11/13/17, Bad for Good

Hi Everyone,

First of all, my apologies for not showing up last week with the blog. I hate letting you down, but I was up to my ears in a massive project: I was moving, which was a huge undertaking. I moved from one apartment to another in Paris, after living in the same place for 13 years. Our family home in San Francisco is the mother ship and home base for me and my family, but I spend half my time in Paris, so that’s important to me and my children too. And being a homebody, I go from one location to the other, and I love my nest. I rent in Paris, found the apartment by accident 13 years ago, it suited me perfectly, I loved it, and somehow assumed I would be able to stay there forever. It sold four times in 13 years, and each time, the owners had it as an investment and let me stay, so I had begun to consider it ‘mine’. A year and a half ago it sold to someone who wanted to live there, and gave me 2 years notice (according to French law) to leave. I was shocked when I received the notice, then crushed. I had denial for about a year—they couldn’t really make me leave, could they? Yes, they could, and they did. It took me 15 months to have the heart to tell my kids we had lost our beloved Paris home. I think I had denial about it until then. My 5 youngest children come and go a lot and stay with me for work, visits, and vacations, so I knew how sad they would be too. I tried valiantly three times to convince the new owner to let me stay, to no avail. So a year after my ‘eviction notice’, I began searching for a new apartment, and the reality was grim, and depressing beyond belief. I hadn’t moved in 13 years, and I had forgotten how miserable that search can be, and how many frogs you have to kiss before you find a prince. I always feel that finding a home is like romance. You know almost instantly if it’s right for you, and there has to be chemistry. Aside from that I’m not a ‘mover’, I have lived in very few homes in my life. I lived in 2 homes through my entire childhood until I married, and two in each marriage. My children were born while we lived in one home, and while they were too young to even remember it, we moved to the home they grew up in and we still live there. And now that they’re grown up, they stay where they live too, and don’t move. We put down roots and stay, so I felt like I was being torn out of our Paris home by the roots, a painful process. It was very emotional for me to have to move, and a horrible thought from a practical standpoint too. And moving is expensive, no matter what you do.

The search for an apartment was almost comical, but not quite. Apartments that were advertised as bigger than they really were. Places were announced as ‘newly renovated’—-yeah, in 1932 maybe, but no more recently than that. Dirty, tired, beaten up, ugly, dark, too expensive, 5th floor walk ups, grim, miserable places I wouldn’t want to spend an hour in, let alone live in. No matter how small, people in France buy their apartments if they possibly can, so the rental market is slim, rental apartments are owned as investments, often treated badly by tenants, so landlords don’t bother to take good care of them, and rent some places in really appalling condition, figuring they’ll get beaten up anyway. So renting an apartment in Paris is not so easy. They also don’t come with any light fixtures or kitchen equipment, and you have to provide your own. (Thank you, Ikea!! I love their kitchens and light fixtures. They save my life!!). Anyway, the search was depressing for six months once I accepted the fact that I had to leave, and I think I saw every beaten up, ugly, grim apartment in Paris. (Sometimes realtors would send beautiful photographs of apartments—-but they turned out not to be the apartments I went to see.). And then with incredible good luck, the person helping me look heard of an apartment that might come on the market, right in my own neighbourhood. We went to see it, and there it was, pure romance, I knew in the first 2 minutes that it was The One. I fell in love then and there. No more frogs, I had found the prince. It was the right size, location, had a warm feeling to it, and was even in my budget (prices had escalated in 13 years, and I was shocked by that too). And then of course, reality and complications set in. An overstaying tenant who was in no hurry to leave, kept changing their minds, and left me hanging. A four month battle ensued, and I doubted I would ever get that apartment. It had everything I wanted but I couldn’t get in.

