Did you know that moving to Paris would mean that you get to live in a city that predates the United States by more than 1,500 years? But before you actually start your French adventure, make sure you have all the essential information about the legal requirements, the people and the way they live life in one of the most visited cities and countries in the world.
Create a budget and calculate the cost of living and get some insight into the housing and transportation situation. Research job opportunities and find a company that you wish to work for, which would not be hard, since this is the home of many international enterprises. You will be staying in the town of many museums, music and movie happenings, so pack your good shoes – the best way to explore is always on foot.
Prepare All the Documents Before Relocating to France
Before you can actually relocate, you should check if you have all the documents needed to travel abroad, and confirm they are valid. As an American citizen, you will need a visa. Depending on the type you want, the process of applying can last more than two months. To apply for a visa, you’ll need:
- A valid Passport
- A photo
- Application form
- Bank statements
When you gather these basic documents, check with the embassy if you need any additional ones, just to be sure.
Moving abroad alone is one thing, but if you are relocating with your pet, there is a whole new set of documents to think about. You will need to obtain proof of vaccination, chipping and passport for your animal companion. Besides, make sure that your pet is not on a list of forbidden breeds and species.
Vaccination Is Not Needed, but It’s Recommended
It’s not only your pet that needs to be vaccinated when relocating. No strict rules are forcing you to get vaccinated, but still, there are some health recommendations for people that are coming from abroad.
Start with shots for hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, and rabies. The World Health Organization also recommends shots for meningitis, mumps, rubella, polio, and Tdap.
The Cost of Living Is Something to Think About Before Moving to Paris
Have you researched how to live in another country? Are you wondering how much it will cost, and will you be able to afford it?
Basic utilities, the ones we all have to pay, such as garbage disposal, heating, water, and electricity, will cost you around €170 ($188) for a 915 sq ft apartment, according to Numbeo. For the internet connection, you will have to pay around €29 ($32).
If you want to treat yourself with a dinner in a restaurant, you will need €15 ($17), while a meal in places such as McDonald’s costs around €9 ($10). There are also many markets where you can get fresh products like milk or eggs if you want to cook at home.
Don’t forget to count in the cost of transportation and housing on your checklist, because they are major components of the cost of living.
Should You Drive or Use Public Transit?
Are you thinking about shipping your car overseas? If you are, don’t forget to exchange your current license for a valid French one. But if you are not too keen on driving in an unexplored area, you can always use the subway, rail, buses, and trams. This network covers the entire town, so you will be able to get wherever you wish to go.
If you decide to hire international moving services, tell your movers to pack your bike, since it is a popular way to get around town. If you choose to buy or rent in some pedestrian or bike-friendly area, you’ll reduce the usage of public transportation to a minimum.
Buying a House Is Wise When Relocating for the Long Term
Relocating across the world means you should find a new apartment or a house. Choosing whether you will buy or rent depends on many factors.
Buying a house in the City of Lights doesn’t come with restrictions for foreigners, but most expats still choose to rent their place. If you plan on staying in France for a long time, the smarter and more budget-friendly option would be to buy a house.
Picking the right neighborhood can take some time since the entire town is divided into 20 arrondissements, and each of them has something unique to offer to its residents.
10 Best Neighborhoods in Paris
Choosing where to settle down is one of the steps of a relocation that you can’t avoid, so while the crew that provides you with packing services handles your things, you should research potential new homes. Neighborhoods in Paname (which is one of the many nicknames of this metropolis) are constantly reinventing themselves. Nowadays, you can find places with art galleries, unique retailers, innovative restaurants, and picking one to call home will depend on your needs and desires, so choose wisely.
- Montmartre had always belonged to artists and rebels, and it will always be a special part of the town’s landscape. Here you can find upscale bistros and art galleries that will leave you breathless. It might not be the most affordable place on the list, but it surely is the most vivid one.
- South Pigalle is one of the places where many things happen, from exhibitions, art shows to concerts – it is the center of events. Pigalle is famous for its openness and acceptance, which is especially evident in the red light district. Also, living here would mean you get to have an apartment within walking distance of the famous Moulin Rouge. With many bars, shops, business ventures, and food places, you will never be bored.
- Belleville is a multi-ethnic area with a vivid nightlife and art scene. This is the place for all of those who prefer a cosmopolitan vibe and a variety of different dining out options.
- Oberkampf is mostly overlooked when it comes to the top districts to settle down, but if you are a fan of the alternative party scene, check out this place. And if you love to cook for yourself and your family and friends, stop by Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest market in town. There you can buy fresh products and even try out free samples.
- Canal Saint-Martin is for foodies, fashion enthusiasts, and all of those who love to live by the water. Fashionistas will find many places to play dress up in and buy clothes, while the foodies can enjoy different bistros, restaurants, and bars that are situated near the water. It’s widely popular with artists and filmmakers, because of its romantic vibe and lively scenery.
- Haut Marais is an overlooked area of Le Marais, and it’s one of the oldest parts of the town. Having an apartment here would mean being within walking distance of La Marais and all it has to offer, but paying less for housing.
- Montorgueil might be the best place for you if you love to walk around. It’s one of the most pedestrian-friendly areas in the town. The location is very village-looking with many family-owned shops, bars, and fishmongers.
- Batignolles offers a chance to reside in one of the few districts that aren’t overrun by tourists. Its small-town vibe will make you feel like you don’t actually live in Paris. The place has a local organic market where you can get fresh products. Also, when you’re not feeling like cooking at home, there are plenty of small restaurants with great food that you can check out.
- Bastille is a history-packed neighborhood with many of the best cocktail places and bars. This is the place where you can stop by jazz venues or dance your way into the night in some of the best clubs. Don’t put all of your good walking shoes in the storage – you will need them to stroll by the harbor and bask in the Amsterdam vibe that Bastille has.
