“I have to tell you the truth,” began the attendee at this week’s Live and Invest in France Conference here in Paris…
Uh, oh, I thought, as I braced myself. I wonder where this is headed…
“When my husband and I walked into the meeting room Monday morning, we thought we were in the wrong place. We almost turned around and walked back out.
“I mean,” the young lady continued, “we must be years younger than anyone else here.”
She had a point.
Used to be that our typical reader and average conference attendee was aged 60 and older. This is less true all the time, and in the room with us for this week’s conference we had a great mix of folks from different backgrounds and at different stages of their lives.
Still, this young lady appeared to be maybe 30. So I could understand how she and her husband thought they must have made a wrong turn somewhere when they came face-to-face with their fellow conference-goers this week.
“Seriously,” the young lady continued, “for a moment we considered leaving. Then we decided, hey… we’re here… we’ve come all this way… let’s see what this is all about.
“After the first couple of presentations on Monday morning, we were hooked. We were excited. And we sure were glad we’d stuck around.
“This just seems to be about options… so many options…
“My husband and I are from New York. We’ve worked in finance, but now we’re real estate investors. The returns in Manhattan right now are low. For some of our investments, we’re breaking even or even running at a loss. That’s why your information, when we found it, got our attention. The potential rental returns you talk about for different places are so much better than we’re able to get in New York anymore.
“Plus, my husband and I like to travel.
“We were reading and reading your emails, noticed that you put on conferences in different places you recommend, and finally decided to pick a conference and come meet you and see how all this works for ourselves.
“Every winter we go skiing in the French Alps. So when we saw that you were having an event in Paris, we decided that seemed as good a first step as any. Worst case, we’d get a trip to Paris out of it.
“Everything this week has been eye-opening for us, but most interesting have been the presentations from the expats living here in France. Some of them decided to move to France when they were our age or even younger. Now they’re established here, they’ve started businesses, they’ve made investments, and they all seem so happy.
“We tried to get friends back in New York to come along with us for this conference or even to read some of your emails and information. We were surprised by their reactions.
“‘You’re thinking about doing what?!’ they wanted to know. They really think we’re crazy to be thinking about investing in real estate outside the United States. They’re all investors, too… we’re partners with some of them in different projects… and they don’t see the advantages or the reasons to even consider investing outside the United States.
“Our families think we’re crazy, too. Our parents were just as confused as our friends when we told them about our plan for this week.
“So we were uncertain coming here. But then, as we sat and listened to the expats you invited to come share their stories, we began to feel more comfortable and confident about this idea. They are real people, and they did it. They moved from the United States or wherever to Paris or the south of France and here they are today, years later, doing so well. If they can do it, so can we.
“We’re nowhere near ready to begin thinking about retirement,” the young lady continued. “But we’re thinking seriously about making an investment outside the United States, maybe more than one. Lots of things you’ve written about have interested us. We’ll take another look at them when we’re back home.
“Meantime, we’re thinking that maybe an apartment in Paris would be a great first step… or maybe a small chalet in the Alps. We really enjoy skiing in France every winter with our friends. How cool to have a French Alps chalet of our own. We could use it ourselves a couple of weeks a year and rent it out otherwise, as you guys have been recommending.
“You know, at first, our friends didn’t understand why we wanted to come skiing in France either. The first year we organized a winter ski holiday in this country, they wanted to know why we were traveling so far. They couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t just go skiing in Colorado.
“Do you know why we had the idea to come skiing in France rather than Colorado? Because it’s cheaper. I did the research and found that we could rent a ‘catered chalet’ for way less than the cost of a regular rental at one of the hot ski spots in Colorado.”
“A ‘catered chalet’?” I wondered. “What’s that?”
“Ah, it’s amazing,” the young lady explained. “It’s a private chalet that is operated kind of like a hotel. You have a chef who prepares meals for you—breakfast, tea, and dinner every day. We have three- and four-course meals each night with wine, all served privately in our own chalet. You really feel special, I have to say.
“After the first year we tried it, we went back home and told our friends about it and showed them the photos. They couldn’t believe it… wouldn’t believe it. They thought we were making it up or exaggerating. Some of them, though, decided to join us the next year.
“Then they went back home and told our other friends that we hadn’t been exaggerating at all… that the experience was amazing and, yes, for sure, cheaper than a typical Colorado ski trip. And these chalet trips are so not at all typical.
“Anyway, now all our friends want to come skiing in the French Alps with us every winter. We don’t have space for them all.”