— Every day I experience new situations allowing me to see the world in different ways. I ask myself: “What can I learn today to optimize my life and my world?” Traveling abroad and experiencing different architecture, cultures, and lifestyles is a terrific opportunity to foster new ideas.
My wife likes Paris, France, so we visited the ‘city of romance’ during our recent summer vacation.
Here are some random observations I am pondering as a result of our trip:
1. Honolulu real estate is a bargain.
My curious mind compares real estate values wherever I go. There are plenty Paris real estate offices displaying their alluring offerings in street-level windows.
Paris condo values range from 6,500 euros to 12,000 euros per sq meter based on 2017 data. A Paris condo with 100 sq meters – about 1,076.39 sq ft – will set you back by about $750K to $1.38Mill based on today’s exchange rate of $1.14 to 1 euro. And many condos in Paris don’t even have an elevator.
Honolulu real estate appears affordable, at least compared to Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Zurich, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and many other places.
Capital is global. Due to arbitrage, more of it will find its way to paradise and recognize Honolulu and Hawaii as relatively affordable. If you can afford to live anywhere in the world, might as well consider Honolulu.
I love Paris for its charm, its beautiful parks, and impressive architecture, but I prefer Honolulu’s quality of life with perfect weather and pristine beaches.
You can still find many nice Honolulu condos available below $600K within 10 minutes walking distance to the beach. And, if your budget matches Paris prices, at $1.38Mill you may select from many spectacular Honolulu condos, some with stunning ocean views.
2. Location always trumps size. – Select your ideal location, even if it means sacrificing space.
You can be happy in a smaller space if you design and furnish it that way.
To experience Paris best, we wanted to immerse ourselves and live among the Parisians. We rented a rooftop 5th floor Airbnb apartment in an older building in the heart of Paris. The unit was newly remodeled and represented a true masterpiece in maximizing space and energy efficiency.
Everything fit into less than 400 sq ft. Because of the vaulted ceiling, the unit had an additional loft with desk and sleeping area and automated slanting skylight windows. The flexible design allowed the living area to convert into an additional sleeping area. The kitchen and bathroom were remarkably compact with an amazingly practical layout. Below the kitchen counter, hidden behind stylish kitchen cabinet doors, was a small efficiency washer/dryer combo at a fraction of the size compared to typical American models. A complete washing and drying cycle seemed to take all night to complete, but it got our clothes clean and dry while operating whisper-quiet, presumably saving water and energy at the same time.
In general, Europe appears to be more tuned-in with energy conservation, sustainability, and recycling efforts. After all, the price of gasoline in Europe is astronomical. There is a lot we can learn from the French.
We enjoyed walking everywhere in Paris. We also took the 100-year-old Paris Metro, together with about 4.16Mill other Parisian daily riders, representing about 20% of all of Paris’ dizzying traffic. Paris would not be Paris without its remarkably dense Metro system that in 2016 had been ranked as the best public transport system in the world, although not being handicap friendly.
Driving a car and trying to find parking in Paris seems impractical. That holds true for an ever increasing number of high-density cities. – I’m excited to see how future electric self-driving car services will shape the way we commute in modern urban cities.
3. Your home is not old unless it was built before 1890!
We tend to think we need the latest shiny new XX. That includes wanting a brand new construction home. I’m not trying to talk you out of buying a spectacular brand new construction condo. They are luxurious, stylish and slick with all the bells and whistles. But, I am saying that cities like Paris, Florence, Berlin and New York show us that if built and maintained properly, old buildings can last for centuries.
I have seen many ancient buildings that have been renovated and upgraded with elevators and modern amenities. Historic buildings can be converted into stunningly redesigned functional condos. Don’t let old construction turn you off. Determine if outdated designs and finishes could be a simple ‘curable defect.’ Consider if fixing is feasible, instead of settling for an inferior location. Remember, an inferior location is an incurable defect. Whether it is Paris or Honolulu, in real estate ‘location trumps age.’
4. Take it easy, don’t sweat the small stuff
Our train back from Auray to Paris was canceled last minute. No big deal since the next one eventually came later in the day. The French say: “C’est la vie.”
Living among the Parisians showed me how they enjoy life seemingly carefree. A baguette, a croissant, and a coffee before work in the morning brighten the Parisians’ day. For the French, there appears to be always enough time to socialize in one of the many packed street corner cafes. There is a lesson here somewhere.
Life is too short to stress over what is out of your control.
The French say: “Prends du recul et profite de la vie. Ne te prends pas au serieux.” (Take it easy and enjoy life. Don’t take yourself too serious.) – I agree.
During this Paris trip we re-discovered and confirmed our preference of what is most practical today for our family’s Honolulu lifestyle:
— We value the ideal location. – I gladly pay a housing premium for the optimal location in exchange for the time, energy, and money saved on commuting.
— Often we can do without a car. – I’m not giving up my car yet, but I’m driving less than what I used to. Living in a central location inspires us to walk more. It’s healthy, and yes, in urban Honolulu we can complete many commutes without a car. Honolulu’s Biki bike share program adds another popular transportation alternative to our city living.
— We have enough space for all our needs. – My wife and our 9-year old daughter live in a 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo with 1,112 sq ft and a 76 sq ft lanai. We have all the space we need! Seriously, we do not need more space. Years ago we sold our 2,000 sq ft, 4-bedroom, 3-bath Hawaii Kai house and decided to select the right location, and right size. No regrets. Honolulu condo living has its perks. We got a terrific pool and we live across the street from the beach.
We can conveniently lock up our condo and take another adventure trip without worrying to water the yard.
Life is great because we choose to recognize and enjoy it that way.
As always, after a long trip it’s good to be home again in Honolulu.
We love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts. Reciprocate Aloha! ‘Like’, ‘Share’ and ‘Comment’ below.
~ Mahalo & Aloha