How Much Does It Cost To Live In Paris For One Year?


Before moving to Paris, we researched the costs of living in France and squirreled away money. That year, we became pretty adept at budgeting and sniffing out deals. My time is worthless, so I'd often walk miles for a better price. After two years living here, I can honestly say that all those bloggers who said it was so easy to relocate to France and so cheap and la-dee-da carefree should stick to writing about what they know, like being bankrolled well into adulthood by indulgent parents. I can't dwell on this too long because it makes me hate everybody, but if you want to move to Paris, your daily expenses and utilities are not going to be the same- forget cheaper- as in the US, not even if you're from NYC or San Francisco. A rundown:

Moving to Paris


1. Visas. The application fee is $125. You'll pay an additional fee for the residency card later. Since I'm married to a European, I didn't have to fly to Chicago for my visa application. Others need to account for transportation to a French consulate in the US.


2. Storage facility. If you're moving temporarily, these are $100 or more per month. Not that I had a lot to begin with, but I gave away all I could and left a couch in my mom's garage.


3. Moving services. Expect to pay around $10 per cubic foot of moving space- less (but not much less) if you're taking a lot. There are six moving companies offering services from Ohio to France quoting $2500-6000 for international moves, not including customs fees. We cut costs by moving ourselves- all our stuff fit in seven bags checked on the flight over (zero boxes). We basically brought laptops, dinnerware, silverware, and some books packed in towels and clothes. Three suitcases held just food. I didn't buy any bubble wrap.


4. Luggage.  My family gave me old suitcases, and my husband already had a set, but you may need to consider the cost of purchasing luggage and check the airline for limitations and fees. For instance, United Airlines (the worst airline in the world after Air France, and I've flown Air Koryo so that's saying something) charged us $400 to transport a KitchenAid mixer. I was in first class (see below), so they could have just stuck it in my champagne bucket or something.


5. Plane tickets. We used miles, otherwise it would have cost thousands just to fly economy. We couldn't bring seven bags on coach tickets (shipping them was too expensive), so personal butler and Van Laack pajamas it was. Cleveland-Paris flights run about $1000 roundtrip; a one-way ticket is pricier.


6. Vehicle costs. Turning in my lease was $800. Shipping a car overseas costs anywhere from $750-2500, depending on the size of the vehicle and distance. Vehicles only depart from certain ports, so consider transport fees within the US- Ohio to Newark costs $900.


Cost of Living


1. Residency cards. Expect to pay 77-260€, depending on your situation. View the full list of prices here. Budget for yearly renewal fees.


2. Language lessons. A private instructor is around 30€ an hour. The Mairie provides French lessons, which I thought were free, but heard require a small fee. I am not motivated enough to find out. Courses at Alliance Française are 53-250€ a week and courses at the Sorbonne are 500-1820€ for up to 60 hours. My very educated, talented friend gave me lessons at a loss to herself, so I saved money where others may not.


3. Security deposit / agency fees. Our security deposit + agency commission totaled $2500. France caps agency fees in Paris at 12€ per square meter; elsewhere in France, they cost 8-10. You may also be charged a move-in inspection fee of up to 3€ per square meter.


4. Rent. Our 70 square meter in the 7ème is around 2100 a month. We pay for the view and the top floor. Buying an apartment averages 14000€ per square meter, but ours was listed at €2.3 million, so go figure. Parisians are very open to discussing rent and finances, so I've learned a lot about how much other people's rent is. For instance:



-Lamarck-Caulaincourt- 30 square meters, 1300€
-Cluny/Sorbonne- 50 square meters, 1900€, 10 square meters for 600€
-Oberkampf- 70 square meters, 2000€
-Canal Saint-Martin- 100 square meters, 2800€
-Ecole Militaire- 100 square meters, 2500€
-Alma-Marceau- 20 square meters, 900€

Then there's the Marais, where you might pay 1800€ to live in a dark, windowless closet with no bathroom. If you're willing to live in the suburbs (Neuilly, Vincennes, Montreuil, Nanterre, Puteaux, etc.), rent is more reasonable.

