Why I Desire a Second Home in France
When I turned 60, I set an intention to spend the next decade traveling as much as possible. I wanted to make up for the past 15 years when life circumstances made European travel impossible. In 2017, I spent three months traveling in France and Italy and in 2019 I returned for three months to explore Spain and France.
Out of those travels another intention formed: the desire to own a home in France, particularly in the Brittany countryside — an area that has stolen my heart. At first, it sounded like a crazy and overindulgent fantasy. But plenty of people have vacation homes. Why shouldn’t I have one in France, a country I love? Apart from all the joy a house in the French countryside would bring, I have my practical reasons for owning a second home in the land of fine cheese and wine.
These reasons include:
Having a central travel base in Europe
As a slow traveler aficionado and part-time digital nomad, I like to spend three months at a time in Europe and a few weeks to a few months in one location. There are so many European countries I want to explore. But I’ve reached the age where 18 hours or more of travel takes its toll. How nice it would be to have my own place to relax, unwind and recuperate after the long journey. And then to have a base from which to travel to other European countries.
Flying from the US to smaller destinations in Europe can easily take 24 hours or more door to door. My flight from Portland, Oregon to Toulouse, France required three flights and two layovers, and I arrived 24 hours later utterly exhausted. Instead of a long-haul flight every time I want to visit a new city in Europe, I could take a flight on one of Europe’s budget airlines (like EasyJet or Ryanair) from my home in France and be there in a couple of hours.
Being able to travel lighter
With a base in France, I’ll have a place to leave many of the things I typically pack like shoes, clothes and toiletries. I’ll admit it, the older I get the more stuff I need, like vitamins, supplements, foot cream, heating pad, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could greatly reduce the amount and weight of luggage I typically need for a three-month stay across the pond?
When traveling to other places in Europe for a week or a weekend, I’ll only need a small carryon bag that can fit under the seat. This will save money on luggage fees as budget airlines charge extra based on the weight and size of both your carryon and checked baggage.
Enjoying the creature comforts only a home of my own can provide
I’ve enjoyed month-long stays at many Airbnbs. There’s always a bit of adjustment required to make the place function for my needs, and that’s fine. But some things can’t be changed, like musty furniture, towels with the texture of Brillo pads and beds as hard as an ironing board.
I’m at an age where I need my creature comforts. It’s one thing to stay in a place that’s cute and a little funky for a night or two. But when you’re spending one to three months in a place where you need to work and operate efficiently, well that’s another thing entirely. I admire full-time digital nomads who spend a few months in one place and move on carrying very little baggage. Perhaps they are splurging for more luxurious accommodations than I choose.
It would be a dream come true knowing that when I arrive I’ll be greeted by a comfy bed, a good office chair, sharp knives and strong internet. And I won’t have to spend time figuring out how the heater and all the major appliances work. Nor spend time sanitizing every surface and cleaning a year’s worth of grime off light switches. No doubt I’ll have some cleaning to do when I arrive, but I’ll be cleaning my own place.
Spending less time travel planning
Booking multiple Airbnb accommodations for four to five weeks takes time. Since I don’t want to be stuck in a dump, I read every review and carefully peruse the amenities to be certain the place meets my requirements. I typically don’t book for more than five weeks unless it is a place I’ve stayed at before.
With a house in France, I’ll already have a base from which to travel and I won’t have to make as many reservations for accommodations. I can save my travel planning hours for other destinations around France and the EU.
Fulfilling my dream of living in France as a local
Owning a part of France means being a part of this beautiful country. Although I’ll only be a part-time expat, it’s an opportunity to be a permanent member of a community. To get to know my neighbors. And to experience all of life in France, the good, the bad and the "ugly" (that's the literal translation of the "Vilaine" river.)
Most importantly, a home in France would help me continue to fulfill my dream of slow traveling Europe. I feel certain and firm in my belief that I will manifest my French home. Have you bought a second home in another country or ever dreamt of doing so? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.