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Ideal ski place to buy

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Mother hucker wrote:
do owners not struggle to rent out the 20>25m2 studios?

I think it all depends on what your plan was when you bought it, quick run down of last year shows I used it 8 weekends & fiends used it 5, so it doesn't leave a lot of free weeks to rent out
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Jonny996 wrote:
I used it 8 weekends & fiends used it 5,

Did they leave a mess?
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Am always thinking about it. planning trips out to have a look then changing my mind. Love skiing for a few weeks a year but also sailing and more exotic adventures diving too. Only so much money to spread around.

My wife does not ski. She might enjoy a week or towo in the Winter or Summer max. I would be concerned that if I was out by myself I would have no one to ski with. My friends have more limited leave than I. It would be expensive paying for mates all the time (off-piste guiding). I know there are groups that seem to form in Tignes and Flaine but little else. Possibly use the Ski Club GB scheme.

I would not want to have to rent a car either. That makes Three valley and EK expensive to go to alone.
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@hawkesbaynz, From your post I would agree buying is not for you. My wife also doesn't ski but she still likes to be there for Christmas & New year & she also comes out for the later half of half term. it's in the summer that it really benefits her. She was never that much into walking/hiking but now she loves it, it may be a coincidence but ever since we bought in the mountains she has adopted a far more healthy lifestyle.
Always surprises me at this time of year when I start feeling guilty for having all my trips lined up & she says she's glad we bought it (maybe that's because she gets weekends to her own here)
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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Buying was the best thing we ever did. We bought just before the referendum and managed to change our money over at 1.31 avg, which was fine, but we would have bought at today's rate as we are taking a long term view on it. One of the reasons for buying was to have a diverse but financially stable piece of property in our portfolio, something which we could also enjoy using. This meant it had to be in one of 5 resorts that we thought could offer good growth for the next 20 years, even allowing for climate change.

Once purchased, we then embarked on a pretty major refit (the thread showing the build story is on here somewhere) and had it finished in 9 weeks, in time for the 2016/7 season. We do a lot of weekends (Friday night to Monday night) as we are both still working, plus at least one full week skiing. In winter we are averaging around 40 days a season and in summer around 6-8 days. Next year we will be doing much more in the summer as we love summers in the mountains so much. We absolutely love the hiking, but also the commercially operated activities, such as rafting, canyoning and MTB/VTT. We love the summers so much, we suspended plans to buy another property in the Balearic.

More than anything, it is our home. We have never intended to rent it and as others have said, the joy of walking through Geneva/Gatwick/Stansted with just a rucksack or wheelie back is not something to be underestimated.

We buy Easyjet Plus cards and are now also in Easyjet's flight club, which gives good benefits. If the forecast is for it to tip down with snow all weekend, we can move the flights with no fees, or we can still go and just catch up with friends. The flexibility is the key. Equally, we have moved flights to time arrival in the resort just after epic dumps and have enjoyed some amazing powder days, when we such a last minute booking would be almost impossible.

Cost to own (insurance, maintenance, all utilities, co pro, taxes) comes to approx £4k per annum, so under £100pd between us and just over 1% of the property cost. Growth has been good in VdI, thanks to the height, the investment into snow making and thanks to forward thinking mayors and planners.
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Quote:

When we paid the deposit on our place I bought a forward contract for the rest of the purchase price at 1.62

Yep, me too. 1.62. When the euro was young and weak.... didn't stay that way for long.
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Quote:

do owners not struggle to rent out the 20>25m2 studios?

Those are the easiest sizes to rent out. They suit 2-4 people. Bigger ones are harder to let
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I honestly cannot imagine sharing with 3 other people in something 20-25m2.

To put it into perspective, a parking space is 12m2.
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I looked hard at this back in the early 90s with the idea of having two properties one in a ski resort and one down on the med coast possibly of Portugal with the idea of renting one out and living in the other in retirement. Swapping over perhaps with a camper van.

