Moving to Paris made easy

Moving to Paris

So you are moving to the city of love! Good news! However, Paris and the French organisation in general can be painful for the unprepared. Several Japanese tourists moving to Paris have suffered the so-called “Paris syndrome” – a shock after discovering the difference between the fairy tale city they imagined and the dark reality of unsafe streets, a crowded metro and administrative hassle. The following guide lists the most frequent questions newcomers ask when settling in Paris.

Moving to Paris

How to get a proof of residence?

Any contact with the administration, banks and utilities will require a proof of residence. This is usually an electricity bill or a rent contract. If you are just moving to Paris and you do not have these documents, you can submit a “déclaration d’hébergement” and a copy of your landlord/host’s ID. Make copies, you will need it frequently!

How to find an apartment?

First, choose the area! Paris is divided into arrondissements from 1st to 20th, often written in latin numbers:

  • I, II, III, IV, V, VI are very central, with mostly old pre-Hausmann Parisian buildings. They are well suited for wealthy students or workers.
  • VII, VIII, XIV, XV, XVI and XVII are usually family areas, quite safe, with parks to walk the kids and dog.
  • IX, X, XI, XVIII are favoured by young people and “hipsters”, they are former working-class areas in the process of gentrification.
  • XII, XIII, XIX and XX are less favoured by expats, but the cheap cost of rent may be an attraction!

Finding an apartment is one of the main challenges for foreigners moving to Paris. Here are a few tips:

  • head to facebook and look for groups like “Location appartement Paris” or “Americans in Paris” where people who leave and landlords advertise their apartment.
  • check the Fusac ads http://ads.fusac.fr/ad-category/housing/
  • check the main French websites (Leboncoin.fr, Seloger.com).

Generally speaking, the housing market is so tense that landlords have the power. Make a clean “dossier” to convince them!

Do I need to register with the administration?

European Nationals, like Brits (for now !) do not need a visa. However, all other nationalities, including Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans or Canadians will need to get a visa at the French embassy at home for a long-term stay in France.

After that, a working visa can be requested by your would-be employer in Paris at the DIRECCTE.

Social security is a big thing in France. You will be covered as soon as you find a salaried job, but you first need to register to get a social security number. The registration is done at the CPAM. They will require the usual documents: ID, justificatif de domicile (proof of address), IBAN, birth certificate (in English is OK), and sometimes work contract.

The last administration you can (it’s optional) contact is your embassy. Registering there will allow you security in case of a disaster, the possibility to vote and maybe an invitation for the 4th of July Garden Party!

Is it necessary to open a bank account? How to do it?

If you come from a Eurozone country, like Ireland for example, you may find it easier not to open a bank account. However, your employer may require a French IBAN to transfer your monthly salary.

As online banks like Boursorama require you to hold a French IBAN to open an account, you will need to go through a physical bank to open a French account. The main banks are Société Générale, BNP Paribas and LCL. You can expect them to serve you in English in most Paris branches. The necessary documents are usually an ID and a proof of residence.

Setting up the apartment

The rent is split between the rent itself – “loyer” in French – and the “charges” which include taxes, a “concierge” if any, water and a few other things.

The tenant has to open contracts and pay for utilities like electricity and natural gas, and home communications. Selectra offers a free English-speaking service to open utilities and home-comms contracts.

In Paris buildings, you will find DSL or fiber optics, on which phone and TV also run. The well known brands are Orange, SFR, Bouygues and Free. Heating is either natural gas (the cheapest), electric, or at the building level (in which case it is paid for in the “charges” with the rent). The well-known brands are EDF, Engie and Direct Energie.

And finally enjoying Paris

You already know what you will enjoy in Paris: beautiful places, the food and drink cult, a cosmopolitan and vibrant city. What you probably don’t know is what the routine will be like. Once again, you can use Facebook to find fellow countrymen, which can be extremely useful for daily support. The Fusac website provides ads to help you learn French, find a nanny, a microwave oven, employment or an apartment. And as everywhere else, there is always an Irish pub to drown your Paris syndrome in a pint of beer!

Guest post by Aurian de Maupeou from Selectra

Moving to Paris

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