Dreams do come true. And many expats who have found their wonderful new home abroad would agree on that, particularly the ones who live in France. A land of exceptional landscapes, thousands of historical monuments, distinguished art and culture, great cuisine, fine wines and one of the world’s most romantic places. It’s not a surprise that France is always among the top tourist destinations and one of most desirable countries to move in. But is it all so glamourous?

Lots of expats admit that moving to France could be a dream come true but sometimes establishing a new life – finding work, learning the language, creating a social environment—is hard to achieve. Additionally, many people find themselves trapped with unexpected expenses over a property they spent their life’s savings on. Taxes, piled up with utility and communal bills, can turn every beautiful dream into a nightmare. So, what you can do to handle that? Here are our ideas:

1. Open a chambres d’hôtes (B&B) or gîte

Running a B&B in France is a popular business due to the many tourists visiting the country. The home-like, friendly environment of B&B’s is often preferred by couples, families with kids and many people who live in big cities who are looking for an ideal weekend escape. According to the French law chambres d’hôtes, accommodation shouldn’t exceed 5 rooms and 15 beds, which makes it an ideal opportunity if you have bought a 4 or 5-bedroom house which is empty most of the time. All B&Bs have to be registered with the local “mairie” (town hall) and you need to fill out a registration form which shows the number of rooms, guest capacity, opening period and price list. It is important to remember that, according to French law, you are allowed to serve only breakfast in your chambres d’hôtes and if you decide to offer a dinner to your guests they should sit at your family table and eat the same food as your family, otherwise your establishment will be classified as a restaurant. 

There is another twist in the French legal system that can affect the running of the B&B: taxes. According to French rules, if your chambres d’hotes earns more than €23,000 and that accounts for more than 50% of your total income, you need to register in the tax office location Meublée Professionnelle, but, if you earn below that sum, you are not required to register as a business and pay business taxes. However, you still have to declare your income on your annual tax form. 

Another way to make money from your new property is with a so called “gîte”. That means, in other words, you would upgrade your outbuildings (barns, sheds) into places that are suitable for living in. With the new wave of hipster fashion, healthy and natural lifestyle, a gîte may be the golden goose for your pocket. Of course, at first you need to renovate the place. Keeping it simple and basic is the key. People staying in gîtes are looking for the basic necessities – a warm place, clean toilets, hot showers and comfortable beds. These, and some little DIY decorations are your key to success. 

And, just as with B&Bs, you are considered as a business only if the income from a gîte comes to more than €23,000 a year and it’s more than half of your household income. According to Tom Reilly, a British expat, who is running a gîte in Normandy, there must be at least 3 rooms in place to be able to make a profit.

 2.Make use of your land

If your new home, apart from being the cosy house you’ve always dreamed of, has a vast area of land and you’d like to do something more with it, rather than the usual gardening, here are some fresh ideas from other expats in France: 

Renting it to campers – similar to Airbnb, Gamping has a website where you can register for free and connect with campers looking for a quiet, private place that is different from the usual crowded camping places. 

Establish an olive or orchard garden – choosing trees that require less water and grow fairly easy. You don’t need to have a massive production, just enough to sell in the local farmer’s markets which are very popular in France. Also, if you open a chambres d’hôtes or gîtes you can also sell homemade jams, marmalade and olive oil as part of the overall “province” experience. 

Rent it out as a film location – now this is not a permanent source of income, but extra cash is always welcome. If you have a house in Provence, Occitanie or Burgundy, you are very lucky because these are some of the most popular film locations in France where movies like “A Good Year”, “Chocolate” and “The Hundred Food Journey” were shot. And, if you’d like to have some Hollywood stars hanging around your porch, websites like p20000lieux and Film France can help you out. All you need to do is to register your property for free, providing them with as many beautiful photos as you can.

Having a home in France is exciting and it brings lots of opportunities for new experiences into your life. Relocating is always a fresh start and the best way to do something that you are passionate about. Opening a B&B, becoming a wine producer, opening a craft workshop or if you are dog or cat lover, creating a kennel for pets, these are some of the ways to increase your income and, at the same time, enjoy your dream-come-true. All you need to do is to take the first step.