February 25, 2024

How to move and permanently settle in France

A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing Your Permanent Ski Property in France

Are the French slopes your ultimate sanctuary? If the idea of owning a ski chalet in the heart of France is your dream, you’re not alone. Boasting world-class resorts with extensive ski terrains, France beckons skiing enthusiasts with promises of pristine slopes and breathtaking alpine scenery. Whether it’s the renowned Les 3 Vallées, encompassing Courchevel, Val Thorens, and Méribel, or the accessibility from the UK to destinations like Sainte-Foy, France is an irresistible haven for ski property enthusiasts.

However, for non-EU citizens, the dream of settling permanently in a French ski chalet comes with certain considerations and visa restrictions. While there are no restrictions on purchasing property, the duration of stay without a visa is limited. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to make your skiing haven in France a permanent reality.

Ski Property Categories: New Builds vs. Re-sales:
Understanding the nature of ski properties in France is essential. These properties are typically categorized as new builds or re-sales. New builds often involve leaseback arrangements where the buyer leases the property back to the developer for a specified period. On the other hand, re-sale ski apartments are owned freehold by the buyer.

The 90-Day Rule: Stay Informed:
For non-EU citizens, including post-Brexit Britons, the 90-day rule comes into play. Without a visa, you can stay in your French ski property for 90 days out of every 180. This regulation applies across the Schengen Area, impacting your overall time in France. However, if you’re seeking a permanent alpine life, long-term visa options are available.

If your spouse or civil partner is an EU national, you may be exempt from the 90-day rule. Otherwise, a visa is necessary for extended stays. While there have been calls for relaxing the 90-day rule, the current scenario requires careful consideration for those planning a prolonged stay in France.

Staying Longer than 90 Days: Long-Term Visa Options:
To extend your stay beyond 90 days, consider the VLS-TS (Long-Stay Visa equivalent to a Residence Permit). This visa allows third-country nationals to stay in France for over three months, up to twelve months. The application process involves submission at a French embassy or consulate in your home country. The VLS-TS grants visa-free travel within the Schengen Area and France, providing flexibility for trips to neighbouring countries.

Ownership Costs and Taxes:
Owning a ski property in France comes with its share of costs and taxes. Annual property taxes, Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d’habitation, are applicable. Rental income from ski properties is subject to French income tax. Capital Gains Tax applies to secondary residences, with rates tapering after five years of ownership. Additionally, the IFI (Impôt sur la fortune Immobilière) is a real estate wealth tax for properties exceeding €1.3 million in net value. French succession tax varies based on the beneficiary’s relationship to the deceased and the asset’s location.

Financial Considerations:
Navigating financial considerations is crucial when investing in a French ski property. Legal fees and purchase costs vary for new and re-sale properties. French lenders restrict mortgage repayments to less than 30% of the buyer’s monthly income, with up to 80% lending based on the property’s purchase price. Currency fluctuations impact international transactions, emphasizing the importance of using a currency broker for favourable exchange rates.

Buying Process and Legal Considerations:
In France, a notary plays a pivotal role in property transactions. While a single notary typically represents both buyer and seller, the buyer can choose their own notary and is responsible for associated fees. The process involves a preliminary agreement, “Compromis de Vente” or “Contrat de Reservation,” followed by a deposit and a mandatory cooling-off period. The final contract, “Acte Authentique,” is signed in the presence of the notary, completing the sale.

Minimum Income Requirement:
For those seeking a long-term visa, meeting financial requirements is essential. The monthly income for an individual is approximately €1,500, with increases for each dependent. It’s crucial to stay informed about these amounts, which fluctuate based on France’s minimum wage. Applying as a retiree or financially independent person restricts eligibility for employment in France.

Permanent Place of Residence:
Demonstrating a permanent place of residence, such as your ski chalet, is a visa requirement. The property’s size must be appropriate for your needs, considering factors like family size.

French Language Skills:
While not mandatory at the visa application stage, French language skills become relevant if pursuing citizenship. A strong grasp of French aids in acclimating to your new home. Consulting a bilingual lawyer for assistance with paperwork, whether for property acquisition or visa applications, is advisable.

Obtaining Healthcare in France:
France boasts top-notch healthcare, acknowledged by the World Health Organization. Comprehensive health insurance is mandatory when applying for a long-term visa. After three months in the country, you can apply for coverage under France’s universal healthcare system, PUMa. Obtaining a healthcare card, “carte vitale,” can take up to six months, underscoring the importance of prior health insurance.

Additional Considerations:
Explore financing options, including the potential to re-mortgage a UK property for a French purchase. Assess the resort’s infrastructure investments, as they can influence property value and your overall experience.

Embracing the French alpine lifestyle by establishing your permanent skiing haven requires thorough planning and adherence to visa regulations. While challenges exist, the allure of breathtaking slopes, vibrant culture, and a rich quality of life make France an enticing destination for skiing enthusiasts seeking more than a seasonal escape. As the prospect of easier processes looms on the horizon, for now, informed decision-making is key to realizing your dream of a permanent skiing retreat in France.

Summary:
The article provides a comprehensive guide for skiing enthusiasts aspiring to establish a permanent residence in their dream ski chalet in France. While there are no restrictions on purchasing property, non-EU citizens face a 90-day stay limit without a visa, a rule also applicable to post-Brexit Britons. To extend their stay, individuals can opt for the VLS-TS (Long-Stay Visa), allowing up to twelve months in France.

This piece delves into ownership costs, taxes, and financial considerations, emphasizing the importance of understanding the buying process with legal considerations and the necessity of meeting minimum income requirements for a long-term visa. The need for demonstrating a permanent place of residence, language considerations, and obtaining healthcare coverage are highlighted. Despite potential future relaxations in the 90-day rule, the current landscape requires careful planning for those envisioning a lasting alpine lifestyle in France. The allure of top-notch ski resorts, coupled with a vibrant culture, makes France an attractive destination, with informed decision-making being crucial for realizing the dream of a permanent skiing retreat.