How we moved to France and became Mortgage free in our 40’s

I’ve been doing this blog now for over 6 years, never with any real attention paid to growing it, attracting new followers, optimising search engine results and all of that other good stuff. I put all my time and attention into Instagram, grew my followers to over 10,000, only to find my account stalling, unable to navigate the algorithm gods, and finding good content (sometimes even what I thought was really great content) only reaching a fraction of my friends, never mind my followers.

Recently, I’ve found myself more interested in writing again, after neglecting this blog and posting hardly anything for the last couple of years, because I was wasting my effort elsewhere. It seems there is an appetite to read what I write, and for that I am humbly thankful – welcome if you are new here – please help yourself to a biscuit.

To those ends, and for those of you that are new to me, it made sense to me to re-visit why this blog came about, how we ended up here, and why.

It all began just over 7 years ago now, which is an odd sentence to write. It has flown.

I’m Vicky, born and raised in Yorkshire in the North of England, Procurement Manager by trade (or was), married to Craig who at the time we met, was a Demand Planning Manager. Basically we were just a couple of cogs in a very big machine that helped Supermarkets get what they needed, when they needed it and at the best possible price.

We lived in a 4 bed Edwardian terrace between Leeds and Wakefield, no kids, dual income, doing OK. Like many people, spending 2 hours a day in traffic to pay for the lease on the car, a burdensome mortgage (in part caused by leaving an abusive relationship with almost nothing in my 30’s), and even paying someone to walk our beloved dogs because we left home in the dark and arrived home in the dark Monday to Friday. Happiness was maybe 2 weeks in Cornwall, or once every few years a bigger holiday abroad somewhere. When I think back now, with current mortgage interest rate increases and the huge increases in energy costs and food, it makes me anxious because I genuinely don’t know how we’d have managed.

The house we left in Yorkshire.

Basically, we were not wealthy people – still aren’t… and at the time, that was my impression of people that had a second home in another country.

The first thing that changed was, my In-Laws retired to central France. Department 23 – Creuse to be exact. We visited, we loved it, we looked in estate agents windows, we couldn’t believe the prices, and a little acorn was planted.

For months we forwarded links to properties for sale backwards and forwards, and we realised this little acorn was growing a bit. Eventually we gave in, compiled a list of properties and set up a viewing trip. We hadn’t thought about how to pay for anything, but thought we’d just get a really small mortgage with a view to renovating and eventually retiring here. How hard could that be?

Our viewings were pretty disastrous, but we were shown a “mystery house” by my in-laws, a friend of theirs was selling, and it was love at, er, second sight….

The Mystery House, and our current home – as it was in 2017.

We shook hands with a man in an orchard and the sale was agreed. Like you do.

But…. turns out you can’t get a small mortgage in France, so our only option was to borrow what we needed from a family member, and I will always be eternally grateful for the help they gave us.

Our sale took 8 months to go through, we were in no rush, the seller needed to find a place to go, and as it happened we signed during the week of the Brexit vote, with the tears still wet on our cheeks.

So for the next 2 years or so, we spent every holiday here in France, renovating, trying to rescue the garden as maintaining an acre when you’re away for months at a time – turns out it’s quite hard! Loving our time here, and I would cry every single time I had to return to the UK. Literally stood in the garden sobbing.

Back in the UK, everything continued as normal, until I was made redundant from work. Luckily I found a new job immediately, (the single worst one I’ve ever had as it turns out – I think of it like being on the rebound), only to be made redundant from that after 1 year. That night, (this news coming out of the blue), I heard glass bottles clinking in the supermarket bags my husband had brought home, and I soon had a glass of fizz in my hand. In unrelated news, hubs had been given the go ahead that very day to work remotely from France. Talk about fate! As I was celebrating no longer doing a job I hated, a plan was hatched. We’d get our house valued, see if the sums worked, and set about making a permanent move to France!

We needed enough equity to be able to repay the amount we’d borrowed to make this work. I wouldn’t be working, so we couldn’t have any form of mortgage here in France, we couldn’t afford it. By the time we offset the cost of paying our UK mortgage, leasing an extra car, our dog walker, petrol etc, we would be worse off, but not by a huge amount. Fortunately it worked out that we could just do it, but only if we got the asking price. Our house was a quirky thing, it’s why we bought it, so it’s fair to say it was a question of just waiting for the right people. Once we had them then fortunately we did manage to get what we needed. Then of course the panic sets in – we’re actually doing it!

Initially after the move (which was fairly hideous and you can read about it here Moving Day), hubs continued to work remotely for the UK part of a French company, as he previously did. With Brexit, there was a need to regularise this for tax purposes as soon as we could manage, and Craig managed to secure a job with an international French company, with English as it’s primary business language, and has been working there ever since. This has been a godsend for such things as getting us into the healthcare system, my top-up insurance is also with them, and it made our application for our WARP card (withdrawal agreement residency card) much easier than it could otherwise have been.

This will be our 5th year living here now, and I’d love to tell you how easy it is to make a change to your life if you’re unhappy with it. Trouble is Brexit has kicked the ladder away now for so many. You can’t work here on a standard long stay visa. You can still work here but you need to secure a job before you can get a working visa, and employers kind of want you to already have a working visa first…. If you want to retire here or be economically inactive, then the financial threshold is much higher than it was. I’m sad for all of you that this affects, I truly am. However, it can be done, and people continue to do it, but it’s not as easy as it was. You will also have to pass a language exam. Not that I think that’s a bad thing, I wish my French was better, must try harder at this!

So, that is the bare bones of how we moved to France, why we moved to France, and how we became mortgage free in our 40s.

Of course we continue to renovate our French property, and we will until the day we die (or it may kill us), and I’d be the first to admit it’s sometimes a royal pain in the Cabernet Sauvignon. Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know about our move, happy to share where I can.

Here are some of my blogs from back then, if you want to find out how stressful this thing was.

Thanks for reading!

The day we completed on our French house purchase

First night in our new French house

The Pixie Death Oven



  1. Loved it.
    This is what I found out in your post
    Great read! It’s inspiring to see how you had the courage to make a significant life change and move to France. Congratulations on becoming mortgage-free in your 40s!


  2. It’s great to see another ex Yorkshire couple. We moved from Brighouse to the Indre in 2005 & were devastated at the result of the referendum. Nearly 18 years later we’re still in the same house, albeit with solar panels & a heat pump (thankyou French gov for assistance) and still loving the French countryside

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well hello there! We didn’t qualify for a grant (except for insulation) but did take advantage of the 0% eco loan for a new pellet boiler and we’ve had a fully electric car for the last 2 years which we love. If living here doesn’t make you appreciate your green spaces more then there’s something wrong I think 😊. I think I recognise your name from some of the Facebook forums, thanks for taking the time to read.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s