Last Saturday I stumbled via SeLoger.com onto a 45 square meter (480 square foot) apartment with an 18 square meter (200 square foot) covered terrace — with northern exposure, on a quiet side street, 200 meters/yards from a Nice-Sophia bus stop (!!!) and 300 meters/yards from a tram stop. The ad said it was in good shape and selling for 120K, a price I could afford. On Tuesday evening I visited and made an offer for 115K, which was accepted Wednesday evening, and this afternoon I signed the compromis de vente. In other words, unless no bank is willing to finance me (technically 2 banks would have to refuse), which is rather unlikely though not totally impossible, I’m the proud owner of an apartment in Nice!
In a part of France reputed for its “cheapest” properties going for 5000 euros per square meter, I got 2500 euros per square meter! (Conversion: 240 euros/square foot. I don’t convert the euros into dollars because as purchasing power goes, the reality is that a French person with a euro in France basically has the same as an American with a dollar in the US. Obviously this changes the moment the French person purchases anything outside of France, and vice versa.) It should be said that you can find 3000-4000 euros per square meter here, but you need to have done your research on Nice quartiers, be patient, not have your heart set on a view of the Mediterranean, and usually be willing to do some work on the place. I’m quite lucky in that nothing urgent needs to be done — a few cabinet and closet doors could be replaced, some shelves need another nail, and I plan on repainting, but that’s all. Why the low price then? It’s half underground and has fake rocks glued onto one wall! (Fake rocks that I wholeheartedly plan on removing myself.) The southern end of it is underground, and the terrace is at ground level. Other prospective buyers were put off at having to walk downstairs to reach the apartment entrance. I personally find it nice, especially since the summer sun won’t be pounding on any part of my place.
All that said, I must admit to feeling a bit of panic. The apartment is great: high ceilings, nooks with arches, several closets, an enclosed laundry room, separate toilet, good-sized kitchen with real wood cabinets and bar, electrical and water all updated within the last two years, no signs of water or structural damage, in a beautiful stone art déco building from the late 1940s, a lovely terrace on an inner courtyard (i.e. no street noise) that fills the living room and kitchen with light, and the terrace is enclosed (with green wiring that’s nearly invisible) because the previous owners had cats! There’s even a cat door. Malo will be in cat heaven and I won’t have to worry about him visiting neighbors. So it’s not the place itself behind my mild panic, but rather the realization that I’m really going to have a home all my own and what that’s going to entail financially for a good deal of my life. As it’s an apartment, the notion of copropriété applies.
Photos will come as soon as a bank has agreed to finance me, which should be within two or three weeks. I’ve been browsing apartments for a while now and have been given good advice by people here (thanks to all of you, you know who you are!), but it all still makes me a bit light-headed. (For the love of God, please do not ask me for information about financing real estate in France. Contact a French bank or three, and read up on other loans/financing available.)