Moving to Paris
Expats moving to Paris are almost inevitably married to notions of a mythical city inhabited by intellectuals with nicotine-stained figures, artists inspiring greatness, and landmarks arguably more beautiful than any others in the world.
It seems few foreigners planning to settle in the City of Light - even if only for a short while - arrive with no previously held conceptions about their new cosmopolitan life, and in many ways, this prefabricated belief can result in a much harder introduction to reality upon relocation.
From its grand boulevards to its cobbled stone streets, Paris is certainly exceptional – even magical, but still, it’s hard to hold a candle to the many romanticised ideals created about this iconic capital.
One point that expats can count on, however, is the fact that the city plays host to a 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 job options available, and can take advantage of the much-talked-about 35-hour work week and the large allotment of holiday time. However, you’ll need to organise a work permit prior to arrival through an employer sponsor, unless you’re an EU national. Furthermore, it's important to note that unemployment in Paris is the highest it's been in years, so if you don't speak the language and you don't have a fair amount of experience or impressive degrees behind you, solidifying employment may be harder than you think.
Alternatively, those still 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 made more simple by the twenty numbered arrondissements (districts), and an extensive system of buses and trains provide easily accessible and affordable public transport – a car is a luxury that only businesspeople and status seekers confess to needing. There is also a bicycle system in place called Velib.
Additionally, the French healthcare system is ranked 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 receive the benefit of the fantastic public health insurance system (funded by tax deductions and covers at least 70 percent of healthcare costs).
One drawback, and it has to be mentioned, is the city’s high cost of living. Accommodation, in particular, isn’t cheap, and expats should be prepared to downsize and live farther from the city centre if they want to save a little money. Furthermore, apartment-hunting can be challenging; expect to compete with large numbers of people for living space that you may not even find yourself feeling so passionate about.
The good news, though, is there are so many fantastic activities to partake in, restaurants to sample, museums to meander and parks in which to park yourself that there’s very little reason to spend excessive periods indoors at home.
Not to mention, the Paris climate is pleasant, seldom peaking above 77°F (25°C) in summer, and seldom dropping below freezing in winter. Do note, that the summer months in the city are tourist season, and almost out of nowhere 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.