When I help families plan a 2-3 month stay in France, the first thing they usually say is: "I'm so overwhelmed, I just don't know where to start!" I know how that feels! Before my first séjour, I thought "research" meant watching House Hunters International with a glass of wine. But it turns out that isn't very productive. Nor is googling around online before you have a clear idea of what you want.
Better to have a plan of attack. I've planned a few séjours now, and here's how I get started.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Goals: Why do you want to take this séjour? What are you hoping to gain from this experience? (inspiration, adventure, time to reflect, create, work..) What are your personal goals for this séjour? (learn French, take a cooking class, explore a new career path, get creative…) Do you have family goals for this trip? (introduce kids to foreign language, bond as a family…)
- Family Considerations: Who will be coming with you? What do you need in order for this to be a good experience for the whole family? Ideas: schools, camps or activities for the kids? Language lessons before you leave or when you get there?
- Timing: What time of year will go? For how long can you stay?
- Location: What country or region? City, village or rural life? House or apartment? Farmhouse or modern house? Unique characteristics: access to water, mountains or vineyards? Weather: Hot, mild, snowy?
- Lifestyle check: Will you go stir crazy in an urban apartment, or feel lonely in a rural farmhouse? How do you picture your daily life? How will you make friends?
Next, you need to turn these notes into search criteria. Once you do this, you'll have a clear plan for identifying and eliminating options. Here are a few examples:
Daydream with your partner. Talk about what you're hoping to gain from your séjour experience. Discuss your ideal locations, lifestyle, budget and timing. Once you have turned your ideas into search criteria, your online research will be much more productive.
Next up - Tips on Finding Monthly Housing