“Find anything?” My Beloved’s voice wafted over the best newspapers the English speaking world has to offer from where he sprawled on the floor in our living room in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada to where I sprawled across the room.
“Yeah. Check this out.” I sailed the front page of the Home section of the New York Times to him. “This English couple bought this darling little cottage for only a little bit more than what we have budgeted for the quarantine kennel if we find a place in England. Only thing is the cottage is in Brittany. Is Brittany in France?”
“Last time I looked it was.” He sailed the page back to me without so much as a glance at it.
Reg, born Canadian and removed to Florida as a child had an idea that re-establishing his Canadian citizenship might expedite our move to Europe. After a few trips to England (silly us we thought England was in Europe – more on this later) we were convinced we should live across the Atlantic. Having just returned from a holiday with daughter Meg and her family in London, we were even more convinced. For one thing we almost spoke the same language!
While there, we checked out propery prices and were surprised to find we could almost afford to live there.This was in 1999. By the time we arrived back in Canada prices had changed. Housing prices only go one way in London – UP!
Back in Canada and heading through the Vancouver terminal we passed a news stand and Reg picked up a couple of papers. Reg, a journalist, can’t resist a news stand. This time his compulsion started a ritual that would continue every Sunday morning. He would drive to the airport and pick up as many newspapers as he could carry for us to peruse in the vain hope of finding something we could afford.
What we learned would have discouraged a less driven pair. Not only had prices escalated but there was a quarantine law that all in-coming pets had to be quranteined for 6 months. We had 3 cats and a large dog. And quarantine kennels don’t come cheap. There was no question of leaving our pets behind, so a quarantine budget was initiated.
“You didn’t even look at the article. Did you see what they paid for that cottage?” I asked.
“No. It’s not in the UK,” he replied without taking his nose out of the New York Times.
“But it’s just across the Channel. I’ll bet there are thousands, maybe millions of English people escaping the high cost of London housing by living in France.” I tried to sound reasonable.
“We don’t speak French,” his voice was dismissive.
“We could learn. I love learning languages.”
“And how many languages do you speak?” His voice went from dismissive to sarcastic.
“I know Spanish. How different can French be?”
“I expect you’ll find out.” His nose appeared over the Times. “So how much did they pay?”
“Would you believe 30,000 pounds sterling?” All was not lost. I had him hooked.
The cottage was every woman’s dream of a story book house right down to the roses trailing over the front door and stone work to die for. To this day we still haven’t found the cottage in that article. For all I know it doesn’t exist other than in the fertile brain of a clever real estate agent.
“Pounds Sterling! Do you know what that is in real money?”
How could a journalist say such a thing? Even I know pounds sterling is real money. Before I could come up with a witty rejoinder he added, “Do they have a quarantine law?” And that’s when I knew I had him.
“I’ll find out about the quarantine thingy. This could be our first step toward realizing our dream!”
As it turned out, we may have been the last Americans to do such a great deal but in the end we paid twenty-nine thousand U.S dollars for our dream cottage in Brittany and that included an all new electrical system and a few repairs.
Granted, prices have gone up in France since 1999… a lot. But we got ours without putting our animal companions (that’s what the French call pets, isn’t that cute?) in quarantine. And we lived happily ever after.
Next step: researching how to buy property in France and how to move us and our worldly goods and animal companions (I just love that phrase!) there.
Watch this space, you’ll be amazed when you read Step 2: How to buy French property and move 2 humans, 3 cats and a large dog to France and live happily ever after.