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C’est la Vie à Paris…C’est Cher (That’s Life in Paris…It’s Expensive)

We all know Paris is expensive, but did we realize that it’s the second most expensive city in the world in which to live? No.

Once you’ve lived here for a while, or if you’re living on euro earnings rather than dollar or sterling (or another currency) earnings, then you don’t make the rate of exchange calculation in your head every time you fork out 5€ for a café crème or plunk down 25€ for lunch. You just do it, because there’s no other choice, other than holing yourself up in your tiny apartment and never taking advantage of living in the glorious City of Light.

One thing that justifies the expensive everything is that other things cost so much less — like socialized health care and lower health insurance, taking public transportation vs owning and operating a car, quality eduction for your kids so there’s no bill for private schools (or even college!), lots of free cultural events, etc., etc., etc. So, one can (almost) afford to live in the world’s second most expensive town without too much thought…at least for relatively well-heeled Americans (And guess what? We ARE well-heeled by most standards).

The Ten Most Expensive Cities

 Singapore, the most expensive city in the worldThe most expensive city in the worldL'Oréal's True Match compact - in the U.S.L'Oréal's Morphose - in FranceFrench CroissantThe Eiffel Tower - Prais, France"Lovers" - Photo by Erica Simone“Lovers” – Photo by Erica Simone

The Economist Intelligence Unit just recently published its Worldwide Cost of Living 2014 report, touting Singapore as the most expensive city, having climbed rapidly from the 18th position just ten years ago to number one. New York isn’t even on the radar compared to European cities which accounted for more than one-half of the 24 cities that moved up the ranks. The Big Apple only moved up one notch to become the 26th most expensive city thanks to the euro’s strength. Paris moved up six places because it’s more expensive in seven out of the 10 categories considered.

The cheapest cities in which to live are in South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Mumbai is the cheapest location in the survey and three of the four cheapest cities surveyed hail from Pakistan and India. Middle Eastern cities follow suit, such as Damascus in Syria, but as the survey suggests, ‘cheap is not always cheerful.’ “The relative value for money offered by Bucharest in Romania may go some way to explaining why an anticipated migration of workers did not take when EU restrictions were lifted in January 2014. The Romanian economy has been improving and although wages are low by western European standards, prices are too, which makes it difficult to leave.”

I was just in the U.S. for vacation — New York and New Orleans. Sticker shock (in reverse) always sets in, so it’s not unusual to take back to Paris an extra suitcase of ‘goodies’ (which this time ’round, Delta imposed a cost of $96 for one extra bag) — the kind that either can’t be purchased in France or cost quite a bit more. Electronics is a biggie item for bargains, and so are linens — the cost of one fitted sheet will cause you cardiac arrest. (A trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond for your new “pied-à-terre” in Paris is a smart move.)

Then there are cosmetics and drugstore items. I always visit Walgreens (or other ‘drugstore’) where there are aisles and aisles of products from which to choose all at some so-called bargain prices (compared to their competing retailers). When you get to the counter, you receive even more discounts thanks to some sort of fidelity card. (I just love all this!) For example, L’Oréal’s True Match™ Compact Makeup sells for $12.95 in a U.S. drugstore compared to it’s equivalent “Fond de Teint Mat Morphose” at 15.50€ ($21.58 at today’s rate of exchange) at Monoprix. Yikes, that’s almost twice the price!

But, living in the world’s second most expensive city DOES have its advantages in spite of the high cost of living, and that’s of course, why we live here. We have chosen to be ‘poorer’ in financial respect, but richer in other respects.

Where can one be free by NOT owning a car (except New York)?

Where can one never think of saving for retirement, health care or the children’s college education?

Where can one wear one good quality coat for ten years without being out of style?

Where can one eat a croissant that literally melts in the mouth? Or drink a really good bottle of wine (French, of course) for under 5€?

Where can one look up every day and see the “Grand Dame” (Eiffel Tower) standing guard (except for the fakes in Las Vegas and Epcot Center)?

Where can one cross the River Seine and watch the Bateaux Mouches roll by carrying hundreds of gawking tourists?

Where can one kiss a lover in public with no embarrassment or regret?

Paris, of course. And for that, we pay a price.

C’est la vie…à Paris…and it’s “cher” (expensive or ‘dear).

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds, The Adrian Leeds Group, LLCAdrian Leeds

Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC


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P.S. Time is running out to register for “The Poetics of Work Writer’s Workshop in Paris” facilitated by poet James Navé on March 21-22, 2014 in Paris, France. You’ll learn to break old writing patterns, experiment with new forms, and illuminate your deeper sense of purpose through an intimate examination of the relationship between the writing you do every day and your highest creative ideals. This workshop is limited to 15 people — for more information and to register visit our Conferences & Workshops page.

P.P.S Calling all photographers! Parler Paris Apartments is looking for your best ‘post card’ style photos of the City of Light for use on our Web site — with credit to you, of course, noted on the photo itself! Please send us your best (hi resolution) photos taken in the Marais and St. Germain-des-Prés neighborhoods specific to the following sights:

• St. Paul area • Square du Temple and the Carreau du Temple • Rue des Francs Bourgeois • Place des Vosges • Place de la Bastille and the Bastille Market • The Hotel de Ville • Picasso Museum • Cafés in St. Germain (Flore, Deux Magots, etc.) • L’Eglise de St. Germain des Prés • Jardin de Luxembourg • L’Eglise de St. Sulpice • Musée d’Orsay.

Your work may also be featured in upcoming issues of Parler Paris, too! We reserve the right to choose those that are used and use them only on and related Web sites. Send the photos to: mailto:[email protected]


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