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PROPERTY

French property renovation grants closed to second-home owners

The French government initiative which provides financing for property renovations has closed to second-home owners - but for those living in France, there is still money available.

A Renaissance-era home in the French town of Langres undergoes renovation.
Old French properties might be beautiful, but are they energy efficient? Photo by FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI / AFP)

From January 1st 2022, people who own second homes in France can no longer benefit from the MaPrimeRenov’ scheme.

But if you live in a property in France as your primary residence, you can still access significant amounts of financing – up to €10,000 – to perform renovations on your home to make it more energy efficient. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

What is MaPrimeRenov?

Launched by the French government back in January 2020, the MaPrimeRenov’ scheme lets homeowners apply for financial help to renovate their homes.

These grants can be used for insulation, heating, ventilation and energy audits of homes. 

From September, some homeowners will need to pay for an energy audit if they want to sell their property. The average cost of one of these assessments is estimated at €700-800.

READ MORE The new rules for selling houses in France

The amount of money you will receive through MaPrimeRenov’ depends on where you live, your household income and the number of people living in your household – this will place you in the bleu, jaune, violet or rose category. 

Those in the bleu category are eligible to receive the highest level of financing – up to €10,000 in total.

In the greater Paris Île-de-France region, you will be allocated into a category according to the following income limits (which change in accordance with the number of people living in your household – composition au foyer). 

Credit: linternaute.fr

Outside of Île-de-France, the earning limits are as follows:

Credit: linternaute.fr

If you are in any doubt, there is also an online simulator which allows you to calculate how much money you could get through the MaPrimeRénov scheme. 

You can use MaPrimeRénov with other financial aid for renovation works such as the Certificats d’économie d’énergie and the Action Logement initiative. If you are eligible for support through MaPrimeRénov, you will often be eligible to receive money from these other schemes too. 

If you access a MaPrimeRénov grant, you can also benefit from a VAT reduction of 5.5 percent of any renovation works carried out. 

People renting property are not eligible to receive money under this scheme. 

What has changed in 2022? 

New legislation that came into effect on January 1st has changed a number of the criteria for accessing MaPrimeRénov grants. 

You can only apply for funding if the building is more than 15 years old and occupied for at least eight months per year. However, the exception to this is that you can apply for funding to a replace an oil-powered boiler if your property is more than two years old – which was previously the limit for all renovation works covered by the scheme. 

Within one year of asking for finance, the homeowner must be living in the property as their primary residence. This means that you cannot access MaPrimeRénov grants if you are planning to use the property as a second home. 

The works must be carried out within two years of applying for financing. If you receive an advance payment, the work must be carried out within one year. 

The earning limits detailed in the section above are slightly changed from previous years. 

How do I apply?

First you must create an account on maprimerenov.gouv.fr

In order to do so, you must have an electronic copy of your most recent tax return, an email address and the names and dates of birth for everyone living in your household.

Once you have created an account, you can submit a quote for the works that will be completed and disclose any other financial aid that you are receiving. You can find detailed instructions for what must be included in the quote under the Vérifier son devis et sa facture section of this page

The works must be carried out by a professional building company certified to carry out energy-efficient works – you can find a list here

READ ALSO: How to convert a rustic barn into your dream home

Do not begin building works until you have confirmation that your request for financing has been accepted. Once it has, renovations can begin. 

Collect the bill from the builders once the work is completed and send it to MaPrimeRénov via your account. You do not need to pay the builder up front – you can wait until you have received your money from the government. 

Where can I get more information?

For more information and to access the grant, go to MaPrimeRénov’. You can also call +33 (0) 8 08 800 700 if you have specific questions on the scheme.

It is possible to set up a free meeting with an advisor to get further information specific to your personal project – you can find your nearest advisor here. It is worth doing this before sending an application for financing. 

Other financial support for energy-saving renovations 

France has a number of other state-backed schemes to help you finance ecological renovations of your home. 

You could access a zero percent interest loan, known as an éco-PTZ, for example. These loans of up to €50,000 will be maintained at least until the end of 2023. They are issued by regular banks, but backed by the government. 

One of the benefits of taking out a loan rather than a grant is that there are no earnings limits. You must simply be the property owner – if you don’t live at the home yourself, you must be renting it or commit to renting it once the works are complete. 

The property must be at least two years old.

Works that can be paid for with an éco-PTZ include: roof, wall, window and door insulation; and installation of renewable-powered heating. 

You can use the same helpline listed for MaPrimeRénov’ if you have any questions. 

The government advice for all energy efficiency related renovations is to begin by isolating your property, before installing new heating systems. 

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FOOD & DRINK

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With rising inflation and cost of living, many people in France are desperate to keep their grocery bill low. Here are a few tips for how to avoid paying too much for food, drink and other everyday items.

