Facts for Life on the Riviera
Saturday night, instead of going out on the town, which is forbidden anyway these days, we co-hosted a one-and-a half hour Zoom webinar with Opportunity Travel, our partners on the Living and Investing in France Nice-Provence Conference and Tour, September-October 2021. The theme of the webinar: Escape to France Part II—Life on the Riviera, a prelude to the upcoming conference and tour.
I wasn’t the only speaker. Kim Bingham, an international mortgage broker with Private-Rate, a specialist in getting loans for non-resident buyers in France, was with us for a brief presentation and to answer questions. She explained the ins and outs of getting financing in France—what’s easy and what’s not, who can qualify and who can’t. It’s the first step in making a purchase in France.
My part was to teach how easy it can be to make your dream come true…to have the right to live in France and to find an apartment to rent or a home to buy anywhere in France your heart desires. In this case, we focused on Nice and the Riviera: What part of the Riviera suits you best—the enclaves along the coast, the perched villages, or the heart of Nice!? This was a chance to get to know the famous Côte d’Azur!
The participants almost topped 200. Not surprising that there is so much interest in the Côte d’Azur. What is there not to love, I ask? I haven’t found anything yet to answer that question and I’ve been a part-time resident there now for 10 years.
It wouldn’t be fair of me to give away the meat of the presentation, as this was a paid-for event, but I will share with you some of the questions and subsequently the answers that never got answered because of the lack of time.
Here they are:
Q: Can we open up a bank account in France without a France address?
A: Yes, as a non-resident you can, but there are few banks willing to open accounts for Americans. We have FATCA to thank for this. And you must be physically present in France to open the account. On top of that, you need to have someone to introduce you to the bank. This is where we come in…we have relationships with banks in Paris and Nice which can facilitate the account for you. Learn more about it here.
Q: Does being a cash buyer in France give one an advantage when attempting to purchase in France?
A: Yes. The sellers prefer a cash buyer over a buyer who must obtain a mortgage, for the simple reason that it’s a “sure thing,” whereas a mortgage takes more time and there is the risk that the buyer won’t qualify for the loan, wasting everyone’s time.
Q: How easy is it to get onto the French national health system once you’ve established residency by buying a property in France?
A: You don’t have to purchase a property in France to be accepted to the French national health system. You only need to arrive with a visa, wait 90 days and apply with PUMA.
Q: Is it typically more difficult to get a mortgage for a two or three hundred year old (or more) village house or an apartment (presupposing already renovated)?
A: Yes. That’s because the banks understand the set value of an apartment in an urban area, whereas village houses and villas are not as easy to evaluate and therefore are a much bigger risk for the lender should they have to repossess it. Renovated or not, is not a factor.
Q: Could I run an online psychotherapy practice from France with clients in the U.S.?
A: Yes, of course! The only challenge is the time difference!
Q: Are purchase prices negotiable?
A: Yes. The sellers tend to allow about 5 percent for negotiation room, but the seller is morally obligated to accept asking price, so you might not want to take the chance of losing the property over 5 percent if there are other buyers in the wings.
Q: What are the best neighborhoods in Nice and how easy is it to get to Vieux Nice or the Promenade des Anglais from those areas?
A: Central Nice is best: Vieux Nice, Carré d’Or, Musicians, Vieux Port, Quartier des Musiciens, Quartier des Fleurs, Nice Centre…all in very close walking distance to each other and the waterfront. Mont Boron and Cimiez are both lovely, but life in these areas will be easier with a car whereas central Nice has immediate access to lots of transportation and is easily walkable.
Q: What is the income requirement to acquire a French visa?
A: You only need to prove you can support yourself based on the current French minimum wage of 10.25€ per hour, or about 1,500€ a month.
Q: I heard that Nice areas get congested pretty bad with lots of tourists and getting around in a car makes it difficult for residents.
A: Nice has totally changed its traffic patterns as a result of the tramways, so traffic is no longer challenging. But, there’s lots to be said for not having a car in Nice, which you really don’t need at all!
Q: Does the Adrian Leeds Group do much work in the Camargue/Languedoc-Roussillon area?
A: Not as much as we do in Paris or on the Riviera, but we can assist with property searches anywhere in France.
Q: How easy is it to rent an apartment or house with a dog?
A: Short-term rentals are most often pet free. Long-term furnished rentals are most often open to small pets, perhaps with an additional deposit. Long-term unfurnished apartments are always open to pets.
Fun questions…fun answers. We aim to keep you informed as the goal is to help you make wise decisions based on having the facts…and you can trust us to do just that—provide the facts.
Hope to see you at the conference or tour…or both! Visit Living & Investing in France 2021 for more information—pricing to be announced soon!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. It’s TONIGHT! You get another chance to watch us on House Hunters International’s “Chapter Two in Paris.” Details and air times are on our website. Watch it live or set your DVRs now!
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