Second home in the mountains? Or is it now your semi-residence? There's a rush to buy property in the mountains to spend more time skiing, even WFH - and as a refuge from future pandemics...
Like most second home owners in France, we've been hit by Brexit and the Schengen rules that we cannot spend more than 90 days out of 180 in Europe, which really impacts on our six month ski season from November to April (and sometimes May), spent in Serre Che for the past seven years. So we applied for French residency in December and are just awaiting our Cartes de Sejour to arrive.
It was no small decision to sell our house in the UK and apply for French residency to live mostly in Serre Che with all the implications such a major decision creates, not least tax and health. But for us the benefits of living in the Alps far outweigh such inconveniences as filling in French tax returns. There's even the potential benefit of having personal allowances in each country.
The double whammy of Covid and Brexit, certainly made getting to the mountains to ski, last winter, a tad compliqué, but having applied for residency back in December, pre-Brexit, we were able to travel and stay in France despite travel restrictions. For many the ski season was a complete write off unless they could find a similarly legit way around getting to the mountains.
But, as ever, there are the risk takers. Seeing how skiing or snowboarding attracts many who like to take risks such as dropping into steep couloirs, it's no surprise that some weren't easily put off by a few government travel rules. Aut inveniam viam aut faciam. As the Romans used to say, 'if I can't find a way, I'll make one'. As, indeed, they did with those roads.
And so, voila, there was no shortage of social media posts of first tracks from the more well-heeled managing their bitcoin stashes and investment portfolios from Switzerland where the lifts were open; also from the canny mountain guides who'd taken clients away from it all to remote ski touring destinations such as the Lyngen Alps; and even from UK kitchen fitters who've been working on projects that just happen to be in resorts (and fortunately they brought their ski touring kit!).
HEADING FOR THE HILLS
The Covid effect has meant that those who love the mountains have realised that absence makes the heart grow fonder. - and the ski legs twitch. Missing a ski season has been such a wrench for many that they are now finding - or making - ways to be sure they don't miss out again.
But it's not just a case of booking your ski holiday now because what if there are more lockdowns? No, there has to be a more guaranteed way such as committing to a month's rental - or even buying a place in the mountains.
Covid has completely reconfigured our mindsets. Priorities have changed. Work arrangements have altered. Life now definitely seems way too short. As Knight, Frank and Rutley have noted in a recent report, there's the trend for clients 'dedicating more of their time to personal wellness and fitness, a theme that has only become more important in light of the pandemic'.
And so there is an epic exodus from cities creating a property rush as many head for the hills - or to the countryside and coast. In the mountains, property sales in ski resorts are booming as skiers and snowboarders want to ensure that if there's ever another pandemic, they can be locked down and go still go skiing or snowboarding, staying safer from pandemics and enjoying an altogether healthier way of life in the fresh mountain air.
WORK, REST, SKI, REPEAT
'This focus on wellness combined with the fact that our alpine locations across France, Switzerland and the US offer some of the best healthcare facilities worldwide and fast broadband speeds means we are seeing the birth of a new trend,' state Knight, Frank and Rutley, who have identified, 'the blurring of the lines between primary and secondary residences'.
And so we now have the 'semi-permanent' residence, not just a place for holidays, but for longer stays especially as the Zoomers have realised they CAN work from home. Therefore why not live and work in the mountains so long as there's solid internet? Work, rest, ski, repeat.
According to Alpine Property, who have been selling mountain residences since 1999, 'the current property market in the Alps is very active. Prices are edging up. New properties for sale on the market are becoming harder to come by, so this can only mean the prices will continue to rise'.
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