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Should we move to Paris?!

(115 Posts)
Sparklemotion1982 Wed 16-Apr-14 17:48:14


I currently live in London with my husband, and he has been offered a job in Paris. I don't like London, I'm lonely here and hate the weather (before here we lived in Dubai for 7 years which I really loved, and I would love to go back there).

We have to decide whether to take the job in Paris and was wondering if anyone had any advice, having moved there.

We don't have children at the moment but would probably TTC over there as I am 32. I work from home so wouldn't meet anyone through work so am wondering what areas would be best to live in, and whether it is easy to meet people. We both only have rusty GCSE French so would have lessons over there.

Any advice would be very much appreciated as we are very confused!

Thank you!!

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 19-Apr-14 00:07:11

I didn't get that there was any jealousy over your life from Portofino's post, Bonsoir. hmm Perhaps you are reading too much into it?

I found the bureaucracy in France the worst I have come across, ever - even worse than Eastern Europe in the 1980s. At least there it was straightforward to extend your visa, ID card etc; you just had to be prepared to queue. Not asked for one set of papers, you produce these and they tell you they want something completely different (which happened to me in Paris - it took 9 months to get my carte vitale and the best part of a year to sort out my ID card and get the car registered).

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Sat 19-Apr-14 00:14:32

"One of the duller suburbs of Brussels" - love it! They are all dull in their own way! grin Although, to be fair, the bit of Paris I lived in was neither central nor trendy, but dull and middle aged (like me). If I'd wanted trendy and exciting I'd have gone for Bastille.

Claxonia Sat 19-Apr-14 15:37:25

I agree that Paris is very lonely and also aggressive. Although if you could move before getting pregnant/having children and build up a network that might help a bit. Maternity care is great as previously mentioned and it is a great place to be if you want pain relief when giving birth! Also in the plus side - child care is heavily subsidised both for working and non-working parents

LillianGish Sun 20-Apr-14 10:46:10

About to move to Bastille so feeling hopeful of being trendy and exciting - despite being middle-aged!

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Tue 22-Apr-14 18:02:36

Lucky you, Lillian - it's a really lively area with lots of great bars and good little restaurants.

Sparklemotion1982 Tue 29-Apr-14 10:43:55

Thank you so much for all of the posts above. Yes, my husbands work would probably pay for us to do an intensive language course...
I am leaning towards going, and hopefully we will make the decision this week. To be honest I think it would be really nice for us to have a change and a fresh start somewhere European. I'm not a massive fan of flying and my Mum lives in Spain, and it appeals to me that we can hop on a train to Milan for weekends away...

I think I would find it more inspiring to be somewhere that is not the UK, I just find it makes life a bit more interesting.

Neither of us speaks good French at the moment, we both just have A grade GCSE French, but I hope that with that as a base we could both pick up more relatively quickly...

Does anyone have any advice on which arrondissements might be nice to live in? In London we lived in Clapham, just off Northcote Road which I really liked...somewhere with nice shops and cafes and a few lively bars appeals to me...I don't know if there is anywhere vaguely comparable?!

Thanks again so much for all your help, I really appreciate it smile

Beachcomber Tue 29-Apr-14 11:04:19

I'm amazed that anyone would choose to live in Paris over London.

Good luck to you though if you go. The trains and transport links to other places are good. We don't live in Paris (although I did live there for a while before DC) but in another part of France. The bureaucracy, as already mentioned, is very tedious and I find France to be a bit behind the times compared to the UK. Weather and food are good though.

Beachcomber Tue 29-Apr-14 11:18:35

This might help you get stared on which part you want to live in.

I lived in Clichy when I was there which is described in the articles as one of the "less salubrious parts" of the 18th grin

Sparklemotion1982 Tue 29-Apr-14 11:28:39

Thanks for this, much appreciated.

alteredimages Tue 29-Apr-14 11:45:54

I am currently in Paris in the 20th with two kids and a student DH. The area doesn't have a great rep, but I love the part I am in: walking distance to Bastille, Nation, Bois des Vincennes, easy access to both Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon, cheap markets and fancy boutiques side by side. I agree with beachcomber that sometimes you can feel like you've gone back in time here in France....cheques, having to pay for online delivery for everything, even collect in store, much more bureaucracy done in person or by mail. We have been here for two years and there is always at least one piece of paperwork we are waiting for or some office we need to go to.