5. Utilities. Water and heat are included in our rent (they're stingy with heat), but we pay for electricity, which is always 100€ a month, even when the power is out for a week and I unplug the internet and refrigerator and live like a caveman. I used to think nuclear power was a cheaper energy source. It's not.


6. Taxes. The government takes taxes out of your paycheck every month, but we pay an additional 1600€ at the end of the year, for the apartment or something.


7. Cable/internet/phone. Numericable costs 60€ a month for a bundle, including wi-fi, all the German channels, and a phone with unlimited international calls. We wouldn't have a home phone, but my family doesn't Skype. Our cell phones are 19.99€ a month for 4GB data, unlimited texts and an indeterminate number of minutes.


8. Health care. This is actually way cheaper and more efficient than the US. It seems everything costs 70€- surgery, dermatologist visits, trips to the ER, housecalls, dentists, etc. etc.


9. Food/groceries/household items. I never knew potatoes could cost so much until moving here. The food is better quality and I feel healthier eating purple vegetables, but still. We generally spend 40€-80€ week on all groceries and household items, never buy booze or junk food, and almost never eat out. One friend told me it cost 30€ to buy groceries for one dinner and 15€ for lunch for her family of three.


For the sake of simplicity, furniture goes here too. We saved money by sourcing as much as possible from LeBonCoin. Anyone who says they found a great deal at the Paris flea markets is lying. Those are for Romneys and Russian oligarchs.


10. Transport. Keeping a car in Paris is expensive, so I'm not going to detail the costs of parking, storage, etc. Let's talk Navigo: For zones 1-2, the annual pass costs 700,70€, or around 67€ monthly. We don't have a car and rarely take public transportation, keeping costs in this category low.


Considering we spent less than 1000€ to move here and appliances and furniture were 3200€, that puts our total for one year in Paris around 36000€, assuming minimum costs on groceries and excluding the Navigos we'll never buy. This doesn't account for museums, ferris wheel rides, hot chocolate, ice-skating at Grand Palais, etc. At the bare minimum, living in a tiny studio will run you at least 20000€ per year, 25000€ if you want to experience a modicum of comfort. 

If I sound negative, I don't mean to be. Because even though Paris has the highest cost of living outside Barsoom, and even though yesterday, within a ten minute time span, one woman pushed me down the Métro stairs, another yelled at me for smiling, an old drunk screamed when I helped a pregnant mother with children, and one of my neighbors told me go back to China, it's worth it to wake up every morning and see the Eiffel Tower and cross Pont Alexandre III when light hits the golden cherubs and everyday meet the many charming and helpful Parisians still out there. I'm Korean, by the way.
Paris to Go

47 comments:

  1. I'm French and after 6 years in Australia, I have decided to go back home (for good?). I feel so bad for my compatriots behaviour when I read your the last paragraph... that's exactly why I sometimes feel anxious about coming back. The French are so negative and aggressive (and racist) that I fear that I will hate the whole world again, the way I used to feel 6 years ago, when living in Paris. Yes, Paris is a glamorous city, but what a sweat to live there! I apologize for the morons you can encounter in your everyday life!

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    1. Hi Charlotte,

      You are so sweet. People like you are the reason I actually enjoy living in this country. My husband left France for twelve years and dreaded coming back but it's been a good two years for him so far. Even after a man ran into him on a Velib today...

      When the French are good, they're really, really good.

      Welcome back :) and thank you for looking out!

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  2. I just returned from a two week trip to Paris recently, and love this post for furling my day-dreaming of just picking up and moving there. Although I wasn't pushed down the metro stairs (I was pushed up...), I have always had great interactions with people there. Great post!

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    1. I'm so glad you had a great time! I really enjoy Parisians. As a tourist, they were nothing but nice and now that I live here, I can't imagine going back to my old life- I would miss the people too much!

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  3. Pinning this to my travel board. Thanks for the insight into your French year--It would be such a dream to experience France. I would get my feelings hurt so easily, I'm afraid, so I don't know if I'd be brave enough to venture out. I'm sorry to hear about your experiences with rude and mean people.

