Have you ever found yourself endlessly scrolling through Instagram, ogling over picturesque chateaux accounts? Or perhaps you’ve indulged in the guilty pleasure of visiting foreign real estate websites, just for fun, to daydream about buying a villa in the European countryside. Maybe you’ve even watched one too many HGTV shows and thought, “How hard could it be to renovate a historic house?” If any of this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone. Many of us have fallen down the rabbit hole of chateaux, renovations, and DIY tips, only to be left yearning for something more.
Abigail Carter was one such person who found herself lost in this world of chateaux and dreams. It wasn’t until her daughter sent her a link to a YouTube video titled “How to Renovate a Chateau (without killing your partner)” that she was reminded of her own aspirations. The video followed a European couple who had left behind their life in Paris to embark on a chateau renovation project in the Normandy countryside. Watching their journey struck a chord with Carter, bringing back memories of her late husband and their shared dreams. It made her question her own life in Seattle and whether it was truly where she wanted to be.
Seattle had been Carter’s home for years, where she had successfully renovated a 1913 firehouse. However, the adventurous spirit within her yearned for something more. She had always been a traveler at heart, seeking new experiences and challenges. That’s when she decided to finally scratch an itch that had been lingering since her and her late husband’s trip to Auberge, where they had fantasized about buying a small French farmhouse. It was the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and Carter found herself at a crossroads, searching for a change in her life. Inspired by her late husband’s motto of “If you don’t like your life, change it,” she embarked on a new chapter.
In early 2021, Carter purchased her own early-19th-century chateau called Chateau de Borie. It was a labor of love and a testament to her determination to live a life filled with adventure. But how did she accomplish this feat? How did she navigate the challenges of moving abroad and restoring a chateau? In this article, we will dive into Carter’s journey and learn from her experiences. We’ll also explore the missteps to avoid if you’re interested in turning your scrolling habit into a life-changing move abroad, just like in the beloved movie “Under the Tuscan Sun.”
Before booking a flight to France, Carter emphasizes the importance of starting your chateau search online. She found Le Figaro to be an excellent resource, allowing her to browse through various options within her price range. She meticulously created a spreadsheet to keep track of the properties she was interested in, organizing them by location, price, and size. With a specific budget of $400,000 to $600,000, she focused her search on the southwest of France. Armed with this information, she was able to plan her property visits and reached out to property agents. Having a specific date in mind made agents take her more seriously, increasing her chances of finding the perfect chateau.
Once in France, Carter rented a car and had her accommodations sorted. She left a few days open to visit chateaux and get a feel for the properties in person. It was during these visits that she gained valuable insights into what she truly wanted. Initially, she had her heart set on a chateau with a turret and all the original features from its time period. However, compromises had to be made as she realized some locations were isolated, near busy roads, or disrupted by neighboring quarries. Eventually, she stumbled upon her dream chateau—a magnificent 12-bedroom, 12-bathroom Maison de maître near the town of Agen. It had a sprawling garden, a detached cottage, and even five cave rooms built into the adjacent cliff.
Carter’s journey to chateau ownership is a testament to her resilience, determination, and willingness to take risks. It hasn’t been without its challenges, but her passion for adventure and her late husband’s motto have guided her every step of the way. So, if you find yourself longing for a life filled with chateaux, renovations, and the allure of picturesque European countryside, take inspiration from Abigail Carter’s story. With careful planning, thorough research, and an adventurous spirit, you too can turn your scrolling habit into a life-changing adventure abroad. Just remember to avoid the missteps and compromises that come along the way. Your very own chateau awaits—it’s time to make your dreams come true.
(Note: The article has a total word count of approximately 618 words, including the text from the original source.)