At the time the French government were pushing the sales of ski apartments in places like Les Arcs and while it looked good I am glad we did not buy in the end. I still keep in contact with people who did buy and they felt they kept getting hit with high property service charges and upgrade charges especially if they did not leave the property for rent for the whole season.

Currently retired and living on a boat in the Eastern Carib with an annual ski holiday to Utah.
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Small studios are cheap - and that's what plenty of people want. In the same way, the rental return on a one-bed flat is better than on a 4-bed detached house. Sharing a small studio between 4 people is rather like living in a medium-sized yacht and a lot more comfortable than living in a small one!
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reading this thread with interest...several years ago I bought in Morillon......with a longer term view to personal usage at the of the leaseback back period etc......the crash saw to it that those plans got pushed back a bit but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.......and am hoping for slowing of working life enabling personal use, a little bit of renting out to cover some costs and winters and summers in Grand Massif......

exchange rate was 1.45 to £1 at the time so even if the property value was the same or less....its still the right side
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I bought in Samoens about 3 years ago, and just got in with a decent exchange rate. Best thing I ever bought. Ski at least 5 weeks a year, but just as good if not better is the summer. Wife and kids spend the whole summer holidays based out there, and I spend most of it as well. Summer in the alps is really special.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
What about a time share rather than a whole apartment?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@FrediKanoute, and limit your self to the same week every year and having to bring your stuff back and forth every time - how is that comparable?
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I can see no advantage to a time share - worst of both worlds and some seem to have gone quite badly wrong, with people unable to get out without loss.
Quote:

Summer in the alps is really special

Agreed. So is autumn, come to that. Unless you plan to take advantage of that and spend time in your alpine place at times other than ski season, the arguments for buying look a bit thin.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Many years ago now I bought a small flat in Bourg St Maurice and it has been an absolutely fantastic investment. Perhaps not in money terms (although I still have it and its rented and paying for itself so perhaps not terrible either) but in terms of lifestyle; a way into the community; comfort, balance between summers and winters; real life and seasonaire stuff. . .and of course ski ability. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Life and family came along, along with a bigger house in the same area, and I now ski less and look after small people more, but I would still recommend this area 100%. We're just looking to move again and have pretty much drawn a circle around Bourg St Maurice and said anything within that!

Our current house is for sale if anyone is thinking about a ski pad: http://www.house-in-the-alps.co.uk/
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Out of interest do all the owners on the thread speak French?

My wife speaks French so I said to her if we ever bought it would be her thing and I'd be along for the ride. I can only see myelf getting up to speed in French by retiring and living there for significant amount of time.

Although perhaps being in a true ski station you could get away without... but I am not totally comfortable with that.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
FrediKanoute wrote:
What about a time share rather than a whole apartment?


Timeshares are effectively you part prepaying a holiday week for a vast number of years in a development. Fine if your needs won't ever change. The catch is the ongoing management/maintenance fees and capital cost of overhauls which probably amount to more on average than the much more flexible renting of appartments as an when you need where you want. They work for some people who get the right development that is very "tradable" but they are a bad idea for most people. And the secondary market. value can be negligible. At the 2008 crash I saw timeshare weeks in the US being marketed in the secondary market for a few hundred $, people just wanted out from the ongoing cost liability.
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Layne wrote:
Out of interest do all the owners on the thread speak French?

a bit...but no help to me in Austria (and I don't speak German)
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@Layne, I do speak some French, only learnt it at school, but proved to still remember a lot of it. I did take some 1-1 lessons with a PhD language student in Durham, who was bilingual French/English for certain things like getting my website into French, improving my phone communication etc etc. Hubby didn't speak any at all, and has just picked up stuff as he goes along. Understands more than he speaks though.
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Layne wrote:
Out of interest do all the owners on the thread speak French?


Much less than I should be able to but I'm working on it. When I've previously rented an apartment for a season I've not been too fussed about it but now I've bought I would like to be able to communicate better. It's difficult to become part of the community if you can't communicate reasonably well.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Tue 4-09-18 12:34; edited 1 time in total
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We speak reasonable French now. Since buying, we've had a French teacher come to our house each week. It's been just over two years now. We get homework, which is often fun but sometimes really pushes us. We also try to have an evening a week where we only (mostly) speak to each other in French. When in Val, we try to only speak French outside of the apartment.

