Living in Paris – A Guide for Expats

Living in Paris – A Guide for Expats

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to move and live in another city abroad?

Here we explore what it is like to live in Paris, one of the most desirable cities in Europe.

The allure of French culture, incredible shopping, cuisine, and history along with the challenges and rewards of adapting to life in a bustling metropolis, is an exciting thought.

Some of what you will learn about Paris you may already be familiar with, but for most, their knowledge is gleaned from short breaks in the city.

It goes without saying that there is a huge difference between visiting and living in Paris.

Living in Paris as an expat can be a thrilling and enriching experience.

Our Living in Paris A Guide for Expats article will give you some idea of what to expect should you take the step and make the move.

Historical Paris

Paris skyline

Paris is a city with a rich history to explore. Image credit: Unsplash

The history of the city stretches back for millennia.

The Parisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, inhabited the Paris area from around the middle of the 3rd century BC

Later in 52 BC the Romans established it as a prosperous regional centre where it became a prosperous city with a forum, baths, temples, theatres.

During the Middle Ages Paris grew rapidly and the city became the capital of the Kingdom of France.

Paris was a major political, economic, and cultural centre, with landmarks like Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Palace emerging during this period.

The history of the city is incredibly interesting and colourful, and it is good to familiarise yourself with it if you are planning to be one of its residents.

Find out all about how Paris was formed, grew, and has become the amazing city it is today.

Nicknames for Paris

This enchanting city has garnered a number of nicknames over the centuries. Here are a few:

Often referred to as “The City of Light”. The nickname originally gained prominence during the 18th century when Paris was a hub of intellectual and cultural activity during the Age of Enlightenment.

A popular honeymoon location, Paris is also known as the “City of Love” due to its romantic ambience, scenic beauty, and association with love and romance in popular culture.

The City of Art (La Ville d’Art): With its world-class museums, galleries, and art institutions, Paris is often hailed as the “City of Art.”

Another is the “City of Lights and Sounds” encompassing its vibrant nightlife, lively entertainment scene, and illuminated landmarks.

Getting Your Visa

French passport

French passport. Image credit: Pixabay

To start your long-term stay in Paris, you must obtain the correct visa before you arrive.

What type of visa you need will depend on your circumstances. There are 8 to choose from:

Long-Stay Visa: (Visa de long séjour): For stays longer than 90 days or purposes such as work, study, or family reunification, you will typically need to apply for a long-stay visa. This type of visa allows you to reside in France for an extended period.

Work Visa: If you intend to work in France, you will need to obtain a work visa or permit. The process may involve securing a job offer from a French employer and meeting specific eligibility criteria.

Student Visa: If you plan to study in France, you’ll need to apply for a student visa. You’ll usually need to provide proof of enrolment in a recognised educational institution and demonstrate sufficient financial means to support yourself during your studies.

Family Reunification Visa: If you have family members who are French citizens or legal residents in France, you may be eligible for a family reunification visa to join them.

Entrepreneur Visa: If you plan to start a business in France, there are specific visas available for entrepreneurs and investors.

Retirement Visa: France offers retirement visas for individuals who meet certain age and financial requirements and wish to retire in the country.

EU Blue Card: For highly skilled workers, the EU Blue Card may be an option. It allows non-EU citizens to work and reside in France, provided they have a job offer from a French employer and meet certain salary thresholds.

You can find out more about what visa you need by visiting the UK Government website. 

The Language Barrier

French language

It may be a good idea to learn the French language when moving to Paris. Image credit: Pixabay

Perhaps the inability to speak fluent French puts you off living in Paris.

Don’t let it! Plenty of expats arrive with just the bare minimum of French phrases and words. Many Parisians speak English, especially in tourist areas.

However, expats will find it beneficial to invest time in learning the language.

It will help you to navigate bureaucracy, socialise, and fully integrate and appreciate the local culture.

Besides, if you make the effort to try and speak a little French, you will find that people are much more willing to help you.

You can start to get to grips with French via one of the popular online language learning platforms.

The Parisian Lifestyle

Embracing the local way of life, including speaking French, can enhance your experience and help you integrate into the community.

It is important to keep an open mind and be prepared to adapt to the cultural differences and nuances of life in Paris.

Parisians embrace the slower pace of life that so many French locations provide.

They appreciate the art of leisurely dining, and socialising and savour the “joie de vivre” (the joy of living) that defines the Parisian way of life

Their positive outlook on life is very attractive and one of the many reasons that expats thrive in Paris.

