Last year, we spoke to reader Beth Nicholson about her move to the beautiful Charente, fulfilling a long-held dream to return to France. Back then, she told us about finding the ‘right house, the right village at the right time‘. Now, one year on, Beth is firmly ensconced in her ‘beautiful and joyful’ life in this tranquil corner of Aquitaine.

Back in 2018, we spoke about your recent move to this beautiful maison de maître in the beautiful hamlet of Deviat, near Aubeterre. Remind us a little about what kind of home you bought.

Well, I bought a lovely house in a village in the middle of the countryside, with a very large garden of around 2,000m2. Sometimes it seems like a bit of a park, so, if I were retired or a gardener, I would be absolutely beside myself! It wasn’t a renovation. It needed things like a new kitchen, patio doors and so on, so it was a question of redecoration. There are still some things to be done, but it’s perfectly livable as it is. If I’m honest, I’ve probably done more physical work than ever before, on the house and garden, but it feels like you are on holiday because it’s all for you!

Beth's beautiful home in Deviat.

Beth’s beautiful home in Deviat.

The move is the best thing I ever did, because now I’ve got a house for the first time in my life that looks exactly how I want it and is exactly what I always imagined but could never get anywhere else.

The move is the best thing I ever did, because now I’ve got a house for the first time in my life that looks exactly how I want it and is exactly what I always imagined but could never get anywhere else.

Last time we spoke, you told us how welcoming and warm everyone had been to you as a newcomer. One year on, how are you finding village life?

It’s wonderful living here, although the fact that I speak French is definitely a big help. There are more English people than you might think in Deviat, walking through the village, but they tend to live around the outskirts. The majority of my friends are French people, and it’s so much more enriching to be part of the community.

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Everybody in the village has been so kind to me. I think it helps actually because I am on my own. I can’t ‘hide’ indoors and not go and meet new people (and not only me – the dog would get bored too!). I suppose one of the worries when you move is that you have lifelong friends in the UK and you think, ‘I might make friends over there, but will I have people that I rely on?’ In actual fact, it happened more quickly than I had ever known it. Here, if people don’t see me for a couple of days, they ring me.

Beth's fabulous garden – a bit of a step up from what most people could expect in the UK!

Beth’s fabulous garden – a bit of a step up from what most people could expect in the UK!

People here are so friendly and helpful. If I’m struggling doing anything in the house, then I can just go and ask any neighbour for help and they will willingly drop everything and come over. Last summer, I could probably have gone without food shopping because vegetables and fish just arrived at my door from my neighbours! They struggle to get it eaten, so they just bring it around, and I’ll go out and come back to find a crate of tomatoes on my windowsill.

People here are so friendly and helpful. If I’m struggling doing anything in the house, then I can just go and ask any neighbour for help and they will willingly drop everything and come over.

France has definitely given me back my happy. It’s just a completely different pace here that allows you to recognise opportunities, recognise how to consciously go about your life, which was what was missing elsewhere.

A lot of people moving out full-time are looking for ways to earn money. Often, they’ll decide to set up a small business, or work self-employed. The way you’ve done it, however, is quite interesting: we understand you’ve actually transferred your existing business from the UK over to France. Tell us a little bit about how that worked and how it’s going.

Yes, I run a consultancy called Kalitera. I help business owners and individuals facilitate change – in other words, I help people build strategies to achieve their goals. That could be improving your business’ performance, supporting with marketing and social media plans, or it could be helping you with time management, resetting habits, learning to ‘get things done’.. Whatever it is, I’m there as a partner and a champion to help you fulfill your potential and be the best you can be.

I started off thinking business improvement wouldn’t work here, but I quickly realised there are lots of little businesses run by English people who have never had that kind of work before and need help.

Coming over to rural France was really interesting. I do work remotely with some clients – that was how the transfer worked – but a lot is on the ground here. I started off assuming business improvement would not work here because I’m not in a town and I didn’t want to commute to Bordeaux. I realised quickly that there are lots of little businesses run by English people who have not had a business of that nature before and they need help. So, I went from thinking that it wouldn’t fly to having more success than I’d thought! When you add on the communicative issues with the language, it can also be really helpful to them to have someone who knows how the administrative side of a French business works, too.

Another view of the expansive garden.

Another view of the expansive garden.

As the business becomes more established here, I will be more secure and able to do even more nice things, so I’m looking forward to that.

And finally, what you would you say to anyone else thinking of purchasing a home in France?

Take your time in finding the right place. I’ve got a friend coming over for dinner tonight who’s been renting while looking for houses. You come out with an idea, often ‘I want a house in the middle of nowhere, not near any person at all or any towns, because I’ve had it with people’, but it’s very important you come and spend time in the areas that you want to move to without any pressure, and understand how life is. A lot of people, for example, actually end up downsizing from a garden the size of a field, which you need to deal with on a daily basis. When you’ve found the right place for you, you will know! For me, it was the house that sold me on the area.

Buying a House in France Guide.

The France Buying Guide walks you step-by-step through each stage of the property buying process in France. Additionally, there are also practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to:


  Understand Brexit
  Find your property
  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

Download your free guide to buying in France

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