Occitanie is the leading French region in the second home market
According to INSEE, Occitanie is the region in France with the highest number of second homes: 501,000, i.e. 16% of all second homes in France.
Whether it is to enjoy holidays or family weekends at home, to build up a property portfolio or to prepare for retirement in the sun, there are many reasons to buy a second home in the South of France.
With the crisis, new uses are appearing: owning a second home allows you to stay away from the big cities or to telework in a pleasant setting by the Mediterranean.
The attractiveness of the region, thanks to its mild climate, its good accessibility (plane, TGV and motorways), and the variety of its territories (coastline, mountains, rural or urban areas) explains this important presence of second homes. The Hérault and the Pyrénées-Orientales alone concentrate two out of five second homes in Occitania. With 113,000 pied-à-terre, the Hérault ranks 4th among French departments behind the Alpes-Maritimes, the Var and Paris; the Pyrénées-Orientales rank 8th with 86,000 second homes.
The number of second homes has increased very strongly over the last fifty years, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s in connection with the Racine mission, and more than at national level. In the region, it has multiplied by 4.5 since 1968 compared to 2.3 for primary residences.
One out of seven houses is a secondary residence in Occitanie
Secondary residences represented 13.5% of the region's housing in 2017, well above the average for metropolitan France (8.8%). This rate places Occitanie in 3rd position among French regions behind Corsica (29.0%) and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (15.4%).
It varies greatly from one department to another. In the region, it is in Lozère that second homes represent the highest proportion of all dwellings: 28.6%, which places the department in 4th position behind Hautes-Alpes, Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse. The Pyrénées-Orientales also stands out with almost a quarter of the housing in second homes. Conversely, in Haute-Garonne, they represent only 4% of all housing. And less than 10% in the Gers, Tarn and Tarn-et-Garonne.
Many second homes on the coast
In Occitanie, second homes are particularly numerous along the Mediterranean coast: the coastline accounts for 41% of second homes, which is almost twice as many as in mountain areas (22%). The remaining 37% are scattered over the other areas of the region.
The agglomeration communities of Grand Narbonne, Hérault Méditerranée and Perpignan Méditerranée are home to the most second homes. The 47 coastal communities alone account for more than a third of the region's secondary residences.
Some places on the coast have much more luxurious residences than in the rest of the region. For example, the village of Collioure or the area around the Thau Basin with the communes of Sète, Marseillan or Bouzigues are experiencing a very high demand for new or old flats and villas of character. Some property developers such as Propriétés & Co. specialise in the market for second homes or serviced hotels and are developing luxury projects such as Port Rive Gauche or Port Marseillan.
Although there are fewer second homes in the mountain areas than on the coast, they account for a greater proportion of the local housing stock: in the mountains, four out of ten homes are second homes compared to two out of ten on the coast (and one out of ten in the rest of the region). The use of these second homes plays a key role in the economic activity of the sparsely populated territories of mountain areas.
Occitanie is an ideal region to buy a new property and plan your retirement there
Households that own a second home, in Occitania as in France, are often couples with no or no more dependent children, as well as elderly people. Retirement, the departure of children from the home, the end of a mortgage for the main residence or an inheritance are all events likely to favour the ownership of an additional home. In the region, with no notable difference between the mountains and the coast, couples without children represent 48% of second home owners, and couples with children only 19%, one of the lowest proportions in France, identical to that of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
Owners of second homes are older in Occitanie than elsewhere because he Region is ideal destination - with an average of 300 days of sunshine per year - to acquire a second home or a "Branded Résidence" in order to plan their retirement.
One in ten second homes is owned by a household living abroad
In Occitanie, 50,000 second homes are owned by people living abroad, i.e. 10% of the total stock in the region. They are particularly numerous in the Hérault and Pyrénées-Orientales (12,000 in each of these departments). The proportion of owners living abroad varies according to the department, from 18% in Tarn-et-Garonne to only 2% in Lozère, via 17% in the Gers, 16% in the Lot, 14% in the Pyrénées-Orientales, 13% in the Aude and 11% in the Hérault.
The most represented countries of origin are the United Kingdom (14,500 second homes), Belgium (8,800) and Spain (5,700), followed by Germany and Switzerland (5,000 for each of these countries).
As an effect of proximity, half of the second homes owned in mainland France by people living in Spain are located in Occitanie. Moreover, more than half of the foreign residents who own a second home located in the mountains in Occitanie are domiciled in Spain. Those whose second homes are located on the coast have more varied origins, with Belgian, English, German and Swiss owners in the lead. In the rest of the region, residents of the United Kingdom are the most numerous, ahead of those from Belgium.
For more information: see INSEE study July 2021