From Karen and Rick
We are happy to recommend the Adrian Leeds Group. I have been reading Adrian’s newsletters for several years and the thought of owning a pied-à-terre in Paris seemed so remote; however, my husband and I were extremely excited about the possibilities. One evening we decided this was the time! We emailed Adrian’s company about our interest in owning a Parisian apartment and presented our budget; we received a response within an hour!
After approximately six weeks, Adrian telephoned us with the news that she had found the perfect apartment. Immediately, she also emailed us some photos of the place -- we took it sight unseen! For us, the apartment is in a perfect location, the Marais. We love the ambiance of the 3rd arrondissement with all of its history and historical buildings, yet with a wide variety of cafés, shops, markets, and people.
Adrian was quite helpful in suggesting a variety of mortgage companies for us to investigate. She and one of her associates also accompanied us to the Notaire for the official signing of all of the paperwork. We did not know what to expect, but the experience was absolutely enjoyable -- everyone was extremely friendly, and the Notaire read through each page of our documents to be sure that we understood everything.
After the apartment became ours, we needed someone in Paris to take charge of the decorating. Once again, Adrian’s group came to the rescue! Adrian’s suggested interior designer, Martine di Mattéo, listened to our color preferences and wishes for the apartment and created our little piece of heaven. After a few months of renovation, painting, and furnishing, the apartment was ready to be rented. Again, the Adrian Leeds Group prepared all of the necessary paperwork and began the rental process. So far, the apartment has been well rented.
The Adrian Leeds Group has helped us with every step that we’ve taken into our new adventure. We strongly recommend Adrian, her newsletters, and the property consultation services provided by her group.
From Mary and Jeff
We honeymooned in Paris in 1997 and immediately began dreaming of finding a way to spend more time there. Our dream required research, of course, and in searching for a way to make it happen, we found Adrian. We subscribed to her witty and informative e-newsletters and continued to cultivate our dream.
A couple of years later, we took a big step. Mary jumped on a plane to Paris to attend one of Adrian’s “Living and Working in Paris” conferences. She learned a wealth of information from Adrian and the other experts, who talked about real estate, legal issues, working abroad, and French culture. It was obvious that Adrian knew what she was talking about, and we felt confident that if the opportunity presented itself for us to buy a property in Paris, we wouldn’t hesitate to work with Adrian.
In 2008, that opportunity came along -- but we had to act fast. That spring, we reserved just five days with Adrian to help us find a pied-a-terre. Working with a search consultant, who coordinated the search with local real estate agents, we looked at two or three apartments a day. In between, we met with lenders Adrian had recommended. On the very last day, we found the apartment we wanted and put in the offer. By summer we returned for the closing with the seller and the Notaire, again ably assisted by Adrian at every juncture.
The next step -- renovation -- turned out to be the most difficult, but again we found that putting our trust in Adrian would lead us in the right direction. We used the decorator Adrian suggested and, gulp, gave the decorator a credit card to buy furnishings. That’s what made this the most difficult step – “overseeing” the renovation of an entire apartment without actually overseeing it! But of course, by following Adrian’s advice everything worked out in the end. That should be her motto, and maybe for Paris, too: “Everything works out in the end.”
Adrian and her team have been booking and overseeing our apartment rental since December of 2008, and we couldn’t be more pleased with their dedication and personalized service. Not only are they consummate professionals, but they really do make dreams come true.
From Illysia and Alec
The experience of buying an apartment with the Adrian Leeds Group was a pleasure from start to finish. Adrian and her team were very responsive, always responding to my questions within hours, even on the weekends. They were very knowledgeable about all aspects of the buying process and put us in touch with people who could help us with each step we needed to complete to buy an apartment.
Renovation and decoration with Martine [di Mattéo] was a pleasure. She executed our vision even more beautifully than we had hoped. We are thrilled with the result! I wouldn't hesitate to use Martine again. I love working with her, and she works so very hard!
In summary, I would not work with anyone other than Adrian and her group in Paris. I hope to buy another apartment in a few years, and when I do, she will be the first person I call.
Overall I would say that it was a great experience working with the Adrian Leeds Group team, and I'm very happy that I ended up working with you. I think it's unlikely I would have seen the apartment I ended up with before others got to it first and even if I had, it's questionable whether the sellers would have gone for my offer and trusted that I was good for the money if it weren't for your relationship with their agent.
Your team went out of their way to get to know me so they could better understand what I was looking for in an apartment. I think all of you have a good balance of listening to the client but also being vocal enough that you won't let the client make a mistake!