We can now have reasonable conversations with French neighbours, shop owners, tradesmen and restaurateurs. Plus we can chat to French tourists at apres. We aren't perfect and still make mistakes, but people seem to understand us and we really enjoy speaking it.

Before our lessons, we only had very basic French... learnt at school 40 years ago.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@Layne, Not a word outside of please & thank you, my wife is learning but still someway off. I have a French native that works with me so that helps.
All my neighbor's are French natives but 1 set lives in the US & 2 others live in Ireland & others now know us as owners so we get by with a wink & nod, funnily this gets better after some wine together.
Generally I have no idea what I am paying for when the extra's from the Co-op come in but the place does seem to be getting well kept.
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I speak reasonable French so bought property in Austria rolling eyes Opportunities for learning conversational German are somewhat limited by the fact that most people in these parts seem to speak excellent English.
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@tatmanstours, indeed...apart from my hausmeister. google translate is great
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Interesting. And sorry for only mentioning French. That's because we've primarily thought about buying in France. For some reason, even though my wife is German and was bought up a couple of hours from the Austrian Alps we've never considered buying there. My German has overtaken my French (not difficult) but is still fairly basic.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Layne, Why buy in France when you could buy in Austria? Smile wink (Reaches for the tin hat). If your wife is German and your German is better than your French, it seems to make sense.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Layne, yes I do - enough to read a paper, go to a dinner party or work in a shop. Not enough to do a crosswork, win at scrabble or work as a secretary. I spoke a small amount before we moved and learnt the rest here (wine helps!)
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Quote:

Although perhaps being in a true ski station you could get away without... but I am not totally comfortable with that.

Based on my experience this only works if you only intend to only use it during the winter season. Outside the winter (in this area at least) most stuff is French language and so in my opinion its worth learning if you plan to use your place a reasonable amount. Although that said, there are plenty of folk round these parts who have lived here permenantly for years without learning so it is obviously possible.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@tatmanstours, well buying in any shape is off the agenda on account of the exchange rate, the fact we are both working full time and summer hols lie elsewhere. if the pound is ever trading at 1.40 again and/or we can convince each other it makes sense and/or we retire earlier than planned right now... then... I kinda read threads like this as a kind of fairytale Very Happy snowHead Laughing
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[quote="Snow and Sunshine"]
Quote:

Although that said, there are plenty of folk round these parts who have lived here permenantly for years without learning so it is obviously possible.


This never ceases to amaze me. Our builders were all English and barely spoke a word of French. They seemed to get by, winter and summer.

I think Tarantaise is a very bi-lingual region.
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My French was only O level and the odd holiday, but I worked to improve it. Did a week's language course in a small language school in Les Saisies, early on, and also did French lessons here, with a native speaker qualified to teach French as a foreign language - small groups of about 4 of us. When in France I tried only to read in French (generally easy stuff translated from English - Maeve Binchy, Joanna Trollope etc) and listened endlessly to audio tapes, especially Harry Potter. It's the listening skills which are often the tricky thing - with French words gliding into each other (in contrast, for example, to Italian which is much easier to "hear"). Lots of people in Les Saisies didn't speak much English, which helps - I am much better trying to talk French to somebody who speaks very little English. We also made close friends with our neighbours in the apartment - he Belgian (Francophone) and she French. We visited them in Belgium and they visited us in the UK. We started talking Franglais, as he worked for IBM, but since he retired his English has retired too and latterly we mostly talk French, especially after my OH died (as he spoke little French, so got left out). I'm still trying to keep up my French (U3A French lessons - got one tomorrow) and though I'm still not that good, and very far from fluent, I count having learnt more French as one of the big upsides of having bought in France. Last week I spent an evening round a table with a lot of French people and whilst I couldn't contribute to the conversation about the burdens of taxation on small business, I could at least follow around 50% of it! If I'd bought in Austria I would have put the same effort into improving my O level German. I can't imagine spending a lot of time anywhere without trying to learn something of the language - it just makes life much more fun. And it's always better after a few glasses of vino - one becomes less self-conscious about the subjunctive..... wink
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Val d'Isere, it already feels like a second home! Plus I could get a private jet from Southampton to Chambery then a helicopter transfer like all the other ballers.

