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Compare: Which French city is the cheapest to buy property in?

As everyone knows, house prices can vary dramatically between different French cities. Luckily, a new survey shows where in France you're likely to get the most bang for your buck. But would you move there?

Compare: Which French city is the cheapest to buy property in?
Photo: Alain Rouiller/flickr
Most people are aware that their dream pied à terre in Paris is going to come to with a heftier price tag than an apartment in any other city in France but it can be difficult to know exactly which French city suits your budget. 
 
Luckily, a new survey compares what you can buy in France's 20 largest cities with a budget of 212,000 euros. 
 
This amount, which was used as the measure by the company behind the study, online property brokers meilleurtaux.com equates to a monthly payment of 1,000 euros over 20 years which is equal to the borrowing power of a couple earning 1,500 euros (net) per month — slightly lower than the average wage in France. 
 
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Members' Q&A: Where is the cheapest place to live in France?

And it won't come as a surprise to anyone that Paris is by far the most expensive city in France to buy in, with a budget of 212,000 euros equating to a 22 m2 apartment in the French capital.
 
 
 
The south west city of Bordeaux (see below), which has experienced a boom in recent years, came in as the second most expensive French city, with property buyers able to get 46m2 for €212,000 – so double the size of apartment that you could buy in Paris.
 
 
But don't despair, there are a lot of French cities where property prices aren't through the roof. 
 
For example for the price of a 22m2 flat in Paris you could buy a modest two-room 50m2 apartment in Nice and a whopping 151m2 property in the central city of Saint-Etienne if you're willing to move there of course.
 
The city has seen a decline in its population in recent years and has an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent.
 
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Due to this lack of appeal, property price have fallen by 30 percent between 2008 and 2017.
 
Meanwhile in the north west city of Le Mans, famous for its Gothic-style cathedral and 24 hour race, you could buy a 118 m2 property.
 
Hot on the heels of the two most affordable city's in France in terms of property are Le Havre in Normandy (111 m2), the picturesque western French city of Angers and Nîmes in southern France, famed for its well-preserved Roman ruins. 
 
With a budget of €212,000 in both Angers and Nîmes buyers can get 95 m2.
 
Here's the full list (from cheapest to most expensive):
 
Saint-Etienne : 151 m2
Le Mans : 118 m2
Le Havre : 111 m2
Angers : 95 m2
Nîmes : 95 m2
Toulon : 92 m2
Dijon : 88 m2
Reims : 84 m2
Grenoble : 82 m2
Marseille : 74 m2
Montpellier : 72 m2
Toulouse : 71 m2
Rennes : 69 m2
Lille : 67 m2
Strasbourg : 64 m2
Nantes : 62 m2
Nice : 50 m2
Lyon : 47 m2
Bordeaux : 46 m2
Paris : 22 m2

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PROPERTY

The post-Brexit tax rules on selling second-homes in France

British second-home owners in France who want to sell their properties are being warned of an extra layer of administration - and expense - in place since Brexit.

The post-Brexit tax rules on selling second-homes in France

Brits wishing to sell property in France may now need to appoint a représentant fiscal (tax representative) in France in order to properly declare the sale to French tax authorities. 

Who?

This law applies to people who own property in France but do not live here – mostly that would be second-home owners but it could also apply to, for example, anyone who has inherited property.

This requirement has always been the case for non-Europeans such as Americans, Canadians and Australians and now also applies to Britons since the end of the Brexit transition period. People who live in another EU or EEA country are exempt.

The law is based on residency, not nationality. So if, for example, you have your main residence in the UK but have an Irish passport, you would still be covered by this requirement.

Exemptions

As well as EU residency, there are a couple of other exemptions;

  • If you sell your property for less than €150,000
  • If you have owned the property for more than 30 years (in which case the sale is exempt from capital gains tax and social security contributions).

What is a représentant fiscal?

This is simply a representative for tax purposes in France, and the person does not need specific qualifications in law or accountancy.

The following can be appointed:

  • A company or organisation already permanently accredited by the tax authorities;
  • A bank or credit institution operating in France;
  • The buyer of your property, if they are domiciled in France for tax purposes (they do not need to be a French citizen);
  • Any other individual who is domiciled in France for tax purposes (they do not need to be a French citizen) – in this case they will need to be accredited by the local authority;
  • If the property is in Paris, the individual will need to be accredited by the Île-de-France tax authorities – département de Paris-Pôle gestion fiscale Centre-Missions foncières, 6 rue Paganini, 75020 Paris. Tel: 01 53 27 46 45

If you decide to appoint an individual rather than a company as your représentant fiscale, bear in mind that the process can be quite complicated, so it would be better to check that they are confident in dealing with the tax authorities, to ensure that you don’t end up with unfinished business with the tax office.

If you chose a company, they will naturally charge for the service. 

Whichever representative you chose, you will need to provide a dossier of documents relating to the property sale and also confirming that you are a tax resident of a country outside France (tax returns, banking information, for example).

Will you have to pay tax on the proceeds of the sale?

If your main residence is not in France, you have no other income in France and you do not complete the annual French tax declaration you will not usually have to pay tax in France on the proceeds of the sale, provided your total estate is worth less than €1.3 million.

Properties worth more than €1.3million may be liable for the impôt sur la fortune immobilière (property wealth tax).

You will of course have to declare the income from the sale in the country where you are resident and, if applicable, pay capital gains tax.

What about French property taxes?

If you have owned property in France you will have been paying the taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation.

These will cease, but bear in mind that taxe foncière is charged based on who owned the property on January 1st of the relevant tax year. So if you sold your property in February 2022, you will still get a tax bill in autumn 2022 to cover that year. Only the following year will the new owner become liable, unless the sale contract for the property included an agreement to share or split outstanding taxes.

Find more information on the Internationals section of the French tax office website HERE or pay a visit to your local tax office in France. Find your local office by searching ‘Centre des Finances publiques’ plus the name of your commune – tax offices are open to the public on a walk-in basis and the staff are usually friendly and helpful. 

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