Why are rural French houses so cheap?

Lack of demand by the French for countryside lifestyle, and state of properties are among the reasons

Some houses on the property market in France are in serious need of repair

Reader Question: Why are rural properties in France so much cheaper than in the UK? We are looking to buy a second home but think there has to be a catch...

One reason is that France, after World War Two, experienced a wave of migration from the countryside to towns due to demand for labour to rebuild bombed areas and work in factories.

Additionally, the fact that mechanisation, which arrived relatively late in France, meant farms could operate with fewer people, helped push even more people into the cities.

Many rural properties were either left empty, or used only as holiday homes.

With lots of supply and little demand, prices fell.

In Britain, by contrast, the great move to the cities took place in the 19th century.

Taxes and repair efforts also factor into price

Another reason is France’s complicated inheritance laws, with all children inheriting at least a legally-fixed share of their parents’ wealth.

For property, this usually means all have to agree to sell, which does not always happen.

Some might want to keep it as a holiday home, others to rent it or to put off the sale until they are in a more advantageous tax position.

The longer it takes to decide to sell, the lower the price is likely to be, particularly if it falls into disrepair in the meantime.

In addition, some houses are put on the market in a condition that you are very unlikely to find in the UK.

Holes in the roof, no floors, one-tap plumbing and electricity from the 1920s can still all be found in homes on the French property market.

For people who are not afraid to do some building themselves or have tradespeople do it for them, and who have savings to fund the renovation, the opportunities are great.

Many French people have no wish to return to rural life.

This changed a bit after Covid lockdowns but anecdotal evidence is that city dwellers who moved to the countryside are generally now spending less time in it.

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