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Moving to Paris?


dgeleven's picture
By dgeleven - Posted on
04 January 2014

I am currently working in Dublin, Ireland and have been approached about a job in the centre of Paris (located in the 9th).

My wife and I have discussed this and she is afraid that the move would be too difficult for the kids to adjust. As it happens, My wife is from France and the kids have good (but not perfect) French. They are aged 12, 10 and 6.

Our 12 year old is due to start high school in the autumn. My wife fears that the kids might struggle to adapt to the French education system. It would be great if we could chat with someone who has gone through a similar transition, from an English speaking country to living in Paris, with kids around the ages that we have.

The other thing that we have heard is that living in Paris itself can be very difficult as its expensive, traffic is very bad, it's hard to own a car and the people tend to be rude.

Is there anything you could comment on this? How hard is accommodation to find? Are the people in Paris friendly/unfriendly to foreigners?

We really appreciate any help you could provide. It will prove extremely useful to us.

Xavier's picture
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Hi there

Unfortunately I can't answer all of your concerns, but I can help with a few. As far as finding a place to live goes, it really depends on your budget. Renting in Paris is more expensive than Dublin, but is generally cheaper than, for example, London. Salaries do tend to be higher than in Dublin which, at least theoretically, means that this the difference in rent is made up for to some extent. I'd suggest having a look at our Accommodation in Paris page to get more of an idea about this. 

If you're worried about the language barrier your kids will have to face, one option could be one of the government contracted private Catholic schools, which tend to be cheaper than the private schools. It may sound strange if you aren't Catholic, but I somehow doubt that every child at Catholic school is religious. If you can afford it though, there are some private schools which offer classes in English. Have a look at Education and Schools in Paris for a bit more.

If you're intending on staying a while, it may be worth having your children go through that difficult transition- they're still young, and even if they're held back a year, it may be worth overcoming the challenges of adapting to a new culture in order to have the experience of a life time that living in a new country often provides. There are plenty of French tutors available, they're lucky enough to have a French mom, and so they have a head start that many expat kids don't. That's my two cents, if it counts for anything.

As for the French being rude, that's a classic complaint from English speakers. Having studied French, interacted with many French people and known many people who've been to France (not as qualified as your wife, who is French, I'll admit) I've often found that the people who have the worst experiences are those who show the least willingness to adapt to the French way of doing things. We have a very good page written by an expat from Lesotho on adapting to French culture, Culture Shock in France.
I'd also have a look at books and articles by Stephen Clarke, a British journalist living in France. His writing is always very entertaining, but it's also very informative. I'd especially look at his book, Talk to the Snail.

Hope this helps just a little.

Best of luck, no matter which decision you make.

Xavier





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