Having made the move to France from the UK back in 1988, I understand the importance of finding the perfect place to set up your new life and making the move as smooth and seamless as possible.

Below I have listed my top tips to guide you through the process of buying your home in the south of France:

Location, Location, Location:

Cliché yes, but finding the right location to fit your lifestyle is key to finding happiness in your new home. The top coastal locations are expensive and offer wonderful properties. Whilst the coastal area is hugely popular, it is by no means the only area of beauty. Move just a few kilometres back from the coast and there are the most fabulous villas in serene locations.

Try villages such as Chateauneuf-Grasse and Opio. Remember that most people living here do so out of choice, preferring the quieter pace of life in the country, whilst at the same time having excellent access to Nice Airport, Cannes and Antibes.

Which Way Does the Villa Face?

Before going in through the front door, check the orientation of the villa.

Full south and south-west facing properties are ideal. Avoid purchasing a north facing villa and where possible, being on the north side of the hill, even if the villa itself faces south.

This is particularly important if your purchase is to be a permanent home, as villas on the north side of the hill have less sun in the winter months and can prove to be very cold.

The Garden Will Give You the Clues

A location beautiful in summer can be bitterly cold in winter. Even close to the coast there are numerous ‘frost pockets’ and it is the gardens of these properties that will provide you with the clues. It is always good to see olive trees in the garden as these are killed at temperatures below -5°C, even -2°C will cause damage. Their presence can signify a more temperate climate.

It is even better if there are citrus trees present as these are unhappy if the temperature falls below +5°C.

Another indicator of a good local climate is the wonderfully colourful bougainvillea – always a positive sign.

Do You Need to Accommodate for Children?

When buying property in the south of France, it’s essential that the location is ideal for your personal lifestyle. Certainly, if you have young children (and your home is to be permanent) educational needs are important. But remember two important points:
1. Young children grow up all too soon
2. Teenage children want to be with their friends and these friends cannot always afford travelling to France. They also tend to find the costs of the bars and nightlife expensive.

Question Excessive Security Measures

Whether it be London, New York or the south of France you have to be mindful of security, but do be aware of overly elaborate security measures in certain areas of The Riviera.

Shutters on windows and bars over the kitchen and bathroom windows are normal and will always be required by your insurance company. If you come across additional grilles and security systems which you consider to be excessive, ask yourself why they are there?

It Isn’t That Dissimilar to the UK

Make sure you always seek professional advice. Sales transactions are overseen by the French “notaire”. However, it is important to understand that he will not the same as the British solicitor.

The Notaire does not act for either party, but is there to make sure that the sale goes through legally and that the relevant taxes are collected.

Your property purchase is not to be rushed and ideally, you should seek professional advice to guide your transaction.

If you do require advice on locating and buying property in the south of France, please contact Charles Mackintosh, an expert chartered surveyor. We would be delighted to assist.