House hunting is serious business

Let’s talk reality here.

This isn’t a tv show.  This isn’t make-believe.  This is me, Tanya, a wonderful girl woman girl from Toronto who is now looking for an apartment with her hubby-to-be.  This is not Toronto.  Finding a duplicate of my SW-facing sans vis-à-vis, spacious 90 sq m 2-bedroom apartment with an open and fitted kitchen, a balcony, and two (count ’em, 1-2) full bathrooms is possible.  It’s possible but not on our budget and certainly not with our long-term plan.

I knew what I was getting into before embarking on this move to France.  Hey, many are more than content with their 45 sq m apartment.  The fact that some can sit on the loo and wash their hands at the same time is just a time-saver.  I am totally aware of the space issue.  It was also made really clear to me during my 2 weeks of intense packing.  I kept asking myself “where am I going to put all this stuff?”

Now, Nice is a slightly different story to Paris.  The cost per square metre in Nice is lower than in Paris, considerably so.  The challenge is still the same however.  Like any big city, there are areas to avoid.  And, like Paris and most other European cities, space is at a premium.  In North America, we are so used to our ‘wide open spaces’ and our collection of stuff (clothes, furniture, and more clothes).  Well, if you’re thinking of moving to Europe you will need to exorcise those demons.  Closets aren’t a given or, if the apartment has a closet it may be in the hall.  The WC (water closet for those of you not yet in the know) may only have the toilet; you may have to go to the shower/bath room to wash your hands after.  Get used to it; this is France.

We’ve only done our house hunting online.  Two sites we’ve used are and  It’s interesting stuff.  As cooking is important to me I’ve had to re-educate myself on the various types of kitchens available to me.  Here are some tips to ease your pain or to reduce the surprise factor.

Not all kitchens are created equal

None of this phases me though.  I know what my end game is.  It may be short-term pain — albeit in a very beautiful part of the world — for long-term gain.  My advice, and certainly words I plan to live by, is: 1) determine what you can afford to buy/to rent; 2) decide what you can/can’t accept re: location/amenities; and 3) compromise.  If you can do all three you’ll do fine.

I should add a 4th item: there’s always Ikea if you really can’t part with your shoes/clothes/CD collection.

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Categories: apartment hunting

Author:Tanya in Transition

I am a woman in transition. I left my job of 13 years to find happiness and France!

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5 Comments on “House hunting is serious business”

  1. May 11, 2010 at 4:42 PM #

    We rented an apartment on our last two trips to Paris and I know what you mean about the size and features. I do love the quirkiness of the places we stayed in and I wondered what it would be like to live there full time. I thought to live in France I would make due.

    • May 12, 2010 at 2:29 PM #

      Yeah, I think it’s different if it’s a short-term thing. Quirkiness is fine as long as it doesn’t become work or it’s not related to something you need to do/use every single day. Then it just becomes a nuisance. But, I look at the size as a good thing and have decided that downsizing and eliminating the unnecessary items (aka the clutter) is the best way to live.

  2. May 12, 2010 at 8:22 AM #

    Hi Tanya, I think it’s amazing that your blogging about the whole experience, I seriously don’t know how you have managed to find the time over the last few weeks! I’ve enjoyed reading you though so hopefully you’ll continue to find time 🙂

    Homes in the US and Canada must be HUGE!! 90 m2 for a 2 bed apartment? We’d fit 2 beds into 45 m2 (although it would be a squish!). Homes in the UK are relatively small as well (and were VERY expensive) so I didn’t find a great difference when moving here.

    What did knark me was the kitchens though. I blogged about them early on and I still don’t get how they can call a kitchen a kitchen when there’s nothing in it!

    Good luck with the hunting!

    • May 12, 2010 at 2:27 PM #

      Oh, that’s the biggest headache for me too. I’m a big time cook and I need space in my kitchen. I’ve been a little depressed by what I’ve seen so far. I know we’ll find a place; I just have to be patient and optimistic!

      My apartment in Toronto wasn’t a mansion but it is larger than the newer condos that are coming up now. The apartment was about 90m2 with more than enough space in the bedroom and bathrooms. My condo is small compared to the apartments they built 20 – 30 years ago. Then, the average size of a 2-bedroom apartment was 100 m2. LOTS of space!

      As for blogging about it all, well, I have time on my hands while D works. I’ll definitely have stuff to report once we hit Nice. Now that is going to be fun! 🙂

  3. statusviatoris
    May 12, 2010 at 10:11 PM #

    It’s pretty exciting reading the day by day of your move! I know I’ve only just upped-sticks, but I’m always ready for another go, and this way I can just live it vicariously through you! (By the way, if you want something more rural, I’m selling my village property 😉

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