In addition to helping in the search process, I found it very helpful to have someone help with the whole process. I am always nervous that I will miss a step, so having you there for the signing, etc. was a big help.
From Irene & Jimmy
It’s been delightful to work with the Adrian Leeds Group. They took us by the hand all along the process; they guided us and advised us at every step.
It’s really thrilling to see how this highly professional team of people can make your dreams come true with a minimum effort from your side. Basically you just need to have a rough idea of what you want and they’ll do the rest.
Our first contact with Adrian was very informative; she explained to us the whole process, step by step, in a very clear way. That first contact was very important to us – at that moment we knew that the Adrian Leeds Group (ALG) was the way to go because we don’t live in France and they do absolutely everything for you in the most professional way you could dream of.
After the first conversation with Adrian, she sent us a form where we marked our preferences in type of buildings, and features that our dream apartment should have. After that, everything went smooth and quick – in no time, Adrian called us saying that she found our dream apartment and she certainly did. They found the greatest apartment of all in a prime location and in our price range. Of course, it needed to be renovated but it wasn’t a big deal since they have the best crew to fill that purpose. As Adrian said, the apartment had great bones, with an open view as we wanted and in an amazing location, right off Saint Paul’s station in Le Marais area.
When we agreed to purchase the apartment, they immediately started to work on all the administrative boring and complicated procedures that, by the way, are not very obvious in France. The great part is that ALG took care of all the paperwork, dealing with the notary, the different administrative entities, the owner of the apartment, straightening up all the papers, etc. They will also help you find a loan in France. Since we got a loan in our home local bank, we didn’t use this service but I understand it’s really easy and pain-free.
At the moment of the signing of the apartment, we were on holidays so Adrian had to sign the papers for us and voilà…we were the proud owners of a gorgeous apartment. Truthfully, the only thing we did was look at the apartment and they took charge of the rest.
They have an amazing crew of people to renovate following the highest standards of comfort and beauty, while of course, always respecting your budget. One of the most precious diamonds is the Architect-Interior Designer Martine Di Mattéo who will make your place look like a million dollars. Martine helped us every step of the way with plans, contractors, materials, furniture, etc. Again a smooth, hassle-free process, and the end result was completely unbelievable and worth the time spent.
Once the apartment was ready, the ALG team took care of phone lines, Internet and cable connection and made sure that everything in the apartment was in order and working properly.
We were very happy with the whole experience – it has been a real pleasure to work with the ALG team. They are a great team where everybody works to achieve the same objective in the most professional way.
What we appreciated the most about working with ALG is the peace of mind they give you even under stressful situations, from the beginning to the end. The whole team is very experienced and knowledgeable with high standards of professionalism and excellence! Thank you very much ALL!!!!! We highly appreciate the time and effort that you ALL have invested in our little project!
Now that the fun is over, we’re already looking forward to our next apartment! Of course with ALG help! ;-)
The Adrian Leeds Group helped me fulfill the dream of a lifetime. I couldn't possibly have found my apartment or gotten through the purchase process on my own. Purchasing property in France in nothing like purchasing property in the USA – without an experienced, knowledgeable guide like the Adrian Leeds Group, it would be next to impossible. After the sale, the team set up the electricity and the wireless for phone, Internet and TV. This is something very easily done in the USA but in France it is very difficult, even if one speaks fluent French. I highly recommend the Adrian Leeds Group and I would not hesitate to ask them for their services again.
From Caroline and George
Firstly, I must take this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation for everything you and your superb team have done! It's been quite a joy to work with you guys and we both look forward to the signing of the Acte de Vente in July. This whole process has been seamless and we've both overjoyed at the future prospects of having our little place in Paris: it's simply a dream come true.
From Hyacinth and John
Just want to say that John and I feel so fortunate to have you guys on our side! You guys are awesome!!!...Three years later: October 2009...Also, just wanted to thank you again and again for helping us buy our St Germain apartment. The $1000 I spent on the Living and Investing in France conference was THE best investment I've ever made!! Here is the link to our new Web site for the apartment: st-germain-romance/
In June of 2008 we had it appraised for 1.020.000 EUR. (You should have seen John's face when we got the appraisal!) Considering our down payment and renovation costs, we've made over 70% return in only 3 years. And that's not including the equity that our renters are building up for us every month. I still can't believe that our renters are actually paying down the mortgage for us! So, a million times, thank you thank you!!
