The retirement of Dick and Libby Van Aken.

"Brittany is halfway to Spain so the weather should be between British and Spanish too", I argued. "Mmmmm", replied Libby my wife, "The winters might not be that long, but it can get very cold and wet." We were driving off the Saint Malo ferry and turned west along the coast road towards Brest. We had hired a small cottage for a week near the town of Loudeac in central Brittany. The objective of our trip was to consider France for a place of retirement. Many Brits buy low cost property inFrance, mostly in hamlets. A hamlet is a small farming community with usually between 4 and 10 houses grouped together. It must have been the old way for farmers to protect their families against raiders. There are an estimated 60 000 hamlets in France. Most houses are build of local stone and are hundreds of years old. You can buy a ruin with a quarter of acre land for as low as 10 000 Euro, or a very livable house in need of a bit of renovation for under 30 000. We went to see a property agent and he showed us a longuere, a farmhouse with two barns and an acre land for under 90 000 Euro. We quicly learned that most properties were desperately in need of renovations, including repair to the slate roofs, replacing the earth floor with concrete, fitting a sceptic tank as there is usually no sewerage in hamlets, and connecting electricity and water. We liked the idea of an old stone cottage, but I was not happy living inland so we drove to some coastal towns to compare prices. We found the coast more expensive, but nothing compared to the prices you pay in the UK. This was our first trip to Brittany and the idea of retirement here appealed to us.