Remember the halcyon days of 1.5 euros to the pound? When Graham Causton and his partner Donna first moved to France that was about the rate they could expect to get when sending money over from the UK.

But that was back in 2001 and since then the economic crisis has seen the pound’s value weaken dramatically, prompting the couple, who live in southern Brittany, to find ways to save money. Using Smart Currency Exchange to make their currency transfers has helped considerably.

“When we moved, initially the rate was about £1 = €1.58,” remembers Graham. “Then it dropped to €1.15, then back up to €1.20. It has been as low as €1.05. That’s when I made a decision that I simply had to find the best rate of exchange, especially for my professional pension which is paid into my English bank. I’m not alone though, and would guess that in my area alone there are thousands of Brits all searching for the same thing.”

Graham found Smart Currency Exchange through the internet and has been especially impressed with their customer service.
“From my first transaction I have been very impressed,” continues Graham. “To get money from my Lloyds sterling account to my French Credit Agricole account in less than two days and at a very good exchange rate has been impressive. And on top of that, as if that wasn’t enough, one of the things that really impressed me is that Smart was able to do away with all fees, including those charged by my French bank. I will certainly use Smart again and now recommend them to all my friends.”

Graham and Donna live on a smallholding in a tiny hamlet of four properties. All of their neighbours are French and to help them learn the language, for the first three years they made a conscious decision to mix mainly with the locals and not the British contingent.

“Our neighbours are utterly superb,” laughs Graham. “It’s a local tradition to have a birthday soiree and to invite all the neighbours to share the occasion. This also applies to celebrating the New Year so, as you can imagine, this all adds up!”

The couple say the only thing that would ever take them back to the UK would be to be near their children, grandchildren and Donna’s mum.

“There are things we can happily do without,” says Graham. “For instance, when we visit I simply can’t believe how busy the roads are in the UK – it’s mad. Mad too is the frenetic pace of life there. As a teacher, contrary to popular myth, I found myself leaving home at about 6.30am in the morning and getting home about 7pm in the evening! After supper I’d do more work – it’s all wrong. The French have definitely got the work/leisure balance right and most enjoy life much more.”

For details of properties for sale in Brittany, or all properties for sale in France, visit the French listings on Rightmove Overseas. One way to save money when buying in France, or moving there, is to use a currency specialist when transferring your pounds into euros to complete the purchase of your property. For more information on this, contact Smart Currency Exchange.

To understand the full step-by-step process to buying a property in France, collect The Overseas Guides Company’s ‘France Property Buying Guide’