Friday, October 21, 2016

Brexit - looking ahead to two years of uncertainty

My own story

There are many reasons why the British decide to live permanently in France but in my own case the move was totally accidental and due to circumstances beyond my control.

I was living and working (as a writer, consultant, part-time university lecturer) in Central London, in a block of flats run by a not-for-profit trust, with an agreement with the local council, owners of the freehold, until 2034. Having just reached by 65th birthday and received my State pension forecast after 40 years of freelancing, I was happily looking forward to continuing to work much as before - more or less for the rest of my life. It was a nice prospect.

Unfortunately my dream was shattered when the council announced that the block had been acquired by American investors and that rents would be brought in line with market prices for Central the end they were on-average tripled and my one-bed apartment I later found now cost around £1000 per month, three times more than I had been paying for it. The news came as a terrible shock to me and the two thousand-plus tenants, many of whom had lived there since the complex was built in the 1930's. I had been there just 30 years but it had become part of my way of life.

Various meetings were held and rumours abounded - about being 're-housed' by the local council - but I decided I had better prepare a survival plan - which eventually led to my move to southern France. Curiously one of my lecturer colleagues at one of the universities where I taught had just decided to buy a small apartment located on a strip of Mediterranea coast - right next to the Pyrenees and border with Spain - for less than 20,000 euros (it was just before the switchover from French francs and property prices were still quoted in francs).

I had visited France often but did not know the area and I jumped at the idea of joining him on his next visit to view his new apartment. And check out the possibilities for working and surviving there, as he also - for different reasons - was fed up with big city life and looking for an alternative.

I was immediately taken by the area - and the property prices - and after several false starts, my friend ended up teaching at the local university (he now runs a bed-and-breakfast with a French partner) and I worked with a local French estate agency and continued freelancing for some of my former UK-based clients.

That was 15 years ago (I arrived in January 2002). Over the years property prices went up, as did the value of my property, and after a couple of moves I recently 'down-sized' to a small third floor studio in the centre of the nearest town, as I got older, work got scarcer and I started having to face the usual health problems. But I survived.........until we had the annoucement of Brexit.

As a result, this blog which until now has been mainly about living, working and buying property in France I have decided will now also be more oriented towards survival in France and all the problems associated with it. I hope over the months it will help others finding themselves in a similar situation.