A Happy Life and an Apartment For $100,000 in Paris

For Lisa Anselmo, 50, keeping one foot in two very different worlds is one thing that makes her feel complete. Lisa has been splitting her time between Paris and New York City ever since she impulsively bought a small apartment in Paris three years ago following the death of her beloved mother.

“Buying the apartment was very much a kind of a grasping for hope when I was very low. I had been spending a lot of time in Paris for work over the years, and I got it in my head that if I got an apartment here, I could be happy.”

The idea might have not have gone any further than Lisa daydreaming over French real estate websites if she hadn’t mentioned it to a local friend while visiting Paris. Her friend took immediate action by steering her into a real estate office. And on Lisa’s next trip to Paris, he lined up six apartments for her to visit in a single day.

It was a gamble…but it paid off. By the fourth apartment visit of the day, Lisa had found her place. Not quite the apartment of her dreams, it was a studio apartment on the second floor of a building with no elevator. “But it had two floor-to-ceiling windows, lots of light, was in great condition, and was in a very beautiful 19th-century building,” says Lisa. “It also had a storage room across the hall, which meant the apartment was pure living space.”

Equally auspicious, the price was right: the apartment only cost $100,000. “Suddenly the whole thing seemed doable,” Lisa recalls. She made an offer practically on the spot.

Since the purchase, Lisa has carved out an astonishingly integrated life for herself in Paris, even though, at first, she rarely stayed there more than a few days consecutively.

“At that time, I worked for Time, Inc. and I had four weeks vacation. I would come over about every six weeks,” says Lisa, who now works freelance. “It wasn’t cheap but I was trying to find happiness in a really dark time. Getting the apartment was about putting a toehold in my happy place.”

But Lisa gained far more than a toehold: her life in Paris began to take root and grow in amazing, unexpected directions. “So much goes on here in Paris, I now do almost 50-50 between Paris and New York,” Lisa says. “I love it. I have balance in the whole of my life.”

As she spent more time in Paris, Lisa found the differences between the two cities striking. “When I used to come to Paris for a handful of days, I’d be riding on jet-lag juice the whole time. Now that I’m nesting it’s different. The minute I’m here, I’m here. But I find that I need to readjust to New York when I go back. I didn’t expect that. The scale of New York is overwhelming…the size of the buildings…the pace…the people on the street. It’s such an aggressive city.”

“I really do love having the balance of the two cities,” Lisa says. “In Paris, I get inspired. In New York, I bang things out, get things done. The two cities feed me differently…they feed the two sides of my soul.”


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