From Graham and Cheryl
"YEARS IN THE DREAMING, MONTHS IN THE PLANNING, 48 HOURS IN THE REALISATION"
My husband Graham and I have been coming regularly to Paris since 1975. I can still recall the day we arrived all those years ago. It was cold, gray, drizzling with rain, and utterly wonderful! With barely more than school French between us, like two sponges we absorbed everything and anything with the voracious appetites of the young and eager. Over the years, our French has improved a little, along with our sense of direction and understanding of the French way of doing things. Our appetite for Paris has not abated, indeed has only increased--to such an extent that it was a natural progression to want to own a little slice of this City of Light for ourselves one day. La fantasie Parisienne, I think is the expression. We settled on Adrian Leeds' organization after investigating other options back in August last year. The more contact we had with Adrian and her team, the more relaxed and comfortable we became with our decision to place ourselves in their hands. It was the best decision we could've made. The detailed explanation of the procedures of purchasing French property, and the requirements essential to obtaining a mortgage and bank account were comprehensive, meticulous yet easy to follow. The French real estate system has many similarities with Australia, yet with just as many subtle differences--sufficient that you need an expert who's in their batting for you and your interests. Besides, how could we possibly cover all the necessary ground such as mortgage brokers, banks, Notaires etc. and maneuver our way through the peculiarities of the French property system, all on our own. It would take years, and we wanted to act now, before we got too much older. Carpe diem, as the saying goes. As Adrian has already written, the end result happened with lightning speed, and we're still a little dazed. Our various email exchanges had prepared us for the reality of today's Parisian property market. Even with their extensive networks, nothing much had surfaced that fitted our budget or location criteria. We were under no illusions. After all, even the best property searcher can only identify something that's for sale--you can't create something that doesn't exist. So maybe the visit would just be meet and greet, form relationships with mortgage brokers, banks etc--and keep looking. The day after we arrived, we met up with Adrian who'd arranged for us to view an apartment that day that had met all our criteria. But bad news, a phone call just received advised this place had sold that morning. Nevertheless, there was one other that had just been listed that might be possible. Normally, a client doesn't inspect something that hasn't been through the Adrian Leeds filter system of inspection and analysis. So sight unseen, off we went to rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement. We thought we knew this street. What we did know was the general location, and had dismissed it as being potentially too noisy and too studenty. Goes to show, you shouldn't let prejudice get in the way, especially when there's little else in the offing. As it's turned out, the property is perfect for us: Gorgeous medieval cobble-stone street, the apartment on the first floor yet also with an elevator, the main séjour/kitchen/dining area with windows overlooking the street, the bedroom at the back (so quiet) and importantly, the bathroom quite separate--meaning not accessed through the bedroom, which we were very keen to avoid. The tremendous bonus however, is that this property has a real Wow factor. There's a huge terrace off the bedroom, overlooking a garden--an incredibly rare commodity in Paris. Trying to keep a calm exterior, we could hardly contain our excitement. High fives all round, out of sight of the Agent Immobilier, of course! On top of that, rue Mouffetard is food heaven. Lots of little bistros and cafes catering to all budgets and tastes, and best of all, a dazzling array of gourmet food shops (including a specialty Foie Gras shop) sprinkled with essentials such as a pharmacy, dry cleaners and supermarket, plus florists, boutiques and bookshops etc. As well, the Place Monge market just around the corner operates 3 days a week. How good is all this? As the saying goes, it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. According to the Agent Immobilier, that same day they'd received an offer on the apartment, but less than the asking price. Adrian strongly advised that, if we really wanted this apartment, we should offer the asking price. If the first party wouldn't meet that, then morally, the vendor must accept our offer and the property is withdrawn from the market. If we were serious, we couldn't risk it that the Agent had "invented" the first offer--and we'll never know. We had a nail-biting day while negotiations ensured. How long a day can seem! Our offer was accepted, the property withdrawn from sale, and the Promesse de Vente arranged for signing the next day. This was only 48 hours after having seen the apartment. Even the Notaire said she'd never experienced such a quick transaction. I guess the lessons we've learned are that, firstly, have all your paperwork as well prepared as possible before arriving in Paris. This means firstly opening a dialogue via email with at least two mortgage brokers to establish your loan potential, and a bank to whom Adrian Leeds' team will introduce you; bringing copies of such things as your local Council rates/taxes notices, water and electricity statements, credit card and bank statements, passport and drivers' licence, even your Marriage Certificate, if you're buying jointly. Even having all these documents, we were still short one or two things, which is OK, but must be presented before the final mortgage offers are made. The second thing, and perhaps the most important, is to respect the professionalism of your property search team. You are paying them a fee, for which they work very hard. They've been at this business in this environment for a long time, so listen to their advice, even if it doesn't coincide with your own preconceived notions. This is not to say you should buy something that doesn't speak to you. I simply mean that you must appreciate that you are not in your own backyard, so think outside your own prejudices and experiences. You are in Paris. Be flexible, and remember that it's a different world. But isn't that exactly why you want to be here? Anyway, it just goes to show that miracles can happen--but only if you are well prepared to jump in and grab it when it appears.
