Saturday, 12 May 2012

Nomads no more...

For the last couple of summers we have lead a rather nomadic lifestyle here in the Loire Valley, something that rather lost its appeal after a short while. We had good reasons for this - as we were starting a new business in a new country we had decided that in order to make a go of it here in France we would have to be flexible.After having 'tested the water' by successfully renting out our holiday home in Barrou 'remotely' we decided to take the plunge and move here 'en permanance'.

This of course meant that we would need somewhere else to live if we were renting out the original house. 

We found our second house in the nearby village of Le Grand Pressigny.

We thought we knew the village pretty well but we couldn't place the house from the picture on the local estate agent's website. As it was, there was only one photograph - like the one above - with none of the inside.When we asked if we could see some more,we were told NO. This still seems to be the method employed in the marketing of houses here - you would think they do not want to sell their houses!
We came over for a look - it had to be a bit of a 'project' so as we could 'add value' and actually afford it - it was! At first we rejected it as it needed rewired, re-plumbed and totally insulated -but it was a project -and the balcony eventually swayed us.

Here we had a countryside view in the village.

So we had somewhere to live when our Barrou house was rented in summer. The house wasn't really that bad compared to some of the projects Pauline and I  had taken on in the past but strangely enough became less habitable the more work we did.

We had the usual fun and frustration of renovating with the added element of doing it in a foreign country.More of this later...

During the project we pretty much lived in two rooms during the summer a bedroom and the room which eventually became our study. This was our utilitarian room, kitchen,lounge and office, it was cosy. This was not a new experience for us so it was not such a hardship.After completing the project we decided that perhaps this may be as rentable as 'The Old Walnut Mill' and with three bedrooms we could increase our revenue stream. The only difficulty was that we knew the Barrou house rented well because of its character - the Le Grand Pressigny  house (Les Balcons) as a 1930's house was a different 'kettle of fish'! So what if we only offered this? Would we be killing our 'cash cow'?

We decided that in the first year we should test the market, so put both the houses up for rent we said, live in the one that was not booked - seemed straightforward enough to us! The only problem was that by this time we had taken on the management of a second house 'Le Bourg' in Barrou.

This had come about as after meeting and becoming friends with its Canadian owner, who for a variety of reasons,not least the distance,was only using the house for a couple of weeks a year, asked if we thought  her house would be attractive to tourists. It was not a difficult question to answer, as with its riverside location and barn interior features it was a very good property for renting.

We marketed the houses on my 'tourist' site with 'The Old walnut Mill' on our house site (now hosting 'Les Balcons')and I made a new site that included the three houses.This did the trick and the three houses were equally popular -so we needn't have worried! This success however meant we moved depending on what was booked first.

So for 2012 we are staying put in our Barrou house with the added advantage of a project on our doorstep in the shape of our barn - all we need to do now is earn the money to get it finished.

Footnote: As it happens we had a lovely Australian couple in the 'Old Walnut Mill' for the first couple of weeks of the season as they asked to book it on recommendation before we took it of the market! It was just as well really as it did wonders for our cash-flow. Anyway never say never.

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