By in Country Guides September 12, 2013

For many people from all over the world, moving to Paris is a dream come true. La Ville Lumière (The City of Light) is one of the most exciting European cities and a beautiful destination full of culture. If you are planning to move to France from the US and you’ve set your sights on the French capital, be sure to follow our guidelines and be prepared to start your new adventure in this vibrant place.

Beautiful Parisian landscape with The Eiffel Tower as its most recognizable symbol.
The capital of France is one of the most desirable places to live.

Before we continue, let’s first go through some quick facts. Paris is the capital of France and its most populous city. La Ville Lumière has been one of the most visited cities for centuries and is known for its fantastic architectural landmarks and museums. This place is also diverse and multicultural, with over 20% of people from migrant backgrounds. However, when you move here, you’ll notice that natives are not very fluent in English. They are also friendlier when they hear tourists or expats are at least trying to speak their language — French. Like in most other EU countries, the official currency is Euro (€).

Is Living in Paris Expensive?

As we briefly mentioned, the cost of living in Paris is much higher than in other French cities. The Economist Intelligence Unit survey ranked France’s capital as the 5th most expensive place in the world in 2020. Essential utilities, such as heating, water, electricity, and garbage disposal, will cost you around €166 ($196) for a 915 sq ft apartment. You’ll need an additional €28 ($33) for internet connection. If you want to dine out, be prepared to pay around €50 ($59) for two meals in mid-range restaurants. A more affordable option would be to visit many markets and get fresh products like milk or eggs and cook at home. Transportation and housing will be a considerable part of your expenses, but more on it later.

Moving internationally to La Ville Lumière will require some financial sacrifices. However, adjusting to a new country will become easier once you start organizing your budget, meeting new people, and exploring the place itself.

A person calculating a budget.
Deep pockets are needed for a comfortable life in the French capital, so be sure to plan your budget carefully.

Don’t Forget to Prepare All Documentation When Moving to Paris from US

Before you move, be sure to have all the valid documents needed to travel abroad. Your moving abroad checklist must include the following requirements and papers for life in La Ville Lumière.

Start Applying for a Visa

Obtaining a visa is the first thing that should be on your mind when thinking about working and living overseas. This document is not required for people coming from EU countries. However, if you want to be an American living in Paris, you should start applying for a long-term visa (visa de long séjour). The requirements and papers you’ll need for this process will depend on the reasons for relocating here. If you are here on a work assignment or want to start working, you’ll need a work permit before you are granted a visa. The employer will obtain this permit for you. If you want more information on visa and work permits, be sure to read this guideline. Just remember that it is illegal to move here with a short-term Schengen visa and then apply for a long term one.

It Is Important To Open a New Bank Account

Living in Paris means that you’ll have to open a French bank account. This is yet another thing EU citizens don’t need to worry about, but having this account will certainly ease your life in this city. It will allow you to make your local payments easier, such as rent and internet services. With this, you’ll also avoid withdrawal fees or foreign conversion. However, setting up an account will take some time. Unlike in the US, you can expect multiple meetings with a bank and wait to set up an account for around two to three weeks. We would recommend international banks like BNP Paribas or HSBC.

The French are Masters at Collecting Taxes

If you are planning to live here, you’ll be required to file for French taxes. In addition to your US expat tax filing responsibilities, you are going to be subjected to social tax, income tax, and so-called taxe d’habitation. For more information, be sure to read this detailed tax guide for Americans living in France.

Healthcare is Available for Anyone and Is Pretty Affordable

One of the best things about living in Paris is that healthcare is for everyone and is very affordable. If you don’t have insurance, the doctor’s visit will cost you only €25 ($30). If you purchase health insurance or securité sociale, your doctor’s appointments and prescriptions will be reimbursed for 70%. The average monthly fee for securité sociale is around €40 ($47).

A nurse is smiling.
Healthcare is pretty affordable and available to anyone.

What You Need to Know About Getting Around the City

The City of Light is among the most walkable cities in the world, so be sure to get a good pair of shoes. But from time to time, you’ll use public transportation. The great news is that the transit system is super affordable. You just have to obtain a Navigo card for which you’ll apply online and wait a couple of weeks to arrive. Monthly passes will cost you around €70 ($83). If you want to drive your vehicle, you can book overseas vehicle shipping. However, when you are moving to France, you’ll have to pass the written and driving test in order to get a French driving license. If you decide to hire international moving services, tell your movers to pack your bike, since it’s a popular way to get around.

A Parisian is riding a bike on the street.
Parisians prefer bicycling because it's easier to commute and avoid traffic congestion.

