Visiting flats

We went to see two apartments yesterday, very different from each other.

The first was in the new area of town called Euratlantic. This is projected to become a new presitigious part of town with lots of offices for a financial centre and new apartment blocks built to the highest environmental standards. Until recently it was the edge of the district where the working girls are to be found, and at present it's a huge mass of construction sites.

The flat was on the eighth floor of a block optimistically called "Residen'ciel". It had a lounge facing south and bedrooms facing north. Unusually, the bathroom had a window. On both sides there were balconies floored with that decking material. (I don't like the way it springs under foot.) The views were wonderful, out over the river. From the living room we could see the bridge that carried the motorway on the south side of the city. From the bedrooms we could see the spires of Bordeaux and the motorway bridge on the north side. Atop the building, on the 10th floor, is a rooftop, a roof terrace open to all residents.

The flat has been bought to let by someone taking advantage of tax breaks offered by the French government. It's a good idea, but it does make these flats hard to let. Why? Well rents are expensive in Bordeaux and French law states that you have to have income of at least three times your liabilities (rent, mortgage, loans, etc.) That means you need a minimum salary to afford the flat. However the tax breaks are only available if you let to people who income is under a certain ceiling. So the number of people eligible to let these flats is restricted. You have to earn enough, but not too much!

The lounge was about 20 m2, but the kitchen was along one wall, so we would lose about 6 m2 compared to what we have now. There were four bedrooms, but all were smaller than ours now, and none had fitted wardrobes. The rent includes heating and hot water, powered by the somewhat distant recycling plant at Bègles. We tried to fit our lives into the flat, and failed.

We arrived by tram and trek through the dusty heat between the building sites, and we left by bus. Just nearby three women were plying their trade, watched, possibly supervised by a man sat on the grass opposite leaning against a large plastic container of water.

The next apartment was up at Bordeaux Lac. We arrived a little early and enjoyed a walk around the area, watching the ducks, fish and coypus playing in the canals that separate the blocks of apartments.

This apartment was on the ground floor with a balcony that gave directly onto the road on one side and onto the park on the other. Every window was a french door. There was a lounge about the size of our current one, with a separate kitchen, a little bigger than what we have now, then three bedrooms, again each one substantially smaller than ours. One was really small. This apartment is heated, along with the whole district of the city, by a huge central wood-chip burning boiler, so the rent includes heating and hot water. Again we tried to fit ourselves into the apartment, and again we failed. I was a little concerned about security, too.

We are also applying for another apartment at present, again in the Euratlantic area. This block is built, but the apartment won't be completed until the end of June. We have plans. It has three bedrooms, nearer the size of ours at present. The two smaller rooms have fitted wardrobes. The largest room has an attached bathroom. The lounge has the kitchen in the corner but it is substantially bigger. It should be more feasible. Again it's in the buy to let scheme. The woman dealing with it apologised for asking personal questions, like, "Do you have any other income? Does your wife work? Is that all the household income?"


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