Every day things are much more expensive: food, clothes, going out, everything. I often order things online from the UK and have them delivered here.

I think I would adore living in Paris if I were part of a young couple. I would try to live around Bastille in the 11th arrondissement or in the 5th near the universities. Around montparnasse or in the 6th would also be great, as would around st paul in the 4th. I think around bastille would be ideal though for the best transport links and I think prices would be a bit cheaper. Flats are small, but everyone is used to it and it is easy to find furniture to fit.

As far as meeting people goes, everyone I have met is desperate to speak and learn more English, so I don't think you would have trouble meeting people and building a network though it does take a big effort at first. There are lots of cafes that do language exchanges and social enterprises so you would find things to do.

I would set aside some money for an intensive French course if you want to brush up. I have heard that there are also language labs in the library near Centre Pompidou and TV has helped me too.

Having a baby here is brilliant, though again I would buy the baby stuff from the UK except for a few pieces of extra cute petit bateau/bonpoint stuff. The birth experience really depends on which hospital you register with and usually spaces are booked up quickly, sometimes before you are six weeks pregnant. Make sure you call the maternity hospital you want as soon as you get a positive test! Likewise, you can register for childcare from the sixth month of pregnancy and places fill up fast. I have really benefitted from the extra things they offer here like dietician appointments and help with your pelvic floor muscles after the birth.

I have moved around a lot and view living in a new place as an experience worth having even if the new place isn't as easy to live in as the old one. I really value picking up a new language and viewing the world in a different way, so I would say if you are up for a change and have the energy for the initial period of settling in, go for it.

Sparklemotion1982 Tue 29-Apr-14 11:55:24

Thank you so much Alteredimages, this is really helpful.
We are really up in the air at the moment, changing our minds every day...

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Tue 29-Apr-14 23:49:34

Bastille is great. Also Batignolles, and around Montmartre. Avoid the 15th (unless very close to the 7th, most dull), 16th (stretched faced old ladies and small dogs that shit a lot), the 13th (like a run down Moscow suburb). 5th and 6th are nice. 8th is expensive - more stretched faces and lots of Russian and Chinese shoppers carrying their Hermes and Chanel bags! 17th is good for families, but I wouldn't want to live there (apart from Batignolles) if I was childless as it can be a bit staid.

Does your DH's company have a Mr/Ms Fixit who can sort out a lot of the bureaucracy for you?

Sparklemotion1982 Wed 30-Apr-14 09:42:40

Thanks this is very helpful! They are putting us in touch with a relocation agency to help us out...

alteredimages Wed 30-Apr-14 13:28:50

Brilliant! Good luck with everything, whatever you decide. I think it both helps and distracts you sometimes that the UK is so close. I love the eurostar!

Sparklemotion1982 Wed 30-Apr-14 13:42:42


My husband has accepted the job so we will be moving over for September when he will start work...just trying to decide now whether to sell or let our house here, and whether to sell our furniture or take it over...I want to get an unfurnished apartment so that we can choose our own furniture smile I thought it might be an idea to sell our place here and get a bolt hole in the south of France with a little pool or something maybe that we could go to for long weekends...that would probably be if we decided to stay in Paris long term though I guess...getting a bit ahead of myself! Has anyone experienced actually buying somewhere to live in Paris instead of renting?

Thanks again everyone!

SheherazadeSchadenfreude Wed 30-Apr-14 18:11:43

Keep your house in London rented out until you have been in Paris at least a year. If you sell and then find out that Paris/France isn't for you, then at least you have somewhere to come back to, and will still be on the property ladder.

GreatAuntDinah Thu 01-May-14 08:40:05

Two useful resources for you would be FUSAC and Message Paris. I've bought a house here (in the suburbs) if you have any questions, though it sounds to me like you'd be better off renting for a while.

