Expat Interview with Venetia, British Expat Living in France

Published: 4 Oct at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,France
Venetia came to France on a whim. It was an act of faith that changed her life completely. In the year 1999 she came to visit a friend and saw a house, which she then bought. Six months later she met a dutchman. Three weeks after they met they got engaged and moved, from Amsterdam and London, to France. After living in the house during a two year period of renovation on it was habitable. In 2006 they bought a second derelict house (in the same hamlet) after six years of renovation and hard labour, the house was ready to be rented out as a holiday house. They have now had two very successful years and lots of happy visitors. Johan, meanwhile is a translator and he puts subtitles on English, American, and now French, film for release in the Dutch cinema. He also translates books. Venetia teaches english, cooks for guests in the cottage and is a photographer. There is not much call for interior design here but she and Johan manage two properties for other expats and they are just embarking on project managing a renovation project for another expat client. They love their life in France, but it hasn't been easy. It took hard work to become integrated and there were long periods of isolation. It is not easy to make ends meet but Venetia and Johan get their hands dirty and thoroughly doing so. Venetia's expat blog is called The Cottage in France (see listing here)

Meet Venetia - British Expat Living in France
Meet Venetia - British Expat Living in France

Here's the interview with Venetia...

Where are you originally from?
London, England

In which country and city are you living now?
I live in a tiny hamlet, next to a tiny village in France (Village: St Cirgues la Loutre)

How long have you lived in France and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived here for fourteen years and I plan to stay forever.

Why did you move to France and what do you do?
Tough one! I came to stay with a friend here, for the weekend. I saw my house and just knew, so I bought it! We have a holiday house that we rent out. I am an interior designer. We project manage renovations. I teach English in Brive.

Did you bring family with you?
I came here alone.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I've always loved it here but I did find it quite isolating as I didn't speak french and for many years I had no friends of my own age here. Also I couldn't find any work, so I had too much time on my hands.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It was incredibly hard to meet people from my peer group. I was 34 and all the expats were retired. The local french spoke not english so I was stuck for a number of years. Now I have lots of friends, all ages and all nationalities. Many are french (probably 70%)

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
This is a wonderful place to live if you like outdoor pursuits. It is very rural and very beautiful. However, it is very quiet except for July and August when there are more organised event, and sports available. If you like peace and quiet and walks this is a wonderful place.

A view of the hamlet.
A view of the hamlet.
What do you enjoy most about living in France?
The beauty and nature. But most of all I have met so many wonderful people that I would never have met if I'd stayed in London.

How does the cost of living in France compare to UK?
The properties are cheaper. The labour is the same price as London (I was astonished). Food etc. is now almost as expensive. Gas and utilities are much more expensive here. I think my cost of living is about the same when you add everything up but I can only compare to 14 years ago.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in France?
My family and old friends are not here.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Learn French.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Making ends meet.

The Cottage, dated early 17th century (or earlier). Again it has beautiful views and the house has been renovated to a very high specification. It’s better than our house!
The Cottage, dated early 17th century (or earlier). Again it has beautiful views and the house has been renovated to a very high specification. It’s better than our house!
When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I know I couldn't cope with it so I am going to stay!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn the language.
  2. Do not move on a shoestring. Double what you think you'll need and make sure you have an income..
  3. Be patient, be humble, be flexible and be prepared for a different, not necessarily easier, way of life. Be prepared to accept different views of the world and keep an open mind..
  4. Always treat your neighbours with extra respect and never forget this is not your country and you are just privileged to be able to live here..
  5. Make sure you understand the inheritance laws before you move..

Our house, dated late 18th century. It is in a beautiful situation with wonderful views.
Our house, dated late 18th century. It is in a beautiful situation with wonderful views.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog is a personal one about our life here, with comments and opinions on the french way of life, and my dos and don'ts for being a successful expat . There are also lots of photos of people and the local surroundings.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Through my blog please.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingVenetia is a British expat living in France. Blog description: General observation of life in the Correze as well as personal views and remarks. A rolling diary of my life here, including photos. Descriptions of the local area. A "vignette" of our lives and the lives of the people around us.
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