Caveat internet apartment renter

9 December 2011 10:21 

It’s great to be in France.

It’s even great to be in Marseille. It’s a lot like San Francisco, except the under class is different. I’ll have more to say about that later.

More than anything, it’s great to be back with my family.

All that said, I’m wondering about the living situation we have gotten ourselves into.  In moving here we had to arrange for a rental over the internet. In addition to being pressed for time, we had some requirements that came with renting an apartment in another country (hell, continent and hemisphere): the rental had to be furnished, have at least three bedrooms, and have the utilities ready. One of the oddities about renting an apartment in France is not only are apartments unfurnished (of course), but few apartments include any appliances (e.g. dishwasher, refrigerator) or kitchen cabinets (yes, really).  Don’t even think about a garbage disposal.

To understand better take a look at this listing picture of a typical apartment kitchen, ready for you to move in.  I’m sure that table was especially staged by the real estate agent. Courtesy of the French listings site Vivastreet

No cabinets, no appliances

To be sure we’re not the first to do something like this: renting (or buying) sight unseen goes back a long way. Think about buying lots in Florida in the 1920’s or even the Louisiana Purchase.  And we have friends who have lived and worked in France, and they have come through just fine.

Now to our place. Follow this link you’ll find the listing for our apartment. This is the place we found, rented, and are now living in. Note that the photos and copy are nice enough. While the listing is almost technically accurate, it leaves out a lot of information

After reading the description, see the photo gallery below. You won’t find the details my photos show described  in the Sabbatical Homes listing.  Indeed, I’m still trying to find that nice bed with the inlay foot board. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the black mold behind the wallpaper (Annie had already stripped and scraped that off prior to our painting the walls).

In addition to the backlog of deferred maintenance, the place was dirty: Annie and the kids spent a good three days sweeping, dusting, mopping, and scrubbing. Finally, the sheets and towels are from the Reagan Era (as governor of California, that is).

Still the apartment has potential (pause for that awful real estate agent word). The rooms are large, the ceilings are high, the light is good. We’re planning to do some patching, painting, and more cleaning.

The location is quite decent. We are a five minute walk from the train station, buses, and metro. Just yesterday Annie and I went to Aix en Provence , leaving at 10:00am, back by 3:30pm, in time to pick up Catherine from school.  We are ten minutes from the old port. Baguettes, bistros, a stationary store, a book store, and other necessities are less than a minute away. So we’ll be able to make it work.

In the meantime, if you are planning to rent an apartment in Marseille, contact us first. We’ll go take a look for you.

Damn, the baguettes here are good.*

* My variation on Cato the Elder** ending all speeches with Carthago delenda est (Carthage must be destroyed)

** No relation.

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  1. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It is a far cry from our quiet suburban bubble in silicon valley where we would see deer trolloping in the back yard.
    But the experience is good for the kids.
    1-The kids have learned that they (we) had is good.
    2- How to make a bad situation good
    3- The internet is not always right
    4- Not everyone in the world has an ipad or iphone LOL.

    Still i wouldn’t live here permanently. It s great for convenience and as our neighbor from the second floor stated maybe we (you and i) are more Bourgeoisie?

    xoxxooxoxxo LU

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