Bonsoir Sun 04-May-14 14:42:53

Sparkleemotion1982 - House purchase in Paris is not nearly as liquid a market as in the UK - people hold onto their properties for much longer and tend not to upgrade (move up "the property ladder") when they move but to keep their apartment as an investment and buy another. We, in common with lots of families we know, have a hotchpotch portfolio of properties that are a mixture of purchase, buy-to-let, inheritances etc. If I were you I would hold onto your London property (which is likely to increase in value a lot faster than a Paris property) and rent here - there is a buoyant rental market for larger apartments.

I think that the nicest arrondissements are the 8th and 17th (but not the Batignolles part, which is dangerous and gloomy and a nightmare for parking and public transport). Parts of the 7th are nice (just beneath the 8th, near the Seine). I don't personally like the 6th and the eastern part of the 7th because the roads and pavements are very narrow and there is nowhere to walk or park. The 5th is even worse in that respect. The 1st arrondissement can be fabulous providing you don't want too much space.

Claxonia Wed 07-May-14 16:32:12

I love Batignolles in the 17th. Loads of great restaurants and shops and lovely parks and people are generally a bit friendlier than other parts of Paris. It is true though that parking is a nightmare. I also love the 9th around rue des Martyrs but it is rubbish for parks.

Sparklemotion1982 Wed 07-May-14 17:28:02

Thank you everyone for this. We are now definitely going so trying to decide which area to live in, bit confused as some people say Batignolles is the only nice area of the 17th and some say to avoid it?

We are a married couple at the mo and I work from home but we are thinking about TTC while over there.

I basically want to live somewhere like Northcote Road in Clapham but in Paris.....

So it seems like areas to look at are:

17th - Batignolles?
11th - Bastille


Is this right as a list for our relocation agent?

Thanks so much guys!!!! xoxoxo

Bonsoir Wed 07-May-14 21:43:58

I go to Les Batignolles once or twice a week as my DD's piano teacher lives there. It is a former working class area of small dark apartments, very narrow streets and even narrower pavements. Roads are a minefield of one way streets and public transport and infrastructure is terrible. It has been invaded by nouveaux pauvres in recent years. It is dead during the week as everyone is at work. If your benchmark is Clapham do not even think about Batignolles.

Sparklemotion1982 Wed 07-May-14 22:51:49

Wow. OK. I was just looking at that as somewhere for us to live!! Is there anywhere else you would recommend Bonsoir? PS Not sure what a nouveaux pauvres is... sad

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 08-May-14 07:09:21

4th le marais all the way to bastille.

I'd skip the 5th

6 & 7th if you can afford. If you don't mind less space fir your money, this is the one place you should look.

17th around villiers is better than batignolles.

To bastille, i much prefer the 3rd/10th border around the canal St martin/quai de valmy (and towards oberkampf to go out).

More than anywhere else i've lived, in Paris, where you live can really define how people perceive you. Are you with the "it" crowd? Alternative yuppies? Old money? Bling ring? Or just has been if you don't know the difference.

Also, you have to factor in that Paris is much more Urban than Londo where we always a garden square or major park within a block or 2.
No such thing in vast areas of Paris. A consideration when you have a baby/toddler.

Last but not least, veer on the side of safety. Well lit street, pincode entrance, lift, permission to keep a pram in the lobby etc...

Finally, i have to say neighborly attitudes may be a shocker!
Make sure there is good insulation. Think again about the charm of an old parquet floor....every pin dropped echoes loudly!

Bonsoir Thu 08-May-14 07:38:42

The 6th can be quite divisive for international families... Big expat community doesn't mix with super self-satisfied Parisians. This is somewhat true of the whole of the Left Bank where the local social codes are at their most defined and impenetrable.

Booboostoo Thu 08-May-14 07:50:14

I live in France. I see you have decided on Paris, I hope you have a wonderful time. I echo the need to speak the language, the French are very rude to people they don't know at the best of times, but they seem to reserve their worst for foreigners.

Another important point to consider well before going over are the tax implications of your move. Talk to an accountant who is familiar with the situation in France and how things work out for people who also have assets in other countries. Do not assume that it's all as simple as the Uk where you fill in tax returns or it gets done for you. Every decision in France, like buying a house or inheritance arrangements especially when you don't have children, has enormous implications and is best planned in advance.

Health care in France is extremely well funded but also very paternalistic. If you are happy with what the doctors will anyway do to you, fine, if not you have very little choice even in a private health care setting.

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