Name: Terry Robins
Originally From: Brighton
Moved To: Pressignac, Charente
Karate instructor Terry Robins made the most of the UK’s close proximity to France by dividing his time between the two countries for three years, before deciding his future lay permanently across the Channel.
“My sister and her son came over here permanently in 2004,” Terry explains. “We had a guest house in France which she ran until I moved over for good in 2007. I had travelled back and forth for three years to keep my karate clubs running in the UK until I could get someone to run them.”
Back in the early noughties, the original plan had been for Terry to open a French training centre for his Karate club. “That plan soon changed and we ended up with the guest house,” he recalls. “We found the property on the internet through a French estate agent, looked at a few properties with their help and that was it. The estate agent helped us do everything from the legal stuff to showing us how to open a bank account.
The guest house was located in Benevent-l’Abbaye in the Creuse department of Limousin. After running it for three years they sold it for what Terry describes as “a decent profit.”
Their next stop was Marsac, situated around 10 kilometres from the guest house. “With the profit we made, we were able to buy two houses and still be mortgage free,” he says.
However, the siblings were still not totally settled just yet. “In 2014 we moved a bit further South to Pressignac in the Charente where we now live,” Terry continues. “The Creuse got very cold in the winter it is a lot warmer here.”
While Terry is in little doubt that he has enjoyed the last nine years living in France, he does admit that the language barrier was, and sometimes still is, problematic.
“My sister and I both spoke some French, but I must confess I still find it difficult,” he admits. That said (and importantly for any of you planning to move to France with young children) he believes that initially things were probably tougher still for his nephew.
“He was 14 when he came here and the local school put him into a class of 12 year olds,” Terry explains. “At the time he did not like this, but he now knows that it was the best thing for him to learn the language.
“In fact, he now speaks French fluently and works as a mobile phone salesman.”
In addition to benefitting from a more relaxed way of life to what he was previously used to, and enjoying living in a rural area which affords him lots of open space, he is also keen to dispel the stereotype some Brits may hold of the French being rude, or at the very least aloof.
“I actually find that the French, on the whole, are politer than the British,” he notes. “It was strange at first to walk down the road or into a bar and have complete strangers wish you a good morning.”
So what advice does Terry have for those who dream of a life across the Channel?
“The key is to check out an area first, and go and visit,” he states. “There are many English-language websites where you can get good information, but nothing beats seeing a place for yourself.”
While Terry may have never ended up running a karate club in France like he had originally intended, it’s unlikely that you’ll hear him complaining too loudly about the way his initial plan ended up.