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Remote working in France prompts property race to the coast

The Local France
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Remote working in France prompts property race to the coast
Coastal idylle: Cap Ferret, with the Mimbeau sandbank in the Bay of Arcachon basin, on the Atlantic of south-western France. (Photo by Thibaud MORITZ / AFP)

The rise in the popularity of remote working has led to a shift in the French property market, with demand for a place by the sea and suburban houses with gardens soaring, according to a recent study.

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Seaside properties have long come with a premium in France – but the post-pandemic rise of remote working has led to an even sharper increase in demand.

Coastal areas have seen population increases of between two percent and five percent compared to pre-pandemic times, according to Insee data collated by Ifop political analyst Jérôme Fourquet and Fondation Jean Jaurès associate geographer Sylvain Manternach.

In some popular seaside locations, their research found, populations had jumped by as much as 10 percent.

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These population movements are “primarily affecting Atlantic coasts”, such as Morbihan and the Aquitaine coast, the study found. Further north, however, demographic pressure is generally lower – with the notable exception of the ever-popular Saint-Malo.

Meanwhile, in major cities, such as Orléans, Tours, Bordeaux and Strasbourg, there has been a notable shift away from central areas to the suburbs, dating back before the Covid-19 lockdowns, as French workers seek the ‘detached house with a garden’ dream.

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But new remote working opportunities and experiences of ‘teletravail’ during lockdown and beyond have extended the scope of people’s reach from the suburbs to further afield, driving the rush to the sea. And that has consequences, with property prices in some coastal areas rising rapidly.

Fourquet and Manternach write: ”This phenomenon has helped fuel continued peri-urbanisation and demographic growth in the suburbs of France's main metropolises, which are increasingly distant from the city centre.

The recent arrival of, “a wealthy population wishing to buy a home in coastal areas where real estate was already expensive has further increased prices, making them less and less accessible to the local middle and lower classes,” they said.

READ MORE: Revealed: Where foreigners are buying second homes in France

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