Living in the Dordogne

For a large number of UK residents, and also Dutch, the Dordogne is the perfect place to live.

There is plenty of space (a feature particularly appealing to UK and Dutch people), the climate is mild most of the year (though temperatures in winter can plummet for short periods of time in the winter) and summers are consistently warm, the region is very beautiful with an endless list of places to explore, and there are large expatriate communities.

Whilst supermarket shopping is probably more expensive than the UK French food markets are still great places to go to buy good quality fruit and vegetables and to meet up with neighbours and friends. Eating out in restaurants remains significantly cheaper than in the UK and if you are here in the summer the night markets are a great way to sit down and eat al fresco dining on local, quality produce. These are extremely popular and lots of fun.

While property in the region is no longer available to buy at 'bargain basement' prices it is still usually very reasonably priced compared with similar properties in the UK, and it is possible to pay a very nice property for 300-400,000 euros or less.

For younger people - and many families with young children now make the move as well as retirees - there are ways of generating income but these are usually low-paying and often hard work. Common options include gites, bed and breakfast accommodation,  home based computer businesses and working in the building trade. In truth, many families arrive and leave again after a few months or years, because of lack of money. Even living somewhere beautiful and escaping the rat-race loses its appeal a bit when you can't pay the bills!

Getting children into local schools is very easy. Indeed many are very pleased as increased numbers of children keep local schools open in smaller communities. Children tend to pick up the language very quickly though if there are a number of ex-pat children in the same school they tend to stick together at least to begin with and this slows down progress with the language.

The other challenge for arrivals from english speaking countries is the language. It is possible to manage with very little French language skills, but life will be less rewarding. It is difficult and discouraging learning French, and takes years rather than months to be able to hold a conversation properly with a French person.

But for all that, it is a great place to live, we live here, and wouldn't leave!

See also Buying a house in the Dordogne