I packed up my old apartment, and for anyone who has moved, you know what that’s like. My closets were like bottomless pits, or Ali Baba’s cave. Everything we were too lazy to throw away or didn’t know what to do with, wound up in a closet or on a shelf. I spent three months throwing things away, packing other things, getting rid of things I should have gotten rid of years ago. Packing up 13 years of one’s life is a massive job. I compare finding a new home to romance, and moving is like childbirth, painful and an utter mess, until at last you have the end result in your arms, and it all seems worth it. Getting there is NOT half the fun. I’ve spent the last four months packing, sorting, and putting 13 years of my life either in the garbage or in boxes, and sold some things. I did all the packing myself, and let me tell you, I’m in no hurry to do that again. Fortunately, leases are long in France, and a short term lease is 3 years, and most leases are for 6, 9, or even 12 years, which suits me just fine!!! So I packed it all up, and then sat on my boxes and waited for the apartment to become available, which began to seem unlikely, and was stressful as hell. And then, miracle of miracles, with a few days notice, the tenant up and left. We were notified of it on a Sunday afternoon, and since I was all packed up anyway (even my kitchen had been taken apart, ready to move, and all I had left to use were the fridge and the sink, even my stove had been disconnected, and the microwave and toaster packed God knew where, in what box). When the tenant moved out, we moved in the next day. With no time to do painting or fixing anything before I moved in, so movers and painters were bumping into each other as I moved.

And holy shit!!!! What a massive job moving was. The movers were very nice, and I had people to help me, but moving is just a nightmare, as you watch your whole private world come apart, and can’t find anything for weeks. I am very organized so I had lists and plans and notes about everything, and diagrams to show the movers of where things should go—-all of which meant nothing. It was chaos anyway. Utter, total chaos, with boxes everywhere, most of it in the wrong rooms, and I couldn’t find a damn thing. It looked like a war zone.

I also discovered during this process that what someone wise once said is true: anyone on a diet, getting a divorce, or moving is a crashing bore. For the last 3 or 4 months, anyone who said “how are you” to me, whether my butcher, mailman or best friend got a long saga from me about the state of the move. I have been a dead bore to everyone I know with the agony of finding a place, the stress of battling to actually get in, and the chaos and mess of the process of moving to a new address. I’m sure everyone is sick to death of hearing it. But it happened. I did it!!! I moved 19 days ago, worked like a dog 18 hours a day—-setting up a new home, I discover, is kind of like writing a book, you create a whole new universe in your head, you develop a vision of it, and then try to make reality match that vision with whatever you have in hand. I REALLY lucked out, because I’ve had moves in my life where you don’t have enough to fill a new home, and are sitting on orange crates or the equivalent for a while—in this case, I had what I needed, and all I’ve had to buy were some rugs for the kitchen (Ikea again!! I love their stuff), and a medicine chest for my bathroom. I had everything else—the big job was to figure out where to put what. Like a Rubix Cube, or a puzzle. I took it on like a major challenge, and the people who helped me with the move worked as hard as I did to make it all work. I packed it all up myself, and realized that if I tried to unpack it all myself too, I’d be buried for months, so I lined up enough help so I didn’t kill myself in the process, and found a great handyman through a friend to put up shelves, hang things, and put my kitchen back together. And it’s a lot easier to take a place apart than to put one together. I can only do so much, and the boxes were heavy to move around. Two weeks ago, even a week ago, I thought I’d never dig my way out, as I sat looking at the mountain of boxes, and pushed furniture from room to room……and like magic, it has all fallen into place. I have an adorable new office where I can write peacefully, enough room for my kids to visit me and stay as long as they can. Their familiar things are in their rooms, mine are in my room, so it actually feels like home, and doesn’t seem strange and new. My bathroom at the new apartment only had a shower, and I love baths, so my gift to myself was to buy a bathtub small enough to fit in the shower, which feels like a total luxury!!! I love my new home, I would never have moved if I wasn’t forced to, but it has turned out to be a huge blessing in the end.