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    1. Oh no, I don't mean to discourage you ! I think you would love it, especially the educational and cultural aspect, I wish I had gone here when I was homeschooled! For every rude person there are a dozen amazing ones. I find Parisians are more direct in what they say, so you always know where you stand- which I like. I absolutely love most of my neighbors...this particular nasty one lets her dog pee in the elevator though, so nobody likes her. I think it's like any big city- who knows if the woman who pushed me was even French, she could have been a rushed tourist!

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  4. Good to know! I'd love to visit Paris someday.

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    1. Please do! And now is the safest time to go (and cheapest, since the euro fell!)

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  5. Though I haven't been back to Paris for 10 years or so, my husband and I always had a secret little dream of moving there. Thanks for showing what the reality of that dream could be. Saving this because you just never know.

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    1. I hope you get back here. It would be a wonderful second honeymoon...

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  6. I absolutely love Paris, but I imagine that's partly because I don't live there; very much how I used to feel about NYC before moving there. It was a dream-world before having to deal with it on the regular. Because let me tell you, you can't un-see a man defecating in public or blood stains all over a sidewalk after a knife fight! But it still has a special place in my heart, human poo and all.

    My sister-in-law spent a great deal of her childhood living between NYC and Paris (lucky girl!), and then moved from the US back to Paris for a few years after college and while she loved it there, her major beef with Parisians were that they openly stared at her a lot and made racist comments under their breath (she's half-Chinese) which really caught her off-guard in a city that fancies itself so socially progressive. That, and anytime anything terrible happened to someone else in public, she said everyone turned their heads and did nothing to help, including almost seeing a girl get molested on the metro before SHE had to start making a scene because the car full of professionally dressed men of seemingly decent strength she was surrounded by did nothing, and a woman falling HARD off of her bike and eating the pavement (everyone just kept walking). There's a lot about NYC I didn't love, but that's something that would cast a hard-to-shake cloud over my heart, I think.

    From my visits to Paris, I luckily have nothing but fond memories of the beautiful architecture, window boxes in every window and spilling with flowers, friendly people, girls in heels on bicycles and obviously the best food on Earth. And a feeling of magic that can't be rational, but can't be ignored. For that I feel very lucky.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience! I am kind of shocked at how many times people make racist remarks to me, and yes, I saw a car crash into a scooter and leave two people flat on the road and no one helped. On the other hand, I've seen and firsthand experienced hospitality, generosity and altruism from Parisians too. You see the best and the worst of it... I on the other hand couldn't handle NYC when I lived there. Maybe I wasn't ready for a city yet. We are thinking of moving to NYC soon and now that I'm married the prospect is very exciting, I think as a single girl coming from a suburb it was such a shock and that Paris is preparing me for it now.

      Thank you so much for your beautiful comment, you're a great writer and I loved reading it!

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  7. Any comments on the idea of living a year in another city in France (Rouen, Orleans or somewhere to the south)?

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    1. Hi Craig! I think it may be cheaper, the property taxes and cost of living is statistically cheaper, but salaries are lower in these cities, so it may even out.

      http://www.annieandre.com/2012/12/how-much-does-it-cost-to-live-in-france/
      http://chezlouloufrance.blogspot.fr/p/cost-of-living-in-france.html

      These posts may help, although judging by property prices Marseille is far cheaper than northern France, by a long shot!

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  8. this is completely unrealistic, the costs are definitely exaggerated. san fran is definitely way more expensive than paris beisides.

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    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. According to the Economic Intelligence Unit, the world's top five most expensive cities are Singapore, Paris, Oslo, Zurich, and Sydney. Paris has been in the top five for years. San Francisco doesn't crack the top ten.

      http://www.eiu.com/public/topical_report.aspx?campaignid=WCOL2015

      http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/03/daily-chart

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  9. Thank you for your article. I am living in London and I know how expensive is live in foreign city. Before I moved to London from Slovakia 13 years ago and I did not have clue about the cost and extra charges. You does not sound negative I am appreciated that you are writing about Paris truthfully. I have to say that even London was not built for heels...

