Languedoc Property Maintenance
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Languedoc Gite Maintenance





In this section we have a look at the practical side of living in France: how to find a job, buy a house, set up a business and so on.


Finding work

'auto-entrepreneur' self employed status

Buying a house


Languedoc Gite Maintenance


Languedoc Gite Maintenance is based in Montréal, Aude, not far from Carcassonne. We work in a radius of about 100 kms from this point.


+33 468 763 016


Pyrenean mountain chapel - Col de Peyresourde



Aleu, with Mont Valier



Information about living and working in France

Finding work


If you are from an EU country (apart from, temporarily, Romania and Bulgaria) you need no specific authorization, permit or visa to work in France. By law you should be treated the same as any French citizen in the labour market.

The reality is, of course, a bit different.


Degrees, diplomas and qualifications gained in another EU country are rarely recognized at their just value by French employers. Despite increasing EU pressure to harmonize qualifications the gut protectionist reaction is all too evident on the ground.


But above all you are expected to speak very good French. Don't think that because the French are poor English-speakers that you'll just walk into a job that requires English: if you can't communicate fluently with fellow workers and write reports in French you haven't a chance.


If you add to this handicap the fact that over 30% of jobs in France are reserved for Civil Servants and Local authority workers (access by written exam only) then you'll quickly realize that your employment prospects are limited to teaching English or as self-employed.


Setting up a company or declaring oneself as freelance or self-employed used to be a nightmare in France. Recent changes in the law have considerably eased the pain but prospective millionaires should be warned that France remains a very business-unfriendly society.



"auto-entrepreneur" self-employed status

Created in 2009 this revolutionary law (for France) has opened the door to massive job creation among the sort of people who would otherwise have resorted to moonlighting. Basically, it is a self-employed status for anyone wishing to earn a living wage or top up existing pension, dole or part-time income. The main ingredients are: ease of use, open to everyone, internet-based.


This is how it works: you sign up on line through the official site

You can be a student, housewife, pensioner, unemployed... whatever. You fill in the form and a few weeks later you receive your SIRET number (reg n° that all companies or self-employed must have) and papers for the sécurité sociale. You can now work and invoice your employers (without VAT). Each month (or quarter) you declare exactly how much you've earned and the state takes off 21% or so in lieu of all social security contributions and - if you like - income tax. If you don't earn anything over that period you pay nothing. Accounting is ultra-simplified with, basically, an IN and an OUT column.


The drawbacks? They are many and confusing, unfortunately. For a start you are limited in how much you can earn: turnover of 32,000 for services and €80,000 for production (building etc) are the limits beyond which one must transform the operation into a regular limited company. Secondly you may not deduct costs: this is no great deal for a translator or web designer but for anyone with high transport or material costs it can be crippling. Finally and most importantly, there are a hundred and one 'professions' which are excluded from this set-up: landscape gardener, vet, physiotherapist, speech therapist, accountants, midwives, journalists, musicians, artists and many more. And builders, electricians, mechanics, hairdressers, bakers and so on have to prove that they have the required qualifications. Back to square one.


In summary it is probably fair to say that in practice the benefits out-weigh the disadvantages. Paying tax only if you earn is a huge advance on the old system. Being exempted from VAT is another. Declaring oneself in a catch-all category like 'nettoyage courant des bâtiments' (NAF code 81.21Z) opens the doors to a lot of odd-job type work in and around other people's property that passes muster with the authorities.


Buying property in France

Although purchasing a house in France can seem like a long drawn out bureaucratic process it is in fact a much surer and structured procedure than in many other european countries. One is nearly always compelled to use the services of a state-appointed notaire (public Notary) who works for a fixed fee and more or less guarantees a fraud-free transaction. (The notaire is not necessary if the property is owned by a property company (a société civile immobilière - SCI) and the purchaser is buying the company).


The first stage is to find and visit the property. A second visit should be more thorough, in the company of a knowledgeable builder if possible. Surveyors are thin on the ground in France: builders usually give advice on the state of a house and will, if necessary, call on an 'expert' for technical advice. The vendor must pay an expert to certify the absence of termites, asbestos, radon gas etc before he can sell. Once you have agreed on a price (now that prices are on the turn you should seriously negotiate: offer up to 50% less than the asking price if you think the vendor is not sure of his ground) the next step is a 'compromis de vente' or 'sous-seing privé'. This is drawn up by the notaire and signed in his presence - accompanied by the purchaser paying a 10% deposit.


This is an extremely important document: it is in fact the final sales contract which outlines the whole transaction and the duties and obligations of the two parties. In general, before the contract can be concluded the State (and the vendor) must carry out a number of searches and controls: is a motorway planned to run through the property? Has the neighbouring farmer rights on the land for agricultural use? (possible if more than a hectare of land), has asbestos been used in the construction? etc. For his part, the purchaser should write into this document his 'clauses suspensives', the most important being the raising of a mortgage. Without such a clause the purchaser will be expected to conclude the deal just as soon as the official searches are finished.


The importance of this 'mortgage' clause cannot be over-stated. Even if you haven't envisaged a mortgage for the property you should seriously consider putting in such a clause - even for a small amount - as it is your ticket to getting out of the contract should you need to in the three months or so following the initial agreement. It works like this: the notaire will meet with you and the vendor is his office: he will ask you if you intend paying cash or will be applying for a mortgage.

Normally one will opt for a mortgage of, say, 80% of the total cost (less fees). You can name a specific bank or just leave it open. The notaire will then suggest a date upon which the contract will take effect - usually two or three months ahead. This can be negotiated. Your first action should be to fire out a dozen or so official requests for a mortgage so that you have at least one official 'refusal' if you ever want to get out of the contract. Without a written refusal - on headed notepaper, signed and translated into French by a recognized translator - you could lose your 10% deposit.


Finally the big day arrives, the notaire summons both parties to his office, checks the results of the different 'searches' and proceeds to read the whole contract aloud. Then both parties sign .. and you become - instantly - the owner with full powers of possession. Assuming, of course, that you have made arrangements for the balance of the monies to arrive at the notaire's office in good time. No money = no deal and you lose your deposit. Be warned! 


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