Help! Would you move to Paris or London (with small children)?(51 Posts)
A bit of background. I'm British (worked in London for 10 years) but have spent the past 4 years in Australia as I moved here for work, met an Aussie bloke and now have a 21 month son, 2nd baby due in 6 weeks. We are in our mid 30's.
We have been planning a move to either Paris or London for a year and will make the move in April 09.
We are torn between London and Paris. London because I know it so well and would slot in easily to playgroups/toddler groups and in general life in the UK. But we keep hearing how depressing and violent the UK is which is concerning me.
Paris we both enjoyed on a trip but I have read from a couple of threads here that most Parisian Mum's go back to work quickly and that Paris is therefore not an easy place to be a SAHM in. Few toddler parks/clubs etc??
What are your experiences of life in Paris with toddlers? What advice would you give us?
Also, my French is good and DH is currently learning. He is in a 'C' level job so we should have a fairly comfortable life over there in terms of money.
All advice gratefully received .
I have lived in London, New York, Vienna and Geneva with young children...
London would get my vote for all of the reasons that you have listed BUT I found it very challenging to meet people there.
I believe that it is generally true that mothers are expected to return to work straight away in Paris.
Do you think that there are any online expat groups in Paris? I found one in Switzerland before we moved here and it has been brilliant! Having the French will be a big asset and your money would go further in Paris.
Too hard to choose really. I wish you all the best in making the choice.
I live in Paris.
French mothers rarely SAHM. However, there is a huge network of Anglophone mothers, many of whom are SAHMs, in an association called Message Mother Support Group (google it), that supports pregnant women and mothers of small children. You would do very well to join this organisation and you will get lots of information on their website about activities, in English, with babies and toddlers.
If you move to Paris, ensure that you move somewhere close to the international/bilingual school you would wish your children to attend as children go to school early here (in September of the calendar year of their 3rd birthday) and the school run is difficult (public transport) so you will need to live very nearby. School fees are much, much cheaper here than in London .
Just to give you an idea - you will need a budget of 3000-4000 euros per month to get a nice, family sized (unfurnished) apartment in a decent area of Paris. You will only need one car if you live in a good area and the public transport network (buses especially) is highly navigable and cheap with small children.
Anna, is that the cost of the rent or the net salary you would require?
(Not thinking of moving to Paris, just curious)
Anna, I am guessing you mean 4k Euro per month just in rent. My DH liked the 7th Arr but I think I might prefer the St Germain area (a little bit more 'bohemian'?). What would you point us towards considering in terms of Arr for good international schools. We are not a suburban type couple so inner city living is good.
Is Paris 'fun' to live in with small children?
Yes, I mean 4k euro rent (including service charges).
Very, very, VERY hard to find a family-sized apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Prés (and it will cost you more than that if you do find it, because if you are coming from the outside you will use an agent). Most of the accommodation is small and cramped or else never goes on the open market.
A bit easier in the 7th. Much, much easier in the 8th, 17th or 16th.
The best schools for Anglo families wishing to follow the French educational system are the Ecole Active Bilingue in the 8th and the Ecole Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel in the 7th/15th. You can check out the websites of both schools.
I think it's fun . I hate suburban living - I like inner city or super rural. You can take your small children anywhere as long as they are reasonably well-behaved - we do restaurants, cinema, shows, parks etc without specifically looking for things that are child-friendly.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés is not "bohemian" btw. It's intelligentsia and show business.
I don't know Paris except as a visitor but London is a brilliant place to live in if you have children. I don't think in Euros so am not sure what kind of money you are talking but, if you pick London, only do it if you can live in a nice area.
Anna - Ahh thanks for that . Can you recommend any good websites or agencies for long term rentals?
I'm no good on that front - I know nothing about rentals except that they last 3 years, renewable. I'm sure that if you join Message you'll get good info though.
If you are coming from the outside with no French payslips it will be hard to get an institutional rental (which are the best). I presume you are not thinking of coming on an expat package?
Anna - I will join Message and see what I can learn from that. Hubby will try to get a job from o/s with expat package but I guess it might be more likely to find work over there. We're not sure on that front.
I don't find London depressing or violent but I guess it depends on where you live. Lots of green space, loads to do with kids. Check out the Why its good to live in London thread.
What does your DH do? The job market is very tough here. I would highly recommend the expat route if at all possible.
Anna - he's COO/CIO of a mid-tier financial servs co. So could go either/both routes or stick his neck out for CEO. Any advice?
Get sent with a job if you possibly can. Jobs like that can take six months to be recruited into - and that's when you have already met the headhunter.
I thought so. Do you know any good head-hunters in that area of work?
All the big firms are here - the best thing would be for your DH to approach them locally (he may have some good contacts) and explain what he wants to do. Sending a letter out of the blue to a Paris headhunter is a waste of good stamps.
lordy I'm not sure anyone would be advised to be job-hunting in London in financial services at the moment.
how easy is it to get a job in Paris at CEO level wihtou speaking French fluently - don;t you think this could be a problem? ONly time I've seen it is someone transferred in from an angloAmerican company.
Actually, things aren't necessarily that bad in financial services in London. Just some specific sectors/banks having problems; others are still recruiting at that level. If he works in risk he'd be laughing!
I lived in paris for 5 years without children then another 2 with my first child. I personally wouldn't recommend it cmpared to the UK. I found it very isolating - I had a great time in Paris pre-baby but then as soon as I stopped working I found it hard keeping up with people. Toddler groups were virtually non-existant and I couldn't go back to work part-time as childcare was so difficult to get part-time. I met a few Mums at the local park and we would have coffees etc but most people are much more family-focused and tend to socalise with other people in the family with babies. We then moved back to the UK an it was amazing. There was a different activity to do every day, i met loads of great people with kids and found it much easier to sort childcare/work part-time. Remember as well that most people in paris live in flats and that when the lift breaks down it can be tough carrying child, shopping and pushchair up the stairs!! I did love paris though it was just a shame it was so hard having a baby there!
KC - in the big groups it is possible to get senior jobs without fluent French, because some of the very international companies work in English these days.
With non-French qualifications, it is impossible to get a "local" job anyway. I would say that the lack of French qualifications is as great a barrier than the lack of French.
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