From Tom & Anne
It has now been a year since we began to explore the possibility of owning an apartment in Paris and had our first telephone conversation with you. And what a year it has been! We wanted first to thank you for all of your help, and for your patience and kindness. But we also wanted to let you know which things we have liked the most about the Adrian Leeds Group (ALG) and the services that you provide. From the start, you skillfully guided us along that complex learning curve—what property in Paris really costs, which areas in Paris were most likely to suit our needs, how to obtain a loan, and how to navigate the murky bureaucratic waters. You did this with complete honesty, trustworthiness and reliability, which made us always feel that we were in good hands. Often, you knew what we needed long before we did, yet you listened to our opinions and concerns respectfully, and fielded all of our many questions knowledgeably and decisively, both in person and through email. And you have continued to help us deal with various difficulties that have arisen, always promptly and courteously. Your energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and certainly are needed at times. It is pleasant to recall how we had only just arrived at the Paris apartment we were renting during our search, still somewhat disoriented from our long journey, when several people contacted us with the words “Adrian needs to meet with you right away”—from which it was clear that you are indeed a force to be reckoned with! Before the morning was over, we had put in a bid on the newly–posted apartment that your search had found for us, and we were off and running (both figuratively, and, at times, literally!). And this brings up what is to us the most important aspect of your service, namely the high quality team you have assembled to assist your clients. And how fortunate for us that you connected us with associate designer Martine Rosier Di Matteo! She really is an incredible person—a dynamic combination of exquisite taste, imagination, ingenuity, generosity and persistence. The skill with which she has managed the details of overseeing the work of the contractor and obtaining the perfect furnishings is truly remarkable. We have a thick sheaf of correspondence with her that documents her attention to detail, and her considerable care in taking our vague ideas and crystallizing them into a living space of enormous visual appeal and functionality. Although we’re not exactly sure how you manage to do it, your ability to enlist a caring, expert staff makes ALG far more than merely the sum of its parts. We look forward to continuing to work with you, and have already enthusiastically recommended your property search and rental services to many of our friends.
From Mary and Al
Both Al and I were very pleased with the level of service and your competence when we purchased Le Pantheon. Your enthusiasm and knowledge were just what we needed. We looked to you for expert advice and we got it!
It was great working with you on the start of this project and we look forward to working with you as we get it finished and ready to be rented! Thank you for all of your help, advice, contacts, and for all of the time and patience you took with us - I know that we would not have realized this as easily without you!
From Jaye and Michael
We are thrilled!!!! What a superb job finding the right place for us! It is amazing that the very first one could be so perfect! We thank you for a job well done!
A letter from Rick and Michael
Everything is almost completed with the apartment renovation and we are now ready to begin our new part time life (and prosperous one, too) in Paris. We wanted to thank you once again for helping us with this incredible journey. From attending your seminar in New Orleans in May, 2006, through the apartment searching with your search consultant, to the legal advice and assistance with Maître Adler, until the apartment renovation with Martine the decorator and Tony overseeing the construction, everything has gone exactly as you told us. You have truly surrounded yourself with the very best assistance. Your professionalism and honesty have served us well. We actually found the whole process even easier than we could have completed it in the US. The apartment renovation was truly less stressful than some projects we have undertaken in the US. I'm sure this is certainly no coincidence and we have you and your team to thank.
It's now time for us to sit back, have some wine and sit for hours at one of our neighborhood cafés and reflect on our next adventure, which just very well may be yet another purchase in the City of Light (but only if you agree to help us). Thank you again from the both of us.
