Almost two-thirds of British people have considered selling their French second homes due to the post-Brexit 90/180-days rule, according to a survey.
Several of the 700-plus who responded to the survey we launched for non-resident second-home owners in France had already sold up or put homes on the market.
Some had only “vaguely” considered it, but others think of it “constantly”.
Deterioration of unoccupied homes and gardens and heavy visa formalities to stay longer were among reasons cited.
French Senator requested data
Many felt strongly attached to their French homes, however, and were upset to be thinking of leaving.
That was one of the most striking facts to come out of the survey we collected for Senator Martine Berthet (Savoie) after she told us it would be useful to gather such data.
She said “we must simplify things” for those most affected by the EU’s 90/180-days rule.
She was talking about a possible amendment to France’s immigration bill, creating more flexible rules for owners of French second homes.
She argued that it might be best to target such changes at Britons in view of the unique circumstances created by Brexit.
Her Senate colleague Corinne Imbert (Charente-Maritime) previously told us that a special visa, valid for five years for any foreign owner of a second home, might be the best idea.
The bill is not expected to be debated until the autumn.
Survey still open
Out of some 749 replies from non-resident non-EU second-home owners, 712 were from Britons, not including those with French or another EU nationality as well. Another 18 were from Americans.
You can still complete the survey here.
Respondents especially have homes along the north and west coasts, in the south-west, Provence, the Riviera and Alps.
As of the end of July, the most popular departments are Charente and Charente-Maritime (62 and 43 people) and Dordogne (43), not including eight who listed the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region without specifying.
Roughly half would spend around twice as long in France each year if not subject to the 90/180-days rule.
How second-home owners support economy and community
Estimates for how much they spend in France while in the country averaged around €3,000/month, ranging from €250 to €10,000/month.
Many said they contribute to their French communes by property renovation and supporting local shops, restaurants and tradespeople, such as pool maintenance workers or gardeners.
They support local events and performances, take part in vide-greniers (car-boot sales) and join clubs such as boules, hiking or classic cars. Some help to organise fêtes.
Other forms of volunteering include helping a disabled neighbour or assisting elderly people with shopping, renovating a village oil mill and helping repair and maintain the verges and roads.
Employing locals for the olive oil harvest and membership of a wine cooperative as a producer were other ways participants contributed.
Problems getting temporary long-stay visas
“Time-consuming”, “complicated”, “expensive” and “stressful” were among descriptions that came up often among scores of respondents who have tried to obtain temporary long-stay visas for more than three months.
Many referred to technical issues with the website of French consulate contractor TLS. Several said they had given up.
English more likely to have second-home in UK
This comes as English ownership of second homes in France has dropped significantly from a peak of 93,000 owned in 2012-13 to a new low of 60,000, according to 2021-22 figures from the English Housing Survey, a continuing study of households.
The data also show people are now more likely to own a second home in the UK than abroad, a reversal on a decade ago.