They celebrated their 25th anniversary with a trip to Paris and ended up buying a stone house in the countryside for $100,000. Now, they’re dreaming of retiring there.

They celebrated their 25th anniversary with a trip to Paris and ended up buying a stone house in the countryside for 0,000. Now, they’re dreaming of retiring there.
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A Gen X couple posing in front of their stone cottage in the French countryside.
Michael and April Meyer posing in front of their stone cottage in the French countryside.

  • Michael and April Meyer bought a stone house in France for about $108,000 in 2022.
  • The house was fully furnished and came with over 1.6 acres of land in the countryside.
  • The Gen X couple from California is now toying with the idea of retiring there in the future.

Michael and April Meyer’s love affair with France began with a trip to the country five years ago to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

“I wanted to surprise April with something, and I knew that she loved art but had never really been to Europe,” Michael, 56, told Business Insider. “We usually went to Hawaii for vacation, but it was our 25th anniversary, so I surprised her with a trip to Paris.”

The couple, who are from Sacramento, were charmed by every part of the city — the culture, the food, the people.

A Gen X couple posing in front of their stone cottage in the French countryside.
Michael and April Meyer posing in front of their stone cottage in the French countryside.

“It was kind of transformative, and we went back almost immediately, like six months later,” Michael said. The couple visited other parts of France and returned for a holiday whenever they could.

“But we still loved it. We kept going back, to try to get bored, and it just didn’t happen,” April, 54, told BI.

They liked the idea of spending more time in France, but it wasn’t until Michael retired from his engineering job last year that they decided they were ready for a new adventure.

The couple had recently downsized their home, and their kids had moved out, he said: “We were like, ‘OK, what are we going to do?'”

The front of the stone cottage.
The front of the stone cottage.

“So we decided to just go look at some homes,” April, a teacher, added.

House-hunting in the countryside

The couple knew that they wanted to be in central or northern France because that’s where they felt their dollar would go further, April said.

They ended up arranging a six-week trip across the French countryside, zipping from Burgundy to Bordeaux and then to the Loire Valley, to view some houses that were for sale.

“It was like our Tour de France,” Michael said.

An alternate view of the living room and fireplace.
An alternate view of the living room and fireplace.

The couple was working their way down a list of properties they were interested in, which included a quaint €85,000, or about $92,000, stone house in a small hamlet some 12 miles north of Limoge, a city in central France, that they liked.

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The couple wasn’t planning on viewing the house until later in the week but got an email from the real-estate agent urging them to push their viewing date forward.

“He said, ‘If you’re really interested, you need to come tomorrow because it won’t be here on Thursday,'” Michael said, recounting the agent’s words.

The property had been under offer with another buyer, but the deal fell through, he added.

“So we jumped in the car and started driving,” Michael said.

When they arrived, they knew almost immediately that the house was the one.

The kitchen and dining area.
The kitchen and dining area.

“It checked all the boxes. It was in a small hamlet in the country. It had a fenced yard for our dog. It didn’t have a garage, but there were barns and the roof was redone. It was very well taken care of,” Michael said.

And the house even came furnished, April said. The owner had died earlier in the year, and her kids didn’t want the items anymore, so they left almost everything behind.

“All of the appliances were in the kitchen, there’s even a dishwasher, all the dishes, bedding. Everything was included,” April added.

Including taxes and other fees, the couple ended up paying about €100,250, or $108,000, for the property, which was built in 1789. The house has three bedrooms and one bathroom and came with a little over 1.6 acres of land, April said.

“We really just kind of stumbled into it, but acted quickly, especially after we went and saw a few other places nearby that were kind of a little more rough,” Michael said.

The living room and fireplace.
The living room.

They made the offer in July last year when they were only a third through their planned six-week trip, Michael said.

“The nice part about doing that and having those six weeks is that we literally got to come back three times,” he added. “We drove back to sort of solidify our decisions and explore around the area.”

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The couple finally closed the sale in September, and Michael flew back to France alone to get their utilities and some minor repairs sorted.

“It’s not renovated per se, but we could live in it the way it was for as long as we wanted to. It’s completely safe and comfortable,” April added.

The bedroom.
The bedroom.

Embracing French culture

The couple is also committed to immersing themselves in the French way of life — they’re even taking French language classes back in the US.

They’ve made some friends already, noting that almost everyone they met has gone out of their way to help them settle into their house.

“They’re like, ‘Oh, you want to do that? We’ll help you. Let me call the nursery. I know the man who owns it. He’ll open it for you on the weekend,'” April said. “How does that happen? Nobody does that in America. That’s just how it is there — it’s just the most welcoming.”

An outdoor sitting area in the garden.
An outdoor sitting area in the garden.

Their French stone house is a vacation home at the moment, but the couple is toying with the idea of possibly retiring there in the future.

The cost of living in the French countryside is much lower than in California, and the couple feels their retirement dollars can go further.

“There’s no way we could have what we have there in California. That house, as modest as it is, would be a million dollars,” Michael said.

The median listing home price in Sacramento is $479,500, based on the latest data from real-estate platform, There are 978 single-family houses for sale in the area, with prices ranging from $195,000 to $3.88 million.

But it’s not just about the money; it’s about the adventure and thrill of doing something different in their retirement, too, April added.

“We had this little saying, ‘Why not?’ Now it’s just like, ‘Why not now?'” Michael said, adding that they plan to spend all their future vacations in France before they make a decision.

“This is sort of our ‘try it before you buy it’ kind of thing,” he added.

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A growing number of people are considering retirement overseas, whether they’re seeking a slower pace of life or a lower cost of living.

While there are no exact figures around how many Americans retire abroad, almost 444,000 people received their Social Security benefits outside the US in 2021, according to data from the Social Security Administration. This is an increase from slightly over 346,000 people in 2011.

A new adventure

The couple has been documenting their journey in France on their YouTube channel, and it’s mostly Michael’s idea.

Michael has been fairly active on social media ever since he retired and has a separate channel where he posts funny videos of their dog, Bernice, who also tags along on all their trips to France now.

When the couple bought their French house, Michael thought it’d be nice for them to share this part of their life online, too, like all the other travel and renovation channels that his wife enjoys watching.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t we see if we can do the YouTube thing?’ Which is really scary since, to do that, you kind of open up your life,” Michael said. “But it’s about sharing the adventure.”

Michael does all the video editing, and it’s something that he really enjoys. He even gets tips from their daughter, who majored in film in college.

“It’s kind of a hobby. And I kind of liken it to an art form, where you want to create something that has a good feel and put out good energy,” Michael said.

The couple hopes to inspire others with their journey.

“We’re midlife, and there are people who don’t ever try. They don’t go anywhere,” April said. “You only get so long on this planet, and I would love for people to see that it’s possible to achieve their dreams.”

Have you recently built or renovated your dream home? If you’ve got a story to share, get in touch with me at [email protected].

Read the original article on Business Insider


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