britain to France and buying property can be a complex process. But with proper planning, the right knowledge, and appropriate resources, you can navigate it smoothly. This guide provides a detailed outline of the process involved.

Understanding the French Property Market

Before purchasing a property in France, familiarize yourself with the French property market. The market varies across regions, with the South of France and Paris being pricier than rural areas. There are different types of property available, from apartments in the city, villas along the Riviera, chateaus in the countryside, to farmhouses in the provinces.

Hiring a Property Agent

Hiring a local property agent can make the buying process smoother. Agents have knowledge of local property markets and can provide you with property listings based on your preferences and budget. They can also assist you with negotiating the property price.

Legal Considerations

You will need a notaire (notary) to handle all legal matters related to property purchase. Notaires are public officers who provide legal certainty to the deeds they handle and have a monopoly on property conveyance. They can also help you understand the taxes associated with property purchase and ownership in France.

Making an Offer

Once you find a property you like, you can make an offer. If the seller accepts, a 'compromis de vente' is drawn up. This is a preliminary contract that sets the terms and conditions of the sale. At this point, you'll typically need to pay a deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price.

Property Surveys

Unlike in the UK, structural surveys are not standard practice in France. However, for older properties, it may be wise to arrange a survey. You could hire a UK-based firm that operates internationally, or a local French surveyor.

Mortgage and Financing

If you need a mortgage to finance your property purchase, you can choose to borrow from a UK or French bank. Bear in mind that French banks may offer lower interest rates, but they will require life insurance.

The Final Deed

A few months after signing the 'compromis de vente,' you and the seller will sign the 'acte de vente' (final deed). This is usually done in the presence of the notaire. Once this deed is signed, you become the legal owner of the property.

Moving to France

Getting a Visa

Since Brexit, UK citizens moving to France will need to apply for a long-stay visa and then a residence permit. The type of visa and permit will depend on your reason for moving to France.


Under the Withdrawal Agreement, UK citizens who are legally resident in France by the end of 2020 will maintain the same healthcare rights. Those moving after that will need to ensure they have health coverage, either through private insurance or by joining the French healthcare system.

Driving Licence

You can use your UK driving license in France, but it is recommended to exchange it for a French license after a year of living in the country.


As a French resident, you'll be subject to French taxation. This can be complex, and professional advice is recommended to ensure you understand your tax obligations and allowances.


Moving to France and buying property is a big step. While the process can be complex, with the right planning, advice, and support, it's entirely feasible. By understanding the process and being prepared, you can look forward to enjoying life in your new French home.

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