I don’t know if it’s the gloomy weather, my discovery of an interesting blog called Move To Portugal (where the author chronicles the detailed plans of herself and her family to be living full-time in Portugal by 2012), or the fact that I just collected two Jack Russell passports from the vet for our holiday in Provence (Enrique looks stoked, right?)...

...but I’ve started thinking longingly about what life will be like when Andre and I move to France in a few years time:

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Provence

And then it occurred to me that while I’ve mentioned our five year masterplan before on this blog, I’ve never talked about it in detail. So let’s put that right.

Andre and I have a five year plan to move to the south of France. We’ve been thinking about doing this for several years now, but we actually sat down in May last year and wrote a plan to make it happen.

Lourmarin, Provence

We adore France – the culture (everyone has a proper sit down lunch followed by a siesta!), the people (so friendly!), the language (so beautiful!), the food (brie! camembert! baguette! croissant!), the landscape (Gordes!) and the weather (they have actual summers!) – plus the education and health systems look pretty awesome. It’s close to our families in England, there will always be low-cost flights to Provence, it’s an easily driveable distance, and I already speak French, so it’s an obvious choice.

Gordes, Provence

Andre was born and grew up in South Africa, but moved to England about eight years ago, so he’s already done the whole ‘put your life in a suitcase, buy a one-way ticket, and fly across the world’ thing. We figure if Andre could do it by himself, then we can do it again together.

Séguret, Provence

And really it’s a win-win situation. Either in five years we’ll be living in France - or we’ll still be in England, but we’ll have some nice savings in the bank, we’ll have improved our French dramatically, and we’ll have taken some super-awesome holidays. And probably be really tubby from all that brie.

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Provence - we stayed in this villa last summer. Yeah, it was pretty nice :-)

Le Five Year Masterplan has six elements:

  • Finance (suitable savings will be required – we are not going to be like the families on TV who head off into the sun casually expecting to make a living from running a little B&B, despite having no experience whatsoever in the hospitality industry)
  • Virtual Research (internet research about French education, health, tax, culture, property, house prices, ex-pat life and so on)
  • Local Research (holidays to our favourite areas, especially off-season in months like November and February)
  • Language (me = improve, Andre = learn)
  • Career (continue developing our current careers where all we need to do our jobs are laptops and an internet connection)
  • French-dog practice (French dogs are super-well behaved. Our dogs are not well-behaved).

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Provence

So, over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more details on each of these six areas, starting with the approach we’re taking to being sensible about saving money - while simultaneously ensuring there is enough left over for regular dinners at The Lime Tree, holidays in Paris, cute floral wellies, seven types of Clarins moisturiser (me), seven types of mother-board (Andre) and seven types of Schmackos (Enrique and Penny).

Anyone else fancy living abroad? Anyone got an actual plan to make it happen?

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