I came here in 1994 before I got married and 10 years before I retired, saw the breath-taking view from the main road and decided that I would one day live here.
We sold our three-bedroom townhouse in suburban Washington for $385,000 in 2004 and paid $118,000 for the house in France. It was originally a barn built in 1842 that the previous owner restored. It has four bedrooms and two baths and stunning views.
I spend my time doing exactly what I feel like. I cook and make several types of jam each year. The lifestyle is much slower. People take their time to enjoy a good meal and stop and talk to friends. A neighbor stops and gives me eggs from her hens. Pastures surround us and some days we see sheep grazing there. Their milk is used to make Roquefort cheese.
The grape harvest, or "vendage," is coming up this month, and it's one of the yearly highlights. Every year we pick grapes for our wine producer friend near Bordeaux, and it's such a wonderful experience. We meet many people and reconnect with previous vendangeurs.
Living costs are generally higher, but with no mortgage to pay and our investments, we live quite well. Also, we know we will never be bankrupted by medical costs. We have coverage under the French healthcare system and are ever-so-grateful for that. Our experiences with the doctors and hospital here have been extremely positive.