Monday, March 22, 2010

The Country House Complex


Every spring, there’s an illness that sweeps through the posh arrondissements of Paris. An illness so serious it makes the expat moms go crazy.

Crazy with envy.

Crazy with desire.

Just plain crazy.

Listen in to what the moms are asking each other:

Do you have one?
Where’s the best place to find one?
How long will it take to get one?
Do we need one?
Yes, you need one!
What are the tax advantages to having one?


Curing this crazy illness can cost upwards of a several hundred thousand euros. At least.

It’s called the COUNTRY HOUSE COMPLEX.

And it seems that everyone La Mom knows has a bad case of it! Let’s take a look at a few case studies:

Case Study 1: Montana Mom – complexing for not having a country house

Imagine walking in to the kitchen at New Jersey Mom’s country house. She’s having a
4th of July pool party. Everyone from the American school is there. The first person you see is Montana Mom. She has an anxious look on her face that says it all: “Everyone has a country house except moi.”

Montanta Mom: Oh hey (kisses on both cheeks). Come over here! (whispering) Can you believe how gorgeous this place is? Do you have a country house?

Kansas Mom: Nope. Don’t want one. There’s so much to do in Paris every weekend, why would we leave? Do you have one?

Montana Mom: Oh no, we can’t afford one, but everyone has one and I want one too. What’s the secret?

Case Study 2: Los Angeles Mom – complexing for having a country house

London Mom: Nigel got his bonus and it’s enough to buy the country house we fell in love with in Brittany. We can start decorating in May, which means everyone from playgroup can come for a Saturday play date and barbecue in June!

Los Angeles Mom: Be careful who you invite! We never invite American friends to our country house. It’s just too risky. You never know who’s jealous and will send the IRS a letter informing them that so-and-so isn’t claiming a secondary foreign residence on their taxes. It happened to San Diego Mom a few years ago and she’s had nothing but audits since then.

Case Study 3: Complexing for having a country house on the wrong side of the tracks

Chicago Mom had a serious case of the Country House Complex a few years ago. She coveted one and made no secret of it. Told everyone the minute she had a country house she'd have a big housewarming party weekend. Then she finally got her beloved country house.

Curiously, though, none of her friends were ever invited to her second home even though it was only a short trip from Paris. It turns out her “country house” was located next to the airport. Technically, it's in the country, but not the *real* French countryside. Not exactly the kind of country house that her expat friends from the 16th arrondisssement own.

(Sidebar:La Mom thinks it's a great idea to have a country house near the airport. It’s not the coast, but hey, the kids can have fun for hours on end watching planes take off and land – and that’s worth beaucoup.)

Case Study 4: Denver Mom – complexing because her BFF has three country houses and she only has one

Overheard at the Luxembourg Gardens sandbox:

Denver Mom: We’ve got plumbing problems at the country house. I’ve got to go to Bordeaux in the middle of the week to meet the plumber. I’m dreading it.

NYC Mom: I hear ya. Nicolas-Pierre makes his assistant take care of our country house management. Business is slow so it gives her something to do all day since there’s not much else going on.

Denver Mom: Of course she’s busy all day! You’ve got three country houses for her to manage!

NYC Mom: Don’t advertise to everybody that I have trois country homes. They’ll be jealous -- like you!


The Country House Complex will be sweeping through the Paris mommy scene starting April 1st. Get ready!

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