The expat good life in Charente-Maritime France

We talk to David Rodgers a former project manager from London who now lives in Charente-Maritime. Fed up with the “constant daily stress of work and commuting we finally decided to make the move to France for a more relaxing and a gentler pace of life”.

David’s wife Jacquie is from South Africa and the couple thought about moving there but decided it was too far from their families. After years of talking about living a better life before they got too old, on holiday in 2015, they found their dream home. In 2016 they moved to the lovely region of Charente-Maritime with their four cats.

As a buildings project manager David relished renovating their new home, a traditional 18th century stone house, with three historical barns dating back to days of the Knights Templars

Where do you live in France and what inspired you to move to that particular place?

The Charente-Maritime is apparently the second sunniest place in France which was a big lure. With rolling hills, vineyards and sunflower fields it’s very beautiful. We love the area as it’s central to everything and just an hour’s drive to the coast. There are three main airports within easy reach and are serviced by budget airlines that fly to the UK. With the beautiful historical towns of Cognac and Angoulême and being not far from La Rochelle – we think it has everything.

What made you fall in love with your French house?

As soon as we walked through the large front gates into the walled garden we knew we had found our dream home. There is a lot of renovation to do including plumbing but it’s absolutely worth it.

Our village has approximately 800 residents, and all the amenities, tabac, pharmacy, doctors, boulangerie, restaurant and a market twice a week. We are lucky that when we close our massive wooden gates we feel we are in the middle of the countryside with the peace and quiet of the countryside surrounding us.

Any top tips that you learned when searching for your own house?

We looked at property in France for quite a while. We made a list of properties we wished to view in a Department and stayed closed by. Doing this enables you to ask locals about the area when you go to a bar or café. We already knew what type of house we would like and the size of land we wanted and we had a fixed budget. It was a permanent move for us and we considered the pros and cons, lifestyle changes and the affect the move would have on our families back in the UK.

What do you love about the Charente Maritime?

Quiet roads, a wealth of wildlife, vineyards all around us. Fields of poppies in spring and sunflowers in summer. The air is clean and the weather is sunny and bright most of the year round. There are numerous hiking tracks and the Charente River is great for days out. There are loads of water activities or we can enjoy a gentle cruise on a water boat.

September is a special time when the Circuits des Remparts takes place in Angoulême. Vintage cars from all over Europe take part, it’s a wonderful weekend.

La Rochelle is a must-do and we love to visit the bird sanctuaries along the beaches and coastlines. There is always lots going on year round, and flea markets are huge fun and great if you’re looking for French antiquities.

Do you consider yourself a member of the local community – anything you get involved with?

We have only been here a year and have integrated well with the locals and try to get involved with most of the village activities. My wife is an artist and has already been invited to do a small exhibition in the village and to exhibit her work at village fairs. People are interested in what you do and like to involve you in the village life which they seem to be very proud of.

Tell us about your job in France

I’m an agent for Leggett Immobilier. It’s a great job and I get to look around some fantastic properties, learn about the area and meet interesting people.

I love knowing that I’m helping someone to achieve their dream of living in France, finding them their perfect home and helping them settle into their new life.

What 3 key pieces of advice do you give to your clients when they’re looking for property in the area?

  1. The thought of acres of land or orchards is lovely, but think about whether you can manage the workload.
  2. Explore the area – it’s as important as the house itself. Find out about local facilities, it’s a good way to start integrating into the community you might be living in.
  3. Not the easiest thing to do, but try and look beyond what you see in the house and image all your furniture in there and how the house will work for you and your family.

Finally, says David, give yourself time to adjust to the slower pace of life – and enjoy it!

See David’s portfolio of properties in Charente Maritime here

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