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With inflation ticking upward, we’ve seen prices rise, especially for things like fresh vegetables, meat, pasta and cooking oil. Even though inflation is affecting food prices less than energy prices, buying groceries is still a huge part of every household’s budget, and unfortunately things are set to keep getting more pricey. 

We’ve put together a list of a few ways you can save a few euro at the supermarket:

Figure out if you qualify for any government benefits

First things first, it is worth seeing whether you can qualify for any existing government assistance, like CAF. On top of this, the French government has promised to set up a food voucher of €50 per month for low-income households after the parliamentary elections in June. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to receive CAF payments in France

Compare store prices

Unfortunately, going to the closest supermarket is not always the most economical solution. If you prioritise grocery stores on the lower end of the price spectrum (and you’re willing to walk a bit further) you can save a lot of money. A helpful tool to find the cheapest store near you is the “Que Choisir” online interactive map (click here) that has listed 4,000 affordable stores in mainland France. 

Discount grocery stores, like Lidl and Aldi, are great options for saving a little extra at checkout. But if you must go to a pricier chain, like Monoprix for instance, try to buy Monoprix brand items – they’re typically a little less expensive than name brand foods.

Plan ahead to make the most out of discounts

If you go online ahead of heading to the grocery store, you can see which items will be discounted (“promotion”). If you cannot find this information online, you can always go to the store and ask for a catalogue of that week’s sales items.

Normally, this is something the cashier should have access to. With these discounts in mind, you can construct more affordable recipes. 

Franprix’s website, the ‘discounts’ page

Also, if you’re looking for cheaper recipes in general, you can always go to blogs and online recipe sites specialised in frugal shopping. If you want to try some French specific sites, you can test out “https://www.marmiton.org/” or “https://1repas1euro.com/recettes/

When it comes to discounts though, be careful about conditions involved (particularly when it comes to loyalty cards).

Sometimes these promotions promise a lot, but actually getting your money back might not be as simple as slashing a few cents at the checkout – you might need to send the coupon somewhere to get the discount, or wait for points to accumulate on your card.

That being said, you can optimise your discounts using several online sites that allow you to combine your loyalty cards (Fidme, Fidall, and Stocard). Other online coupon sites include Groupon, which allows you to make grouped purchases (therefore cheaper), and Coupon Network and Shopmium, which help you benefit from existing discounts. For cashback plans, you can look to websites such as Shopmium, iGraal, FidMarques and Quoty, which allow you to be reimbursed for a part of your expenses.

Make a list, set a budget… and stick to it

It might seem obvious, but when you go into the store, try to resist temptation. The best way to do this is to keep track (in real time) how much you are spending.

Some stores make this easier by allowing you to carry around a ‘self-scanner,’ this will help you to watch your bill go up as you shop. Another tip for this is to withdraw the exact amount of cash you expect to need for the essentials of your trip – obviously in order to do this, you’ll need to know the base prices of your essential items, so it will require a bit of planning ahead.

Buy (then freeze) soon-to-expire products

A consumer’s best friend and sure-fire way to decrease waste! Items coming up on their use-by-date tend to be discounted, so if you plan to purchase these foods and then immediately freeze them, you can significantly extend their shelf life.

Lots of supermarkets make this easier for you by dedicating entire shelves to “short shelf life” items that, according to Elodie Toustou, the head of the “Money” section of the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs, opting for these foods will allow you to “pay three to four times less.”

Another great way to do this is to use applications like “Phénix” and “Too Good to Go.” These applications will allow you to set your geographic parameter and then click on food stores, restaurants, and bakeries in your area that are getting rid of “panniers” (sacks) of soon-to-be-expired foods. Lots of times these panniers cost only a couple euros.

The trick here is to plan ahead by arriving at the start of the allotted time (if the boulangerie on your corner is offering “Too Good To Go” bags from 11am to 2pm, try to get there as close to 11am as possible for the best items).

Re-consider markets and farmer’s stores

Contrary to popular belief, buying from farmers’ markets and grocers that sell predominantly local products actually can save you money, particularly if you are buying the seasonally relevant fruits and vegetables. Buying directly from a producer can also allow you to eliminate the margin taken by intermediaries. But be careful, this rule is not true all the time.

One way to benefit from cheaper prices at markets is to arrive as late as possible, when the merchants have started to pack up their products. This might allow you to benefit from lower prices or even free items, as they’ll be hoping to get rid of their remaining items.

Know what items are most impacted by inflation

Finally, as inflation continues to increase, try your best to monitor which foods are most impacted. If possible, it might be worth removing or limiting them from your diet – or looking for more affordable alternatives.

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