Lief and I have long agreed that, when we’re too old to continue moving around the world as we do now, we’ll settle in Paris.
I’m awfully happy to be able to report that we find ourselves in Paris now, still fully mobile.
Since I was a young girl, my answer to the question: If you could live anywhere, where would you live… has been Paris. For me, life in this city is as good as life gets.
Step out your door anytime, day or night, turn right or left, and you don’t have to travel far to encounter something engaging. At home in one of Paris’ central, historic neighborhoods, from the 1st arrondissement to the 8th, the best this world has to offer is only a short and pleasant walk away.
Indeed, Paris is a city best explored and appreciated on foot, and, when I’m in Paris, I spend as many hours as I can in that pursuit.
This time of year the sun continues to light the scene until 10 p.m. or later, meaning Lief and I can put in a good day’s work and still have a few hours of daylight to play with.
But I enjoy Paris in all seasons and any weather. What difference if it’s raining or dry, January frigid or August hot, when you can retreat on a whim to a café for a cup of hot chocolate or a cold coupe de champagne? Sidewalk heaters mean you can sit outside at your favorite café and enjoy the passing show year-round.
All of my favorite things are here—bookstores, antique shops, champagne cellars, pretty parks, well-tended gardens, old buildings, and old friends. The city cycles reliably through other favorites, especially at Christmas, when tiny white lights are strung along the grand boulevards and shop windows are framed with evergreens and gold baubles.
In Paris, a loaf of baguette and a bottle of wine are the makings of one of the most memorable afternoons of your life when enjoyed riverside. This has been true for hundreds of years and will be true for hundreds more. Lief and I promise to continue to test the point, though, at regular intervals.
Central Paris is an open-air museum where little changes yet every day offers the chance for discovery. Paris is at once perfectly packaged and constantly improving itself.
It’s also one of the world’s best storehouses of wealth. Property values in this city move up and down, as they do everywhere, but an apartment of charm in a good location in this city will always find a buyer… and a renter. The rental market in central Paris is perhaps the most proven in the world.
Over the years, Lief and I have made several Paris apartment investments, including the one in the 7th we’ve just returned to.
This apartment has been rented these past nine years we’ve been living in Panama, and we met last week with our rental manager Linda.
“When did you buy this property?” Linda wondered.
“In 2004,” Lief explained.
“Ah, then you have watched its value move up and up and up and up!” Linda replied enthusiastically.
“In fact,” she explained, “Paris property values increased 7% overall… across the entire city on average… last year. With the troubles we’ve been having, that was unexpected.
“But the tourists are still coming,” Linda continued, “including Americans who want to take advantage of their strong dollar.”
Paris’ most sought-after addresses are in its 1st, 6th, 7th, and 8th arrondissements. Limited demand (because if you own an apartment in one of these neighborhoods, you typically hold on to it… these properties are often passed from generation to generation) keeps prices high, 15,000 euros per square meter and up.
More interesting from a cost-per-square-meter perspective can be the 11th (around the Place de la République), the 17th and the 18th (Montmartre), all neighborhoods enjoying gentrification and becoming increasingly trendy. You could buy in the 18th, for example, for as little as 6,000 or 7,000 euros per square meter with a reasonable expectation for both rental cash flow and near-term appreciation of value.