It’s not every day that you actually get paid to buy a property rather than having to cough up levies and fees you hadn’t even thought about when buying a home.
But this is exactly the new proposition by 42 municipalities in the country’s Hauts-de-France region, the historical area formerly known as Picardie.
In a bid to breathe new life into this corner of France and in the process guarantee the restoration of old homes and buildings, local municipalities will hand over a €5,000 cheque to anyone who can provide new title deeds for one of the properties.
There are some other conditions, however.
First, you either have to be a first time buyer or a new resident in one of the Aisne municipalities in question.
Then there’s the fact that the properties that get the discount must have been on the market for three years.
And thirdly, the buyers must sign an undertaking before a notary stating they will stay for at least five years in the house, or be liable to paying €1,000 back to their local municipality for every year they’re not there.
“We have carried out a study that has led us to the conclusion that many of these houses have been empty for a long time,” Pierre-Jean Verzelen, president of the community of communes for Pays de la Serre told Le Parisien.
A lot of these are beautiful stone homes that have plenty of character and history but have fallen into disrepair.
The main priority for authorities is to restore the old structures rather than focusing solely on increasing the local population.
Crécy-sur-Serre for example, where Verzelen is also the mayor, has just under 1,500 people, but Pays de la Serre as an area has 15,000 residents. Here is a list of all of Pays de la Serre's communes.
“By the end of 2019, we’ll be the only territory in the whole of Aisne that’s fully connected to fibre optic internet,” he adds.
There are also two medical centres, several schools and daycare centres as well craft shops and general shops. Local council tax and other bills in the area are reportedly low.
“The message to families is that we have everything you'll need, so come and settle here because you’ll be fine,” Verzelen suggests.
House prices aren’t too high either, although as mentioned it’s important to factor in renovation costs.
The price for a 115 sqm former clergy house with a garden is €35,000 for example.
If you work remotely and have always dreamed of living in the French countryside, this is definitely une proposition très intéressante. Find out more here.