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We’re renovating a 300 year-old fixer-upper in France!

                     

 When we were housesitting for a year in the south of France, we took the opportunity to go house-hunting for the perfect home for just €20,000. We weren’t sure it was possible. . .

We wanted to find a home in a village where we could get everywhere we needed to on foot or by bike, that also offered public transport to Paris in under 3 hours, and if this imaginary village just happened to be situated in the Loire Valley, that would just be an incredible bonus!

We visualized a townhouse that had space for a large art studio and a writing study, the possibility of a roof terrace, space for Sean’s 88 year-old mum’s bedsit, and loads of character. . . 

And preferably . . . all for less than 1/10 of the cost of most houses in the US or England. When we took the plunge and transferred the money over, the bank representative said, Righty-ho, is that the downpayment, then?

Ha!

After viewing dozens of properties throughout France — enchanting old farmhouses, isolated homes overlooking vineyards, a renovated church in a nudist hamlet, a home with blue walls next to a sacred mountain, old barns covered in wisteria vines, and a 19th century mill in the south — we finally found our perfect home. It seduced us by checking off all of our wishlist requirements and then wowed us even more with two wine cellars and a medieval moat tower, to boot!

So I moved all of my things from my apartment in Florence, Italy, and Sean moved all of his things from England, and we proceeded to live in the derelict (almost!) property our first winter with minimal creature comforts: a pee-pee jar, candles, and hot water bottles.

Things are positively swanky compared to that, a year and a half later, though some ceilings are still caving in and all 4 of our roofs need replacing…

Thankfully our lives are perfect for taking on this kind of challenge. My kids are grown up, I’m a writer and freelance editor, so I have an income despite being in a rural area. Sean was an electrician and artist all of his life, so he’s no stranger to construction sites. . . or creativity and problem solving!

We figured if he quit his job and worked 100% on our home, it would pay much greater dividends than if he got a paycheck and paid other people to do the same work.

If our lives were any different, I have no idea how we could make this work. . . we feel so giddy that it all worked out. . .and continues to work out so beautifully, day after day.

Some friends affectionately call our house The Castle, while others ask if we’re asking ourselves WHAT HAVE WE DONE???

To be honest, we feel like we’re getting away with murder. No rent? No mortgage? Like, ever again? Surrounded by rolling hills, fields of sunflowers, and the French language?

Getting to know our wonderful neighbors — not just the French, but people who chose to start their lives over in this beautiful little village just like we did — people from the Netherlands, England, Singapore, Australia, Iran, and on and on . . .this place is so far from the sleepy little village we thought it might be. 

I mean we have neighbors who leave vegetables on our window sill fresh from the bio market, while others leave books of poetry in our mailbox. There’s so much goodwill here, and such a spirit of inclusiveness, open-mindedness and progressive thinking. 

Come watch our mad, quirky, wonder-filled renovation adventures and roll your eyes at how daft and starry-eyed we are.