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Apartment Hunting In Paris

Shopping For An Apartment In Paris,  Where Every Square Meter Counts

In Paris a couple of weeks ago, Lief and I began a search for another apartment in that city, this one to serve as a Live and Invest Overseas Euro-office.

We expected this hunt to stretch into the New Year, but one of the places we viewed our first day out checked all our boxes. This apartment is in the location we want, within the budget we’ve set, suitable for rental when we’re not using it ourselves (more on this in a minute), and (most important for me) has that certain je ne sais quoi factor (it’s old and charming).

It’s also 35 square meters. That’s about 376.6 square feet.

One day last week in the office in Panama City, Lief got out a tape measure and walked off the area for the conference room where we were sitting. That room is 42 square meters.

The 35-square-meter apartment we’ve made an offer on in Paris is also two bedrooms. Plus a salon, a kitchen, and a bathroom. All in 7 fewer square meters than our Panama City office conference room.

The craziest part is that the place in Paris seems like reasonable space.

How many square meters do you need to live or work comfortably in the City of Light? Many fewer than you might imagine. It’s all in the configuration.

Two weeks ago when we saw the 35-square-meter apartment that got our attention, we also toured slightly bigger places. One 42-square-meter apartment was simply one room plus a bathroom. Typically a one-room apartment is referred to as a “studio,” meaning no separate bedroom. I’m not sure what you’d call this place, though, as the one room was the living room, dining room, and kitchen, but not the bedroom. The bed was in the bathroom, alongside the tub.

Another apartment we considered was 40 square meters split between two levels with a miniature circular staircase connecting them. We liked the idea of two floors, until we realized that the lower floor was belowground.

Three rooms plus a kitchen and a bath in 35 square meters isn’t easy to come by, even in Paris (which is why we acted quickly to put in our offer), but it makes the point—the folks in this city know how to make the most of the space they’ve got.

The salon and the two bedrooms in this apartment are tiny by North American standards but big enough when you get down to it. Less comfortable are the kitchen and bathroom. “Bathroom” is generous. It’s more a bath closet. You could shower, brush your teeth, and use the toilet all at once without repositioning your feet if you were in a hurry. The shower head is immediately above the toilet which abuts the little wash basin.

The day we toured the place, Lief and I spent a long while standing together at the door to the bath closet considering reconfiguration options. If we intended the place to be our full-time office right away, we wouldn’t invest in a refit. The toilet/basin set-up would suffice. However, we won’t be ready to operate from here, even part-time, for another year-and-a-half (that’ll be the ideal time to transition Jackson to a new school in Paris). We’d like to rent the apartment over those 18 months if possible. Though our agent says we could be surprised, I find it hard to imagine someone willing to rent the place as-is, so Lief and I have come up with a preliminary plan for doubling the size of the bathroom without interfering too dramatically with the size of the adjoining bedroom.

And we’re pricing mini-IKEA kitchens.

Adding in the costs of the renovations and the costs of closing, the per-square-meter price we’re looking to spend for this charming little piece of Montmartre is still within the budget we imagined and reasonable in the context of what we should be able to charge renters.

The sellers have our offer. I’ll keep you posted.

Kathleen Peddicord

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