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April 17, 2009

Welcome-to-Nice help? Real estate info?

April 17. Day 291.

Slowly creeping back up to date with these posts...


Morning: last day in Paris. One of the reasons we took this trip is because my mom has been thinking of retiring. In Europe.

Besides the obvious benefits to her -- like public health care, real coffee on every street corner, a better cost of living to lifestyle advantages ratio, a cult of worship for older ladies, and the joys of having her eldest daughter crash regularly in the spare bedroom she will surely set aside for such purposes -- the French real estate market has one thing going for it now. It's cheap.

When I lived there, back in 2004, a studio with no kitchen and NO BATH cost around $100,000. Now for even less, you can get your own toilet. I mean, my god... the extravagances of this buyer's market know no end.

So we wandered into a real estate office around Montparnasse, an area my mom really liked, and I asked a few basics: Can foreigners buy? What kind of financing options are available? Is this a good time to make a move? What kind of market stock is available now, compared to 6 months ago? And last year? And 2 years ago?

Results: She could feasibly move to France!! Now, the question remains... Paris or Nice?

Gained 1: An impromptu real estate consultation.

Evening: Around 9 p.m., we landed in Nice. And as soon as I left the plane, I realized I forgot to write down the name of the hotel I'd reserved. Brilliant.

We approached the airport's information desk.

I asked the woman if she had a list of hotels, or an internet station, or any way to refresh my memory.

She pulled out a list of hotels and let me use her phone to confirm a reservation.

Doesn't seem like a big deal, right? I mean, an information desk like a logical place to get some... information.

But the woman was totally freaked out. "Don't talk too long! You'll tie up my phone line! Please don't chat on and on."

She wasn't being snippy. Just anxious.

I assured her I'm a fast talker, and found out our hotel's name soon enough. And I found it amusing that a live person with a problem to be solved somehow fell lower on the totem poll than a phantom caller. Did she double as a 911 operator in the downtime?

Gained: basic customer service, which somehow seems like a big accomplishment in France.

So: what's your vote... should my mom retire there??? Oui ou non?
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