05 March 2011

Not moving to Paris...

One of the main stories on the French news shows yesterday was a report on skyrocketing real estate prices in Paris and its suburbs. Surprise, right? Who would have thought buying an apartment in Paris would cost you "the eyes of your head" — les yeux de la tête — in other words, an arm and a leg?

Well, we all would. San Francisco, New York City, London... so why not Paris. Still, the news anchor said the rise in Paris prices has left notaires and buyers perplexes. Since 2009, the price of apartments in Paris has risen by 17.5 per cent.

The way apartment prices are expressed in French is the cost per square meter. In Paris, the city-wide average is now 7,330 euros per square meter. That would come to about 680 euros per square foot (one square meter = 10.76 square feet). At today's rate, 680 euros will cost you $950 U.S. That means a 1000 square foot apartment in Paris would cost nearly a million U.S. dollars.

In the close-in Paris suburbs, real estate prices have gone up 15 per cent since 2009. The square meter is going for about 5,000 euros, or nearly $7,000. Divide that by 10.76 and you'll see that the square foot is going for $650. Your 1000 square foot apartment in the suburbs would cost $650,000.

A thousand square feet is a very large apartment by Paris standards, however. Five hundred square feet is a kind of average, and is a common size for a one-bedroom apartment. When I lived in Paris as a poor student and teacher, I never lived in a place that was more than about 350 square feet.

The news report included a comparison of what you can buy in three different cities for 100,000 euros. I'm not sure why they chose that price — they were just picking a nice round number, I think.

In Paris, your 100,000 euros — U.S. $140,000 at today's exchange rate — will buy you a 150 square foot studio apartment. That a 10 x 15 foot room — a real pied-à-terre (an expression the dictionary doesn't give a translation for). Tiny.

In Lyon, the same amount of money will get you a 365 square foot apartment — that's a very small one-bedroom or a large studio. And finally, in Châteauroux — I don't know why they chose that city, which is about 45 miles south of Saint-Aignan — your 100,000 euros will get you 1,100 square feet. Of course, Châteauroux is not quite as picturesque and lively as Paris...


  1. Must be that time of year. I caught a glimpse yesterday of an article in an Australian newspaper discussing the mysteriousness of elevated housing prices in Sydney over the past couple of years.

  2. Here in Mentone on the Bay in our street we had a 4 bedroom home sell for AUS$700,000. It has a backyard, front yard but we are about 12 kms from the city.
    Something we are thinking about is where we will move to when we become empty-nesters in a few years. We love our bay area in all seasons.
    Do we look at an apartment or maybe a small town house?

  3. Well, so much for my dreams of my own pied-à-terre in Paris! That was always a far-fetched plan that involved winning big in the lottery anyway.

    How would you define pied-à-terre? I know what it means literally, but I've always understood it as sort of a home base away from home.

  4. I guess all big cities are expensive (New-York, Tokyo, Sydney...). No Prop 13 in France so property taxes must be really high.
    Joyeux anniversaire!

  5. Joyeux Anniversaire Ken!

  6. Thanks for the birthday wishes, The B.

    Chris, I think of a pied-à-terre as being a small apartment in an expensive big city. The kind of place where you can go spend the weekend or a week once in a while when you want to go to museums, the theater, and to good restaurants.

    Leon and Sue, what about a move to the French countryside? Real estate prices are not prohibitive.

    Susan, I imagine prices in Sydney must be like prices in SF or NYC.

    Nadège, property taxes vary widely. Some of the lowest, I understand, are in places like Neuilly-sur-Seine. I'm not sure that property taxes are all that high even in Paris.

  7. Well, my original post wouldn't post... perhaps because it had links in it? I was telling about the show, "House Hunters International", which follows people searching for a home or apartment. The episodes in Paris really underscore what you are saying about cost, Ken. this episode in Montmartre shows a young American woman and her mother, with a $150,000 budget, finding that all they can get is what looks to me like a small chambre de bonne type apartment.

    Happy Birthday, Ken!

  8. Thanks for the good wishes Judy. Yes, housing in Paris is now really hors de prix. It's always been expensive, but prices keep going up. I'll look at that link.

  9. Many happy returns of the day, Ken!

  10. foot on the ground05 March, 2011 19:02

    Logement dans un endroit où l’on ne demeure pas, où l’on ne vient qu’en passant,

    a lodging or dwelling, one used only part time or temporarily

    it's coming from horse man - foot on the ground

  11. Merci, Martine. Today I am really, officially, a retiree. A pensioner.

    Thanks, "foot on the ground". Do you have a blog? Not sure I understand the "horse man" part.

  12. 17% in two years is a bubblicious increase. The government should move to slow the price rises before a true bubble develops.

  13. Thanks a lot for being my mentor on this
    theme. I enjoyed your article very much and most of all enjoyed the way in which you handled
    the aspect I considered to be controversial.
    You're always quite kind towards readers like me and help me in my everyday living.

    Thank you.


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