View of the Empire State Building from the West Village Apartment
L.A. to Paris, Paris to N.Y., N.Y. to L.A. and Then Back to Paris?
Monday, October 22, 2018 • Paris, France
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My daughter has packed up her belongings and shipped them off to Los Angeles, where she will begin the next stage of her life enjoying a California lifestyle. That's where she started her young life (up to the age of almost 9 years old), before being thrust into life in Paris. With the encouragement of her mother, she then went back to the U.S. for college (New York City), never to return to France, with the exception of regular visits.
With the West Village studio apartment now empty except for the furnishings, and freshly repainted, our real estate agent in New York, Maryann Johnson with Halstead, is preparing it for a long-term rental. Being as it is in a co-op building, the rentals are restricted to a maximum of two years, the tenant must be approved by the board of directors and we as landlords must pay a hefty commission to the association from the rents. The rents in New York are almost double what they are in Paris for the same size and type of apartment, but of course, the costs of operating the property are considerably higher, too. With a two-year window, we are likely going to have to sell the West Village apartment in the not-too-distant future.
I swooned when I saw the photos of the apartment empty of Erica's belongings and looking brand-spanking-new like when she first moved into it in 2009. It was so sad to see it this way and reflect back on all we went through to obtain it, renovate and furnish it, then to thoroughly enjoy it. The apartment was obtained by taking an "equity release loan" — a kind of "line of credit" — here in France based on my French property holdings which had greatly increased on value. It was a brilliant suggestion by my associates at a lending institution (no longer doing business) when the dollar-to-euro rate was $1.50, stretching the loan by 50% and placing no lien on the New York property.
Maryann and I recalled what it was like when I was looking at properties in New York. I went there for only a few days and told her, "We have to find the apartment within the next few days or I don't buy anything at all."
That put a lot of pressure on her and I'll bet she was sweating bullets. But when we walked into this apartment, in an 1897 building that had been a horseshoe factory at one time, with a doorman and two elevators, but only eight floors high, with beautiful wooden floors, one whole wall mirrored to visually double its size and a drop-dead gorgeous view of the Empire State Building from its two large windows, I simply said, "I'll take it." I didn't even bargain on it, knowing that offering asking price (from my Paris default mode) would mean it was ours.
Erica lived in New York 16 years — a long time for someone so young — but, long enough to know that her love affair with The Big Apple had come to an end. As she put it, "Mom, I'm over New York."
She claims she is ready to live inside the bubble of a car (for the first time in her life), hopefully an apartment or house with a yard or some outdoor space and plenty of California sunshine. L.A. rents won't be nearly as expensive as Manhattan's, and there is hope that the profits from the New York rents will mostly cover her L.A. rents. But life on the West Coast still costs a pretty penny...way more than it costs to live in Paris or almost anywhere in Europe.
Former L.A. home
The house in which we lived in L.A. (Rancho Park) for five years before moving to Paris is funnily enough up for sale again — this time at four times what we sold it for in 1994. The market had taken a dive and when we sold it at a loss to make our dream to live in France come true, the bank took a "short sale" — less than the remaining principle on the mortgage. That's how anxious we were to move to France.
Erica jokingly said, "Let's buy it back!"...
To which I replied, "Do you really want such a large house to take care of?"
In typical U.S. oversized fashion with about 3,000 square feet, it had five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, dining room, den and large eat-in kitchen. The most recent owners added a pool to the back yard where I once grew herbs. All I can think is "what on earth would I do with all that space now that I'm accustomed and content to living in much less the space?"...but, let's not forget that my Paris apartment with one-quarter the space of that house is worth only one-half the price! That makes the L.A. house a real bargain on a per square foot basis when comparing it to Paris real estate.
Our Marais apartment
Interestingly enough, the New York apartment of 525 square feet is valued at about the same as our Paris apartment, but is three-quarters the size of it (750 square feet). Of course, one must also take into consideration location: as they say, "Location, location, location."
The Marais is not quite equivalent in value to the West Village in New York, which is one of New York's most exclusive neighborhoods. PropertyShark.com says that the West Village is "So exclusive, in fact, that it out-prices blatantly rich neighborhoods such as the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side, in both the home sales and, more recently, rental markets." Le Marais has not yet reached the price per square meter rates of Saint-Germain-des-Prés or the 7th arrondissement around the Eiffel Tower, but it's climbing more rapidly and could easily obtain West Village-style exclusivity in the coming years.
Will we really purchase a property in Los Angeles in the near future? Highly likely, if we can afford it, thanks to the increases in values in the West Village since our purchase in 2009. But, not likely to be a 3,000 square foot, five-bedroom home like we once had! And happily not!
My prediction: It's really tough to say good-bye to Paris forever. Erica will move back to Paris after enough time in L.A. when she will say, "Mom, I'm over L.A."
P.S. If you know of someone interested in a long-term rental of the West Village apartment beginning immediately, please contact Maryann Johnson at Halstead.
Come join us
November 13, 2018
Janet Hulstrand Writer, Editor, Writing coach Downsizing, the Keepers and the Throwers
Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between France and the U.S. Although she is mainly known for her writing about France, and particularly about the village in Champagne where she spends much of her time, she is also known as a downsizing expert, as coauthor of a book (Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home) and a blog (Downsizing the Home: Lessons Learned) on the subject. At this Après-Midi she will share her expertise in downsizing, focusing on how the “keepers” and the “throwers” of the world can work together harmoniously to get the job done (!) when it is time to downsize the family home.
The second Tuesday of every month 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
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