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British couple buy French village for €14,000 after struggling to get on property ladder

House prices in the UK soared during the pandemic as everyone wanted to move out and live in more tranquil spaces. It is also extremely tricky for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder, but maybe Channel 4’s new show, Help! We Bought a Village might inspire some house hopefuls to up sticks and relocate as Paul Mappley and Yip Ward did when they bought a historic hamlet in Normandy for €14,000. 

Landscape gardeners Paul and Yip, both 47, have been struggling to crack the property market in the UK for years. 

The pair were living in a caravan in Tunbridge Wells, Kent before Yip was offered the chance to buy the end-of-terrace cottage by a friend in 2019, who had changed their mind about purchasing it themselves. 

It was at this point that they realised the potential in La Bousliere and decided to purchase the adjacent buildings.

The little village consists of five cottages, two barns, a paddock, plus a two-storey workshop, cider press and a bakery. 

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The hamlet also has a water of well, which Paul and Yip hope they can use for flushing toilets. 

The village may have cost less than a car, but the couple has been left with a huge task on their hands; the buildings have no electricity and are in disrepair. 

Speaking about the state of the buildings, the new owners said: “The corner of the row of cottages has collapsed, this is a crucial point we feel that unless something is done about that, the whole lot will crumble bit by bit, and that would be criminal. 

“It’s sad to see old buildings like this falling down. 

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“That’s why we wanted to buy it – there are not pots of money to do this but we’d like to try and get it to a point when it’s not falling to bits. 

“To own any building is a dream come true. 

“Something like this with so much history, it’s an amazing feeling, we’re very lucky to be able to do this,” they added. 

As for what Paul and Yip plan to do with the cottages, they are hoping to transform their hamlet into a cluster of holiday homes. 

They also want to add glamping facilities on their two acres of land. 

“When we think of the task ahead, we feel exhausted,” the men commented. 

“But I think excitement overrules all of that, it’s just one step at a time and it will be amazing when it’s done.” 



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