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Habitable Spaces and Habitable Places

It was really tough to get on the train this afternoon headed back to Paris after spending a week in Nice’s beautiful sunshine, with warm afternoons and glistening blue sea water bouncing back off my sunglasses, not to mention fabulous Mediterranean cuisine that one can only get in Paris at a small fortune (like fresh grilled whole fish). Just walking along the Promenade des Anglais along with thousands of other strollers, watching the sun worshippers on the beach and hanging out on the “Chaises Bleues” is enough to feel satisfied that there is more to life than our precious Paris.

This week in Nice was devoted to working with a property search client who’s wanting to eventually retire to Nice. We spent two days visiting more than a dozen apartments searching for a one-bedroom in central Nice. It was fascinating that half of the selection were priced identically for about the same size: 265,000€ for 50 square meters, give or take. Our best finds were in the Quartier des Musiciens and Quartier des Fleurs, all of which were equal distance to the sea, the new Tramway (East-West Line 2) and to the Nice Ville Gare (train station).

As of this writing, our client is torn between three different properties, just like in a House Hunters International episode, as we banter back and forth about the pluses and minuses of each, trying to weigh what really matters, and what not. All three need at least some, or in two of the cases, a lot of renovation. The bottom line will likely be about the same costs for all three, which makes the decision-making even more difficult. We are counting on our resident designer/contractor to add important information that will help narrow down the choices to one.

What’s really infuriating (to me) is that one of the apartments is “hot off the press” renovated by a “marchand de bien” (developer), but designed so badly that it needs a complete redo from top to bottom. The frustrated architect in me redrew the floor plan exactly opposite to how it is now, switching the bedroom with the living room/dining room and the bathroom with the kitchen in order to take advantage of the views, the light and the ability to maximize the space. In my world, it makes much more sense and will be a fabulous apartment with the newly revised floor plan…but what a shame to waste what was just already done. The good news, however, is that the buyer will get exactly what she wants.

This happens all the time — a developer comes in, buys up a property cheap, “white-washes” it to resell it quickly, but uses no common sense whatsoever in creating a viable property. In this case, the developer hasn’t been able to sell it (for good reason) and lowered the price by about 15%. Now, he’s willing to do the work at a reasonable price, just to get it sold. Don’t we all wish he had done that in the first place?

For some strange reason, perhaps my background as a graphic designer, allows me to see the skeleton of a property, not the “skin” (decor) and understand how it should be, not how it is. In another life, I will become an architect…or is that what I’m doing anyway, but unofficially? No matter…I love every minute of the creative adventure to realize a truly habitable space that can be fully enjoyed.

Speaking of “habitable spaces,” U.S. News has it that a record-breaking number of Americans don’t think the U.S. is habitable anymore and want to get out…forever. The percentage of Americans wanting to head to greener pastures is much higher now under the Trump Administration than it was under either Bush or Obama.

I’ve been talking about this for a couple of years now. The emails and phone calls started coming in almost the minute he took office. We’ve seen record numbers of Americans getting French visas and moving over to Paris, Nice and parts beyond. It’s been very good for business, we’d have to admit, although I have never, nor ever will, “vote with my pocketbook.”

According to a Gallup Poll released Friday, in 2018, 16 percent of Americans said that they would want to “get out of Dodge.” It was the same for 2017, and much higher than during the presidencies of Obama or Bush. In fact, we were pretty busy during George W.’s eight years (11 percent compared to 16), but nothing like now. And during Obama’s eight years, immigration was light. Women are even more attune to leaving now — 20 percent, compared to 13 percent of the men!

The poll goes on to detail the differences in opinion between the young and the old as well as income levels. We here see a lot of empty-nesters and retirees.  France is a bigger move if you have a family and not as easy as heading to Canada, where about 25 percent of the Americans go. But, it’s been very easy for most Francophiles to get a long-stay visa and with property finding services like ours, getting settled in a home is a lot less complicated…rental or purchase. Just ask our Niçois client who has the “tough” problem of choosing between several great properties!

For more about the Gallop Poll, visit And while you’re at it, check this out. Moving2Canada’s election day visitor stats (Pacific time) traffic surged as Donald Trump’s victory became clear, fueled by Americans seeking information on immigration to Canada from the USA.

Forget Canada. France awaits you! (It’s a much better choice!)

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor of Parler Nice


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 P.S. See you tomorrow, January 8th at Après Midi when Liz Alderman, Business Editor of International Herald Tribune S.A.S. talks to us about what it’s like to be in her shoes! It’s free and it’s always fun. Visit our Après Midi page for more information.

P.P.S. If you want to learn more about how we can help you move to France, or about our property finding services, visit our site at . You can also complete our consultation form or contact us at [email protected] with your questions.


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