All you need to know before moving to Paris




Paris is the dreams of many - a symbol of romance; a convergence of high life, culture and beauty. However, expats unprepared for the downsides of the city may find themselves disappointed, or suffering from what is notoriously known as the Paris Syndrome. Know that you will be facing day-to-day issues such as the high small crime rate, stand-offish attitude of Parisians towards foreigners, and steep cost of living.

Paris is the cosmopolitan capital of France with a population of 2,249,975 people making it the fifth largest city in Europe. The city was established in the 3rd century BC by Parsi, who also gave the city its name. Expats moving to Paris have a lot to go over before starting their new working lives in the city.


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Essential relocation information



When someone mentions Paris, the first thing that you will picture is its infamous Eiffel Tower and posh designer boutiques that display the latest fashion trends. But aside from these, Paris is also a highly multi-cultural city because of thousands of expats like you who are now working, studying and living here.

You can look forward to a prosperous career and find yourself landing your dream job in La Défense, Europe’s largest purpose-built business district. Because of its thriving economy and natural beauty, more and more people are moving to Paris, making it a very crowded place with a high cost of living. So if you have made up your mind to make progress in the gleaming ‘City of Lights’, here are some guidelines that will surely help you out.


Many websites post real estate properties in Paris, so it can be really helpful for you to browse through these online portals a few weeks before you relocate. Getting around the city can be difficult as you will rarely find people who are willing to help tourists or willing to speak English at all. It would be useful if you can learn a few key French phrases to help you get by.

When moving abroad, it’s better to expect that the utilities are not included in your rental pay. The average monthly cost for your basic services (water, gas, and electricity) in Paris is €170. An unlimited internet connection with a minimum speed of 10mbs can cost you around €30 while mobile local prepaid calls are billed €0.20 per minute.

House and Apartment Hunting

Getting a place to live in Paris can be hard because of the recent growing demand. The three housing types in the city are apartments, houses and chamber de bonne which is the cheapest and smallest type of unit that is usually occupied by young professionals and students. A majority of the rentals are unfurnished, but you can also find units that are furnished which are mostly available for the short term lease agreement. Keep in mind that the more you move closer to the metropolitan, the higher the rate goes. The price of a one bedroom unit in the city centre starts at €1000 per month and €2300 for a three bedroom flat. You can also find accommodations in the outskirts where the environment is less congested and apartments are typically priced at €750 monthly for a one bedroom and €1600 for a three bedroom. 

Moving Your Belongings

International shipping and removal companies are providing door to door service to Paris. It's considered best to contact these professionals since they can assist you in the whole moving process until your precious belongings are delivered to your new home. It takes about 2-6 business days, depending on your originating country, for the containers to arrive in the Port of Le Havre where the cargos will then be delivered by land to Paris. For more information about the city’s import regulations, go to the French Customs website.

Dogs, cats and ferrets coming from non-EU states should have the Annex IV Form for France signed by a licensed veterinarian ten days before import while those from EU countries should have an updated Pet Passport. All pets should also have a microchip as a form of identification.

Travelling around in Paris is easy because of its efficient and inexpensive public transport of trams, Metro, buses and trains. You will also notice a lot of people riding their bikes where you can hire and drop one in any of the bicycles stops across the city. Driving is a not highly advised in Paris because of the traffic and parking are hard to find and can be quite expensive. But if you still prefer to drive and have your car imported, make sure that you have these documents handy:

  • French Insurance Certificate
  • Original Title and Registration
  • Original Purchase Invoice
  • Vehicle Plate Number

Despite the expensive cost of living, there are still many reasons for you to be excited about your new life in this city. The locals are amazingly nice; their local cuisine is one of a kind, and the places are breathtakingly beautiful. It is just the beginning of your new adventure in the most romantic place on earth so seize the moment and create memories that you will cherish.


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How to live like a local 



Paris is a dream destination for most people, but working expats will soon find out that it’s more than the sum of its parts.With a population 2.25 million, plus millions of tourists every year, Paris can be quite crowded and some areas can be dirty. These and other little things can be enough for some people to get disillusioned quite quickly when they move. However, deciding to move here also means that working expats will be living in France’s largest business hub and centre of economics. 

