Se projeter

Love the view and feel of this place but it is too close to a major highway

When you’re looking for a place to live, there is really only one question: Can you see yourself there? This is what the French call ‘se projeter’ — literally, to project or imagine yourself living somewhere.

I am becoming a bit of an expert on imagining my life in different places. We’ve been visiting properties to buy or rent now for months — mostly online lately due to coronavirus. But now visits have started up again and we’re trying to get out and see places live and in person.

One thing I’ve learned is that there is no technology — virtual reality, 3-D photos or video — that can substitute for the feel of a place. Do you feel a kind of buzz as you enter? Could this be the place in which the next chapter of your life will unfold? Can you imagine getting up each morning and seeing that view?

Terrasse mit Traumaussicht
I could live with this view but the place is just too small.

Oddly, it is not necessarily the nicest or most spectacular places in which I can see myself living. It seems to be a combination of privacy, attractive space and surroundings that do it for me. Basically I’m attracted to anything with greenery around it: a treetops or garden apartment, light-filled rooms but not a full-on southwest exposure. While husband wants an open space with tons of light and most of all a spectacular view, I want to feel protected by walls and not overly exposed.

There are some things I simply cannot do: certain architecture is a non-starter (non-descript is okay but not in-your-face ugly, whether in colour or style), the sloped ceilings of an attic apartment, anything too boxy or institutional-feeling, a terrace overlooking a road or even a parking lot.

Traumhafte See- und Bergsicht
This little garden would be perfect for us but the apartment is overpriced and needs work.

Also, I don’t want to feel too isolated. We’ve set a 15-minute maximum on the time it should take to walk to a village, café or shop. Ideally I’d like to be within 5 minutes and not have it involve a massive slope. But this is a tough ask in Switzerland, especially as we also want peace and quiet, as well as a view.

I’m working hard on ‘projecting myself’ into my new life. Where we see ourselves next year, in five years, in retirement? City or country or somewhere in between? I need to see water, he needs to see mountains. I want proximity to a city with bookshops and train connections. He wants to be within 30 minutes of CrossFit.

You learn to be very careful of places that look too staged.

The biggest challenge at the moment is the sluggish property market. We haven’t sold our house in France yet (quelle surprise, given the past two months of lockdown) and there is little available on the Swiss side. Things are gradually picking up but the challenge remains: to sell in a buyer’s market (France) and buy in a seller’s market (Switzerland).

So we’ve decided to rent, at least for now. Which is probably more sensible anyway until we decide where we want to be long-term. Now we have to find a place to rent that meets all our criteria and is still affordable. And also accepts pets.

Where do you see yourself — today or tomorrow?


  1. francetaste · May 21, 2020

    The bane of any real estate hunt is the cache-misère, where the owner claims to have renovated, but in fact has thrown up drywall to hide a leak, or has slapped a fresh coat of paint to cover mildew. Perhaps the ugliest details were removed, but they were replaced with solutions that are cheap, low-quality, equally ugly, but just not as old and beat-up. I would rather buy a ruin and renovate it myself, correctly, vs. paying too much for something that claims to be ready for move-in but really isn’t.
    Good luck with your hunt!

    • MELewis · May 22, 2020

      Agree. It always amazes me that you don’t have some sort of expert check on property to ensure you know what you’re buying. Such a huge investment and no guarantees other than ‘décennale’ if it’s a new build. Perhaps if you go through an agent (we’re selling privately) there is some level of quality check but I’m not convinced they do more than the commercial part. Thanks for your wishes — we will need luck!

  2. margaret21 · May 21, 2020

    It’s interesting. When we returned to the UK, we had various criteria, three of which were red lines, and included the need to be within walking distance of amenities like shops. We fell in love with the first property we saw, six years on are still here and have no intentions of moving. It failed on every single red line, being 5 miles from town, which isn’t sensible when you’re well past retirement age. But we don’t plan to move again any time soon. Good luck! Pandemic house-hunting sounds no fun. My daughter and her partner are doing it too, in pandemic Spain 😦

    • MELewis · May 22, 2020

      Interesting about the criteria, which proves my point that it’s as much about ‘feel’ as anything else. Glad you found the right place (for you) and fell in love with it. Good luck to your daughter. Spain at least does have more on the market, I would hope!

      • margaret21 · May 22, 2020

        Too much, if you’e trying to sell…..

  3. acflory · May 21, 2020

    I don’t envy you, Mel. Just the thought of moving fills me with dismay. Of course, it’s almost winter here now, the best time to be in Warrandyte. Once the first season returns I may change my mind.

    All of those views are to die for. Pity the apartments miss out in other ways. Maybe as you’re looking for a rental, you’ll suddenly stumble across the perfect house to buy. Good luck either way. 🙂

    • MELewis · May 22, 2020

      Thank you Meeks! 🤞That’s exactly how I usually feel about the prospect of moving. But now we have decided to do it, I just want to get on with it! Trying to keep an open mind to those ‘stumble upon’ moments. Experience has shown me that they usually lead to just the right place!

