The question of where we go when we leave UFM is an interesting one. We moved here from North Wales where, in our post-industrial and unfashionable town, property prices are reasonable. We could happily return there and assume the life of UK pensioners.
I do have some concerns. The NHS is excellent and the envy of the world, but queues are long and its excellence seems to be subject to geographical variations. Also the life of a UK pensioner is sometimes a life of fuel poverty, especially if we live in an older, poorly insulated house heated by gas for long months of the year.
Modern flats can be found in city centres, and some might be within our reach. We have various little accounts here and there which, when matured and amalgamated might find us an apartment in a small city somewhere. Life in a city centre would mean that we wold not be dependent on running a car, another major expense.
Or we could stay here. Fuel poverty is less of an issue here as we never heat our flat. Anyway, it is connected to the city's heating system, fuelled by the recycling plant some kilometres away. Our energy bills are as low as I ever remember paying. And we haven't run our own car for years now. Our carbon footprint must be minuscule!
That raises another question. If we return to the UK then that almost certainly means buying somewhere. Here in France one can choose, and the choice is not simple.The apartment we currently rent is excellent. We are very happy here and it is convenient for pretty well everything we can want or need. However at present the rent takes a third of our monthly allowance and when we leave the mission and start to draw our pensions the proportion will rise to half.
When you rent you have no property taxes at all to pay. Our council tax equivalent has been abolished and we all recently received our bills for nothing at all. You are also not responsible for the maintenance of the exterior of the property. You pay charges that cover gardening and cleaning but that's all.
When you buy you are subject to a property owner's tax, and you become responsible for the upkeep of the exterior of the building.
Also you no longer have access to the money you used to buy the place. However you get to keep more of your income
Of course, the biggest difference comes when you leave. In this case, when you shuffle off this mortal coil. If you buy your descendants get an apartment either to sell or to share as a bijou pied-à-terre in a garden suburb near the central station of Bordeaux. If you continue to rent your descendants get to come and clean out your place as quickly as possible so the next occupant can come in.
So today we're going to see a lady about a flat. It's in an area near us that does not yet exist, on the not yet existing Rue du Vip overlooking the future Gardens of Armagnac. Because our income falls below that of a certain threshold established by the French government we may be eligible for un prix aménagé - a discounted price. The difference is considerable. More than 25% cheaper, and with other benefits thrown in to encourage people into owner-occupancy. It is true that the usual targets for this kind of help are young couples and families, but there is no age limit on the scheme as such.
So it's time to do lots of calculations and to make lots of phone calls.