From Leslie and Adam
When my husband and I decided to purchase a property in Paris that a friend had turned us on to, Adrian and the whole French Property Insider team were the most incredibly pleasant and professional people to work with throughout the entire process. If all of our business contacts could be as helpful and accommodating as these people our lives would certainly be less stressful! From the short comparative property search and viewing they set up (all done back to back in a two day period) to the introduction to our wonderful mortgage broker and banker, they are associated with some of the most professional and knowledgeable people in the industry. They are very up-to-date on property values in Paris and were quick to point out that the arrondissment that we were buying in was one that had one of the highest rates of return in the recent quarterly report. As an investment property we got into a situation that was affordable for us, allows us to not spend much out of pocket expenses each month and gives us and our friends a small place to stay when we are in Paris. No, we don't own a large, beautiful flat in the 3rd or 4th, but our small, modest flat in the 13th is just what we wanted and won't stretch our wallet each month. The Buttes aux Cailles is a small working class neighborhood, but it has all the amenities within walking distance of our flat -- and a wonderful farmers market three days a week just around the corner. In addition, when we did the final tour of the flat and found some mold on one of the walls, they were quick to hook us up with a general contractor that got a quality job done in a short three days. That sort of service just doesn't exist anymore over here in the US! I would recommend this team of professionals to any of my friends and colleagues who want to buy property in France as they have made our dream come true!
Dianne and I got home late last night. We are still pinching our selves in disbelief that we have a pied-à-terre in Paris. We could not have done it without your assistance. We so enjoyed having Will Faas working on our behalf and hope he will continue in this role as we move through the renovation process.
From Suzy and Michael
Well we're nearly completely furnished now and really happy here. Thank you and your team for all the help you gave us. I don't see how we would or could have done this without your encouragement, assistance and all the little things we had to know and wouldn't have but for you all.
From Mark and Sandi
My husband and I had the great good fortune of meeting Adrian and her team in the fall of 2004. We contracted with Adrian to help us find the apartment of our dreams in Paris, which she did. We are still heartsick that we missed getting that perfect apartment, but we really got nervous because in December of 2004, the euro had risen 15 cents above what it was upon our arrival in September. And the predictions were that it would rise another 15 cents. The numbers no longer worked and we ended up not taking the apartment. Here is where our real praise kicks in: Adrian and her team could not have been kinder or more understanding. If they were miffed at our dropping the deal, we will never know because they were both so gracious. We look forward to our return to France and to eventually getting another "perfect apartment". When that time comes, we will definitely want Adrian on our side again! Thanks so much!
From Sue and Steve
Where did you succeed? First of all, in showing us that owning an apartment in Paris was actually possible. Here, it was your optimistic and can-do approach, but even more importantly the facts and figures you had marshal led, which made us feel, when we left your apartment after that first consultation, that it wasn’t pie-in-the-sky, but something that we really might be able to do. Then, in locating an apartment that was right for us – one that we both loved and could afford. Search-consultant Adrian Leeds, with her keen negotiating abilities, was a tremendous help in working out the offer to the owner. You succeeded in giving us access to your network of contacts, and the benefit of the good working relationships you’ve built with bankers and with your notaire. And you succeeded most notably, in my mind, in going the extra distance: taking us into your apartment for the day when the arrangements made to spend it in "ours" had somehow gotten confused and there was no key; and using your charm, energy, and persistent can-do approach to keep things on track when the money we’d wired for the down payment turned up missing on the day of the closing.
We love our studio apartment – and we simply couldn’t have bought it without your help. Your energetic and persistent can-do approach, your ear-to-the-ground knowledge of available apartments, the network of contacts and the good working relationships you’ve built with bankers and the notaire, and your willingness to go the extra distance in working through complications that are sure to arise – all these are what helped make our new pied a terre possible. Thank you!
From Ben and Angela
So far the experience has been very positive. You have an excellent team – I love working with both of them. Angela and I love that apartment. Happy New Year!
From Olive and Jay
Jay and I had a wonderful visit to Paris: your careful planning and excellent attention to what we were hoping to accomplish on this our first fact-finding "mission" were more than we could have anticipated. Thank you for your time, great counsel, and good humor! Jay and I are better prepared for the next step, and we hope to make a return trip in the next six months, depending on my schedule. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, please know how much we appreciate all you did to make our days in Paris fruitful and realistic; the meetings with the two banks and the notaire will be especially helpful in our future planning. Merci.
I first met Adrian Leeds at a seminar that she was conducting in Washington D.C. It was a goal of mine to purchase an apartment in Paris, not only for my enjoyment, but also for investment purposes.
I manage a company that primarily gives seminars and education events. I felt that the information I gained from Adrian's seminar was an invaluable investment. Not only did I learn a lot about ownership in France, but I made contacts that I don't think I could have easily accomplished outside the introduction that this course provided.
