Family sold their house in Manchester for £400k and bought a whole French village during lockdown
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A family living "the rat race" sold their three-bedroom semi for £400,000 - and bought an entire French village. Liz and David Murphy purchased the historic rural hamlet of Lac De Maison, in Poitou-Charentes, south west France, in January 2021.
The couple sold their three-bed home in Manchester for £400,000 and used the cash to buy six 400-year-old houses, two barns and three-acres of land. Their estate also includes two 10m x 15m swimming pools which they have renovated with the help of local builders and tradesmen.
The couple, who both worked in radio, spent £300,000 to transform the ruined buildings into homes for their family and a potentially thriving holiday let business. They moved into the main house with their two children Tom, 12, and Charlotte, eight, late last year.
In the house opposite lives Liz’s mum Helen Diaper, 73, and stepdad Terry, 72. The remaining four houses and two barns in the hamlet have been turned into holiday homes which they plan to rent out for hundreds of pounds a week.
The family say they now live “like millionaires” and have no plans to return to the UK despite not speaking French.
Liz, 45, said: “We were both working 9-5 jobs in England, with busy lives and the kids were in after school clubs and it was like we were on an endless treadmill. It wasn’t until Covid came and we were on this furlough and we realised we were in a rat race and life was passing us by.
"We realised we hadn't spent much time with the kids and we decided we had to do something to change all our lives. We had talked about moving to France for years. We had this sudden feeling to do it and we suddenly did it.
“My mum and stepdad decided to sell their house and come with us. We didn’t have a clue when we came, neither of us had done physical jobs. Both of us had done school French but not for years. The only way was to immerse yourself here.
“We’re conversational now, we pick things up while chatting. We bought the buildings and the land for around the £400,00 mark.
“We've got six houses and another big barn that has been converted into a playroom and a workshop, with three acres of land and a ruin. It's really like winning the lottery without realising it.”
'We both loved France'
The couple decided to transform their lives and move to France after being stuck at home during the Covid lockdowns. Liz’s husband Dave, 54, who is a trained hypnotherapist, said: “Some people decided to buy a dog during Covid but we decided to move to a different country.
“We were amazed at what we could get for our house price in Manchester, we could get a hamlet. We kind of made the decision to move in August 2020 and we came over in the Covid break in travel.
“It was really quick. If we’d have thought about it too much and we just said ‘yeah’. I think we both loved France. We fell in love with it and coming over here on holidays.
“Wanting to learn a language, the food and the weather - we never considered anywhere else. When we came here we could only say hello, goodbye and can I have a beer.
“The French love it if you try. Thank God for Google translate. But it’s reached the stage where we learn from conversations. We're living like millionaires here. You'd have to be in the UK to own this. It takes two-and-a-half hours to mow the lawn on a sit on mower.
“In Manchester I could do the lawn in ten minutes. We've got two pools as well. The wildlife is insane around us too. We have to stop for deer's and wild boars while you’re doing the school run, not other cars.”
Liz added: “When we first got there it felt really weird being across the way from my parents. It's really nice to be so close to them though.
“We were really scared about the move and making enough move. For the first four months the kids hated school and we were thinking this was difficult. Now I don’t think any one of us would go back.
"Everyone is so welcoming, I wouldn’t go back for anything. When we first got there we had flooding, issues with our septic tank and no electricity. Now we’ve got everything working fine.
The couple also took advantage of cheaper land and property prices in France to realise their dream. Dave added: “France and Great Britain have almost identical population size but France is twice as big so land isn’t as much of a premium.
“I think young people are drawn to the bright sights of the cities. We'd gone from having a set wage very month to having a new business for us.
“You can come over here and be here without the worry of the language barrier. We felt like we’ve earned the living.”
The family's remarkable story was recently featured on Channel Four's Help! We Bought a Village.