Print Posted By Lost in France on 3 Jul 2012 in Real France - Expat Interviews

Living in Deux Sevres

Sue Newell bought a holiday home in France in 2006 and then decided to move over permanently, she now has her own business running painted furniture workshops.

poitou charentesWhat made you move to France and how long have you lived here?
We originally came to buy a holiday home in 2006. We bought the only property that actually had 4 walls and a roof, and then decided it was too large for occasional use and decided to start a new life in France.

Which part of France do you live in, and what's it like to live there?
The first property was in the heart of a small village, in the Vienne region (86) but then I moved to the Deux Sevres in 2008. We (my husband and I) live in a small farming hamlet in the middle of the apple growing region near Vernoux en Gatine, 79240. It is very rural, but very beautiful.

Do you have children, if so how easy was it for them to adjust to a French school?
When we first moved we came alone, but were joined a year later by our youngest son, but at the age of 13 it was very difficult for him and he returned to his father in the UK. I think the younger the children join a French school the better - but I guess 13 is not a good age anywhere!

Open quote. Interviewee gives their moving to France tips Business is different in France, paperwork can be difficult, taxes and other social charges are high... Close quote

What is your age?
I am now 54.

Where were you born?
I was born in Lincoln.

Do you work, if so what do you do and how difficult was it to find work or start a business in France?
I am now self employed, I run painted furniture workshops, using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for which my husband is not a stockist in France. Courses run both at "La Deuxieme Chance", our base in the Deux Sevres and also at different venues around the department and beyond.

La Deuxieme ChanceWhen I first moved to France, I did work as an English teacher travelling to primary schools, but other than that found it very hard to find full time work and so decided to set up a business. I have been helped by the BGE, but the language barrier ( my French is not that good) means I tend to deal almost entirely with English speakers.

What was the worst mistake you made when buying in France?
Not checking out local knowledge and planning applications - My present home is now in a hamlet which boasts 4 lovely white wind turbines. I love them and they are not a problem to me - however it was a bit of a shock when work started on their construction, as no one had declared this to us throughout our buying process.

Your best tip or advice to other people considering moving to France?
Do your homework. Business is different in France, paperwork can be difficult, taxes and other social charges are high. It can be very lonely, there are still areas here where regular broadband is not possible and people still rely on satellites- that can at times be very frustrating. "School" French is not enough, learning the language is a must.

Did you find it hard to integrate or adjust to your new life in France and do you have any tips to help others?
Integrating has been easy, the French are always so willing to help and assist. Just give it a go, often still I get that bemused look when I ask something at the market, but if you try you will be helped. Mix in your local community, become involved.

What's the best thing about living in France?
Being able to run a business where I have fun, doesn't feel like work at all! - and to see the furniture that my students produce after a short course is amazing.

I look the leisurely pace of life here and the empty roads.

And the worst?
The worst thing is the distance from the family. England can seem a very long way away at times and very expensive should you have to return suddenly.

I also feel very inadequate at times, not being fluent and being unable to join in the small talk that so often goes on around me. I do feel I miss out on so much.

What do you think?

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