Americans ditching the U.S. for French elegance – Alex talks luxury real estate and life abroad

On the latest episode of the Just Jump Podcast, we had the pleasure of hosting Alex Gaines, an expat with a fascinating journey from the United States to France. Alex is a partner at, and if you’re curious about expat life, luxury real estate, and navigating the French market, you’re in for a treat. For those who want to dive deeper or explore opportunities, feel free to contact Alex at [email protected].

The unexpected beginning

Alex’s expat journey began in 2003 with a chance encounter at Los Angeles airport. A stranger in need turned out to be a Parisian who missed his flight. Alex, embracing spontaneity, helped him get back to Paris. Little did he know that this act of kindness would lead to a transformative expat experience, ultimately changing the course of his life.

From California to France

Fast forward seven years, and Alex found himself in Paris, courtesy of the Parisian he helped years ago. This trip opened his eyes to a world beyond his comfort zone. Inspired, he pursued an MBA in France, where he and his wife decided that Biarritz was the place they wanted to build their lives. Since then, they’ve embraced the expat life for almost a decade.

Transition to expat life

Alex emphasises the importance of embracing an expat mindset. His story underscores the notion that being an expat requires adaptability, tenacity, and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. The expat experience, coupled with a diverse MBA program, broadened his perspectives and fundamentally changed who he was as a person.

Choosing France and the luxurious south

Reflecting on his journey, Alex compares two regions in France: the flashy Côte d’Azur and the reserved yet luxurious Biarritz. He describes the Southeast of France as a bit “bling-bling” while highlighting Biarritz’s more discreet and reserved charm. The diversity within France allows expats to choose a lifestyle that resonates with them, making it a country that offers various ways to live.

Networking and making the leap

Moving into the real estate industry wasn’t a straightforward path for Alex. Networking played a crucial role, connecting him to opportunities that eventually led to Alex stresses the significance of networking, showcasing how a series of introductions paved the way for his career in luxury real estate.

Overcoming language barriers

Language can be a hurdle for expats, but Alex’s experience highlights the power of customer service and professionalism. While his French wasn’t initially fluent, his commitment to excellent service allowed him to build trust with clients, ultimately surpassing language barriers.

The French safety net

Contrary to perceptions, Alex views the French system as supportive for expats. He emphasises the safety net France provides, allowing individuals to take calculated risks in entrepreneurship without facing insurmountable financial challenges. The French healthcare system and quality of life further contributed to Alex’s positive expat experience.

The resilience of the luxury market

Looking ahead to 2024, Alex anticipates a continued interest in the luxury real estate market. Despite global challenges, the luxury sector, particularly properties above two to three million euros, remains resilient. The expat influx, especially from the United States, is driven by factors such as favourable interest rates, political considerations, and the perceived stability of the French property market.

In conclusion, Alex Gaines’ expat journey serves as an inspiring testament to the possibilities that unfold when one takes a leap into the unknown. His story, filled with unexpected turns and valuable insights, showcases the rewards of embracing change and pursuing one’s dreams in a foreign land. Whether you’re considering an expat life or intrigued by the luxury real estate market in France, Alex’s experiences offer valuable lessons and encouragement to “just jump” into new adventures.

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