Moving abroad is probably the biggest financial and emotional risk you will ever take.

Get it right and your days should be filled with fine weather, good food and great company. But get it wrong and your dreams of a better life could turn into a living nightmare. You could lose everything you’ve worked so hard for, and return to your home country broke – and heartbroken.

What could possibly go wrong?

You could be mis-sold a property by an unscrupulous estate agent who’s trying to make money for a friend, and enlists the help of a complicit lawyer to seal the deal. You could be promised every help by the local mayor, who waits for you to move lock, stock and barrel before telling you: “No”. You could be ripped off by almost everyone you meet, even your fellow countrymen and women, who are only too happy to take money from a hapless new arrival.

In short, if something can go wrong, it might do just that.

How can you protect yourself?

Books, magazines and TV shows on moving to a new life in the sun can give you a false impression of the dangers that lie ahead. But there are a number of practical, low-cost precautions you can take to help save yourself from ruin.

You can explore online forums like angloinfo and talk to people who have already made the move. You can search for blogs by those who have gone ahead of you. And you can read books like “The yurt camp, the English mafia and the French resistance” by Alex Crowe.

A cautionary tale of dreams and reality

This new ebook tells the real-life story of Alex, his partner Clare, and their two young children, as they said goodbye to suburban life and hello to rural France.

They left Brighton in August 2007 in search of a better, more sustainable life. Planning ahead, they took a business idea with them (for an eco-luxury yurt camp) that would provide money for themselves, plus tax revenue for the local commune – and had the full support of the local mayor. Or so they thought.

Within months, Alex recalls sitting in a meeting with that mayor:

He told me he did not support the project. He told me our land was non-constructible – always was and always would be… That nobody wants yurts or compost toilets… And that my French was terrible…

Seven minutes away by car, I pictured my partner and our two small children playing happily in the lounge of our rented house, blissfully ignorant of the fact that our Big Green Idea had just come to a shattering end. Christmas was less than a month away. How could we possibly enjoy that? The last few moments in that office remain the most desolate I have had in France.

It’s not all bad news

Despite the callous treatment by unfeeling French bureaucrats, the book also describes the many positive changes the family made. Alex and Clare’s relationship went from strength to strength, their daughter thrived in her new school, learning French in a matter of months, and they developed an impressive number of new skills as they turned a neglected field into a productive smallholding.

Priceless experience – for just €1

Although this 55-page pdf doesn’t go into detail about the exact forms you must complete and government offices you need to visit (leaving that job to Alex’s blog), it does give an overview that anyone moving to France will find invaluable. And serves as a useful guide for people moving to other countries, especially those with young children.

At €1 – less than the price of ‘un petit café’ – it’s an investment that is guaranteed to pay dividends.

The story doesn’t end here

“The yurt camp, the English mafia and the French resistance” is the first of three planned ebooks under the title: “écovallée behind the seams”. The second installment, “Descent into hell” will only be written when 1,000 copies of Part One have been sold.

It’s an experiment in crowd-sourcing finance you can become a part of in just a few clicks.

Buy your copy right now

To buy your copy of the ebook, just click on the sock monkey in the écovallée facebook shop here. Pay with paypal and your pdf will arrive within moments – despatched from a yurt in the middle of the French countryside.

If you like what you read (and Alex sincerely hopes you do), persuade your friends and family to buy the book, and you could help write a happy ending to what has been a very challenging story.

Fortune favours the brave, they say. It favours those even more who are forewarned – and forearmed – by this €1 ebook.