Greetings dear readers and friends. So… we’ve moved! After living for 7 years in the portside city of Toulon, we recently moved just outside the village of Ollioules – a ten-minute drive from our former home and near the towns of Sanary-sur-Mer, Six-Fours-les-Plages, and Le Beausset village.
We’d been thinking of moving from Toulon for quite awhile. The city has many benefits, including immediate access to the beaches of the Mediterranean, but we were hoping to get closer to what makes this region so special – the picturesque and charming villages that make up “la belle Provence”.
But which one to choose and where to go? And how to know if we’d picked the right one or not?
In the end, we spent months researching and trying to figure out where the best location for us might be. We thought about different villages around Aix-en-Provence and also considered moving further up the coast. On a gloomy Sunday in May, we even drove out to Cotignac (about an hour away) because it seemed like the ideal Provençal village (which it quite near is!).
There were so many factors to consider, and of course everyone moving abroad has different situations, but I thought it would be nice to share our moving process for anyone who has the same ideas of “escaping” to a village in the South of France.
Here are a few things we considered before making the move.
-Home prices vary greatly across the region.
Of course, this is a biggie! Sometimes it all comes down to what your budget is, and what you’re able to do with a large, or small, property. Cotignac was a big plus for us because prices are cheaper and you get a lot for your money. On a smaller budget, say €250,000, you can get a great village house smack-dab in the middle of all the action. Go a bit further out, and get yourself up to about €400,000, and you’re close to having a veritable mansion with a big plot of land and a swimming pool. Lovely! For the same price in a seaside town like Sanary-sur-Mer (which is absolutely gorgeous) €400,000 won’t go very far. You can get a sort of “townhome” with a small garden and find yourself quite possibly near the train station. Living near the sea in the South of France will cost you a pretty penny.
-Consider how you’ll spend your time.
This is another biggie. If you’re in a village a bit further afield, like Cotignac, you are really living the “country” lifestyle in many ways. This area of Provence is simply stunning. Vineyards as far as the eye can see, olive farms galore, nature trails, lakes, campsites, the whole works. But you’re also far from a lot of shops and just general industries. Will you work or stay home? Working can mean that you’ll have a bit of a commute if you can’t find anything near the village. Perhaps you’ll stay home and take advantage of the many social events and local committees. Or you could even open a B&B with all the extra house / land you’ll have. The fall and winter months are definitely a lot slower when living in a village, so it’s a good idea to think about how you’ll organize your day.
-Visit as often as you can.
A big influence in our decision to move to Ollioules was that we knew, and liked, the village already. When we really focused our attention on moving there, I tried to go as much as possible to really get “a feel” for the place. I learned about where the “good neighborhoods” were and also that certain areas were surprisingly noisy. We attended the local “club day” to learn more about the associations and activities in Ollioules and started having coffee at a local café on Saturday mornings. Every experience we had was positive, and I felt the village had a great community spirit, something we really wanted to be a part of. I also felt that if we’d decided to move to another village further away, we’d have to rent for awhile to see if it would be a good fit for us.
-Are you ready for village life?
As my fantasy self, I was sure that I would quit my job, move to Cotignac, and open a Bed & Breakfast… and live happily ever after. Sounds pretty fantastic right? Well, my “real” self realized that I’m much more attached to city-living than I thought and I need to be close to a larger town. So our village lifestyle amounts to trying to have a bit of both worlds – village life and the “creature comforts” of having access to a bigger city. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for us. Perhaps you’d also like a mix of both, or you’d prefer to get away from it all and live a quiet lifestyle.
Either way, it’s a big decision that involves a lot of research and knowing what you’d like to get out of the experience. It’s all fresh and new for us, so I’m discovering more and more every day.
Wishing you a very bon week-end from Ollioules!