Find a Job Before You Relocate

You have probably asked yourself this question – How can I move to Paris without a job? If you plan to stay for a period longer than six months, it is advisable to find a job before you come here. Your residency status and work permit are interconnected. However, finding a career as an expat can be tiresome. It can take up to six months and more to find work here, and if you are not fluent in French, things will get even more complicated. Not understanding the language can be a reason you maybe won’t even be considered for a position. Start searching for a job way before relocating and begin working on the language if you want to secure a job as soon as possible.

Learning the French Language Will Make Living in Paris Easier

When the question of how to move 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. Everything will come easy for you if you learn French. We have already mentioned the career advantages, but you’ll navigate through everyday life more comfortably too. Look for some tips for learning a new language and start working on your French before your international relocation.

A school blackboard, stationary, and a little flag.
Life in the French capital will be much easier when you learn the language.

This Is the Place With High Education Standards

If you are moving across the world with kids, you will think about their education. The good thing is that La Ville Lumière is among the best cities to live in Europe regarding education opportunities. Many expats enroll their children in international education institutions so that they could spend time with other expat kids. On the other hand, if you are relocating in pursuit of knowledge, know that universities here receive 75% of the expat students for post-secondary education. Sorbonne University is one of the most famous institutions of its kind in the whole world.

A security guard is watching over the entrance of Sorbonne University.
Sorbonne is the world's most famous university.

Finding an Apartment Is One of the Most Challenging Aspects of Moving to Paris

How to move to Paris and how to find an apartment – they are certainly your most important questions. We have covered essential paperwork you need to work on if you want to move here. However, finding an apartment will be a whole different beast. On the one hand, the rent tends to be pretty expensive. A one-bedroom apartment in the center will cost you around €1,163 ($1,366) monthly. On the other hand, the demand is high, and laws are in favor of the tenant. Owners often demand a portfolio that contains things like tax returns, bank balances, contracts, and income that is at least three times higher than the monthly rent. However, it’s not impossible to find an apartment that will suit your needs. But before you start searching for one, be sure to know which neighborhood you want to live in.

South Pigalle and Other Great Parisian Neighborhoods for Expats

While your movers are handling all the packing of your belongings, you can do neighborhood research and potentially find your new home. Every district in this place is continuously reinventing itself and can offer something for everyone’s taste. Here you’ll find a shortlist of the most interesting ones:

  • South Pigalle: You’ll find many things happening here, from exhibitions and art shows to concerts. Pigalle is known for its openness and acceptance, which is especially evident in the red light district. If you move here, you’ll be close to the famous Moulin Rouge. With many shops, bars, business ventures, and food places, you will never be bored.
  • Montmartre: The district of rebels and artists, Montmartre is a special part of the town’s landscape. Many of its upscale bistros and art galleries will leave you speechless. It might not be the most affordable place, but it surely is the most vivid one.
  • Bastille: This history-packed neighborhood abounds in cocktail places and bars. This is 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.

A Quick Guide to the Best Entertainment Options in Paris

La Ville Lumière 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 preferences and needs:

  • Shopping: As the fashion center of Europe, this place can offer plenty of renowned upscale boutiques. Haussmannian boulevards are just a small portion of what can be found here. You’ll also find many department stores and thrift shops.
  • Culture: When you want to take a break from shopping, you can go to Louvre or Musée d’Orsay and see the world’s most famous artworks. Street art can also be caught in every corner.
A couple of tourists around the Louvre at dusk.
Louvre and its pyramid are a symbol of cultural life in France.

Useful Tips to Know When Moving to La Ville Lumière

Let us give you some advice that will help you better prepare for your relocation from the US:

  • Relocating overseas is a perfect excuse to declutter your household. You’ll save money on boxes and moving supplies, and you’ll be able to purchase things like furniture when you settle here for a reasonable price. Be sure to check what to pack when moving abroad and be ready for an exciting adventure
  • Moving abroad alone is one thing, but if you are moving with pets, there is a whole new set of documents to think about. You will have to obtain proof of vaccination, chipping, and passport for your beloved animal. Be sure that your pet is not on the list of forbidden species and breeds
  • Be sure to watch the news regularly as soon as you settle in. Not only will your language skills improve, but you’ll also feel like a part of the community and will have more to talk about with your new friends, neighbors, or colleagues.
A cat sits in a box full of cushioning material.
If you are relocating with a cat, be sure to have all the documentation ready.

You Can Now Say Bonjour, La VIlle Lumière!

And voilà! With this guide, you now have everything you need to move to Paris, Europe’s center of art, fashion, and romance. Of course, culture shock is an inevitable part of relocating abroad, and the paperwork will not be easy to go through as well. But, with a little preparation and organization, you’ll sail through this adventure—and an adventure it most certainly will be.