In 2003, we set out for a new life in France with our 5 year old daughter, Lily, a car full of belongings and a dream of running a chambres d’hôtes. After 3 months of searching, we found a completely unmodernised Maison de Maître in a pretty little village in the Herault, and set about the mammoth task of converting a property with just one toilet into a business with 5 en-suite bedrooms for guests and living quarters for us. We were very fortunate to find a great project manager and construction team, who transformed the property in record time. And thank goodness too, as our son, Jude, was born literally a month after we moved in! However, with a new baby, and Richard finding work with a local estate agency, the dream of running a chambres d’hôtes full-time somewhat fell by the wayside……
Nevertheless, the effort of transforming our house did pay dividends 5 years later when we decided to move. The capital appreciation on our property meant that we could climb the property ladder and acquire a property more suited to our then current needs. We sold our home to a lovely young couple who now run a very successful full-time business there.
The bed & breakfast business is still one of the most popular options for income generation among the foreigners looking to move to France. Demand for properties that can be run in this way has remained constant in our 10 year experience, so investing in such property seems a safe option. Whether you are investing in the running of it or in the capital appreciation that comes from converting a property, this still remains a viable way to earn a living in France.
For us, the experience of establishing and managing the business, albeit part-time, was an extremely positive one. We met a lot of interesting people along the way, some of whom have become good friends. Certainly, it is something we would not hesitate to go back to one day, should our circumstances change!