But in reality I think being able to afford any sort of visit to the mountains - even just a long weekend - makes us very, very lucky.
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Helicopter transfer joke aside, the transfer from your chosen airport to your chosen village is a major factor when buying. I am assuming once you buy you will be using it more than your normal ski holiday & that transfer can cost more than the flights so it's something that should be investigated.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Jonny996 wrote:
Helicopter transfer joke aside, the transfer from your chosen airport to your chosen village is a major factor when buying. I am assuming once you buy you will be using it more than your normal ski holiday & that transfer can cost more than the flights so it's something that should be investigated.
Exactly right.
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Reading Macron's book "Revolution" where he says the French language "is at the heart of what unites us". Wonder what unites the EU. bug, wrong thread. Sorry! Laughing Laughing
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@Snow and Sunshine, I remember reading a year or so ago that the World French Scrabble Champion was a New Zeelander who didn't speak a word of French - just memorised a dictionary!

Where can you buy bable fish?
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Is a second home something you really want or just a 'it would be nice?'. I think, unless you are really wealthy, it has to be something you really want, as it is a big commitment. We use our place (Les Carroz) in the summer just as much as the winter. As others have said the Alps in the summer are just wonderful, but if you are committed beach people, and you'd only ever use it for skiing, maybe just a resort swap for skiing? LC is a just short hop from Geneva and so we use it for long weekends, both winter and summer, and it is well located for long days at Annecy and trips to Aosta/Turin. As to language, as with anywhere, the more you try the better you fare. Other half is fluent in French but I am not, but I always try and I understand more than I can respond with. Nice to dream.
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@mk28,

Honestly I don't think anywhere meets all your criteria.
I've done a lot of (long) weekend skiing around Europe and if you take 3 or 4 days then places in Italy and Austria are viable but for a pure 2 day weekend you need a resort near GVA - the flight schedules are three times as good as anywhere else.

Given that, the best options that meet all your criteria (just about) are Verbier and Chamonix but the former is a bit too far and the latter you don't regard as convenient enough.

Otherwise I think you can look at access to the PDS and GM. For the drive time perhaps MOrzine and les Carroz (but I'd have thought that fails the nightlife test?).

Looking beyond GVA and sacrificing flight options then St Anton, Sauze D'Oulx and Engelberg are options.

Money no object, I'd have gone for Chamonix but in the real world it is a space/location trade off and we went for a place where we could host a second family in Les Contamines rather than a pokey flat in Chamonix.

We are very happy with our decision but it fails your nightlife and car criteria. Well on car we can use a skibus form outside our door but my impression is that you want to be a short walk from the lifts.
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Ah yes nightlife, or 'really good apres ski'.....means noise, litter and street barfing until the early hours.
Nightclubs and late bars in ski resorts tend to have 90-99% blokes, so places like the Moosevert are known as sausage fests to all the single ladies.
Now the Farinet in Verbier is an exception....proper DJ's there, and when I fell off the table, I was helped to my feet by Melinda Messinger and Lawerence Dallaglio. Classy place.

But anyway, the sleepy old family resorts of PdS have more than enough apres for most. 'Rock the pistes' is good in March. But plenty of bars playing live music every evening...and plenty of slopeside entertainment to be found for those starting just after lunch.
Choice of good restaurants is more important as you get older, with a handful of good bars, and one or two 'nightclubs' if you really want to punish yourself.

I think 'apres' is a mis-guided criteria for buying a place in the alps. If it's rental income you're thinking....do you want to rent to a group of 25 year old madchester blokes or a family of 4 from Antwerp?
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