No, unfortunately I’m not talking about myself retiring. As much as I’d love to be able to retire at 33 I’m just not that successful! I’ve put up plenty of posts stating I’m visiting my parents in France and won’t be able to respond for a week so I thought it about time I explained it plus I’ve meant to have a chronicle of my thoughts on the matter and a diary of what we do for my own personal memories for a while. So where better to start than how it all came about?
Having parents who have retired to another country is great; it essentially amounts to ‘free’ holidays abroad! Now do bear in mind that I hate hot weather so I’d have preferred them to retire to Alaska but beggars can’t be choosers eh?
It was something that happened totally out of the blue. I don’t remember exactly when it was, I think 2007 and my parents had gone on holiday to France, just a standard couple of weeks. They have always loved France; they used to holiday in Provence a lot before I was born, we went a couple of times when I was a teenager and they decided to go back when I had moved out. I think this was the first and only holiday that they actually had there though since my flying the nest. My parents have always been like me and gone to bed quite early (around 10pm) so when they called my mobile at 11pm which would have been midnight for them I was of course instantly worried thinking one of them is in hospital.
Thankfully it turned out that they’d decided to randomly stop in the town they were staying near that day and look in the window of one of the estate agents, something they’ve always had a habit of doing and which perpetually annoyed me when I was a kid because ‘they were never actually going to move house so why look, I’m bored, come on let’s get going!’ Well this day they’d been stood looking at the photos and the estate agent came out, got chatting to them and persuaded them to go take a look at a couple of the houses. They’d had no real plans for the day so they agreed, looked at one and weren’t very thrilled then looked at another and completely fell in love. Knowing that in a few years time they would both be retired and that the houses were relatively cheap at the time they decided to start the ball rolling there and then!
They did know it would be difficult to sell their UK house; it was the middle of the recession and houses just weren’t moving and particularly not at a decent price but they went for it anyway. The French house had been empty for a couple of years although the last owner had left a bunch of furniture in it so they were able to get it for a good price and it came with an acre of land too. There was work needed such as new windows and a new central heating system but overall it was still in very good shape. They got a real bargain.
The next few years were tied up with getting all the paperwork sorted out and going back and forth with bits of furniture, trying to sell their UK house (they managed it 6 months before Dad finally retired and just had to rent somewhere for a short time) and just generally get the house ready for them. They treated it as a holiday house for the first couple of years before they could retire and went over once a year to do work on it which is when I would go over with them as well.
Finally in 2010 they were able to move over permanently and they have been there ever since. I get to visit them a couple of times a year and it is probably no more awkward for me to get to them than it was whilst they were still in Yorkshire; the cost of trains vs budget flights means it doesn’t cost me any more and the travel time isn’t much different either. A train to Yorkshire is about 4 hours or to get to France it’s 1 hour to the airport, just over 1 hour flight and then 2 hours drive the other side; the only issue is the 2 hours waiting around at the airport before boarding.
So I’m off again on Wednesday just for a week. When I return I’ll do some blogs over time to chronicle what we get up to and differences in culture as it does actually differ quite vastly in some respects and yet in others is very similar. It’s also fun to see other peoples expectations of what it is like when they first find out and then set them straight; I was the same with the preconceived ideas and it is very different!
Do any of you guys have friends or family in other countries or have you moved country yourself? If so I’d love to hear about it, the high and low points and how it differs from what was expected.