Paris is a beautiful city and like any other destinations, as long as you obey the rules and respect local customs, everything will eventually fall into place. Prepare for the important things such as the necessities but still take the time to breathe. Spend the first few days walking around, talk to some of the locals, drink some cappuccino and appreciate the beauty of the place that you will now call home.

Culture Shock 

Expats moving abroad usually experience culture shock because of the sudden change of environment and lifestyle. In Paris, a majority of people smokes, even the young. Indoor smoking has been banned recently that’s why you should expect that terraces or open areas in cafes and restaurants are always full of smokers. Street signs, unlike in other countries such as the US, are not posted on poles but in blue plaques that are fixed on building walls. Also, when travelling via Metro, you should know that the doors do not open automatically (as it normally does). You need to help yourself get in by lifting a handle or pressing a button. 


Since Paris is one of the most crowded places on Earth, expect street congestion and heavy traffic especially during rush hour because of so many people going to and from their work. Driving in Paris is not advisable since there is limited parking space, and those that are available can be quite expensive. If you prefer to park on the streets, you also need to get a prepaid card called the Paris carte since coins are not accepted by public metres. 

Expats on assignments will soon find out that a majority of Parisians do not own cars and prefer to use the extensive public transport system. However, if you still prefer to drive and will be in Paris for a few years, you must get a French Driver’s License because most foreign or International Driver’s Permit is only valid for one year upon your arrival.


Foreign assignees can open a French bank account once they arrive in Paris which can be of great use, especially for local payments. Expats can choose between major French banks such as BNP Paribas and international banks like HSBC. To open an account, provide a valid identification (passport or French driver’s license), proof of address (rental contract or housing insurance) and proof of residency (Visa, European ID card or carte de séjour). There are ATMs scattered across Paris, but be aware that there is a transaction fee of €0.20 to €2.00 if you are going to withdraw from machines belonging to a different bank. 

Getting to know the city

It is located in the north of France, on the Seine River. The city is famous for its museums, restaurants, fashion designers and the ever so famous Paris fashion week. The city has earned the reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic city in France. The city also has a lot of instantly distinguishable landmarks or architectural structures like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Notre Dame Cathedral and The Louvre Museum.

"I have a long-stay visa marked as “carte de séjour” and well, government paperwork can be a nightmare sometimes. The French immigration and Integration Office (OFII) can make you wait until last minute to have a stamp in your passport. My advice, be patience and have all your documents in order."- Paulie Cogordan, Expat in Paris, France

Paris has a timeless familiarity for first-time and frequent visitors. Paris is one of the great art repositories of the world, harbouring treasures from antiquity onwards. In addition to big-hitting museums like the incomparable Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay’s exceptional impressionist collection, and the Centre Pompidou’s cache of modern and contemporary art, there are scores of smaller museums housing collections in every imaginable genre and a diverse range of venues mounting major exhibitions through to off-beat installations.


Paris’ dining is also iconic: France’s reputation for its cuisine (the French word for ‘kitchen’) precedes it, and whether you seek a cozy neighborhood bistro or a triple-Michelin-starred temple to gastronomy, you'll find every establishment prides itself on exquisite preparation and presentation of quality produce, invariably served with wine. Enticing patisseries, boulangerie (bakeries), fromageries (cheese shops) and crowded, colourful street markets are perfect for packing a picnic to take to the city’s parks and gardens. A host of culinary courses – from home kitchens through to the world’s most prestigious cookery schools – offer instruction for all schedules, abilities and budgets.


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Kids Activities 

Aside from the world-renowned Eiffel Tower, there are also several tourist attractions that are worth seeing. It is no doubt that expat kids will enjoy visiting Disneyland Paris which is composed of three attractions: Walt Disney Studios, Disneyland Park and Disney Village. Another famous destination is the Jardin d'Acclimatation, an enormous 49-acre amusement park filled with rides, animal zoo, puppet theatre and other family oriented activities. Last but not the least is the Musée Grévin or Paris Wax Museum. It is the oldest wax museum in Europe and showcases around 300 life-sized wax statues such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. 


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