- Saint-Germain-des-Prés was home to many famous people throughout history, and that artsy vibe can be felt even today. This is the location of the oldest café in the town, so if you are a caffeine addict, know that the cool café culture still exists.
Settling down here won’t be one of the cheapest things, but there are some ways you can reduce your costs. Think about staying in more affordable locations, finding a roommate to share expenses, and most importantly, landing a well-paid job.
Know How to Find a Job in France
While adjusting to a new country and a new culture, remember that you are not alone. Expats make up a significant part of the working community here. Many have jobs in international companies that have headquarters in the City of Lights.
Go online, read through job ads, and send out resumes. Being proactive will pay off in the end. This is not only the home of many Fortune Global 500 companies, but also the seat of the UNESCO, OECD, and the International Chamber of Commerce, which all employ a large number of expats.
Some of the Biggest Employers Have Headquarters Here
Moving to another country for love sounds romantic and easy while relocating for work requires a lot of job hunting and researching. The City of Lights’ economy is based on service and commerce sectors. More than 80% of companies are engaged in a variety of services and transportation, while 6.5% are in construction.
If you are hunting for employment, remember that the top ten French companies that are listed on Fortune Global 500 are headquartered in Paris. Total S.A. is a petroleum refining company while AXA and CNP Assurance are in the insurance business. If you are looking for work in the banking industry, check out Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas, they might have a job opening for you.
You’ll Have to Pay Taxes as a Foreigner
Yes, even the expats are subjected to paying taxes. Legal guides state that people who spend more than 183 days annually in the state will pay taxes on their income. Don’t worry about double taxation, because the country has signed a number of treaties to avoid it.
Don’t Forget About Social Security and Health Insurance
Many international agreements regulate your social security contributions. The US has ratified an agreement with France, which states that if your work assignment doesn’t exceed a year, you can pay your social security contributions in the States.
Keep in mind that only those residents that pay contributions in France can benefit from its social security system.
If you are relocating because of career opportunities, one of the essential relocation questions to ask an employer should be about healthcare and insurance. Public health insurance covers around 70% of medical costs, but many people sign up for private health insurance with the help of their employers.
This Is a Place with High Education Standards
If you are relocating with your kids, you will need to think about their education. Expats sometimes enroll their kids in international education institutions so that they could spend time with other expat children. Whatever option you choose, remember that this is a place with high education standards.
Are you relocating in pursuit of knowledge? Know that French universities receive 75% of the expat students for post-secondary education. Paris is home to Sorbonne University, one of the most famous institutions of its kind in the world.
Don’t forget to start working on your French, even before you move – being able to understand locals will help you with studying and fitting in.
Break the Language Barrier by Learning French
When the question of how to relocate overseas turns into a question of how to live abroad, don’t forget to think about fitting in. And there is no better way to fit in with the locals than by breaking the language barrier.
Speaking the French language will not only help you meet your neighbors and navigate through everyday life, but it can help you advance in career and education.
Start small, by learning a few phrases, reading simple sentences, and consider signing up for a language course. When you live in a place where people speak a different language, it will be easier to pick up an accent, slang, and common phrases. Use this to your advantage and become fluent fast.
The Number of Entertainment Options Will Leave You Speechless
Being in a place that embodies the best of cuisine, fashion, and art means you get to have a new adventure every day. The City of Lights doesn’t lack entertainment options, from vibrant nightclubs, pubs, and hipster cafe shops, to art galleries and exhibitions – you will surely find something that will suit your interests. Even if you are on a tight budget, even just walking around Champs-Élysées can be an adventure for itself. And when you feel like spending some money, take a day off and go shopping.
Have a Shopping Day
Staying in the fashion center of Europe and maybe the world means you get to shop in renowned upscale boutiques. Besides, you can also browse through some of the many thrift shops and department stores. Here you can find a store that can fit just about everybody’s budget.
Stop by the Louvre and Tuileries District and spend some money on designer clothes, or check out Boulevard Haussmann and the Grands Boulevards and get lost in everything the town has to offer.
When you get tired of the shopping spree (if that is even possible), check out the many cultural sights and enjoy the works of famous artists and musicians.
Enjoy the Culture
You can enjoy the culture even when taking a walk – street art is everywhere. Stop by Rue Saint-Maur and check out murals on the walls. If you are in the mood for learning, head to Louvre or d’Orsay, and see some of the most famous art pieces in the world, including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
You can feel the specific type of culture that is uniquely Parisian on every corner, whether you are having a cup of coffee, tasting wine, or even listening to street singers. When you get home after a long day of walking around, create a calendar of future events so that you don’t miss the ones you want to check out.
Things to Look Forward to in 2020
When living overseas, fitting into the community means being its active member, and what better way to do that than by participating in a variety of happenings.
Parisians can indulge themselves in many hip and cool events from exhibitions to fashion shows and concerts. Even before you relocate to France, check out the list of events for the next year.
In January, you can visit the international exhibition of diving equipment or check out the Maison & Objet design show, a world-famous trade fair for interior design.
For car enthusiasts, the “Retromobile” show of old-fashioned vehicles is a must-see event. Don’t miss out on the Carnaval de Paris, whose theme for 2020 is “A fabulous air world.”
Living in the City of Light Like a True French Local
Being in the cultural heart of France means you get a chance to enjoy the town as a true Parisian. Have a sip of wine and a bite of the famous baguette while gazing upon the lovely scenery of the town, or shop in big and bright shopping malls. Walk around, discover hidden gems and places only known to true locals. Almost 18 million people travel to Paris every year, but if you don’t want to feel like a tourist, try to learn the language and embrace everything the town can give you.