Apparently it’s not at all normal for someone to consider the Zombie proof defences of a property as a selling point?!? Who knew!

A standard conversation that Dan and I have is about the concept of ‘prepping’. Prepping is a lifestyle approach that’s pretty big business in the USA but in short its the process of future-proofing yourself for a whole host of possible eventualities.

These future scenarios can range from one extreme to another. Apocalypse and total loss of world order at one end of the spectrum and failed harvests/ contaminated water supply at the other.

As with anything some folks take this to a whole other level and build bunkers in their gardens with air filtration systems and stockpile years worth of food – ‘just in case’

Google apocalypse bunkers and all sorts of random stuff comes up. This mega build even comes with a widescreen TV and treadmill!

Dan and I are not quite that extreme but I won’t lie…I would love my own bunker! I mean, why not?!? How cool would it be!! Also just to clarify, Dan is mostly just entertaining my occasionally ‘out there’ brain thoughts and we are NOT buying a bunker!

Our level of prepping is more about food stocks but I fear that may be less to do with self-preservation and more to do with my general love of food and fear about where my next creme egg might come from!

You may remember my winter excitement when I found said Creme eggs in the local supermarket?!?

Anyhow – Today we went to see a property that would a be perfect ‘end of the world’ house! Should we need to hunker down and defend ourselves…big electric gates/ high walls/ middle of nowhere/ own water source… Its ideal!

I feel the need to add here…we didn’t go and see this property as a result of its potential zombie defences! It was just a happy coincidence!

Note to self: this intro may be exposing our readers to a few too many of my inside thoughts…lets test it and see what happens! 🙂

It did, however, get me thinking more about self-sufficiency generally and a huge part of our new lifestyle choice is to afford ourselves the time and freedom to become more self-sufficient. High on our wish list for the perfect home is its own water source and fruit trees.

Sadly the Zombie house (all houses now have nicknames so that we can differentiate) is not quite what we are looking for. Perfect is so many ways (we are only joking around about the zombie thing just in case you hadn’t picked that up yet…) but not quite right in so many others.

Such a shame really because it happens to be the same house that is indelibly marked on my heart as the place I rescued an owl!

This (literal) Little Owl found himself stuck in a bedroom having entered through an open skylight. Apparently a good omen and a symbol of change (or so our Facebook group follows tell us).

The little fella was not happy about being locked in the house so I scooped him up and took him into the barn on the property where he flew happily back to his perch.

I could have quite easily gotten carried away with this house (I love Owls and who wouldn’t want their own resident owl!) but Dan and I have worked out quite a good system of talking through each property sensibly. Dan does still need to peel me off the ceiling every now and then when I get a little too excited about a property before fully understanding it.

Although I am sure most people can relate to that!

Seeing your future self living the dream life before fully embracing the cold hard facts like the entire house needs to be rewired which will cost more than we can afford IF we also want to remove the terrible peach bathroom suits! These are the new kind of life choices I need to make!

This week sees the house shopping continue as we pursue the elusive ‘dream house’ but our list of what we don’t want/ need grows daily which is helping to focus our minds and search.

Another useful thing we have been doing of late is leaving the motorhome at the house we are viewing for a few hours (subject to agreement from the agent) and exploring the immediate area on bike/ foot. It can be eye-opening what you find! It may even explain the price of some properties!

One such exploring session saw us put a note in the next-door neighbours letterbox to see if we could have a general chat about the area. Within 24 hours we had been invited around for a socially distant cup of tea and a good catch up!

Apart from being a lovely experience to hear about their lives and the local community the conversation also identified a current water issue in the area which required some further investigation!

It seems that a house on our shortlist does not currently have drinkable water and the utility company provides bottled water (sporadically) to the houses impacted!

Its amazing what you can find out by just asking some open ended questions!

Incidentally, the agent and the local Mairie profess to know nothing of the contaminated water issue! Our investigation continues…

We are getting to know this local Mairie quite well actually as they are also helping us with some queries we have regarding something called a development tax.

The French Development Tax – requires some further investigations which are ongoing but the concept was identified to me on a French forum as something to be aware of. In short, the government can charge you a tax to develop.

We will report again on this at a later date once we understand things a bit better (hopefully) but it could be as much as €750 per square meter and would potentially be applicable to a big barn we are looking at which is next to a lovely old house.

Given the barn is over 100 square meters that COULD be a lot of tax! Preliminary investigations seem to suggest that the local Mairie could potentially void the liability? Its another foray into the world of French bureaucracy but may be a deal-breaker!

Still at least we are aware of it before we buy and not afterwards!

The discovery of the possible tax impact got us thinking again about our property search strategy and pointed us in the direction of sales which require renovation instead of development to try and bypass the possible issue.

Obviously we may well get a lovely email from the Mairie shortly that tells us we won’t be liable at all! We shall keep you posted!

On the off chance, our budget won’t need to fund both the actual development and a hefty tax bill we have pulled together a business plan and mocked up some drawings to see what it might be like!

This is a visual of the ground floor of the barn. Split into two separate properties which could in theory sleep 8 people in each. One of the perks of having a father in law that’s an architect!

The benefit of being a buyer (in a past life) and having a father in law thats an architect! Between us, we can measure/ draw and cost the project. Dan does a superb job of quantity surveyor!

We think its quite a healthy approach to make some broad assumptions about costs (assuming the worst!) and length of time until we start to see some income from the development to be able to make some sound judgements about overall feasibility.

Attention…geek alert…you were warned…(from a very proud geek/ nerd!)

The little excel tool (yes! I do love a bit of excel!) I have created means we can modify the inputs and exchange rate and it will tell us how much money we should have left at the end. It’s a sort of affordability checker for us! It’s also quite useful to use when we are considering how much to offer on a property!

A tool to help us be rational in our thought process when buying a property. #gettingmygeekon

We are told that we are a little unique in our buying approach in France. We only have a certain amount of money to play with. No obvious guaranteed income to depend on (inc pensions) and a strict life plan to avoid borrowing any finance. As such we are having to be quite calculated in our shopping approach.

Its a learning curve for sure but having some clear boundaries is really helping us to think clearly and plan for our best possible future here.

Movement and restrictions.

Its now May 18th (ish) and since May 11th France has been gradually removing the lock down restrictions. You can certainly tell! The aires becoming busier and the roads are almost back to pre Covid levels of vehicles.

Biron castle behind us…the views from its grounds are stunning!

We revisited one of our very 1st stopovers for the evening. Biron Castle (pictured above) is a stunning place and the views from its little perch are glorious.

Having been used to the quiet life our bubble was well and truly burst when we were joined by another 7 French vans over the course of the evening! One trio in convoy set up a little awning party right beside us which was a little annoying to say the least!

It seems the recent rule relaxation about travel is having an effect. Here’s hoping that the number of infections continue to reduce and the situation remains managable!

Winter update!

In terms of our winter lives – Some exciting news came our way this week from the mountains! Not only are we fully planning to return to the same jobs later this year but the company is growing! If you are new to this then you can read all about our winter exploits here.

Effective December 2020 we will have 5 chalets to look after which is an increase of 2! We got some sneak peeks this week of the new accommodations and facilities and we can’t wait to get back over there to check them out!

Drop us a note if you fancy coming to stay in one of the Chalets we look after next winter! I will leave a little photo of one of the new Chalets below as a teaser!

Fully catered and sleeps 10. Stunning!

Until next week stay safe and well!

Much love Katie & Dan