Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Second thoughts on second homes...

The thought of overseas holiday homes seems to have lingered since last posting. Perhaps one cannot deny any sort of expat status here as I'm sure that many second home owners are genuinely experiencing, and participating in, the second culture. It is probably a case of looking again at how much our expat definition will flex!

Looking more carefully at the holiday home scenario, we can probably differentiate a type of holiday home and what is known by the French as a maison secondaire. It is easy to confuse these but there is a type of holiday home that cannot be thought of as a true second home, generally where the owner is largely focussed on income from their investment - probably letting the house for a large part of the year and perhaps only using it personally for an annual holiday or so. Even if that may be a half-way house, so to speak, to fund what will become a real second home, at this stage it is hard to say that those in this situation can be described as expats because, whatever their hopes and aspirations may be, they actually spend little time in the country and probably have quite limited contact with the local community, neighbours, etc. who most likely perceive them as sporadic visitors. Our expat definition had no specific time factor but it probably needs a certain certain level of involvement in local life to meet the basic "living in a foreign country" definition!

On the other hand, there are many enjoying true second homes, dividing their time between their homes, probably rarely letting them out, if ever, and just having occasional visiting friends and family use them for holidays; they are living in the second country to a certain extent and probably participating in local life, becoming known in the community, etc. Such fortunate people are probably making the most of two cultures, many with one eye on a fuller commitment to their second country - they must merit an expat status, albeit an honorary or part-time one.

Of course it is possible to live permanently but hardly participate in local life and perhaps many owners of maisons secondaires are more truly committed to their second country than some full-timers!

Village nestling in the Languedoc hills

1 comment:

Carole and Terence said...

Hi this is our second attempt to add a comment!! Greetings from Poujols sur Orb where we will spend far more time once I retire. Getting integrated when one is only here 10 weeks of the year is not easy. But we are trying.