Just Merveilleux?

Life at № 42

What you can get in our region

aristocats

Prices vary tremendously, but in general they’re amazing value compared to major cities or other parts of Europe that have this sort of mild, sunny weather.

A couple of blocks down from us there’s a late 19th century 4 bedroom house that looks straight out of Aristocats. It’s a very manageable size of 286m2, with an excellent garden of 3000m2. The entrance hall is impressive. The price tag is only €530,000, which is just under US$600,000.

The size makes it quite flexible. Not too big for a couple, not too small for a family. Walking distance to the centre of town. I  inquired about it before we came; unfortunately the layout and room sizes weren’t exactly what we wanted, so it got crossed off our list.

If you want something with the same sort of generous spaces our house has, then this is an interesting option:

mazmaitre001

It’s got a glorious hallway with a belle epoque stained glass window.

mazmaitre002

Pool, orangery, south facing. 6 bedrooms. Price tag €660 thousand (around US$730 thousand.) It needs some work, but has a lot of potential.

If you’re looking for a townhouse without a garden, then there are some amazing bargains with elegant architecture. For €320,000 you can have this living room with stunning plasterwork:

maztownhouse001

If your budget is smaller, don’t despair. If you’re willing to put in some work you can get this other quite large townhouse for just €185,000

maztown001

This is a part of Europe where it’s still possible to buy a home at a reasonable price. There are small houses and apartments for as little as €30 to €40 thousand.

As quality of life goes, I couldn’t be happier. It’s clean, safe and peaceful; the people couldn’t be friendlier. Mazamet offers the charming combination of having an old world spirit while offering all the necessary conveniences of modern life. It’s also diverse enough so that outsiders don’t particularly stand out.

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28 comments on “What you can get in our region

  1. john zande
    July 8, 2015

    €530,000 wouldn’t buy you a toilet in Sydney today.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hariod Brawn
      July 8, 2015

      Shush John, don’t complain, our friends the bankers are kept afloat on the scandalous pyramid scheme they created and which is the global housing market.

      Liked by 2 people

      • john zande
        July 8, 2015

        And we should all be happy to have a half-a-million dollar toilet 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        July 8, 2015

        It works by concentrating wealth. The rich build protected enclaves and then inflate the value of those enclaves. There’s a ripple effect on surrounding areas. As competition builds, prices go up and up- and that’s how you get places like Sotogrande or Monaco.
        The interesting thing about old small rural towns is there’s no such thing. You get all types of people and properties in close proximity to each other.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn
        July 8, 2015

        Yes, that is certainly part of the problem Mr.M. The other element is the historical allowing of privately owned banks to ‘create’ money in the form of debt, and to price-fix this debt within what are their own self-sustaining cartels – try getting a banking license to compete; you won’t. This means the effective supply of money and hence ability to accrue assets are in the gift of private, heavily-vested interests, rather than in the state and the ability of that state to lend only in accord with a democratically mandated capacity. Instead, we have a global financial system completely out of control, with states frantically devaluing their currencies via Q.E. and Z.I.R.P. in bids to keep the plates spinning. It’s the only game the politicians know how to play; just look at the abject failure of it all in terms of human misery and any semblance of equality.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      July 8, 2015

      Exactly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. foolsmusings
    July 8, 2015

    Wow, I would have expected way more. I’m not sure you’d do any better here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      July 8, 2015

      I know we can’t do better if we want to be near the med and still have excellent services (health, roads, safety etc) 🙂

      Like

  3. Godless Cranium
    July 8, 2015

    Glad you’re happy there and those look like great places to live.

    Like

  4. docatheist
    July 8, 2015

    It does look lovely. Were I currently in a position to relocate there, though, I think I’d be a little afraid. Granted, the big cities will more likely be targets of Muslim terrorism, but I expect antisemitism, which has been on the rise for awhile, now, might not be so limited.

    Like

    • docatheist
      July 8, 2015

      sub

      Like

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      July 9, 2015

      The south of France has a very semitic history. A few years ago Daniele Iancu-Agou wrote a very interesting book showing (amongst other things) how between 1450 and 1550 the ‘neophytes’ married into the most important families of Provence. So it’s not just that we all look Mediterranean, many of us actually descend from Jewish families who were forced to convert.

      Like

      • docatheist
        July 10, 2015

        That fills me with so many more questions — most I can’t even formulate into words, yet. Please, can you tell me more?

        Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        July 10, 2015

        Very long story- but until the 1480’s Provence was basically independent from the French crown. Apart from having to pay higher taxes, Jews were valued members of society.
        That period is when everything went pear-shaped. Many of the Jews expelled from Spain fled to Provence. Many were held by pirates in the crossing. (I don’t know how a film about that hasn’t been made yet!)
        In any event an edict of expulsion from France was issued circa 1501- the alternative being conversion. The elite of Provence saw it as an opportunity to make important alliances.
        My ancestor, Gabriel Cohen, converted and took the name d’Estienne (which must have been done with the family’s approval.) By the time Gabriel’s grandchildren came along, they were marrying into the high Provencale nobility. Then there’s an interesting turn which Iancu-Agou points out, which is as soon as assimilation was done, the neophyte families started seeking each other out for marriage.

        Like

      • docatheist
        July 10, 2015

        More, please, more! Can you distinguish my email address, to write me directly?

        Like

      • docatheist
        July 10, 2015

        Perhaps you can write a book? Someone should! Someone must! And who better than you, E?

        Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        July 10, 2015

        email me at admin@sotogrande.us
        Do you read in French? Most of my notes on the topic came from French references.

        Like

  5. agrudzinsky
    July 8, 2015

    In terms of price per square foot, $200/square foot is very comparable to Portland, OR area. Although, in some places you would get a studio for $600k.

    Like

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      July 8, 2015

      And that’s a cold climate, isn’t it?

      Like

      • agrudzinsky
        July 8, 2015

        Not exactly. It rarely snows here. The latitude is 45 degrees north. Marseille is 43 degrees north. The Pacific ocean, however, makes the climate quite different from the Mediterranean. There is a cold stream from Alaska from the north. It rains 9 months a year, and the ocean is never warm enough to swim.

        But you have a good point. It may be worth considering selling a house here and buying a similar or even smaller house in rural south France for retirement. One of my son’s studies French in a French immersion school here. He is 9, but can read an speak in French. May be, I should piggyback on his classes and learn some French with him while he is at it.

        Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        July 8, 2015

        How many months per year do you have to heat the house? That was a major consideration for us because of fuel prices. In northern France people can easily have to heat for 7 to 8 months. Down here it’s half of that, which makes a substantial difference to our budget.

        Liked by 1 person

      • agrudzinsky
        July 9, 2015

        I think, we turn on the heater sometime in October-November and turn it off in April-May. That’s around 6 months or heating. Monthly gas bill averaged for the year is $87 per month. This includes the gas stove. The heating bill is not that bad. It’s less than the cell phone companies are charging for family plans these days.

        AC can be as expensive as the heating, if not more. What do you use for heating in your house?

        I’ve read that in Italy, some rural houses have stone walls about 1m thick. They keep the house cool in summer and warm in winter. All it takes to keep the house warm for the whole day in winter is to burn some wood in a metal furnace in the living room for 1 hour in the morning.

        In the U.S., the construction quality is crap. Everything is built of wood (residential) or metal frames (commercial) filled with insulation, then covered with plywood and siding. If you see a wall that looks like brick, it’s, most likely, a thin decorative siding with either plywood or concrete underneath. It’s hard to find a house that’s over 100 years old and is in a decent shape. Buyers avoid houses more than 20 years old.

        Like

      • Mr. Merveilleux
        July 9, 2015

        Well, you’d have a shock if you moved back to this side of the Atlantic. A larger house in Southern Spain will easily cost you about €3500 a year for heating alone.

        It’s true though that quality of construction is much better in Europe. Everything is brick or stone, or both. Thick walls do retain heat very well, but only on a room by room basis. And if a house has a grand hall and you leave doors open… there goes all the heat.

        Like

  6. Cary Vaughn
    July 8, 2015

    I loved how this made me daydream.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Arkenaten
    July 9, 2015

    It sounds like your touting for new neighbours from Blogsville?
    If we all turned up you’d go spare!
    🙂
    With the South African Rand as it is the price of properties you feature here are about par.
    I could go for the fixer – upper. he challenge would be great fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Merveilleux
      July 9, 2015

      I’m enjoying the discovery. I didn’t think there were still places like this left in Europe. Most warm-weather zones are over-developed, full of tourists and have obscene property prices.
      There are some amazing options for fixer uppers. I saw a gorgeous 4 bedroom townhouse the other day that’s listed for €48 thousand. And countryside fixer uppers with a bit of land aren’t too much more expensive.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mél@nie
    July 13, 2015

    je confirme pour Mazamet… next door from Toulouse! 🙂

    Like

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