We have been experiencing the agonizing drudgery of the Parisian house hunt. Or, more accurately, apartment hunt. It's on my list of depressing ways to spend your time. We have to find a place in our neighborhood because otherwise we lose Santi's place in the municipal daycare. Luckily, our neighborhood is one of the cheaper in Paris. Of course, that also means that LOTS of other people are looking here too.
Our biggest stumbling block has been that on one income, we just don't make three times the amount of the rents charged around here. And if you don't, you can forget any property that's being rented through an realtor (which is 95% of them). It's crazy. Greg is a government functionary (guaranteed employment), owns an apartment outright, already has a renter lined up, and has no debt. With his salary and rental income he makes ALMOST the three times the rent.
But no dice! They are tough here! At every apartment we went to visit there was at least one other set of potential renters already there (or more often, 5 sets, or even 20. One realtor told us he had an open house later on that day for a one-bedroom where he was expecting 65 people, minimum.). And you better have your application and supporting documents ready to turn in on the spot, or you can forget it (most of these rented within 24-48 hours of being shown). We had to submit not only pay stubs and ID's, but also our income tax and property tax returns, and provide a co-signer. At first we tried to just use a special bank account made just for this purpose. It has the equivalent of a year's rent in it and no withdrawals are permitted during the term of the lease. Not good enough (are you kidding?)! In addition, we had to ask another property owner to co-sign.
It is extremely frustrating to see the ideal apartment, turn in all the paperwork, and know you're never going to get a call back because there's always some other applicant who makes more money than you. I kept thinking sarcastically, well, I suppose it's not SO bad being a family of three in a one-bedroom apartment. At least we'll get our roomback when Santi turns 18 and moves out. Ha. And of course, type A me gets even more angst ridden about not having nailed down steady employment yet.
But then finally we came across a place that is a little smaller than we were hoping for, and a bit farther away than we'd like, but nevertheless a nice 2 bedroom place on the 4th floor (with an elevator!). And, more importantly, a miracle, it was being rented directly by a very nice elderly couple who told us "Oh, we don't care about whether you make exactly three times the rent. We care more about why you want to rent it. We want to help out responsible people who need help. You know, students and families." (luckily for us, the wife told Greg confidentially that she actually was pretty fed up with students and really was just was looking for a family). Seriously! Our faith a bit restored in Parisian humanity, we will soon be the happy renters of a apartment that is reasonable for a family of three!
Now, if I can just get that elusive job and then we can join the quest for an apartment to buy. I'm sure that search is going to be even MORE fun! Not.
"Nairn's Paris" in Literary Review
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