There is an emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance where family time is incredibly important.

It is not unusual to find people sitting on the sides of the river Seine drinking wine from small plastic bottles purchased from local corner shops.

Of course, the warmer weather makes it that much easier to do things outside for more of the year.

Parisians are generally quite reserved. French culture places a high value on privacy, and Parisians may be more guarded in their interactions with strangers or acquaintances.

However, once a rapport is established most are warm, friendly, and welcoming to people from other nations.

Cost of Living in Paris

Euro Notes

Paris is a rather expensive city. Image credit: Pexels

Living in Paris is expensive. This is a very important point for those considering moving to the City of Love.

That said, although not cheap, London is the more expensive of the two when comparing the two cities.

Accommodation, food shopping, dining out, and entertainment are at a premium in Paris however, there are more affordable options.

Do your shopping via the local outdoor market. Most sell bread, cheese, fresh fruit, and vegetables at prices less than you pay in a supermarket. Some markets also sell meat.

Many of the independent cafes and bistros have “specials” nights. The choice may be limited, but it will be cheaper.

With some clever budgeting, you can make it work.

Numbeo the cost-of-living comparison website is a handy tool to compare costs on a range of things such as housing, rent, food, childcare costs and more.

Renting a Property in Paris

You will, of course, need to live somewhere and your accommodation is going to be where you spend the most.

Prices vary significantly depending on the neighbourhood (or in French arrondissement).

The size of the accommodation and how far from the centre of Paris you want to live will also affect your budget.

Suburban areas may offer lower rents, but they often come with trade-offs in terms of convenience and amenities.

As for cost, you can expect to pay around £1,350 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in central Paris. Outside the city, the cost is around £962 per month.

When you compare these prices to London, Paris is significantly cheaper.

Buying a Home in Paris

Properties in Paris

Buying a property in Paris may be rather different than in the UK. Image credit: Unsplash

Owning your own home in the city is considered a sound financial investment and one that you will likely see a good return over time.

The purchasing process is not the same as in the UK and can be a little complicated.

While there are challenges involved, British expats can certainly purchase property in Paris with proper planning, research, and assistance from experienced professionals.

Once you have found a suitable property, enlisting the services of a reputable Notaire is going to be your next step.

Notaires are similar to solicitors.

They oversee the drafting and execution of property contracts, ensure compliance with legal requirements, conduct title searches, and facilitate the transfer of ownership.

Familiarising yourself with the buying process is vital to ensure you don’t end up losing significant amounts of money.

There are various in-depth explanations of the buying process in Paris from start to finish.

Cost of Property in Paris

As for cost, it will greatly depend on what you want and what you can afford.

It is possible to buy a small one-bedroom apartment in Paris for £60,000 but, you may find it is on the 8th floor without a lift and in need of a little TLC.

For £165,000 you can expect to own a bigger one-bedroom apartment in good condition but outside of the centre of Paris.

Larger homes such as three-bedroom properties are hard to come by in Paris however, there are some available, but they come at a premium with the cheapest on the market costing £767,000.

Expats should budget accordingly and explore various neighbourhoods to find the right balance between affordability and proximity to amenities.

Moving to the suburbs, or banlieue, surrounding Paris can offer a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life, along with more space and potentially lower living costs.

Here are some areas to consider:

  • Neuilly-sur-Seine: Located just west of Paris
  • Levallois-Perret: Situated northwest of Paris,
  • Issy-les-Moulineaux: Located southwest of Paris,
  • Vincennes: Situated east of Paris
  • Saint-Maur-des-Fossés: Located southeast of Paris

These are just a few of the locations surrounding Paris where you will be able to get so much more for your money.

Expats should budget accordingly and explore various neighbourhoods to find the right balance between affordability and proximity to amenities.

How to Get a Job in Paris

Jobs in Paris

There are a range of different jobs in Paris. Image credit: Pexels

Those embarking on an employment search will find that getting work in Paris can be another challenging area.

Though Paris is home to numerous businesses and Fortune Global 500 companies, the job market overall is very competitive.

Multinational companies often have a more diverse workforce and may be more accustomed to hiring non-Parisian candidates, providing greater flexibility and support for international employees.

For individuals determined to secure employment in Paris, some strategies can increase their chances of success:

Networking is one.

