A couple of weeks ago, I moved out of the house I’d been renting the last seven years in Brittany. Moving out of a rental in France, it turns out, is a bit more work than moving out of a rental in the U.S.

I spoke of some of the bureaucratic challenges in my earlier post on property tax (paid by long-term renters, not just property owners).

My checklist for moving out included:

  • Notifying the Centre de Finances Publics of my move so I could stop paying property tax on the house after this calendar year.
  • Ending my internet/phone/cable service with SFR and returning the cable box and modem to the SFR boutique.
  • Ending my contract with SAUR, the water supplier. Most rental agencies require that the water still be on when you move out. You send the counter/meter number to SAUR and the owner or next tenants have 5 working days to restart the contract or you are BOTH charged 60 EUR.
  • Ending my contract with GDF, my supplier of electricity. Again, the electricity cannot be shut off until after your move-out date. You must call GDF with the final meter reading.
  • Ending my renter’s insurance. They require a copy of your final walk through evaluation (état des lieux de sortie) to finalize the cancellation of the contract.
  • Bringing all the junk to the dump and what was salvageable to charity. Luckily for me, my landlords volunteered to take just about everything I didn’t want to ship back.
  • Coordinating with the movers (and packing, of course). I reserved the movers several months in advance and they came by a month or so before my move-out to drop off packing supplies and to assess the volume of my things I was shipping back to the U.S. Assuming the U.S.-side of the move goes as well as the France side, I will highly recommend this moving company and write more about them in September when my shipment is to arrive.
  • Going through the checklist provided by the rental agent during the pré-état des lieux. More on that below.

To my surprise, your responsibilities as a tenant are much more involved in France than in the U.S. when it comes to maintenance of the property. In the U.S., you are entitled to some “normal wear and tear”. At least in New York, the owners must repaint at least every 5 years. In France, you really aren’t entitled to any wear and tear and owners must repaint only every 7 years.

The rental agent provided me with a very extensive list of all the things I needed to repair and clean. In the end, I spent countless hours and half the cost of the security deposit I was aiming to get back just on prepping the house for my move-out. I should note that the house overall was in FAR better condition than when I moved in–I left countless light fixtures where there had been bare bulbs. I left an equipped kitchen where before there was just a sink….

Somehow it all got done on time. With the help of cleaners from Nestor. A big thanks to the manager of the Vannes branch of Nestor, Clarisse Rouxel, who truly went above and beyond.

I figured the final walk-through would take 20-30 minutes; it took 2 hours. The agent looked at EVERYTHING. But I did get the full security deposit back only because my landlords showed up and insisted they were very happy with the state of the house.

Still, I am vowing never to rent long-term again. Ever. Only short-term rentals or buying from now on.