It has also been a life lesson for me. 21 months ago when I got the eviction notice at my old place, I thought it was one of the worst things that had happened to me. And the six month search for a new apartment confirmed it to me, until I found the new apartment. And four months of battling to get it was definitely not fun…..but in the end, forced from my cozy, familiar home, I find myself in one that I like even better, that suits me better, works better, and I think even my kids will like more. The French call it “un mal pour un bien”, a bad thing for a good one in the end, which is exactly what happened here. What seemed like a very bad thing turned out to be a great one for me. It was forced on me, but I think it was meant to be, and now it feels like a gift. I feel very blessed and incredibly lucky that in this case the ‘bad thing’ turned out to be a happy one. It reminds me that hard things that happen can turn out to be a blessing and a real gift in the end. I walk around the new apartment now, still a little dazed, wondering how all this happened, and how I wound up here. I’m loving it. I unpacked the last box 2 days ago, and the little framed sayings and quotes that I love are on the wall (I hammered them up too late at night and the neighbours have already complained, oops!!!). So I’m home again, and all my old stuff looks fresh and new. It’s a whole new chapter, and a new life in a new place…..so the bad thing in this case turned out to be a very good one!!! It will be a good thing to remember the next time something happens that shakes me up. People kept reminding me how stressful moving is (as if I didn’t already know), and they were right. It was incredibly stressful, but I’m so happy to be home now. And I hope I won’t ever have to move again!!!

much love, Danielle

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39 Comments so far
  1. David November 13, 2017 1:10 pm

    I hope you’re happy in your new apartment!

  2. Elaine November 13, 2017 5:18 pm

    Hi Danielle,

    I’m happy that, after all the agony, your new apartment has turned out so well! I wish you much happiness in your new apartment. I will try to employ an “un mal pour un bien” approach to my life this week and during the upcoming holidays.

    Regards, Elaine

  3. Melanie November 14, 2017 6:53 am

    Having just been through this myself, moving house and horse, I feel your pain. When all is said and done, it really worked out for the best. I’m glad it did for you as well.

  4. Alexandra November 14, 2017 7:01 pm

    I’m moving too, the landlord gave me notice and I have until the end of November to move which sucks because is the middle of the holidays! We looking for a landlord that wants a long lease. My current landlord is super nice but he had to sell so. I have been here for 7 years…But I know me and my two girls are going to be just fine and we will find our prince.

  5. Elaine November 15, 2017 5:01 pm

    Hi Danielle,

    Right now I am reading L’appart by David Lebovitz about his struggles to buy an apartment in Paris. It reminds me a bit of what you’ve just been through, and I think you’d enjoy it.


  6. Francesca November 15, 2017 10:10 pm

    Hi Danielle !!!!!! How are you????? new home new life !!!!! new opportunities !!!! you will find it very well !!!!! A strong hug !!!!!! Ciaooooooo kisses

  7. Charlie November 16, 2017 6:47 am

    Hi ms steel I’m trying to get personal sign copy on your last book for wife it’s been not a good year and I thought this would her happy Can you can you help me ,guide me thank you

  8. Linda Davenport November 17, 2017 6:40 am

    Love the blog how do I get it all the time

  9. Lynn Rhodes November 17, 2017 6:44 am

    Hope your happy in your new home and I love all your books

  10. Tina November 17, 2017 6:50 am

    Yes, I know what you mean about looking for a house. Our first and only house, I feel in love with too.the first time I saw it. I knew it was for us. It’s been 34 years now. I can’t think of any other place to live. So glad everything worked out for you.

  11. Helen Small November 17, 2017 6:56 am

    Hi Danielle
    I am so happy you have found the right apartment after all that happened.
    When we moved I thought I would never get used to finding things where whoever had unpacked had put them. However I am settled now and wouldn’t change for anything. Good luck x

  12. Hazel November 17, 2017 7:02 am

    I just moved into my new home 3months ago. It was so stressfull. I didnt cook for days because boxes were all over and I didnt know where to find my pots. Iam so glad you are now settled.

  13. Diane November 17, 2017 7:07 am

    Congratulations on your new home! Thank you for sharing the journey of your search. I am not much of a reader except for your books. Once I start reading them I don’t want to put them down. Thank you!

  14. Janice November 17, 2017 7:23 am

    Blessings to you and the family in your new home.

  15. Nina Sauvan November 17, 2017 7:33 am

    During all the hectic changes you continued to write amazing books
    You are one amazingly strong woman to be admired.
    Good luck in your new home and I hope your children enjoy it as much as your former home.

  16. Pam November 17, 2017 7:43 am

    I’m confused. Why would you not buy a place? I’m sure you could financially (sorry, there I go assuming). I just figured someone like you would own… more assumptions. I assumed you would own so it would be passed down from generation to generation with stories shared from the people who love you so. The creativity that is in every corner of your space would be priceless. I like owning and knowing I don’t have to ever be uprooted…my chunk of safety and paradise. I know in the end it’s just plaster and wood, but while I’m alive I take comfort in my home…it’s there for me…a constant.

