I have recently said goodbye to a career to which I hope I’ll never return: au pairing. It’s not the worst job in the world but there are some really hard parts that I’m glad to leave behind. One thing I’ll miss is the free housing. I’m paying rent for the first time in my life! It’s actually really exciting, despite the major chunk of cash that goes away every month.
I’m a little sad to not live right under the rooftops anymore. I took pride in climbing all those stairs all the time, and the views weren’t bad either. But in my new place I appreciate the washing machine, real bathroom, and bigger “kitchen” so much more. And I even have my own cave! And the elevator. Ohhh the elevator makes my life so much easier.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Here are all the places I’ve lived in Paris:
For several reasons, I decided to work with a different family for my second year in Paris. The family I chose ended up being a bad fit and I only stayed for three months. I didn’t get around to taking any pictures. The room was teeny tiny, freezing cold, with a moldy carpet, nasty shower, shared toilet, and broken windows, bed and sink.
Based on the state of that room, it was clear that the family had no respect for their au pair, whoever it might be. I knew it was time to move on when I began looking forward to putting the little girl to bed just so I could sit on her pillow-top queen-sized mattress. Actually, that’s not true – I knew it was time to move on when her brother threw a rocking horse bigger than him at my head and told me he hoped I got fired so I’d have to sleep on the street. Here’s a picture to represent the quartier, which I quite loved:
Then I found the third and final family I worked for, near the Champs-Elysées.
This apartment was so nice, being 20 meters squared (215 sq feet) with normal-height ceilings and working heat and nice tiling and paint. I even had 2 hot plates instead of one! However, there were major problems with the plumbing (maybe one day I’ll write about that experience, but for now it still haunts me) and the washing machine didn’t work. I had to haul my laundry to the family’s apartment, 15 minutes away on foot.
The location was not ideal. You’d think that living on the Champs-Élysées would be a dream come true. However, off the avenue, the neighborhood was void of shops and restaurants, and the few I could find were obscenely over-priced and had limited opening hours. I was in a frustrating position because I was living on a working-class salary in a banker’s-salary neighborhood. I was grateful to have a place to live and be in a safe area and live on the line 1 metro, but that’s where the positives ended.
This fall, I started my Master’s program and due to my class schedule was unable to continue working as an au pair. I got a job in a cafe and found an apartment in the 19th arrondissement, on the north-east edge of Paris. I love my new place! My neighborhood has plenty of affordable shops and restaurants, it’s near the Canal St. Martin and Buttes-Chaumont, one of my favorite parcs in Paris, and I’m right around the corner from the metro.
I’m sharing this apartment with a French girl. I don’t mind having a roommate, because it forces me to keep clean. Plus, she only lives in Paris half-time so I have the place to myself often. When I moved to Paris, I never imagined that I’d eventually be renting somewhere – exciting!