Attending industry events, networking functions, and career fairs is a great way to get your name known.

Linkedin is another great way to network.

Researching companies and industries thoroughly can help you to tailor your applications more effectively.

One of the best methods is by searching online platforms.

Welcome to the Jungle has become the go-to alternative job board and is worth a try. is another popular choice.

The InterNations website has more very useful information for job seekers.

Finding a job in the UK takes time and patience, even more so when you are searching for one in Paris.

You may experience some rejections but stay focused and determined and don’t give up.

Working Environment in Paris

Once you have found your perfect job, you will need to traverse the tricky issue of work etiquette in France which is often quite different to the UK.

Contrastingly, when it comes to the workplace, French business culture places a strong emphasis on formality and professionalism.

Punctuality is important, and it’s customary to greet colleagues with a handshake and use formal titles such as “Monsieur” or “Madame” unless invited to use first names.

True to their nature, Parisians generally attend the workplace smartly dressed. Most office workers are expected to wear suits and women dresses or shirt and blouse.

The good thing about France, including cities such as Paris, is that lunchtime is sacred.

A two-hour long lunch is normal allowing employees to relax, chat and feel refreshed and ready for the afternoon’s work.

As for pay, the average wage in Paris currently stands at around £42,000.

Best Attractions in Paris

The Louvre, Paris

The Louvre is one of many great attractions in Paris. Image credit: Unsplash

Life is not all about work.

Once you have had time to adjust to your new environment you will find that working in Paris means that there is much to explore in your downtime.

Visiting various local attractions will help you to familiarise yourself with the layout of the city as well as help you to learn more about Paris and its history.

Here are five of the top and most visited attractions in Paris:

  1. Eiffel Tower 
  2. Louvre Museum 
  3. Versailles Palace 
  4. Notre Dame Cathedral 
  5. Seine River 

Transportation Options in Paris

Paris metro station

Paris metro station. Image credit: Pixabay

There is a multitude of ways to get around the city but perhaps two of the most scenic are by scooter or bike.

Electric Scooters are available all over the city via a number of rental companies.

The Paris’s Velib’ is a bicycle renting system. Another way to easily access all of the attractions in Paris. There are hundreds of cycle routes to choose from making them safe to use.

Both methods provide an easy to use and a cheap way of getting around.

Paris Metro. A rapid rail service covering most areas of the city via a network of 300 Paris Metro stations on 16 lines.

The local bus system is another comprehensive way to traverse Paris. Like trains, there are hundreds of stops and destinations dotted right across the city.

Most of the bus stops have displays that show you when the next bus will arrive and as a guide, they arrive around every 7 minutes or so meaning you don’t have to wait at the stop for long.

On foot. Arguably and depending on your fitness, exploring this beautiful city is best done on foot, or at least some of it.

Navigo Metro card. This is the best and cheapest way to get around by public transport. The card covers trains, buses, and trams. At just under 9 Euros per day, it will get you anywhere you want to be.

You will soon realise that combined, the Paris public transport system is quite remarkable.

Places to Go Outside of Paris

Not only is there a myriad of places to visit in Paris, such as galleries, museums, shopping centres etc, but you can be out of the city and embarking on a weekend escape in a flash.

From the vineyards of Champagne to the châteaux of the Loire Valley, skiing in the French Alps, there are countless destinations within easy reach of Paris for weekend trips or short breaks.

The RER is Réseau Express Régional, or Regional Express Network, is a rapid transit system which serves Paris and its surrounding suburbs.

RER will whisk you away to many of France’s enchanting villages, while the Eurostar takes you swiftly and cheaply back for a short break to London.

A long weekend in the French countryside or another European city such as Belgium, Spain or Italy are so simple to plan.

Paris is the ideal base for exploration!

Ready to Move to Paris?

WACO Truck

White & Company Truck

To get the relocation underway, you need to contact a removal firm that deals with European removals.

For expert removals services, consider reaching out to professionals, White & Company.

With a strong reputation in the removal industry, we are known for providing dependable, trustworthy, and competitively-priced European removal services.

As members of prestigious organisations such as BAR, Omni, and FIDI, our services are approved by the most significant bodies in the removals industry.

Get in touch with us today for a free, no-obligation home or virtual survey.

You can also fill out our online quick quote form or chat with our helpful chatbot to schedule your move.

Regardless of the method you choose, we aim to assist you in realising your dream of relocating to Paris.

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