Mar 082009
(asked by Miena K. from Philadelphia)

Ok, so. I am currently a sophomore in college. When I was younger, I went to a French immersion school and the culture never left me. Though I am not as close as fluent as I was when I was younger (hey, I’m working on it!) and a million other reasons, I need France. I must move there. So here’s my 3-part question:
1) Is it difficult to get a job as a foreigner?
2) What’s the standard of living ($$) in say, le Marais?
3) Is it a great risk to me, financially, to move to Paris?

Ah… Paris!
Living in a nice apartment in the Marais spending your day sitting at a café smoking cigarettes, sipping wine and people watching…
The perfect life…
Nah, the perfect dream, only.

I don’t know where this comes from (actually I know, the American expats from the 20’s are mostly to blame) but I’m always surprised by the number of Americans that fantasize about living in Paris. What I am not surprised about is that most of them have this fake stereotypical image of that life in Paris (a romanticized version of 1920’s Paris, and not even all of Paris, more like Montparnasse artistic life).
But fine, whatever, I don’t know if Paris will always be Paris, but Americans will always fantasize about Paris so what can I do?

To respond to your questions.
First, you don’t need France, you want to live in France. It’s quite different.
And it’s not even France that you want, it’s Paris (if one day Americans stop confusing and making the amalgam of the two, I’ll die happy).

1. Is it difficult to get a job as a foreigner?

Well, it all depends on what kind of job and what country you’re from.
I presume that you’re American, and I presume you don’t want to collect garbage or load delivery trucks…
So let’s start by saying that it’s hard to find a job in France when you’re French. We’ve had chronically high unemployment for more than thirty years, on top of that there’s the current crisis (even if jobs are not hit as hard as they are in the US… yet…)
Now, jobs as a waiter, and stuff like that are always around of course.
If you want a real job here are your options:
-Being sent to France by an American company that has a subsidiary in France.
-Being top notch in your field of expertise so that the French company that wants to hire you can prove to the French immigration services that no French person is better than you in that job and can get you a visa.
-But as a college graduate, your best option is to be a language assistant, just be aware that you won’t get to decide where in France you’ll be sent to.
I’m sure there are other options, if expats that read this blog want to share their experiences, please feel free.

2) What’s the standard of living ($$) in say, le Marais?

Really high…
A small studio in the Marais will cost you about €1000 a month.
Of course, that is if a Parisian landlord agrees to lease it to you. Know that a French landlord will agree to lease his €1000 apartment to you if you make about €3000 a month and if you have a guarantor that makes about the same. Oh and keep in mind that a €3000 a month paycheck in France is roughly equivalent to a $6000 paycheck in the US (nothing to do with the USD-Euro rate, wages are just lower in France, free healthcare and education are not exactly free, they are paid for by taxes).
Now, a lot of expats do live in the Marais (and other “attractive” neighborhoods such as the 6th, Montmartre, etc). How do they do?
It’s pretty simple. In Paris there are a bunch of companies that lease apartments only to expats (well, technically it’s not only to expats, but they’re targeting the English speaking market and are nowhere to be found in the usual ways French people usually find their apartments). Of course their rates are higher than the market (for that same studio, expect to pay €1500 at least) but Americans that are ready to pay whatever price to live in Paris (and that are unaware of the prices of market) are numerous, and those companies live off that (a few weeks ago one of them wanted to establish a partnership with this blog… like I’d publicize these jerks that rip off people and screw with the Paris housing market as if it was not screwed up enough).
But I guess some Americans have no other choice, as they usually don’t have a guarantor that normal French landlords will require… Did I tell you that housing in Paris was totally fucked up?
And after all, Americans are used to live above their means, so why not?

And even if you settle for a cheaper part of Paris, it’ll still be much more expensive than anywhere else in France (or even in Europe -except maybe for London and Oslo).

3) Is it a great risk to me, financially, to move to Paris?

I’m not really sure what you mean by that really… Remember, I don’t know you, asking me such a question is not that different than asking me about this French guy you’ve met, blah blah blah, I’ve talked about that in length already.

Finally, as a secondary source, here is this very interesting post from that not so interesting blog (ok, I admit, the blog is not that bad, it’s just that despite what it says and the way contributors present their topics, nothing that is being talked about in it is secret nor alternative in it) that deals with the same topic.

More Questions Answered:

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