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How To Buy An Apartment In Los Angeles
My friend Laurie Pike, L.A. Mag fashion editor, blogging at The Paris Blog, looked at the L.A. real estate prices and promptly bought an apartment thousands of miles away -- on rue Nobel in Paris' Montmartre, and then did so well on it that her accountant invested in two more with her. And now it's all in The New York Times (yet again, we Lost Angelenos have to get our local news from the east coast!) From a story by Ariane Bernard:

Buying in Los Angeles did not appeal to Ms. Pike, who says that although she finds it the easiest city to live in, she is turned off by its natural instability: “the earthquakes, the landslides, the fires.”

And then there is the cost. Prices vary widely across the sprawling city. In the once-again chic area of Hollywood, apartments average $640 a square foot, not necessarily including taxes, utilities or maintenance costs, while small apartments in Paris average a bit less, and those charges are included.

Ms. Pike spent time in Paris over 20 years ago as a student at the Sorbonne. On a recent visit there she realized that mortgage rates were affordable — about 5 percent — and property values were not as costly as she had thought. Aided by the Bonapart Consulting agency, which specializes in finding homes in Paris for clients from abroad, she went on the hunt for an apartment.

The third one she saw was a studio on the Rue Nobel, a short street in Montmartre that has access to the stairs of Rue du Mont Cenis — a picturesque site for which this Parisian neighborhood on a hill is known. Ms. Pike had lived in the neighborhood when she was a student.

She bought the place in 2006 for 148,000 euros ($176,000 at the time), and spent 9,000 euros ($10,700) on renovations. The 22-square-meter, or almost 237-square-foot ground-floor studio, which has a glass chandelier, also has a small bar to separate the kitchen area from the rest of the room; the bathroom has a bathtub. To supplement a 20 percent down payment, Ms. Pike got a mortgage with a French bank that she found through a broker, France Home Finance. She generally rents out the apartment, which generates enough income to cover the mortgage, taxes and all costs associated with its upkeep.

Emboldened by the success of the operation, she partnered with her New Jersey-based accountant, a friend of 20 years, and bought two more properties: a small one-bedroom in eastern Paris, between Bastille and Nation, and a studio in the Marais, on the Rue aux Ours.

Each apartment cost about 170,000 euros, or about $230,000, and has been furnished in a low-key way. As they, too, are being rented out by short-term visitors, Ms. Pike has avoided setting out much memorabilia. She did not want the apartments to feel “too lived in” and turn off American tenants.

Much more at the link. But I prefer Laurie's moving story of her first days in Paris as an au pair:

The Centre Information et Documentation Jeunesse, on Quai Branly near the Eiffel Tower, has jobs listings posted on a wall. My first trip there was at the age of 19, shortly after I had moved to Paris from Cincinnati with $100 in my pocket. Coincidentally, the job I took was on the very same street, in a grand building overlooking the Seine. I looked after two children and stayed in a chambre de bonne on the 8th floor. The help was not to use the elevator.

On my first day as an au pair, Madame set out some fresh vegetable—vegetables I had never seen before—next to a coquotte minute, and told me to make a puree for the kids. I was too scared to tell her that my cooking experience was limited to tossing fish sticks in a toaster oven. “People just eat hamburgers in America,” she told her husband at a rare dinner I was allowed to attend. “And when they meet each other, they say, ‘Hello, how much do you make?’” She turned to me. “Don’t they?”

I was unhappy in my six months with the family, but what an experience it was absorbing aristocratic French life in their vacation homes in Avignon, Cannes and Normandy. I wrote home about waxing the children’s shoes, feeding them a spoonful of honey before bed, having to “verify the laundry” by checking every button and zipper before hanging it up.

...Last year, many moons after my first visit to this fertile crescent of my French experience, I went back to the Centre. It was still there. Curious, I walked in. It was remodeled. Clean and bright, yet still intimidating in that official, bureaucratic way. I sensed an invisible wall. The efficient hum versus the palpabale desperation. This unnerving feeling brought back memories of just how lonely and sad I was as an au pair. I remembered conducting imaginary conversations with my best friend back home, speaking in a whisper in my room in Avignon. Apologizing for breaking a glass and Madame responding, “Sure you are.” Writing in my diary that the beautiful countryside would be a whole different thing if only someone could hear me say “wow” about it.

I looked around to see if there were still au pair jobs posted. Sure enough, there were—and about six young girls, of all colors, perusing them and making notes.

I burst out crying. It was like looking at myself in the past. Were they down on their luck? Were they waiting for a $20 bill from their sister in the mail, as I once did for days on end? Would any of them say yes to a salary bump, winding up like Anna Karina in Vivre Sa Vie?

Unable to control my tears, I looked around for the bathroom. An attendant warned me, in an icy tone, that it would cost a half Euro to use the toilet. I pulled myself together enough to channel Madame, and I attempted her screech when I said, “I can afford it!”

Here I am with Laurie at a Paris blogger party at Richard Nahem's:


And here's Susie Hollands from Bonapart Consulting, who helped Laurie buy her apartment. (Susie's great, if you're looking for a place.) We're with photographer Sue Rynski's techie husband Franck.


Posted by aalkon at July 15, 2007 10:09 AM


hey Amy! It's great to have you back, when are you coming back to Paris? We'd ove you to drop in and there are plenty of nice apartments for rent seeing as the majority of Parisians haul ass towards the ocean right about now until 1st September!
Al except us hardworking busness people with international clientele to work.
Gros Bisous!

Posted by: susie at July 16, 2007 12:08 PM

I miss you...I will actually be over in September...genius that I am...when all the Parisians are back in their nests. Can't wait to see you...more soon!

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