  17. Debi November 17, 2017 7:44 am

    Interesting reading about your move … but I don’t get it. You mass produce your books 2-4 a year … WHY are you renting and not buying?????

  18. Brenda Thomas November 17, 2017 7:56 am

    So happy things turned out for you with your move . I moved from California to Tennessee last year after living in my hometown for 62 years … it is so stressful to make changes. We lived in the same home for 35 years and my kids grew up in that house. I told my husband we should of moved every couple of years so it would of been eas, but it’s getting better still trying to adjust. Life changing is hard but on a positive note it’s fun having 4 seasons and places to explore in the south. Love your books , have read them all..

  19. Billie November 17, 2017 8:48 am

    Enjoy your new apartment. It sounds lovely.

  20. Kathy Gautreaux November 17, 2017 10:01 am

    Remember Joel Olsteen – God turns thing met for your bad turn into something good. I believe God loves you!

  21. Babs Becker November 17, 2017 10:04 am

    I’ve moved 3 times, and yes, it is a bear! However, we are in our forever home now. We’ve been here 23 years and are redoing many things. The house was only 4 years old when we bought it and looked to be in good shape. Wrong!! We’ve had to replace everything. It was all low end. Now we love our nest out in the country away from the town and city, but close enough to go when we want.
    Good luck to you! I’ve read all your books and love them. I use the library, and am on the waiting list for your new ones. It’s incredible how you put out so many in one year!
    With much love and respect, Babs

  22. carmen suissa November 17, 2017 10:20 am

    Hi Danielle,

    I’m happy for your “happy ending” story. But I have a question: how come you prefer to live in Paris? San Francisco it’s so nice, and then, American people are nicer then French, more polite, positive and great service.

    I wish you to be happy in your new home!

  23. Ida Palmer November 17, 2017 10:30 am

    Ms. Steel,
    First, i have to let you know that I, ABSOLUTELY, LOVE your books! thank you so much for sharing your gift with all of us!!!

    I hear you when you talk about moving! It is an BIG nightmare! As a kid, we moved several times, and even as a kid, I hated it. Getting familiar with new setting and making friends, as a kid, is definitely not fun.
    Now my husband and I have been in our same house for almost 14 years. I LOVE it!!!

    I am so happy for you that you found a place that makes you happy! YOU DESERVE that!!

  24. Lora Fisher November 17, 2017 12:05 pm

    Sounds like a good book to me. All you need is a romantic life changing ending. I love and own every book you have written. You are the best!!

  25. Tina Turner November 17, 2017 4:33 pm

    Home sweet home, glad your settled and loving your new home

  26. Rica November 17, 2017 6:13 pm

    Dear Danielle Steel,
    I have moved four times in 3 and half years due to our townhouse fire, 4 years 3 months…. it was a fire we awoke to that occurred above us in the attic. It was electrical and thank God for smoke alarms at 1:30 AM. We lost almost everything…. had things in storage that I salvaged…. still to this day have unopened boxes in the garage…. we are still in litigation due to condo association mismanagement…. took a year and half to rebuild….. should’ve been 6 months. We tried to sell it but no buyers due to NJ high taxes. So my favorite author, I acknowledge your pain first hand. Thank God my husband and I are employed, otherwise we would’ve been homeless. We lost so much financially and mentally but we are Blessed to be alive. I sit at times and can’t believe we survived this and yes soooooo many boxes….. I took have given away things etc. I know that God will help us in the end. Sorry, for the long comment but I want people to check their Homeowners Policy so that they can retrieve their existing structures etc.
    We were underinsured ( agent reduced our amount without our knowledge- Error Omissions)
    Make wonderful memories with your precious family.
    Warmest Regards,

  27. Katie Deichler November 17, 2017 10:18 pm

    Going through that now. I am 70 using a walker, husband is,83 not in good health. I got laid off from my 18 yr job for downsizing. Can’t afford the house we rent now, so looking and prices have gone up to much, living on social security only, is making it impossible and depressing. I haven’t started packing yet, dreading it, but it won’t go away so o better get started, do you think??. Glad you found what you wanted. Emjoy.

