Escape To The Chateau Returns To TV. Are The “Experts” Right About The Risks Of Buying Overseas?

Dick Strawbridge, from Essex, his partner Angel and their two children are returning to our TV screens this autumn for a new series of Escape to the Chateau on Channel 4. 

In the first series, the couple risked it all by swapping their two-bedroom flat in Essex for a fairy-tale French Chateau, at a cost of £345,000 pounds. Around €390,000 euros based on current exchange rates.

Dick and Angel are now in the process of readying the chateau to host wedding parties, with ceremonies slated to take place in a spacious orangery whilst the guests enjoy staying in the chateau and taking in the stunning surrounding gardens and countryside.

Whilst Dick takes care of the gardens, Angel is adding a touch of design flair to the interior of the chateau, and the two have bought a van which they have transformed into a mobile bar.

Dick gave an interview to Mail Online Property, telling them:

“We definitely made the right decision buying this place. But would I go through it all again if someone told me they had found another place to do up? No way. We’ve invested a huge amount in this place and we can see our futures here. You only get one go at life and we are embracing it.”

At The Money Cloud we certainly understand Dick’s position, having written a series of guides on buying property abroad. It can be a huge, life changing undertaking, from understanding how mortgages work,  to calculating the amount you will have to pay in taxes (both at home and in the country you are buying in),  to finding the perfect place to buy – it took Dick and Angel 4 years to find their dream property – part of the reason they were unwilling to go through the process again. That, and their fledgling wedding business of course.

The Mail’s article goes on to explain that it is possible to find sizeable, and very grand properties across France at knock-down prices due to their remote locations, need for wholesale refurbishment, and expensive overheads.

But these kinds of investments are certainly not without risk.

Once the “dream home” is bought, refurb projects can quickly run over budget, and the money is not easily recouped through an onward sale if you decide living in France is not for you – especially if you have left your mark on the property – it may not be to another buyer’s taste.

In fact, it can be hard to purchase these properties anyway because buyers are expected to put down deposits of between 30-40% of the value of the property, according to overseas finance specialist Simon Conn, quoted in the article.

On the positive side of the ledger, counters Ray Boulger of mortgage broker John Charcol, mortgages in France are readily available and, largely unaffected by Brexit. So, now could be a good time to start making enquiries, after all. Just so long as you are honest and upfront about the state of your finances and you are really determined to make a go of it.

The Money Cloud View

What really intrigued us at The Money Cloud was Mr Boulger’s advice about transferring money overseas, both to pay the initial deposit, and when making regular mortgage payments.

“To transfer money to France you will need a French bank account. But transferring small amounts overseas can be expensive. There are various apps and other ways that are much cheaper, we recommend just avoid using your bank.”

We couldn’t agree more, and in fact encouraging people sending money overseas to avoid incurring hefty fees, not to mention uncompetitive exchange rates, by using banks or wire transfer services like Western Union, was the entire reason we set up The Money Cloud, our comparison service to help you find the best rates available when sending money overseas.

And now we can give you a perfect example; let’s take Dick and Angel’s recent purchase.

Dick and Angel paid £345,000 for their fairy-tale chateau. If they were buying today and using The Money Cloud to search for the best rates possible to transfer the money to their newly opened French bank account (it’s always best to open a bank account in the country where you are buying your overseas property), they would make a saving of a whopping £14,800.50, compared to if they had used a retail bank.

That works out at nearly 4.5% of the entire amount transferred. Just imagine how grateful Dick and Angel would be for the extra cash. It would probably pay for their entire mobile burger van!

How can we be so confident that such a large saving can be made by using the Money Cloud?

Because The Money Cloud supplies real time quotes from hand-picked, FCA authorised specialist currency brokers. Whenever we provide you with a set of search results we also tell you the saving you will make compared to a retail bank, whose rates and charges we are very familiar with.

In our example, when we ran the numbers some of the best deals were being offered by the likes of Effective FX, Investec Private Banking, OFX and Fair FX, Moneycorp, plus many more besides. These kinds of specialist currency brokers will work closely with you and use all the benefit of their experience in the Forex markets to find the best deals for you, and give you a dedicated, personalised service.

With a saving this large, it really is a no brainer use an overseas money transfer rates and fees comparison service every time you send money abroad. The pay-off is enormous.

And Mr Boulger is right to mention apps too. In recent years, new technologies such as peer-to-peer matching and even more recently, the blockchain, have dealy a huge blow to the banks by undercutting their fees by as much as 85%, and offering vastly superior exchange rates. And using these types of online and app based services, such as TransferWise, or Azimo, is another great way to transfer smaller amounts overseas.

Both TransferWise and Azimo rates are featured on The Money Cloud’s site.

The Mail article suggests a few properties in France currently on the market, so we’ll suggest one of our own, too, and of course, we’ll also tell you what you can save by deciding to use The Money Cloud.

Our recommended property!

This nine bedroom property in Bergerac, Dordogne, Aquitaine dates back to the 16th Century and boasts an 80-metre squared living room, 3 separate gites, a B&B business with conference room, swimming pool and even an outdoor children’s playground.

Cost = €945,000 Euros.

Amount to send = £840,003.70.

 The Money Cloud estimated saving using our site compared to using your bank = £33,200.20.

If you are feeling inspired, we wish you all the best in your search – drop us a line and let us know how you are doing!