Help Guides

Owning a Second Home in France*
Published: 19 June 2019
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Our 'Owning a second home in France' guide gives an overview of what you need to know if you own a second home in France. It is especially written for Britons.

Handy A5 pocket-size format, 132 pages.

Owning a second home in France - what you need to know: rules, tips and experiences

  • Brexit and beyond: What changes for those already owning property and for those buying in the future
  • Where to buy 
  • Inheritance Law and making a will for your French property
  • Property Taxes
  • Rules for renting out your home + ways to make it work
  • What happens if you need healthcare
  • Renovation and the best ways to furnish your home
  • Reader Q&As
  • Making the most of your holiday home
  • Interviews with current owners about their homes and what influenced their choice of location
  • Travel options to save money
  • Internet and utilities
  • Bringing your pet for visits
  • Embracing local life 
  • Questions answered in the guide include:
  • Do I need to get a TV licence? How do I do this? Are there detector vans (I have never seen or heard of one) in France?
  • Can we use iPlayer while in France?
  • What simple low-cost French bank account options can you recommend – we just want to use to pay household bills and some spending money from transfers?
  • For our French car insurance will they recognize and take into account a UK no-claims bonus?
  • If Brexit imposes a 3 month maximum stay time on non-EU visitors to France how will the authorities know if we go over this and what will happen in such a case? Will there be a little tolerance for French homeowners?
  • My elderly parents plan to spend a few weeks with us at our house in France this summer, if one gets ill while here how is that covered for local medical care? Do we need to tell a local GP or register somehow? Can my mum get top-ups of her regular medicine if need-be on a UK prescription here?
  • Should we go and introduce ourselves to the mayor (we live in a small village in Brittany)? If so, how do we approach this?
  • We want to leave a car at the house, can we bring one over from the UK as it’ll be easier perhaps?
  • How is security re burglaries in rural areas of France? Would you compare it to about the same level as the UK?
  • Are there neighbourhood watch schemes?
  • We’d like to invite the neighbours for a drink (although our French isn’t great) – what format should this take? What’s usual form – an evening drink / morning coffee?
  • Do you advise using UK-based builders ie bringing them over from the UK for a few months for a renovation (we have the space to accommodate them)?
  • When our grandchildren visit with us in summer we’d like to enroll in some local activities to improve their French – are summer village activities only for residents?
  • What DIY products do you suggest bringing from the UK as much cheaper / easier to find there?
  • What’s the French equivalent of paracetamol and lemsip and other basic medicines so we can get at the pharmacy and have in stock in case…
  • Summer insects – what can we expect in the south west – any tips for minimizing nuisance for outside eating
  • Emergency numbers
  • I'd like to let my home occasionally on Airbnb when I'm not there. Do I need to inform the mairie, or anyone, and would I be liable for tax in France?
  • My swimming pool has an alarm, which I'm told is to comply with the law. Does it matter if there's no one there to hear it if if goes off when the house is empty?
  • My house will be empty a lot of the time so there will be no one checking the postbox. Can I arrange to pay local taxes and utilities by direct debit so I don't miss a payment?
  • I've heard that taxe d'habitation is being scrapped. Does that apply to second homes (and what's the difference between that and taxe foncière anyway?)?
  • I'm buying an old wreck to renovate. As a non-resident second home-owner, might I be eligible for any improvement grants?
  • Are there any internet services that would allow us to pay only for the periods when we are there to use it?
  • If I allow house-sitters to live in my house out of season, are there any tax/insurance implications?
  • My house insurance has shot up over the years. Are there any comparison websites in France that would allow me to check if I can get it cheaper elsewhere?
  • We want to get more involved in local village life even though we are only in France some of the time. What's the best way to do this?
  • My neighbour has complained that our parked car encroaches on the lane that goes through our hamlet. Surely I'm allowed to park on it anyway if it's a public road and I'm not blocking it? What are the rules on parking?
  • I want to make some changes to the front of my house. Do I need permission from anyone?  

If you select the PDF version of the guide, note that it will be available to download from your MY ACCOUNT space on our website  

*The information in this guide is of a general nature, it is not advice which if needed can be sought by instructing a professional on the specifics of your case. All purchases are subject to our terms and conditions.