  28. Toni Floerchinger November 18, 2017 2:28 am

    I am decluttering my home. I can’t imagine another move. I am taking it slowly but I realize that some things never come back in fashion, a kitchen can have too many appliances and I never have too many books!

  29. Carol McIntosh November 18, 2017 7:32 am

    Happy you found a new place you love in Paris❤️I know the feeling of no fridge or stove or no kitchen as we did a complete remodel of our kitchen this summer & are just starting to get it back together! Whew! We even did a dance of joy when we finally got a new fridge! I love reading your books ? you are a super great writer & have amazing stories! You & your family have a Merry ? Christmas!

  30. Maria Costa November 18, 2017 10:35 am

    i am just surprised you didnt OWN your apartment.
    that is the safest way for never to be evicted:)
    May you be very happy in the new place and i
    Hope you write many lovely books for us in the new home:)
    thank you for sharing your story.
    i have been reading your books for 30 years starting with my forever fav The Ring,
    i was 20 then:) thank you Danielle for all the wonderful stories.

  31. Deede November 18, 2017 1:23 pm

    I hope you own this new place…Although I realize that Paris is different from our US real estate, I would feel better for you if it were yours…I hope it is…

  32. Doreen November 19, 2017 8:10 am

    I’m just wondering why you don’t purchase an apartment rather than rent? Also, it seems you make a lot of money, at least according to Google, and wouldn’t you be able to afford to pay a moving company and easily afford to buy kitchen appliances? It always confuses me when I hear people who I personally know who I know make millions worrying about little things when I figure if I had that kind of money, after investing, etc., I wouldn’t blink an eye at kitchen appliances. Anyone else find this so strange that people who have a lot of money seem worried about these things and yet I know middle class people living on $100,000.00 per year who just go out and buy new appliances without a thought.

  33. Mary Kimball November 19, 2017 7:23 pm

    Hi Danielle! I think I can sort of relate to what you went through. We just went through a bath and kitchen remodel. Oh My Heavens. What a stressful experience – but it’s done and we love it. So happy all that stressful icky stuff is behind you and you can now enjoy your new home!!

    Mary :o)

  34. Brenda November 20, 2017 4:36 pm

    I have moved 29 times in 70 years. All out of necessity but never bothered me! Out with old…new curtains and new bath rugs etc. I have never collected much so made it easier even with a plethora of toys back in the day! Who knows how many more times. ‘My husband used to say i could have a place finished in 48 hours with paintings on the walls!
    Your move was made worse by the confusion I imagine! Waiting is the difficult part and can drive u nuts! Good luck next time. By the way your novel about Vietnam is my all time favorite! ‘Maybe another one.

  35. Nancy Davis December 1, 2017 8:32 pm

    I agree with some of the other comments:/ you could afford to buy the best of everything & to hire movers. But there is a very old cliche: the three worst things in life are: death, taxes & moving. God bless you & your family. Merry Christmas. Love your books,

  36. Mary Jo December 6, 2017 8:50 am

    What an incredibly uplifting story which I totally needed today! I will remember “Un mal pour un bien” forever. Thank you! I’m so happy for you and your wonderful new place. It is my dream to have an apartment in Paris one day. Such a wonderful story! Happy writing in your new place!

  37. brenda stott January 18, 2018 6:07 pm

    you are a marvel -you wrote books whilst in the midst of looking for another home – I love your books and have re-read them over 3 times – my librarian suggested i try another auther , but i couldnt get used to someone elses style of writing —- LONG MAY YOU CONTINUE xxx

  38. Debbie Peck January 22, 2018 6:59 am

    I just finished reading your book, Precious Gifts, and it was a wonderful read! You did mention Ikea! Lol. My son shops there. Looking forward to reading, White Dinner next. Love your books♡

  39. Eddie Bradham October 12, 2022 10:16 pm

    Hey, I’m a huge fan of yours and have all your books. You will probably never see this, but I thought I would ask anyway.

    But I’m curious as to why you would want to rent a home, rather buy one? I have friends who do that too,and it makes sense to rent in the beginning, but after some time renting, wouldn’t it be better to buy something, especially when you know your landlord can make you move?