We recognise that, much as we like it here at Les Hallais, there will come a time when we have to downsize. What to move into, though, that's a difficult question to answer.
The fundamental choice is between a ground-up renovation of the kind that we did when we moved here, and a place that's ready to move into that needs no work beyond a bit of redecoration. We've been debating the pros and cons of each option for a while, and can't come up with a definitive answer. I suppose in the end it will come down to finding that special place.
Earlier this week we went to look and two different places, at opposite ends of the spectrum. One is fit for nothing other than complete renovation (if you want to live in it all year round, as we do). The other is ready to move into tomorrow. The idea is that we would get a better handle on the emotional appeal of the different options, as well as looking at two "possibles".
First, the scruffy one. Two buildings, one a barn/shed, the other the living quarters. Apparently used as a "maison secondaire"; a holiday home.
Clearly an ex-water mill, given the way the river that runs by is diverted, wooden beams and rafters in good nick, 2 hectares of land (a bit too much, but you can always rent fields out to somebody). Needs complete renovation, that will cost at least €200,000 probably nearer €400,000 when you include all the things you don't think about. In my view they're asking (way) too much at €150,000. Could be nice when it's done though.
Next, the posh one. Perfect working order, newly redone. 3 bedrooms upstairs, plus a downstairs bedroom with en suite. Not much garden, big empty house right next door. Low-ish energy bills, solar panels, heat pump for the underfloor heating (air-air, not so good when it gets really cold outside) gym upstairs in the garage. No river.
This one looks to be an incredible bargain at €250,000. The owner is apparently in the building trade, so I imagine that the price of materials to him would be less than you and I might pay.