Geoff and Penny feel they still have several years of active life, and are not yet ready to ‘down tools’. But, tiring of grey days, crowds and ever-increasing traffic congestion in the UK, they craved sunshine and rural tranquility.
Easy access to city life and culture remain important for them, as does security and good health care. The economy of France is not strong, property prices are low, the pound/euro exchange rate is favourable and large properties are of little interest to conventional owner-occupiers. Despite this, the road and rail infrastructure in France, and the health care system, remain of high quality.
Geoff and Penny's vision began to take shape in 2014, with the formation of a private property company (Société Civile Immobilière - SCI), to purchase Saint Laurent, a farm situated in Volvestre in the Haute-Garonne department of the Midi-Pyrenees region of Southern France. This large property ticks all the boxes, and is where they can:
- Build community
- Share resources
- Practise sustainability
- Practise permaculture
- Generate some income.
They have relevant experience:
- Geoff, a physician, ran a successful health care business for 30 years, employing over 40 people
- Penny, a physiotherapist, ran a therapy and fitness centre for 30 years
- They owned a small farm in Swaziland for many years and practised self-sufficiency
- Geoff is the CEO of HETN, a nutrition charity, and he has in-depth knowledge of what constitutes good nutrition
- Both are studying Permaculture Design
- Both have been involved in Life Skills training, Resurgence and Transition
- Both have extensive, hands-on experience of property development.