I Bought An Apartment In France With My Boyfriend — & Then We Broke Up
Tantalizing pastries, gorgeous architecture, and slow cafes. Is there another city as charming as Paris? Maybe, but not for me. Paris enchanted me at a young age, and my Francophile tendencies only intensified as I got older. I’ve been a temporary resident. A year there, a month here. But the impermanence is wholly unsettling for someone who feels like they’ve been there in a past life— someone like me.
Buying property in Paris was something I thought about in the same way I thought about Joshua Jackson; it’s something to love, not something to have. During my downtime, I’d browse online apartment listings, imagining my day-to-day life in different neighborhoods. What parks were nearby? Where would I pick up my morning coffee?
It was all very dreamy and unrealistic until one ordinary afternoon when I came across a listing for an affordable apartment boasting square footage bigger than a closet. After looking into it, I was ready to cash in my chips. I’ve always been a good saver, and this felt like it was the reason why. I haven’t experienced it too often, but occasionally, be it a job or someone I’ve met, something feels cosmically right. Even though my boyfriend and I broke up after almost four years of dating, I felt a soulful connection to him. I hope we worked out whatever karmic debt we owed each other because our time together was intense.
So intense, in fact, that we bought the French apartment together after visiting the site on a trip to Paris. The off-plan (new construction) property would contain 70 apartments, all fashioned in Haussmannien architecture. While a bit further from where I pictured my quotidian French life happening, it would only be a 20-minute metro ride to my favorite spots, and that was good enough for me. We split the 20% down-payment and additional fees evenly and closed on the apartment during a subsequent trip to Paris in May 2019. During our wild, raw, equal parts sweet and vicious relationship, the unbuilt apartment tethered us to each other. Maybe we needed it because we were afraid to see where we’d go if nothing held us together. I guess we would soon find out, seeing as we split up just days before I rang in 2020 with my family.
“During our wild, raw, equal parts sweet and vicious relationship, the apartment tethered us to each other. Maybe we needed it. Maybe we were afraid nothing else held us together.”
During the break-up, we agreed to rent out the apartment and split the mortgage payments. However, in the weeks that followed, the narrative kept changing, which led to exhausting fights. I felt like I was losing everything at once, and I became desperate to find an option that allowed me to keep the apartment. Over ramen with a girlfriend of mine, I brought up how I could find a new job and move home to try and save enough money to make it work (the irony, I know). We both decided it was too elaborate to upend my life like that, so I accepted defeat and let it go. I relented. We could sell and hopefully recoup the money we invested.
Life moved on. I jumped into the current. I found an apartment near my office in the states, made friends with my new roommates. I re-entered the dating world. Then, COVID-19 happened, and I rolled with the new set of changes it brought, including working remotely from my parent’s house. It was comforting to be home with my family amidst the fear and anxiety surrounding the pandemic. Somehow, two weeks rolled into three months, and when my lease was up in June, my roommates and I decided against renewing.
That’s when the idea of the Paris apartment re-entered my mind.
Construction paused due to COVID-19, and the new projected completion date was July 2021, meaning I’d have a full year to save rent-free. Was I in a Freaky Friday world-swapping version of a reality where I could keep the apartment? It seemed so.
Between my current rent, a gym membership, groceries, transportation, and dining out/entertainment, my monthly expenses added to around $2,500. I e-mailed the mortgage lender to run the numbers, and he informed me that since the debt-to-income-ratio would no longer be an issue, there was a strong likelihood I’d be able to buy out my ex’s shares once the project is done and become the sole property owner. As of this month, I have enough saved for the buy-out (his 10% of the original down-payment), furnishings, and three months of mortgage payments before I’d need to start renting it out. Everything I save in the coming months will work towards rebuilding my bank account.
“My 20s were all desire and uncertainty; my 30s are steadiness and rose tea before bed.”
The apartment now serves as a reminder that just because something was once one way, it doesn’t have to remain so. Now, my ex and I are people who occasionally exchange texts. The conversations we have are true and plain and unloaded. My 20s were all desire and uncertainty; my 30s are steadiness and rose tea before bed. Unremarkable but mature, I think. It feels that way, at least. Focusing on saving and having the apartment as a goal during these stressful times has helped me feel in control and purpose-driven. I feel fortunate to have a loving family with whom I’m very close, a secure job, and a comfortable environment to live and work. It’s not an easy time to prioritize financial goals, and the only reason I could was because of a global pandemic (not exactly ideal). I saw a silver lining and held on, and I hope when we’re on the other side of this, I’m not the only one.
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