Debbie Bradbury – The must-know person for chalet owners
Meet Debbie Bradbury, an English born expat who has spent half of her life living in France. Debbie works for the accountancy firm SAREG and her help and advice has been invaluable for many of our Chalet owners over the years. We thought it was about time that we sat down and got to know her a bit better. This is what she told us…
First things first, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m British, originally from Kent in South East England, but have lived in France for 25 years with a small break early on when I returned to the UK to marry my husband. We have 3 daughters, the eldest of whom was born in the UK and the 2 younger ones were born in France. I’m now 50 years old and moved to the Haute-Savoie from the Charente 7 years ago to join SAREG.
And how did you end up in France?
I have always been a francophile and from an exceptionally young age learned French at school and just wanted to be French! I had a French pen friend from school and am still in touch with her parents and my Mum’s always kept in touch with her own pen friend so we used to learn vocabulary at home from an early age too. My parents also live in France now!
In 1988, after working in a French property agency in Kent, I left the UK and went to work in France for a couple of English guys who were selling property on the Normandy/Brittany borders. I did all the admin for them, typing up the details, liaising with the notaires, translating at completions and then I even got to take clients out and sell houses! My husband worked for one of the UK agencies and this is how we met. I returned to the UK in 1994 to marry him and after a few years working in the wine industry, we both decided to move back to France and this time went back into estate agency. We were self-employed in France from 1999. In 2004 I set up my own consultancy company in the Charente, acting as intermediary between the British community and the French administration. It has only been since moving to the Haute-Savoie that we have both become salaried… still working as if it were our own business of course!
What do you love most about living in France?
I love the French way of life, the way everyone says hello to each other, the beautiful countryside almost everywhere you look and the importance of family. This area is much busier than the Charente, where it really was laid back and it felt like the UK 50 years ago! But the Haute-Savoie has other attractions – lots more to do, the proximity to Geneva and the airport to be able to travel and see family and friends elsewhere. Good work opportunities for locals, and especially for my children’s future as they are bilingual. I love being so close to Italy, Annecy is the most beautiful town ever and I’ve made some lovely friends through my work.
In your opinion, where can you find the best view in the area?
I’m in awe of beautiful Mont Blanc, so having a drink in a cafe in Chamonix is always breathtaking. However, I also love being by the lake in Annecy, with those fabulous mountains behind and even the view from my house isn’t bad over Lake Geneva to one side and the Aravis behind!
Do you have any hobbies?
I can’t say I’m sporty in any way but I do have a hobby that takes up most of my spare time – I organise treasure hunt rallies and am just about to start on my 4th here in the Alps. In the Charente I organised these for my English clients and friends, and here I’ve had to draw my clues up in French (!) for my colleagues and local friends. Everyone seems to enjoy them and I just love putting them together – it’s a superb way of discovering all the hidden gems in our area and then introducing them to everyone else as part of a fun day out!
What is the must-see place on a holiday in the Aravis?
In the Winter, La Clusaz is a pretty little ski resort to visit and there’s usually something going on in the village square. Then taking a drive across the Aravis and down to Lake Annecy via Menthon St Bernard is pretty amazing. The views are different at every turn!
You work for the accounting firm SAREG. Can you tell us what you role is within the company.
I have a very varied role – I am the first port of call for all new English-speaking enquiries, I am the one who draws up articles in English, creates the adverts for our company and its services, manages the website and hunts out prospective clients. I have a small team who work with me on files that do not require accounts (as I’m not an accountant myself), such as micro-entrepreneurs and residents requiring more complex personal tax assistance (income tax and wealth tax). I also do all initial consultations surrounding rental activities, setting up in business and becoming resident, trying to give the chartered accountants time to manage their clients and look after their accounting teams!
What do you love most about being part of a French company?
I love working with French colleagues but I get the best of both worlds here as I run the English-speaking team so 99% of my enquiries come from English-speaking people. So on the one hand I spend a lot of my time consulting in English and on the other hand I liaise with colleagues and the French authorities in French. I love being able to switch from one to the other and learn new laws surrounding taxation, new rules and regulations surrounding investment properties and rental activities, and generally being able to learn anything new that could be useful for current or potential clients.
Can you tell us why SAREG is a great accounting solution for property owners in France?
SAREG has been around for nearly 40 years now and has developed in the past 30 years a strong English-speaking team that specialises in anything related to property investment and rental activities. This is partly to do with the fact that we are based in a region where property investment is still strong. Skiing, cycling and walking holidays also are popular so there is always a market for rental properties all year-round and the property market has not been hit as badly as in some more rural areas of France. We still look after clients with properties all across the country, but in the ski resorts we have the added experience of tour operators, catered chalet businesses, passenger transport activities and other tourist-related activities. We know which type of purchase structure should suit the client, according to their individual situation, and can look further ahead at what they’re planning to do with the property, rather than just how they purchase it and what should happen in the event of their death!
If you’re thinking of purchasing property in France or looking at getting into the rental market we strongly recommend that you get in touch with Debbie. We are always happy to recommend Debbie and her colleagues at SAREG, as we use their services ourselves and they have always been extremely helpful.