The days are getting longer and the dollar is getting stronger. Springtime and optimism are in the air. As for springtime, it's inevitable, I guess. But the nice streak of sunny, clear weather we are having is anything but. It's something to relish after the gray, rainy days of winter.
And as for the dollar, maybe it sounds crass to go on and on about it, but the fact is that the level of prices for everyday necessities here in France would certainly justify having the dollar and the euro at parity. In other words, 1€ with a value of $1. The value of the euro has been as high as $1.60 over the past 10 years.
The southern gate into the old town of Noyers-sur-Serein, in Burgundy
This morning, the euro is worth $1.09 or so, which is what the exchange rate was back in the spring of 2003, when we bought our house in France and were optimistic about being able to live here on our meager resources. As Americans, our visas didn't give us the right to seek employment in France back then, and we were still too young to collect retirement pensions. For years, we lived on the proceeds of the sale of our house in California, and we had next to no income.
Carved wooden beams decorate the façades of houses in Noyers-sur-Serein.
I can't really say that life here has been a struggle over the past 12 years, living on (weak) dollars as we have been obliged to do, but I can say that it has been nerve-wracking. Some days and weeks I felt truly pessimistic about even being about to stay here. I became very price-conscious and strict with our monthly budget, and we didn't do nearly the amount of traveling that we thought we might be able to do. Now I've almost lost interest in traveling. It's too stressful.
The low euro might be good for the economy in the Eurozone countries. It will mean that exports from Europe to other markets, including but not only the U.S., will be more attractive in terms of price. A European car priced at 20,000€, for example, will only cost $20,000 instead of more than $30,000. That could help European exports, and it will certainly help us American expatriates.