    Lubica

    http://lttreasure.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/mexico-2015.html

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    1. I completely agree about London and heels! The first time I visited London I had a little bit of a sticker shock. You must love it though, wow, 13 years! My husband lived there ten years and loved it.

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  10. Hi,

    Among the rest of the comments I too have to feel anxious and apologize for the attitude and behavior of the French. Although there are jewels everywhere, it's floating in a bed of crocodiles snapping all the time. I know this firsthand because I had this attitude two years ago. My name's Melvin and I'm sixteen years old. Seventeen in a month and eighteen in a year. I was curious because (Well I'm seventeen, time to start stressing on the costs of life in France) Despite me being French I've grew up abroad my whole life and therefore I ignore most of the French "things" I'm supposed to know, firstly thank you for most of the advises but I wanted to know whether it'd be easy for a student fresh out of high school to obtain a job in Paris. Being the capital it probably is but a job that pays well enough to pay of the groceries, the rent and whatnot? I'm sorry if this question sounds a bit premature but I'm trying to prioritize and understand on what to focus on.

    Thank you and bonne journee :)

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    1. Hi Melvin! What a sweet comment and I love what you said about the crocodiles- my husband (who grew up in France) couldn't agree more! You sound wise beyond your years. Although the Paris job market is grim in some industries at the moment, with your perfect English, maturity and preparedness it sounds like it will be easy for you to find a job here. Of course you'll qualify for CAF too, which helps. What industry do you want to work in?

      I have to say I was surprised out of college how easy it was for me to find work (the visa was another story), but some of my friends, who were more qualified and had better resumes, didn't have the same experience. I think in Paris it depends on the industry and who you know. However, my husband got a job here straight out of high school, never went to university and lived on the Ile Saint Louis (without CAF assistance, because he is German by birth), right when he graduated. He says you sound like him :)

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  11. Hi Ariana,
    Your blog is great for so many reasons. To start, you have a very clear point of view, which makes your writing fun to read. More importantly, you provide REAL information, and promote a lifestyle that I have been thinking about more and more. You have great style, but don't post some endless series of photos of you riding a bike in $900 high heels while drinking Starbucks, and thank you so much for that! :)
    I really look forward to your posts!
    Cheers,
    Lori

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    1. Hi Lori, you are so sweet! This comment made my day :) What interested you in the lifestyle originally, if I may ask? Thanks for reading!

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    2. Hi Ariana,
      I live in a tiny condo in Toronto, and for the past few years, I seem to have shopped myself into a literal corner. The stuff that was supposed to make me happy instead made me feel smothered. I am just at the start of the process of letting go, and realizing that, for me anyway, shopping = dissatisfaction, and I am breaking the cycle. The information I'm finding on one or two quality blogs, yours being the best, have helped me with the process.
      Thanks again :)

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    3. Hi Lori, wow, that is amazing! I am so honored. Thank you for sharing, it makes me so happy.

      I love Toronto by the way! The food and the diversity makes it so much fun... I always fly through on my way home :)

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  12. Hello can anybody help me my mail is virenc191@gmail please free to contact and I want to know about paris because I want to settle their....and my whatsapp no is +919466050784

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  13. So, doing the conversion, it seems like you could move and be comfortable for about $30K a year? That's not bad!

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    1. I think you would not be comfortable :( Actually these numbers are outdated, and groceries shot up a lot this year. A single person has to spend at least 50 euro a week on groceries. It would be difficult to find a nice apartment on that budget, you might have to put up with a bathroom outside your apartment, for instance. Salaries are so much lower here, I know many Americans who moved here and were so frustrated because the pay was nowhere near what they would make in the US!

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    2. Thanks for the response! I would come with more than that saved (and am coming on a student visa) but it's good to have a baseline to work from and to get this real-life feedback.

