- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Paris Guide (PDF)
Although it's easy to see why Paris is a popular expat destination, there are also drawbacks to living in this city. It's therefore important to learn more about some of the ups and downs of expat life in the French capital before taking the plunge.
Below are a few pros and cons of moving to Paris.
Accommodation in Paris
+ PRO: A broad range of accommodation options
Expats moving to Paris will find a variety of accommodation options. Chambres de bonne and apartments are the most prevalent options in areas close to the centre of Paris. However, expats looking for larger apartments and houses will find more on offer in the suburbs.
- CON: Properties are small and expensive
Space is limited in Paris, especially in the city centre. As such, expats often find that properties are smaller than they are accustomed to. It's also eye-wateringly expensive; even the smallest chambre de bonne isn’t actually cheap.
Working in Paris
+ PRO: A dynamic economy
Many international companies choose Paris as the location for their French operations, so there are plenty of of work opportunities in the city. Expats with experience in sectors such as finance, information technology, media, education and transport will find lots of scope for career progression here.
+ PRO: An excellent work-life balance
Expats looking at professional advancement in Paris won’t have to forgo having a life outside the office in order to climb the career ladder. The workweek in France is capped at 35 hours and the minimum annual leave allowance is five weeks, which is generous in comparison to many other countries.
- CON: The language barrier
Paris is a cosmopolitan city and while it’s possible to find a job without speaking fluent French, expats who have language skills will certainly have an advantage over their counterparts. Speaking French will also make a difference when it comes to networking and forming solid professional relationships with colleagues.
Lifestyle in Paris
+ PRO: Amazing food scene
Parisians pride themselves on their cuisine. Expats are sure to enjoy feasting on French delicacies throughout their stay. The French capital is also home to a huge number of restaurants serving international cuisine from across the world, so new arrivals won’t struggle to find options when it comes to eating out in Paris.
+ PRO: Getting around is easy
Transport in Paris is excellent. Metro and bus networks are easy to navigate and can get city residents almost anywhere. For those who prefer a bit of fresh air, Velib Metropole, Paris’ public bike-sharing scheme, offers a great alternative. In addition, excellent train networks and the presence of many low-cost airlines allow residents to explore Europe.
- CON: Cost of living in Paris is high
Paris is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Essentials such as fuel, food and clothing don’t come cheap. Plus, rents in Paris are notoriously high. Expats will need to make sure that they negotiate a generous employment package to ensure that they can live comfortably and get to enjoy all that Paris has to offer.
- CON: Lack of convenience
Apart from the odd pharmacy, there are few shops or services that are open 24/7 in Paris. This can seem inconvenient for those moving from places where services operate around the clock. Parisians work to live rather than live to work, and as such new arrivals will find many of the independent retailers changing their opening hours on a whim.
Making friends in Paris
+ PRO: There is a large expat community
Paris is a global hub and as such new arrivals will find that there are many people who’ve recently moved to the city and face similar challenges. This often provides common ground on which to build new friendships.
+ PRO: Communal spaces make it easy to socialise
Most people in Paris live in small apartments and take advantage of communal spaces such as the city’s gardens or public gyms/swimming pools. These places provide great opportunities for meeting local people and striking up conversations with those with common interests.
- CON: Parisians can be unfriendly
Some expats find it hard to integrate into Parisian society. Even French people from other parts of the country often say Parisians are rude and unfriendly. However, this is somewhat subjective. Learning to speak at least a basic level of French is likely to be a good first step towards making friends in Paris.
Kids and family in Paris
+ PRO: Great range of schooling options
Expats moving to Paris with children will find a range of good schooling options in the city to suit all budgets. Expats do have the option of sending their child to a public school at no cost but these schools aren’t suitable for all students. Paris is also home to a wide range of private French and international schools which means that expats will have plenty of other viable options to explore.
+ PRO: Paris is a family-friendly city
Expat families in Paris will find that the French capital has a range of attractions for parents and children to enjoy together. Not only is Paris home to the world-famous Disneyland, but the city also hosts a range of theme parks, museums and various outdoor attractions.
► Use the Cost of Living in France page to help budget for your expat life in the country
"With so many events you can attend, making friends is easy... As an international city, a lot of the friends I’ve made are themselves transient; people coming and going. So, I am a bit concerned of the longevity of friendships and the reality of putting roots down." Read more about making friends in Dorian's interview.
"The French public schools are basically very good, but some neighbourhoods in the north-east of the city have social problems, which complicate the school issue." Get an insight into schooling options in Paris by reading Anne M's expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Paris?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Paris. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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