Before meeting Adrian at the seminar, I had received a referral from a relocation company in the US. After communicating with a real estate agent in Paris for months, the agent informed me the day that I arrive in Paris that she was not interested in working with me. Thank goodness I had set up the initial meeting with Adrian, or the entire apartment hunting trip would have been wasted.
I don't currently speak enough French to even effectively order in a restaurant! While I wouldn't recommend not knowing French to people who want to own property in France, Adrian and her colleagues made the whole process painless and achievable for me.
When I decided to use French Property Insider's services, I met with Adrian in Paris and she had one of her representatives spend a complete day showing me apartments. I thought it would take several visits to find the apartment for my purposes and that met my expectations. The last apartment I saw on the first day of hunting was the apartment I ended up purchasing. The apartment met all of my wants, needs and desires. By the end of the day, Adrian had joined us for a second viewing of the apartment and that evening we discussed the offer to the seller.
My first visit to apartment hunt was four days. On the second day we found the apartment and by the time I left Paris, I had met with Abbey National and BPI.
I have to tell you, Abbey National and BPI were both absolutely wonderful to work with. I only wish mortgage companies in the US were so accommodating! The hardest decision was which one to go with.
My particular scenario came with a few complications from the seller. Adrian and other colleagues of FPI were able to work out all the difficulties. The uniqueness of my purchase with the seller was different than the normal process, but despite this, everything worked out in my favor.
I closed on the apartment a few weeks ago. The signing of the initial contract and closing of the sale was handled by FPI. I provided power of attorney in both situations, because my travel schedule in the US did not permit me to be present.
Currently, the FPI team has been handling the transfer of my utilities, telephone and internet services and she also attended an important homeowners meeting about a renovation issue that the previous owner had pending. I had also decided to have some cabinets installed before I arrive in Paris and they helped to coordinate the installation with the cabinet company and provide them access in my absence.
My advice to you is that utilizing French Property Insider's services will make the whole process of purchasing your home in Paris much easier than if you were to attempt it on your own. The real estate market, apartment listings and real estate agent involvement is much different in France than in the US. If I hadn't contracted with FPI, I would probably still be going back and forth between the US and Paris to hunt a down a good opportunity, all the while frustrating myself and many listing agencies as well. Not to mention, having spent a great deal of money too!
In the outcome, the savings of finding the property so quickly and Adrian's help in the negotiations process, more than paid for FPI's services.
Sorry for my long-winded reference, but I thought it might be helpful to you to have a thorough understanding of why I have given Adrian and everyone at French Property Insider such a high recommendation!
Please don't hesitate to contact me again, if I can answer any other questions.
Yes, let me stress that Adrian was absolutely marvelous. We are so grateful! It was simply wonderful having someone with such good acumen and insider knowledge on our side. And we weren't the only the ones impressed; while they would never admit it, I think all parties were duly impressed with Adrian's negotiating ability and knowledge of the tricks of the trade, including the owner!
So far, I have to say, we would never have done anything of this without your help. Thanks again. Onwards to the next phases of the process.
From John and Robert
Robert and I have decided to take the plunge and move to Paris for retirement. There is no way we could have done it without the help of Adrian Leeds and all of the referrals she has put us in touch with. It is not possible to write a cookbook for a move to France; everyone's situation is different and unique but I would like to share some of the hurdles we have been able to get over.
First, a place to live: We chose our target date of July 1, 2004 for the move. We spent a week in Paris over the New Year holiday and met with several people to get help on our property search. We decided that since we want to live in Paris indefinitely, that we want to get exactly the right place and in order to do that we must be on-site to get to know the districts of Paris and the surrounding areas. We want to get the feel of a neighborhood before committing to live there. We walked all over Paris this past week and took several trips into the countryside by train. We met with apartment rental agents and shared all of our needs with them. They will then identify properties for us to look at when we go back in April.
Second, is getting through the immigration hoops and Jean Taquet was invaluable in that. He helped us fill out the application for the long stay visa and answered our questions about health insurance. And when we get to Paris he will help us with getting our carte de séjour.
Finally, John Howell in London went over several scenarios for property purchase and structuring our finances to minimize French inheritance tax. This is especially important for a gay couple but the French inheritance tax system will put a big dent in anyone's estate plan.
Lastly, our trip was particularly wonderful because we found that the weather is very tolerable even in the middle of winter...we had a beautiful light snow on New Year's Day. And the food is incredible.