Renting before buying

Reducing the risks

As when making all major financial decisions, give yourself time to think before buying a property in France and avoid doing something you might regret later.

Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for and where, it’s best to rent a property for a period to reduce the risk of making a costly mistake, particularly when you’re planning to buy in an unfamiliar area.

This is even more important for those planning to set up a business in France, when it isn’t advisable to buy a home until you’re sure that your business will be a success. Renting long-term before buying is particularly prudent for anyone planning to live in France permanently.

If possible, you should rent a similar property to the one you’re planning to buy, during the time(s) of year when you plan to occupy it. The advantages of renting include the following:

  • It allows you to become familiar with the climate, the amenities and the local people, to meet other foreigners who’ve made their homes in France and share their experiences, and to discover the cost of living for yourself.
  • It ‘buys’ you time to find your dream home at your leisure.
  • It saves tying up your capital and can be surprisingly inexpensive in many regions. You may even wish to consider renting a home in France long-term (or ‘permanently’). Some people let their family homes abroad and rent one in France for a period (you may even make a profit!).

On the other hand, the disadvantages of renting should be taken into consideration, including the following:

  • Annual property price increases in most areas are higher than interest rates, which means that you may be better of tying up your money in a property than investing it while you rent.
  • Taking a long-term rental before buying means in effect moving house twice within a year or two; remember that moving is one of life’s most stressful experiences!
  • You may not find the type of rental property you want, which will colour your experience of living in a particular area and possibly in France generally. For example, most rental properties are apartments, and rural homes are rarely available for rent.

If you’re looking for a rental property for a few months, you may need to rent a holiday apartment for a week or two to allow yourself time to find one that suits you.

This article is an extract from Buying a home in France. Click here to get a copy now.

Further reading

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