A Canadian with $1,000 a Year Can Live Very Comfortably and Enjoyably in Paris — Who Says So?
|Ernest Hemingway, photographed in his Paris apartment, circa 1924. THE HEMINGWAY COLLECTION/JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM|
Not long after Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, moved to Paris (December 22, 1921), an article of his was published in The Toronto Star Weekly (February 4, 1922) about life in Paris. At the time, they were living off his job and her trust fund (a combined annual income of $3,000) in their first Paris apartment at 74, rue Cardinal Lemoine (5th), which had no running water and a closet for a bathroom. It was bohemian life of the first kind, although they had a ‘fair’ amount of money. Still, they were learning how to be frugal.
Fortunately for the Hemingways, the French franc was weak against the dollar in 1922. I found several fascinating articles about the period currency rates between 1922 and 1926 that explain the depreciation of the franc at the time, but it was to their advantage as they found life in Paris very affordable. I’m not so sure a new arrival in today’s Paris finds it the same.
One U.S. dollar in 1922 had the same buying power then as $13.04 does in 2012. And the rate of exchange was 1.0150 Canadian dollar to the U.S. dollar, so almost at parity.
Now, let’s look at his statement: “At the present rate of exchange, a Canadian with an income of $1,000 a year (US$985.22) can live comfortably and enjoyably in Paris. If exchange were normal the same Canadian would starve to death. Exchange is a wonderful thing.”
That means that $12,847 a year would be an adequate budget!
And when Ernest explains the cost of their second abode…”Two of us are living in a comfortable hotel in the Rue Jacob. It is just back of the Academy of the Beaux Arts and a few minutes walk from the Tuileries. Our room costs twelve francs a day for two. It is clean, light, well heated, has hot and cold running water and a bathroom on the same floor. That makes a cost for rent of thirty dollars a month.”…that would equate to a monthly rent of US$385.42!…on Rue Jacob, nonetheless — Paris’ most expensive district. An apartment there is now (according to “De Particulier à Particulier” about 37.51€ per square meter per month. For even a studio of 20 square meters, the apartment would rent for 750€ per month, or US$937 at today’s rate of exchange.
Hemingway also wrote: “At the corner of the Rue Bonaparte and the Rue Jacob there is a splendid restaurant where the prices are à la carte. Soup costs sixty centimes and a fish is 1.20 francs.” He’s talking about “Le Pré aux Clercs” at 30, Rue Bonaparte. It’s well-known to be an old stomping ground of his and today a main course is 11€ to 18€ — US$13.78 to US$22.55.
His conclusion was, “It is from tourists who stop at the large hotels that the reports come that living in Paris is very high. The big hotel keepers charge all they think the traffic can bear. But there are several hundred small hotels in all parts of Paris where an American or Canadian can live comfortably, eat at attractive restaurants and find amusement for a total expenditure of two and one half to three dollars a day.”
(Note: The article, in its entirety, is republished at The Toronto Star.)
Ninety years ago, Paris was a bargain for the Hemingways, and while for Americans and Canadians, it hasn’t been a bargain for a long time, the rate of exchange is shifting on a moment-by-moment basis in favor of the US and Canadian dollars. In fact, it’s predicted to go down further over the next few months and that means Paris may get to bargain status once again…or at least a lot closer!
My advice to you: make your travel arrangements now! Because no doubt, when the hoards of Francophiles realize that they can visit France for a whole lot less than even a couple of months ago, there won’t be a hotel room or short-term apartment available within the Périphérique! And that means for all you lucky property owners, you’re going to be turning them away or investing in more properties!
I know I am!
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Tomorrow we’re filming yet ANOTHER House Hunters International! This makes our 8th episode! Hope you enjoyed yesterday’s program! I’m DYING to see it, so hopefully one or two of you recorded it for me! Lots of the apartments used in the shows are those of our very own friends, clients and owners of vacation apartments. Visit our site of luxury apartments and see if there are any you recognize! Visit Parler Paris Apartments to peruse our bouquet of Paris abodes…a bargain considering the luxury! (Hemingway would agree.)