It’s hard not to be excited about the prospect of moving to a city like Paris. The French capital is a vibrant city full of stunning architecture, an impressive culture and cuisine that is the envy of many a nation. It is estimated that there are 22,000 foreigners currently living in Paris and it’s not hard to see why. While many expats do call Paris home, you can expect to encounter some challenges along the way.
Lost in Translation
One of the first challenges you will face as an expat in Paris is speaking the local language. French is not an easy language to learn but learn it you must if you intend to call Paris home. Many people these days speak English and you may be able to get by as a tourist with some basic French. However, living in Paris is different and you will need to take a crash course in French if you want to fit into your new environment. Things like dealing with bureaucrats, working for a French company, shopping or simply getting to know your neighbors will be so much easier once you master speaking French fluently.
The French Culture Shock
Travel has made the world a smaller place and quite often when you travel, the only real difference you may experience is hearing a new language. Prepare yourself for a bit of a culture shock when you move to Paris. What may have seemed perfectly normal back home may not be warmly received in Paris. Things like not eating while you walk to work are simply not done in Paris and the main reason for this is that Parisians like to enjoy their meals and this means sitting down and taking their time to eat. The French also eat well which eliminates the need for snacking. Look around and you notice that most Parisians are on the slimmer side.
The French also avoid mixing business with pleasure and this has led to Parisians having a well-rounded work-life balance. Parisians rarely talk about work in social situations and prefer to keep work-related conversations at the office. This easy separation of life and work has resulted in the French embracing life. This joie de vivre is embraced by Parisians who know how to work hard but also know how to enjoy all of life’s pleasures, simple and otherwise.
Finding Your New Home
One of the biggest challenges faced by expats is finding a place to live in Paris. There is so much to consider and if you don’t know the city, you may find yourself stuck in a long-term lease in a neighborhood that isn’t a good fit for you. Sure, you look at short-term accommodation but this is generally more expensive. If you know where you’d like to live in Paris, use the filters of a rental website to narrow down your search for your perfect apartment. You can choose things like the monthly rent you can afford, the number of rooms you need and even choose between a furnished and non-furnished apartment.
Dealing with most public offices can be a roller coaster ride for expats and locals alike. There are miles of red tape to work through and everything seems to take longer to get done. As frustrating as these processes can seem, try to keep your cool. Getting upset and belligerent will not make the process go any faster but it will make you feel anxious.
It’s not easy to walk away from everything you know and move to a city like Paris where you may not know a single soul. Sadly, the French have a reputation for not being the friendliest people but that doesn’t mean you won’t find new friends. While some Parisians may come across as unfriendly and a little haughty, others are super friendly and even the haughty ones can become good friends with a bit of time. Be polite and greet your neighbors and colleagues, greet storekeepers with a happy bonjour when you enter and a cheerful merci when you leave. Happy people tend to attract other happy people so keep smiling and others will smile back. To make this transition a little easier, try to connect with other expats. Not only will you find an instant rapport with other expats, but many are full of advice and experience that they’ll willingly share to help you adjust to your new home.