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    3. Have a great time! Sorry I was so pessimistic- I know you will love Paris :)

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  14. Hi Ariana:

    We just got back from Paris two days ago! My husband, daughter and I loved it so much that we are thinking about moving there in the future! There are many things that are attractive about living in Paris but I have to say one of them is the food!! everything there taste so good and healthy! I have a gluten intolerance/allergy and I was able to eat bread, pastries and everything else and I didn't get sick at all! that by itself makes it worthwhile moving there but there's everything else! the arts, the history, the beauty of the city!! We stayed near the Eiffel Tower by Avenue de la Bourdonnais and Rue Monttessuy, wonderful location! By reading your post it seems like it would be difficult to find a source of income, a good paying job. My husband is highly qualified in his field but he doesn't' speak French, but I read online that there are many US companies based there that offer jobs that don't require a person to speak French … well, I enjoyed reading your post because it brings things into perspective and it helps people like me to consider the pros and cons of moving there. I've heard it's not easy but once those things are resolved would you say life there is better than in the US? I would like your honest opinion. Thank you!

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    1. That is amazing! I'm so happy you had such a good time- and didn't get sick. You were staying very close to me! It shouldn't be too difficult for people that speak American English, especially with your husband being highly qualified. Actually, I've found speaking English gave me a huge advantage over many highly qualified natives, many of whom struggle to find employment- and my accent was an advantage over British English, too, for a variety of reasons. Some people say it's easier to understand, and my friends with kids say they want their kids to have American accents because it's not as class-based as British.

      I definitely prefer living here better than the US, but it depends on the person and their background. You sound like you are open minded when it comes to other cultures- not everybody is, and I think that's why some people hate Paris. I come from a suburb and I always wanted to live in a place where I could walk everywhere. The farmer's markets and little shops are more my speed, and the quality of food is markedly better here. The city I'm from is a real foodie town and in an agricultural center, but the taste and variety is still much better in Paris!

      Overall it sounds like it would be an amazing experience for your family. If I had a daughter I would want her to live in Paris for a little bit at least, I feel like every girl should spend some time here!

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  15. A couple of comments to an otherwise well)seen and accurate post: "The Mairie provides French lessons, which I thought were free, but heard require a small fee. I am not motivated enough to find out."

    You really should. When I took advantage of this 15 year back it was something like 60 euros for a semester of classes.

    I have 50 sq meters in the 18th for 1,400.

    And most companies (I just moved from Bouygues to SFR) offer fixed phone, cable and internet for anywhere from 19,99 to 40, 00. You are getting screwed there. dn be warned- I was with Numericable (well, they were called 'noos' back then), and they are rightly known for being almost impossible to get rid of.

    One last comment: You may have pinched pennies coming but certainly not once here- You are not the cheapest building, neighbourhood or size of apartment (and certainly not floor)-- though I don't know how big your family is.

    I haven't personaly heard any of these carefree wastrels sayig you can live on 'love and fresh water' here in Paris, but I totally agree with you that they are nuts and should be taken to task (and perhaps thence to firing squad, or failing that, a nunnery).

    Glad -to know you like it here! It can be expensive, chiant, etc... But is IS Paris! Welcome!

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    1. Hi! You are getting a great deal in the 18ème, I'm jealous! Eh, for the Mairie, we decided I didn't need the lessons because my husband is French and I practiced with him for free :) For reference purposes though I should look that up.

      We know we are not pinching pennies on the apartment :) My husband, the native Parisian, chose the 7ème and the top floor for the social caché. But for such an expensive neighborhood we are getting a good deal, compared to our neighbors at least!

      Numericable is one of my husband's clients, and actually our bill is less now, because we canceled our subscription to some of the special channels. But, for the unlimited international calling I didn't find any deals that were better! That is something we're not willing to give up, because only some of our family is here in France :(

      And thanks! After four years it really does feel like home!

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  16. May I ask who did you contact to assist in apartment hunting?

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  17. Hello there,

    Paris has been my dream since time immemorial, or maybe from the time I first heard about it and decided to live in Paris one day. I can finally see that dream coming true. I have been accepted by a Fashion school called IFA Paris for the Fall 2016 session for MBA. I can't wait to move to Paris, which will be for 9 months from September.
    I would like to ask that as an international student what can I expect & also how much is it sufficient to live in Paris? As i'm from India what should i keep in mind? I have been searching apartments for rent around the 17th or 18th arrondisement as because my institute is on the 19th, but hardly found any. Your valuable inputs will be really helpful to me.

