Paris is one of the best-known and most popular tourist destinations in the world. The city gets the lion’s share of the 89 million tourists who visit France annually.
It’s hailed as the city of love and light and on the surface. It’s easy to think relocating to Paris could be a dream come true.
Yet, as with all travel destinations, living there is never the same as being on vacation.
Unless you have a thick skin, living in Paris may not be all it’s made out to be. Yet, it’s also a wonderful place to cut your teeth on European culture and a notable center of fashion, commerce, and education.
Here are the pros and cons of Paris living.
Finding Somewhere to Live in Paris
It is exceptionally difficult to find an apartment in Paris.
Every vacant spot has dozens of applicants. Yes, applicants. You have to fight for the right to live in this vibrant city and the process can be a little like a job interview.
Get your paperwork in order before you start looking for somewhere to stay. You’ll need the following:
- ID documents
- A letter of recommendation from your last landlord
- Your employment contract or student card
- Your last 3 payslips
- Your most recent tax certificate
On top of all this, you need a letter from a guarantor who also needs to provide all the above documents. Parisians love paperwork.
Paris consists of 20 arrondissements (administrative districts) each with their own charms.
The best places for families to live in Paris are Luxembourg and Passy. Students will feel right at home in the Latin Quarter or Oberkamf, while Bastille and Enclos St. Laurent suit those with a low budget.
The most popular and expensive areas are Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Eiffel Tower, Avenue Montaigne, and Trocadéro.
Europe is one of the easiest places for Americans to travel and live in. As an American living in Paris, you’ll find a few similarities to your way of life back home.
France is a developed country with all the modern conveniences you’re accustomed to at home. You drive on the right-hand side of the road in France, although this can be a hair-raising experience.
Most French people speak some English, but you’ll make more friends if you learn to speak the lingo. You can sign up for French lessons at the city hall. Sorbonne University offers free courses for students.
No self-respecting Parisian goes to the store in their trainers and sweats. Impeccable style is part of the French psyche and everyone goes out of their way to look immaculate all the time.
Ladies, bare legs and fake tans are a no-no on the French fashion scene. Go for a classy, understated look at all times.
Parisians have a reputation for being suspicious of foreigners and being offhand, and even rude at times. This isn’t always true, but learning more about their language and culture will help you to gain acceptance.
Making the Most of It
Being a local doesn’t mean you need to skimp on all the tourist attractions Paris has to offer. Chances are you’ll soon start to harbor resentment towards the eternal flow of tourists hogging all the best sights though.
Thankfully, there are people like The Paris Guy who can help you tick these must-see sights off your list with VIP access.
Paris nightlife is excellent with plenty of nightclubs, pubs, fine restaurants, and theatres to tickle your fancy.
You can get around with a taxi or on the subway. A travel pass is good for unlimited travel on the Metro, RER, and buses.
Get a loyalty card for the cinema too, so you can catch all the latest shows.
Cost of Living in Paris
Paris is the second most expensive place to live in the world when you convert currency to US dollars. Try to avoid the tourist areas if you want to get any bang for your buck while living here.
Restaurants, entertainment, and attractions are all at their most expensive during peak periods.
Since you have time on your side, you can afford to wait for the low season to treat yourself. For example, most museums have a free day on the first Sunday of the month.
If you’re lucky enough to study in Paris, you can also take advantage of discounts for students on travel and meals.
You don’t need to buy anything on the Champs-Élysées. Shop around for your groceries, and look for discounts at local grocery stores.
Neighborhood street markets are a good option for fresh, affordable ingredients and street food.
Taxes are high in Paris and paid in arrears once a year so be sure to set aside a percentage of your earnings every month.
Although the weather is usually mild year-round, Paris experiences four distinct seasons.
You can expect between 10 to 15 days of rain every month in Paris. During the winter (January to February) you might be lucky enough to get a dusting of snow.
The chilly temperatures and regular showers are a good excuse to hibernate next to the fireplace with a glass of good French wine.
Spring and summer (March to August) are the prettiest times of the year in Paris with warm humid days and blooms springing up in parks all over the city.
It’s no surprise that these months are also the busiest tourist-wise.
Spring evenings can still be chilly so don’t pack your winter woollies away too early in March.
When you live in Paris, it’s easy to travel onward to other European countries by rail or air.
The short distances mean affordable fares and lower travel times. This puts Spain, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, and the Netherlands within reach.
If you suffer from terminal wanderlust, living in Paris could be a perfect stepping stone to ongoing adventures.
Keep reading our blog for more inspiration and advice for those who love to travel.