      • acflory · May 22, 2020

        Definitely. That’s actually how I found the block of land I built on. Went into the estate agent to put a deposit on a totally different block of land. Saw a picture on the counter. Said “Show me!” And here we are, a great many years later. There really is such a thing as love at first sight. 😀

      • MELewis · May 22, 2020

        Love love love this! 🥰

      • acflory · May 22, 2020

        And it’s even true! lol

  4. Liz · May 21, 2020

    These places look beautiful but I agree that a picture does not give you what you really need to know. Renting sounds sensible, it will give you time and perspective to really determine what will work for both of you. Good luck and keep us posted!! I love looking at real estate pics in beautiful settings so continue to share the journey!!

    PS… will there be a room for guests? 🤣

    • MELewis · May 22, 2020

      Thanks, Liz! Yes, a guest room for sure! Hope the global health situation will turn more favourable in the coming months and that our new place will provide an excuse for lots of family visits! 😊

  5. Suzanne et Pierre · May 21, 2020

    Difficult to project into the future these days. The situation is so unsettled. As we don’t know how it will evolve, I have abandoned the idea of doing long-term plans for a while. We live day-to-day trying to still enjoy life in our shrinking world. As for property, we decided to rent when we came back from Paris as we didn’t know the real estate market in Montreal but since then we have never found anything we would feel comfortable with at a reasonable price so after 5 years we are still renting and it is suiting us fine right now… Good luck with your search. (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · May 22, 2020

      Thanks, Suzanne! I can see how renting could make sense for the long term. At least you keep your options open. Keep hoping there will be opportunities that come out of this pandemic (more people selling, lower prices on the Swiss side) but no signs yet. I think it really is too soon and that if things settle down over the summer it will gradually get back to normal. As you can see, I am an optimist! 😎

  6. The Pink Agendist · May 21, 2020

    I see myself dying in the house I live in now. It’s my second and hopefully last home.

    • MELewis · May 22, 2020

      I don’t see myself dying, at all…😅 But if (when, obviously) I do, I hope it will be in a place that feels like a forever home. The problem for me was that our previous home felt like that, and so far I have not grown attached in the same way. So very glad you have found that particular “bonheur” in your current home.

  7. Joanne Sisco · May 22, 2020

    I echo what Suzanne/Pierre said – it’s really hard to even consider making long term plans right now. Right now I’m being bold and thinking about next week.

    I laughed out loud at your comment about wanting a walkable place without a massive slope in Switzerland. Good luck with that! 😆

    While the thought of moving appeals to me, I can’t imagine trying to do it under the current conditions you are facing. I hope you find that special place you’re looking for!

    • MELewis · May 24, 2020

      It’s a good thing we can’t see into the future. If I had known what lay ahead in 2020 I would probably not have chosen this year to make a major move. But we’re trying to stick to the plan even if it feels rather challenging to look ahead. Time will tell. Glad you appreciate my take on what is definitely an uphill battle! 😁

      • Joanne Sisco · May 24, 2020

        2020 has caught many people off guard. I hope this challenge has a happy ending for you and you find that perfect home you’re looking for.

  8. Colin Bisset · May 22, 2020

    Oh, what I’d give to be looking for property in Switzerland! I find the property offerings of Australia somewhat disheartening but we’ve managed to buy two places that sang right out at us, and still have them many years later. Good luck with your search and always, always, always follow the heart!

    • MELewis · May 24, 2020

      Thank you, Colin. That is encouraging — I will try to follow my heart or at least my gut as well as some of your feng shui hints!

  9. nessafrance · May 24, 2020

    Good luck with your search. Renting seems sensible until you find your ideal place. Some fabulous views from those properties above. You’re so right about the feel of a place. We saw 24 properties in four days here in 1997, but when we drove up to the one we now live in, we both felt it was the one. This is despite its various inconveniences. I hope to live out my days here, although it’s not ideal in the event of reduced mobility.

  10. MELewis · May 24, 2020

    “Live out my days.” That’s such a nice way of putting it, Vanessa. Interesting how you both felt it was the one after seeing so many different places in such a short time. Hope you are able to stay and enjoy it for as long as possible!

  11. George · May 30, 2020

    Feel your requirements are a little too strict. Residence hunting is all about compromise. You have to realistically differentiate between needs and wants. You will never find the perfect place even with infinite resources.

    • MELewis · May 31, 2020

      You are right, of course. We will have to compromise and no matter how great the place, the transition to an apartment from a house will be a big adjustment. But it’s a mental process of gradually narrowing the focus to what is essential.

  12. Pingback: L’argent du beurre – FranceSays
  13. Pingback: Où? – FranceSays

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s