Don't move to France ( it really is rather horrid)
Really. Don't move here. France isn't a very nice place to live and is full of hopeless bureaucrats, horribly rude people, nuclear waste, extortionate taxes and large double-digit unemployment rates.
No I haven't gone mad (nor received yet another ever increasing demand from the tax office again), but I'm trying to balance out the "sunshine shield" that many people adopt when dreaming about a new life in the Creuse. Again and again people do things here that they wouldn't contemplate doing in the UK (and cheerfully laugh about it over a few beers).
Take a few sober moments and plan ahead a bit first before you commit to packing your life in a box, tagging the cat and driving your family to the edge of England with a one way ticket and what's left of your life-savings in your back pocket. Assuming that you can turn your set of 18C pig sty's into gîtes, open a cafe / bar / restaurant in the old barn and make the little farm house into a home for five before the bad weather sets in and the €20K runs out... seriously this was someone's plan. They don't live in France any more.
I've met a lot of people who moved here with little or no information about even the basic facts only to find out that the assumptions they'd made about how life would be here were totally wrong. France isn't just England with more space and better weather, it has a lot more differences, some of which can seriously burst your bubble and turn your dream life into something rather less nice.
I know that I'm on dangerous ground here. People don't want to hear that their dreams are a bunch of half-truths and nonsense. It's funny how people fill in the gaps in their knowledge to reinforce their view point and beliefs. One only has to look at the huge amount of rubbish that has been said about the EU and its expansion. Unfortunately this is also true when you move here.
During the buying and moving process a lot of stuff is just never mentioned and often overlooked by potential purchasers and this can be really really bad. The people that you meet know that moving here is often the buyer's dream-come-true and they take advantage of this throughout the buying process, even to the point of some people signing for the house on their first weekend visit having not understood at all what they have committed too.
This is not a negative rant. It is an opportunity for you, yes you, to take a few minutes and look at some of the not so good and downright bad things that living in France means. This is also not about evil people trying to fleece you, although this happens here as often as in England, but more about stepping back and looking at some facts about France and how you will live and work here.
A good place to start is by looking at Don't Move To France; a site run by a guy who was thinking about moving to France himself and took the time to do some detailed research beforehand.
Please pause a minute and take a deep breath before saying it is all rubbish - it is easy to get irate about his site. I think that it offers a way of looking at the more mundane facts you'll have to deal with when you get here. Yes, it is negative; no I don't agree with everything that is there and no I'm not just trying to put people off moving to the Creuse. What I am hoping to do is arm you with some facts before you sign.
As usual I welcome your (sensible) comments.
[This post was originally a news story, but has been moved here to open the discussion to a wider audience].