Chez Soi

Adventures of a Year Abroad

New Digs


New Digs

Living in Paris is a dream come true in so many ways.  When it came to looking at apartments, we were drawn to this, or even this. But alas, our dream doesn’t come with a limitless budget. (drat!)

We used a site called “book-a-flat” recommended by friend Katie Stanton. It offers furnished apartments in Paris, which is important because “unfurnished” literally means a pipe coming out of a wall as the kitchen. I couldn’t imagine needed to build a kitchen while we were learning the language. So book-a-flat it was. Plus, they speak fluent English. We spent hours surfing the site to see what resonated. Some apartments had tons of tilted angles which seemed charming at first, but I was fairly sure it would be less charming if one of us got a concussion from running into a (weird) wall. At one point, we fell in love with a mirage. It was an apartment where the Eiffel Tower was framed perfectly in the master bedroom window. Imagine waking up to that view?! Every day!! And it had a terrace where we could invite over friends for wine. I imagined acting totally nonchalant about it — like, ‘oh, yes, that view, no big deal.’ but inside I’d be doing the cha-cha. But, it was well 2,000 euros (or, 2800 bucks) more than our already-raised budget. Gah.

When Neri was visiting us recently in California, she got us to think more practically (how many minutes to school, you need more doors if you will work in same space, where are heck the closets?) which helped us narrow the field to 3 choices.

Curt had the smart idea to walk the neighborhoods on the 2nd day we were there. Two of the 3 apartments we had picked were in the 8th (closer to the schools) and one in the 7th. But when we saw the 8th neighborhoods in person, we realized that the local grocer, and restaurants would be on the Champs Elysees, aka tourist central. This was not what any of us imagined as “home”. But it took us a few minutes to say anything. Finally, we all raised a collective ‘blech’ to that idea.

We ended up with the place in the 7th arrondissement, a quiet neighborhood, and minutes from things we love. We had originally hoped for 3 bedrooms so we could afford guests, but we couldn’t swing it even after raising our budget by 1,000 bucks. Our new plan is to find a reasonably priced hotel somewhere nearby to direct our friends. And, of course had hoped for some view, but that was also outside the budget. We ended up optimizing for every day life. It is five minutes to the d’orsay museum, and seven to the Rodin. And 38 minutes to walk to school, 17 via the metro. The new place is about 1,100 square feet, which is quite small when compared to our home in Los Gatos (nearly 2400 square feet with a yard, and a 2-car garage), but it’s plenty.

This, by the way, is kiddo’s bathroom. Oooh, la, la.

Apartment bathroom

Author: nilofermerchant

Strategist. Passionate about igniting cultures of innovation. HBR Writer, O'Reilly Author (published January 2010) of The New How, and former CEO of Rubicon.

5 thoughts on “New Digs

  1. I love it! I can imagine you very happy here. 🙂

  2. Jube –
    I remember when you said the same thing about where we live now. For some reason, that’s very comforting.

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  4. love this. the musée d’orsay was my absolute favorite museum when I lived in paris and I loved the musée de rodin as well. I think my face is now turning green with envy.

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