How It All Began

key 2-rtch“Crap! It’s so freakin’ small!”

These were my first words as I entered my new apartment in Paris, stepping over construction debris and choking on plaster dust. My heart started to pound in my throat; the walls closed in on me. Holy crap! What did I buy? I’d seen the apartment in the flesh exactly once, and for only 30 minutes—just long enough to decide I absolutely had to have it. For the months after, back home in New York, I had to subsist on the agency’s photographs—which, it turns out were incredibly well-staged and craftily shot. My 24-square-meter apartment had gained ten square meters in my mind.

Yet, if I think about it, I uttered those exact words to my friend when I first laid eyes on the apartment on that rainy day in March: “Putain, c’est minuscule.”

How I ended up apartment hunting in Paris, the deep-seated reasons that beget the search, is a story worth telling but that’s what the book is for, I suppose. I can tell you, though, how I began the hunt: aimless online searches in the evenings in front of re-runs of How I Met Your Mother and Family Guy. A post-work, wind-down ritual. But soon enough, I was spending whole Saturday afternoons online, my searches becoming more organized: by apartment size; by neighborhood; by price per square meter. On a visit to Paris in February 2012, I visited a few places to amuse myself. I didn’t really believe I would actually buy anything. But when a friend offered to visit some apartments for me, the game changed. He was serious and gung-ho and, well, I couldn’t let him down. Accountability is a powerful motivator.

Next thing I knew, I’d booked a flight to Paris for a weekend with a plan to see six apartments in one day. The last apartment we saw would turn out to be the one. But that was just the beginning.

Read my story from the beginning

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