    Thank you!

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    1. Hi Deblina! Congratulations on following your dream! I think for student apartments they usually want you to have a specific amount of money set aside for each month you will be here, or a guarantor's bank statement proving they have that amount. It's usually three times your monthly rent or something, though for students it may be different. 20000-25000 euro should be good, just keep in mind deposits for the apartment can be high. What sites have you been looking for apartments on? Have you seen the site Book a Flat? I love it and they have apartments for students too:

      http://www.book-a-flat.com/

      The flats start at 800-900 euro.

      These posts have more information on apartments and rent prices in each arrondissement: http://www.paris-to-go.com/2016/06/how-to-find-rent-paris-apartment.html
      http://www.paris-to-go.com/2015/01/guide-to-paris-arrondissements.html

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  18. I've loved living in Paris for a couple months at a time! 36k for the year is a great deal when you consider you're living in Paris! I won't apologize for the French, they have a lot to proud of! During the euro cup this year(2016), the French calmly stood by while the entire fan base from Ireland puked on, pissed on, defecated and littered the entire mile section of Pigalle( near Moulin rouge). The city workers and garbage collectors quickly and efficiently cleaned it all up by dawn the next morning! Let me say they were also dealing with protests and rioting a few streets down at the same time! The French have every right to hold their head high as they are truly the most dignified people during crisis and unfortunate events!
    Anyway, 36k is a great price to live in Paris for the year for a couple and maybe even a baby! That's comparable to a non major city living in the US.

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  19. Hi,

    Any advice on finding a decent job in France if you aren't a European citizen and you don't care to work under the table in a cafe or bar?

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    1. Hi! Au pairs or nannies make pretty good money here, and the families will usually take care of the visa paperwork for you. It's not so hard to obtain a work visa on your own though. Honestly LinkedIn is really good for finding jobs in France.

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  20. Hi Ariana,

    Thanks for sharing you're experience with us. I've been to Paris a few times in the last few years and, naturally, fall in love with more each time I visit. I'm living in Miami, but flirting with the idea of moving there. I'm a teacher so I'm looking into American and Int'l schools that educate in English. I hope you don't mind helping out with a few questions...

    -How is finding work as an English speaker (with plans to learn (some) French before moving? (Looking into classes her)

    -How do you find salaries compared to US as well as cost of living?

    Any help you could provide would be super appreciated as well as anything else you think I should know.

    Thank you!

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    1. Hi Stevie! I find cost of living is higher here and salaries lower in general, but benefits are way better. Depends on where you live of course- living in Miami, you'll probably find the cost of living lower (but salaries are still a lot lower than in the US). English speakers are in high demand, honestly French is not used so much in my husband's industry even (advertising) although English and Chinese speakers are in the most demand I've heard... and read in the news :)

      As a teacher you should have no problem, there is always a huge need for English teachers.

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  21. Hey Ariana,

    Thanks so much for your feedback and reply!

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  22. Hi, I am an Indian woman and 29 years old. I have been to Paris just once and fell in love with the city. I recently left my plush IBM job in the hope of writing for a publishing house. And totally dream of living in Paris atleast for a year or two. What are the odd chances of turning my dream come true?

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    1. Hi I'm so sorry I missed this! Paris is definitely manageable for a year or two and great for writing. You should have no issues with the visa.

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  23. Hi! I'm enamored by Paris and almost all things Parisian. In fact, I will be in Paris this Saturday with my husband for vacation. I sometimes dream that I can just not come back home and start a life in Paris. That's how I stumbled upon your blog. May I ask what you are doing out there? Do you like it? P.S. I am Korean also.

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    1. Hi! Have an amazing time... will you go to the Picasso museum to see the Giacometti exhibit? I married a French guy so I went out there to be a writer :) Safe travels!

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  24. Hi , i am mayur,Indian currently working in middle East got a opportunity in Paris. They are supposed to pay me $1600 with a accommodation and transport. Being a fresher to field and holding a Indian Masters degree,I take it as opportunity. Still kindly suggest me how much I will be able to save.

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