Moving to Paris
Expats moving to Paris are almost inevitably married to notions of a mythical city inhabited by intellectuals with nicotine-stained fingers, artists inspiring greatness and landmarks arguably more beautiful than any in the world.
It seems few foreigners planning to settle in the City of Light, even if only for a short while, arrive without preconceptions of their new cosmopolitan life. In many ways, this prefabricated belief can result in a considerably harder introduction to reality upon relocation.
From its grand boulevards to its cobbled stone streets, Paris is certainly exceptional; nevertheless, it is hard to hold a candle to the many romanticised ideals created about the iconic capital.
One point that expats can count on, however, is the city’s thriving, robust economy. As home to a number of Fortune 500 companies, and an intimidating number of global humanitarian and financial organisations, Paris is continental Europe’s largest economy and produces over a quarter of France's total GDP.
Well-qualified French-speaking expats will find plenty of job options available and can take advantage of the infamous 35-hour work week and large allotment of holiday time. However, non-EU nationals will need to organise a work permit prior to arrival through an employer sponsor. Furthermore, it's important to note that unemployment in Paris is the highest it's been in years, so if expats do not speak French, have a fair amount of experience or hold impressive degrees, solidifying employment may be difficult.
Alternatively, those learning the lingo, aggregating career skills or furthering their education can reap the benefits of the city’s impressive infrastructural assets and socialised services.
Expats moving to Paris will find it one of the easiest cities in the world to navigate. Orientation is simplified by the 20 numbered arrondissements (districts), and an extensive system of buses and trains provide accessible and affordable public transport; a car is a luxury that only businesspeople and status seekers confess to needing. The city also has a large-scale bicycle-sharing system in place called Velib.
The French healthcare system is amongst the best in the world, and those who contribute to social security or who have reached retirement age in their home country can qualify to benefit from the fantastic public health insurance system (funded by tax deductions and covering at least 70 percent of healthcare costs).
One drawback to living in Paris, however, is the high cost of living. Accommodation, in particular, isn’t cheap and expats on a budget should be prepared to downsize and live far from the city centre. Furthermore, apartment-hunting can be challenging. Expats should expect to compete with large numbers of people for living space that they may not even be that passionate about.
The good news, however, is there are so many fantastic activities to partake in, restaurants to sample, museums to meander within and parks to explore that there is very little reason to spend excessive periods at home.
Not to mention, the Paris climate is pleasant, rarely peaking above 25°C (77°F) in summer or below freezing in winter. The summer months in Paris are tourist season, when bustling masses of foreigners swarm the riverbanks and the cobbled side streets.
On the whole, as Hemingway famously said, “Paris is a moveable feast”, and expats will certainly find some part of the city that more than satisfies their tastes.