Chatter about New Zealand housing affordability says the market is overcooked. I would venture to say that some of the silly money being spent on underwhelming homes (albeit on valuable parcels of land or in sought-after suburbs) is half-baked. Once, $1 million used to be considered a sizeable sum.

Not any more, it seems. It's becoming de rigueur for do-ups in fashionable city-fringe areas to fetch more than a mill. Then there's the thought of what buyers are spending on these properties - whether renovating or building from scratch - to make them habitable to their standards.

This trend got me thinking about what our New Zealand dollars could buy overseas. Our dollar is holding its own against the greenback and euro.

I nearly spluttered over my keyboard when I searched the website of France-based immobiliers (that's French for real estate agents) Maxwell Storrie Baynes. On I saw my dream home, an architect-designed beauty built in 1974, with an asking price of €1,155,000 (this works out to be approximately $1.8 million at present exchange rates). Then, to my astonishment, I saw a "magnificent 19th-century chateau with all its original elements still in place ... recently renovated with care", five minutes from the Saintes town centre, on the western coast of France, half-way between Poitiers and Bordeaux. This fairytale property has a price tag of €996,400, which works out to be about $1.548m.


The description of the French chateau has me smitten. Look up ID 2578801 to read about its 650sq m floor area, its marble-floored entrance hall, parquet-floored living, dining and sitting rooms, reception room, six bedrooms and four bathrooms. Two rooms are yet to be restored inside but outside comes with 330sq m of outbuildings and "a little lake in the garden". The 2.8ha of landscaped gardens even have a small wood. Sacre bleu.