May, 2012 – Graham Miln

Managing Expectations

Searching for apartments in Lyon has meant shifting our view of what is likely and what is normal.

I have previously rented properties in the UK and Australia; two countries similar in style and manner. Looking at property after property is not enjoyable. The first few viewing appointments elicit a sense of possibility but that fades as the process soon weighs down on me. A pragmatic focus takes over and just getting a reasonable apartment found, signed, and secured becomes the only goal.

Lyon’s buildings tend to be much older than those I have seen in the UK and there is nothing in Australia to even compare for age.

The buildings we have looked at tend to fall into two groups; those built in the later 1900s and those built in the late 1800s. Oddly the latter, older buildings from 1870 – 1890, have been in a better state. Their age ensures they have been renovated. Without some renovation they could not be rented as habitable.

Many of the buildings have hauntingly beautiful stone staircases spiralling up four, five, or six floors.

Such stairs can be a nightmare for residents without a retrofitted lift. Imagine the problems of moving in or out of an apartment on the higher floors.

There are modern buildings going up in Lyon, but they are not where we wish to live. Having avoided a lengthy commute for Megan in Melbourne, we are keen to do the same here. Being central matters. Being central in Lyon means living in an older building.

A striking difference in renting between the UK and Australia compared to France is that what you rent is often minimal. Many properties have no more than sinks in the kitchen. Just four walls and a free standing sink.

I have mentioned the electrics in France before, but I continue to smile when I see exposed wiring and bulbs left dangling freely.

At least they left in a bulb