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In search of a new lifestyle.

Byline: By Bethan Lloyd Western Mail

A massive rise in home owners buying properties abroad has been recorded in the past five years and the boom shows no sign of slowing, according to a survey.

But the crucial shift is that people are buying for good rather than investing in holiday homes, businesses or for retirement.

A survey, conducted for French property experts VEF, reveals that new buyers are deeply concerned about economic uncertainty in Britain and 60% feel Britain is losing its identity.

Evidence is emerging that fears about Government policy forms a key part of the exodus with younger families now prepared to quit Britain for good.

'The feeling and concern about life in Britain was a very strong finding in the survey,' said Paul Owen, marketing director of VEF, which has helped thousands of buyers get the house of their dreams in France.

'It used to be exclusively a lifestyle choice but people are very concerned that their hard-earned savings and pensions are being eroded.'

A massive 73% of buyers are planning to move to France full-time and leave Britain behind and, in many cases, work from abroad.

Almost 60% believe their dwindling pensions would be better used on a home in France where the crime levels are believed to be lower and the lifestyle better, according to the survey of people hunting for property in France.

The survey also reports that buyers are becoming younger with 25% in the crucial 35 - 44-year-old age group with 10% in the retirement age bracket.

A significant 40% said the reason for moving was that they couldn't afford to live in Britain.

'Moving to France is still a big lifestyle choice but more people are worried about their pensions, the value of investments, house prices and what is left for them in Britain,' added Mr Owen.

'The factor of economic migration rather than holiday home is becoming more powerful by the month.'

Around 35% are cash buyers who do not need a mortgage and 40% are switched onto currency exchange rates to choose the best time to buy.

Rural and village locations are still the most sought-after properties and a majority of people do not want a British neighbour as they start a new life.

'France still offers the value for money, the climate and a more relaxed way of life but we were surprised that it is also regarded so widely as a refuge.

'The survey clearly indicates that there is a growing force of mobility and that people are prepared to use the equity in their homes or their pensions to start a new life in France,' added Mr Owen.

Further details for buying in France can be found at www.vefuk.com CASE STUDY: Julia Griffiths, Cynon Valley:Why did you decide to buy a property in France?

We wanted to buy a holiday home with the possibility of retiring in France. We have travelled to France for many years and always enjoyed our holidays there. It is convenient for travel by sea, rail or air.

What made you choose the Limousin/Charente region?

We wanted to go as far south as possible within our budget in order to more-or- less guarantee better weather than in the UK. After looking at several areas, we decided that this was the area for us, in terms of value for money, climate and accessibility.

Would you consider moving permanently?

Yes, when our son finishes full-time education and we are financially secure.

Why?

For a more relaxed lifestyle, a better standard of living and easier access to European destinations.

What do you like about French living?

We think the way of life in France is superb especially where families are concerned. The people are very friendly, the food is wonderful, the weather great and overall the ambience just takes you in - well, it has us anyway.

Any other comments?

Limousin is an area of natural beauty which seems to still be relatively undiscovered. The area in which our house is situated has so much to offer - beautiful countryside, lakes with beaches, an abundance of outdoor activities, good shopping a little further afield, excellent markets with wonderfully fresh produce and, most of all, peace and quiet. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but we can't wait to return and carry on with our project!
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 13, 2004
Words:724
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