Taking ownership means you can finally have your house your way so once the purchase is complete, you are free to enjoy your French home.
Many French contracts work on a tacit renewal basis. After completion, you have the time to investigate whether there are better insurance policies available, but remember to give 2-3 months’ notice to your existing insurer if you decide to change.
Check that you know where the stopcock is and the route of the pipe from the mains on to your property. You are charged for any leaks on your side of the water meter.
In France various tariffs are available, depending on the property’s maximum consumption. Visit EDF to find out which is best for you.
You should also check the location of your disjoncteurs. You will certainly have one on your main fuse board but, in more rural areas, there may be a second on the nearest supply point on the property’s boundary, typically on an EDF pole.
Phone operators in France offer many different packages. Research what package would suit your usage pattern and also check which, if any, mobile phone operators provide coverage.
Any chimney, which is used or not, has to be cleaned annually as a condition of household insurance.
In France, the local Maire likes to know the people in the commune, especially in country areas.
It’s usually worth getting on to good terms with the Maire, who is responsible for granting planning permission for even minor works such as modifying windows, putting up a shed or installing a swimming pool.
France is heavily committed to recycling and local schemes make this easy. The Mairie may even supply rubbish bags and recycling boxes.
In France, you usually need to take proof of local occupancy (such as a utility bill) with you to the local tip in order to be let in.
French furniture is generally slightly smaller than its Anglo Saxon equivalents; try before you buy is the best test.
If you’re tall don’t forget that IKEA does not reduce the size of its furniture for the French market so you can still get a full sized bed!
Short-term van rental
Many large retailers offer short-term rental by the hour to help you get your purchases home.
A surprising range of goods, especially bulky items, will be delivered at no extra cost, so it is always worth enquiring if you shop locally.
Local delivery drivers seem able to find the most remote places, provided they have the code postale.
The delivery van will also normally take and dispose of old bulky items such as refrigerators and washing machines if you are buying replacements.
Most French people are still very well disposed towards newcomers and foreigners.
Even if you don’t speak much French, it is usually worth trying to get to know people nearby as early as possible. Once their curiosity is assuaged, they will often do all sorts of things to help you.
Fellow Ex Pats
They’re all over France. They can be a useful source of local information for newcomers, even if you are set on integrating fully.
However, you need to beware of the small minority who prey on their compatriats as a source of easy income and charge “what the market will bear” rathe than “what the job is worth”.