“When I began taking French classes at 7-years-old, I knew that someday, I wanted to move to France,” says Mimi Knudsen, a writer from Reno, Nevada. It would take more than four decades for her dream to become reality, but Mimi and her husband Ken are now happily living in Lauzun, a village in a wonderfully scenic, rural region in southwest France known as the Dordogne.
Mimi and Ken began their overseas adventure in 2011, when they started exploring places around the world to see where they might want to retire. “Our initial plan was to come to France for six months and then continue on to Ecuador,” Mimi explains. They chose a short-term rental in southwest France, because their son was studying in Spain’s Basque country only hours away. But they soon fell in love with the area.
“On a whim, we looked at some houses and late on the first day of visiting properties with a real estate agency, we found our house in Lauzun,” she says. “We decided to buy it and made an offer the next day. The whole process, from offer to signing the papers, was about two months.”
The house suited their desires perfectly. Set in the middle of a medieval village, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house was once two houses, as evidenced by its half-stone, half-stucco exterior.
It has a large dining room with an enormous fireplace, a galley-style modern kitchen, a sunroom-turned-gym, that overlooks the backyard, as well as an attic and cellar. The house came with a separate garage that can be converted into a rental unit. The total cost was €125,000 ($147,000), plus an additional €3,000 ($3,540) for all the furnishings, including furniture, linens, dishes, pots and pans. The house needed no work.
Mimi says one of the best features about their home—and the one feature that assures them of reselling the property in the unlikely event they wanted to—is that their backyard faces Lauzun’s park, a lovely, verdant space that has a two-and-a-half-acre fishing lake.
“To be able to sit outside and look at Lauzun’s beautiful park and lake, is an attractive feature. It’s a popular place for dog-walking, fishing, and picnics but is very peaceful,” she says. “Since houses on this side of the street are rarely for sale, people often ask us to let them know first if we were to decide to sell.”
The price for Mimi and Ken’s home was a good one—but it wasn’t unusual for the village or area. In the Lot-et-Garonne department—the French administration area where Lauzun is situated—the average square foot price of a house is $144. (Compare this to say, Paris, where the average square foot price is $879.) You can find three-bedroom homes in excellent condition there, for under $200,000, without too much difficulty. If you’re looking for a property with a large backyard or swimming pool, expect to pay around $250,000 or a bit more.
Mimi and Ken love their home in Lauzun but enjoy traveling just as much. “Living here allows us to easily travel to other parts of Europe,” she says. “We’ve spent a lot of time in Spain and Portugal, and have taken advantage of bargain air fares between Bergerac and Amsterdam. Our most recent trip was to the Azores.” She writes about their life in Lauzun and travels on her blog, Away to Live. “Our mantra is to spend our money on experiences and not things, so we travel whenever we can.”
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