House Hunting Mechanics

Okay, so we’ve been further exploring southwest France to feel the mojo and try to figure out where we want to settle. Many of you have asked how we came to settle on France at all, which will be the topic for another day. Today, I’m focusing on our house hunt.

We were careful to delineate our retirement home wish list (and it has evolved over time). In order for you to understand what we are looking for (and perhaps help you devise your own personal list), I am including our most recent requirements here. Every realtor has greatly appreciated this extensive information…


  • southwest France: we started with the departments of Charente Maritime, western Charente, Gironde, Lot et Garonne, western Dordogne
  • an hour or less from the coast
  • detached character home for full-time residence
  • either fairly rustic or completely classic in style (maison de maître or farmhouse)
  • in or on the edge of a market town with all-year activities and full-time residents
  • mature trees on property
  • original materials (wood floors, old tiles, fireplaces)
  • tall ceilings (but not too tall)
  • lots of windows and natural light
  • central heating
  • minimum of 3 bedrooms and 2 full bath/shower rooms and 1 guest WC
  • our budget is 600,000 Euros or less, inclusive of updating and fees
  • we are cash buyers



  • single level for aging in place (or the less stairs, the better)
  • room for an office/library space
  • separate laundry
  • large country kitchen
  • extra space for a gym and art studio
  • separate suite or dwelling for guests
  • fast internet speed
  • gas range/cooktop
  • under-floor heating
  • private well for irrigating the yard
  • fruit trees
  • perhaps a small shed for chickens
  • privacy
  • safe community
  • some expat presence
  • swimming pool or room to install one
  • garage or barn to park the car and for extra storage space
  • lawn area with room for flower and vegetable gardening
  • fenced and gated yard for security and to keep the dogs in
  • outdoor kitchen and covered patio space (or space to build them)
  • water nearby, whether it’s a lake (big or small), a river, or the ocean
  • views if possible
  • within 30-60 minutes drive to bigger stores
  • within 1 hour drive to international airport
  • total square footage is flexible, depending on the layout of the home. While we will be expecting quite a bit of company, it’s still just the two of us most of the time.
  • a property that needs some rehabilitation is fine



  • above ground pools
  • overly-‘Anglicized’ properties: e.g., light or modern tile floors, laminate floors, or fake terra cotta floors
  • too much painted original woodwork
  • ultra-modern kitchens
  • low ceilings
  • dark or small rooms (segmented floor plan)
  • double story great rooms (how to keep them warm!!!)
  • plastic/vinyl window/door replacements

Here is a gallery of what we’ve been looking at…

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