The Road to Paris

Since November 2011, the option to move to Paris has been a member of our family. Our children are actually my stepkids so there is the consideration of her as she is a very important part of their lives.We were supposed to know by the end of 2011 and then it moved into the beginning of January. Then it was put on hold and then it was back on again a month later.  If Paris didn’t pan out, we had to take the other road of building a dream home on the south end of Mercer Island.A lot of time and energy went into it and we were really close to nailing all the finishes and costs. Soooo close I could see my dream bathroom, dream kitchen (minus the sub-zero fridge) and then early July, they made an offer that we could not refuse and we knew what path we were on now. Greg needed to be in Paris in September and we were going to join him after the holidays.

We had two houses that needed to be brought up to either saleable or rentable condition. I had lived in my home for 18 years and it had a few things to be done in order to sell but honestly, the house did not want to go easily so we are renting it out. I has been reinforced beyond belief and has been made less architectural feature filled and more practical for a family of 1, 2, or 3. It’s not a common Mercer Island home but I have absolutely loved it and it worked for me.  Our other home that was so close to being bulldozed, was cleaned up and will be rented until we come back to build what is the best for the lot and street. Hopefully 1-5 trees fall down and then we’ll have a completely unobstructed view of Mt. Rainier. Just kidding, we love trees!

Greg left Seattle on September 23 to start his new job and I joined him for a week to visit the schools and find an apartment. My American attitude of I need to see as much as possible before I can possibly pick something was not the Parisian attitude of our relocation agent. I flew in on a Monday morning and was leaving on Saturday morning so she scheduled our apartment hunting for Thursday, I am pretty sure I had a panic attack. I heard stories of folks having to take several shots at finding something. The line that our agent said that made both of us worried was “I am happy with what I have found”,she had not even met us!

So we meet up with her and at the first apartment, the agent overslept so could we see it later…this is not good. We call the second appointment and they say to come over as they are there. Turns out that the owner was at the apartment because he was just finishing up painting, redoing the hardwoods, putting in a new master bath and kitchen cabinets. With the immaculate walls and floors, I was impressed. I swore the ceilings were 15 feet (only 11ft but whose counting?) The kitchen was ok and the floor definitely, meh but the boys would have had their own wing for their rooms. And there was an extra room for an office. This apartment was bigger than the two houses in Seattle (minus the garage space). The location seemed good, too. Onward to the second apartment, it was three blocks down the same street (where it dead-ended) and was a corner unit on a higher floor, but it wasn’t as clean and the agent looked at me as if I was crazy for asking if it would be cleaned prior to moving it in. The big con of this apartment was the layout, the bedrooms would not have allowed our boys to have their own space and that meant a lot to us.

We say several more apartments that were huge but most were “quiet” meaning they faced the courtyard so you could look at concrete wall or into your neighbor’s window.

Another aspect of French leasing is that you really need to convince the landlord that they want you. I have heard horror stories where for no good reasons, families are turned away. I think we lucked out in several ways. The owner saw us and that we didn’t look as if we were going to put a meth lab in the back bedroom. We complimented him on all the finishes and really oohed and ahhed. However, if we did not get this one, we did decide that Greg would continue to look after I left because he now had a much better understanding of what I wanted in an apartment – no courtyard only views!