This means both “Happy Birthday” and “Happy Anniversary” - in this case, we are celebrating our first year in France. And what a year it has been!
We will sign our house closing documents next month. Six months from offer to close. (In Oregon, it was 13 days!) It is harder to learn patience than French, and learning French is horrendous!
After the exchange rate loss of 9%, the closing costs here are eye-watering. There is a sales tax of about 7% on top of realtor fees(3-5%) and notaire fees (.5%). House flipping is not lucrative because the closing costs and improvements can take years to recoup. We are lucky that we did not have a realtor and our notaire (real estate attorney) is one of the nicest people we have met in France and everyone here is extremely nice!
On the bright side, property taxes are about .5% per year and that includes garbage and recycling. We can recycle almost everything and they ask we don’t rinse first as it wastes water.
We are buying a backyard garden house. Originally, this was part of a bourgeois house…a grand house on a huge piece of land for the formal garden with a detached garage and housing for the gardener and maid. The property was divided and our landlords built their home in the back of the grand house. It is being divided again and we are buying the garage and servants’ quarters.
The wall between the landlords’ home and our home has been completed. Europe is the land of “strong fences make good neighbors.” Most homes are completely enclosed by walls or privacy fences. Entry is restricted by gates with bells or buzzers.
Privacy is paramount and a house that is “sans vis à vis” (without seeing into or being seen into another house) is highly desirable.
Volets are rolling shutters that are on most, if not all windows and grant even more privacy. They can make houses look vacant, but rest assured, they are not. They can be adjusted to allow light and breeze, but not view.
I have heard that the French do not look into yards or houses that are open, as it is a violation of privacy. This is one stereotype I find to be false. Everyone who passes is peering into our yard to check out what is happening.
When we have custody of the grand-dog, she is incredibly nosy. She loves to peek into holes in fences or gates. The word for nosy is “fouineur” (fweener), so we call her a fweener dog.
Some folks name their houses. A lady I met on the bus suggested “Pourquoi pas?” (Why not?) for our house. I like that name.
Our privacy gate will be installed soon. I want an arch with “Pourquoi pas?” and longhorns - just like a typical ranch. No one will be able to see in, but they will all be fweening. Who says you can’t please everyone?!