So I hope you found my last post informative and honest. I tried to give a detailed account of what it is costing us to move to France. Here’s where it all gets funky but stay with me, the outcome is optimistic.
Last March (exactly one year from our departure date) at the same time Antz asked his boss to work remotely, I was messaged by someone on a house exchange website. She was interested in doing a house exchange and wanted to send her daughter to American school. It was a dream come true. I fell in love with her apartment and she was offering a gorgeous second home to visit in Normandie. I was ecstatic. She had the same Kitchenmaid mixer in her adorable kitchen and a light blue Smeg refrigerator!! If you are a girl, I think you understand the significance. However, the exchange was always dependent on her ability to obtain an American work visa (not an easy feat). We both agreed on a timeline to her get her visa and I hustled as hard as I could, but I failed. I couldn’t find her a job that would sponsor her visa by the deadline. She has been absolutely wonderful throughout my devastation.
Carissa, it’s like you are talking directly to me.
So where am I now? I have reached out to over 70 families on 5 different home exchange websites to find a house swap. I have been sick with stress and highly emotional because our departure date is quickly approaching and instead of feeling excited about our new adventure, I am scared to death about where will we live. I have asked everyone I know. I have asked strangers. I have joined Facebook groups for Americans in Paris with no leads. I recently joined an exclusive designer home exchange website called Behomm. I’d share the link but it’s members only so you wouldn’t be able to view it. Let me say, the houses on this site are from members of the design community and they are freaking gorgeous! Like, insane architecture and style. There is a lengthy vetting process to become a member but I would be happy to talk to anyone who would like to join (there is a $99 annual fee which is similar to most exchange sites). So I felt hopeful that I would find a swapper but after three months and hearing nothing from most of my requests and then slowly getting declines, I started feeling worried again. I was giving myself a 4 month threshold to find housing and I was in December with nothing. So, I had to start looking at other options. I widened my search range (I originally wanted to be in walking distance to Liv’s school) and I was more flexible on my dates. During this period I received over 50 requests for summer swap from all over the world. Not a single one from Paris.
I bought Liv’s rad sweater from Saks last summer. We’ve been waiting for months for it to be cold enough to wear it!
You guys, this has been my dream for such a long time that I cry just thinking about it coming true. To come this far and push through so many challenges and drama, I refuse to not find a way. I reached out to a Behomm member to see if she would do an exchange for two months instead the whole year. Surprisingly, she was into it. This lovely lady is graciously exchanging her home with us so I have a temporary place when we arrive in Paris in March. Is it an apartment with a separate office for Antz to work in? Not exactly. Is it in walking distance to school? No, we will be taking the Metro. But the best part, it is in PARIS! It’s a free, BEAUTIFUL place to stay and I’m grateful to my new friend for making it a possibility. Bisous Louise!
Sometimes I can’t believe my luck! (I’m totally crying again)
I am a huge believer in the saying things happen for a reason and being open to new opportunities. So as much as not having a housing situation in Paris confirmed is outside of my comfort zone, I will persevere. I have already began looking into renting our house in LA and finding a rental in Paris. It really is my last resort because I will have to put down a huge security deposit for a rental and the monthly rent will take a chunk out of our monthly travel budget. I don’t mean to sound bratty, but my goal in doing an exchange was to keep our bills low so we could have the chance to travel. But, I am trying to be flexible. I have shown our house to potential renters and they all sound excited to rent but I haven’t heard from any of them so maybe it’s just looky-loos or they have an issue with the house coming fully furnished. I can’t put all my furniture in storage for 15 months.
I am also having issues with the rental agency that I found a cute apartment that fits our budget and is a 24 minute walk to school (do you see me sweating already?). The apartment isn’t available until April 24th however, they won’t accept any offers until late February because they are telling me it’s too early. Hello French logic! So now I have to find renters for our house before we leave in March. I need to be patient and hope I am lucky enough to get that apartment in February (the current renters may extend their lease) and we will have to hire a property management company to collect the rent and serve as landlords while we are abroad. Oh did I mention they charge 10% of the rent every month? So all those lovely monthly estimates I just shared are out the window. I’m looking at close to $9,000 in security deposits and agency fees. I need to get French renters insurance (my best guess is 300 – 600 euros per year) and I may or may not have to pay an annual tax d’habitation which is approx $1200. I’m fine, this fine.
I have asked friends if they can help me with finding tenants and I’ve gotten the awesome advice to hire a realtor. Did I mention three realtors came to see my house in December? The first one had a snotty attitude and didn’t seem to be bothered. She was charging one month’s rent to find a tenant and kept saying IF she could find someone. The second one went in another direction. He wanted to list our house on Airbnb for the entire time we are away. So not only would I NOT have financial security that I could pay my mortgage but there would be possibly hundreds of random people staying in our house like a hotel, so nope! The last realtor, who I greatly admire was the most reasonable. She would charge $2,750 to find a tenant. I wish I just had that much to spend on finding a tenant. So, I have publicly listed our house for rent. I’ve gotten many inquiries and a few showings but no success.
I’m starting to feel like I’m trapped in quicksand. The closer I come to getting out, the lower I am sinking. I am trying to stay positive. I will not let anything deter me from moving but I can’t lie, I am scared, I am stressed beyond words and I feel like I’m alone in this battle.
So as my life experiences has taught me, nothing worth having is easy. I have been through this before when I wanted to buy our house and when we were trying to have Olivia. Sometimes things just don’t go our way and I can accept that. I’m still moving to fucking FRANCE!!
Stay Focused and Extra Sparkly at the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at The Broad (post coming soon)
I would love some encouragement, or it would be great if you could find me a tenant or a house exchange in Paris.
In the meanwhile, I am still searching under every rock on the internet for a match. I am open to anything right now. I am feeling optimistic that our opportunities will align once we are in Paris. I have already encountered many kind strangers who have offered their support. I will keep you updated.