living in france

Living in France: Our Schedule

The best thing about moving to France so far is our schedule. When we first talked about moving to Paris I read Nichole’s post here about their schedule in Paris and it pretty much sounded like heaven to me. We were working crazy hours at the time and I thought “That is what I want.”

We work American hours so thats about 6pm-1am France time (sometimes more, sometimes less). Which means our schedule goes like this: we wake up everyday, Paul or I will walk down to the bakery to get some bread. We all get ready for the day and then go on errands and explore the city together. We go to museums, parks, shopping, eat crepes, sit, etc. Then evening time rolls around we start working, we take a break to put the boys to sleep and then work late into the night. Our kids are young so this might not work as well if they were school aged but for now its been pretty perfect. We get to hang out together every day. We love our schedule so much that we are already trying to figure out a way to extend our stay here.

Living in France: Housing

I’m going to do two posts about finding an apartment. One before and one after we find an apartment. Since our family is somewhat portable, several people recommended that we find a place to stay for a month so that we can search for apartments once we get there. This is good because if you can see it in person it’s easier to commit to living there a year, you can usually negotiate cheaper rates, and you can take your time rather than trying to find something fast. The bad part about this idea is I have no idea where I’ll be living a month from now. (Super scary.) Our fingers crossed we can find an apartment we love in a neighborhood we like that is within our price range.

We decided to rent an apartment from Haven in Paris for the first month (Who is also an advertiser on OHD.) Renting short term apartments is very common in Europe (My English friends that vacation in Paris rent apartments even for short stays instead of hotels.) Besides Haven in Paris I’ve also used Vacation Rental By Owner and had good experiences.

I’ve started looking for our real apartment in advance but it can be difficult. A lot of the furnished rentals are just so cluttered, I would consider furnishing a simple apartment ourselves (I prefer sparse to someone else’s stuff) the only problem is “unfurnished” in France means it also doesn’t have a fridge or any other appliance. We are only planning on staying a year so it seems like a lot of work to round up beds, a refrigerator, a sofa, and pretty much everything else. The other interesting I’ve found is three bedroom apartments are very hard to find. We are expecting visitors so I had my fingers crossed for an extra room.

By the time someone has staged, photographed and listed a furnished apartment on a website it is likely on the high end of the going price range. I’m curious to see if we can find something more affordable in person. For our budget we are hoping to spend the same amount that we would spend on an apartment in San Francisco.

I’m secretly hoping for a partially furnished apartment. I saved the picture below from a Craigslist ad. It’s pretty much what I envision for my dream apartment in Paris. A two bedroom, sparsely furnished in the Marais with HUGE windows and a balcony we can sit on and work when the weather gets warm.

Here are the sites I’ve found helpful looking for an apartment.

1. Selonger
2. Sabbatical Homes
3. Craigslist
4. Vingt
5. Lodgis
6. Fusac

Has anyone else had experiences renting apartments in Paris? Any tips?

Living in France: Working

This is my first post on the nitty-gritty of how we worked out this move to France. It has been a long-time goal to spend a year in Paris. We realized last summer it was time to move out of our tiny San Francisco apartment and we aren’t in a place financially where we can buy a home just yet. We have a small window of time that it would be convenient to move abroad. Our kids are young and not quite school age and we aren’t tied down to a mortgage. But the biggest factor that lets us live abroad is flexibility in our jobs. Paul works as an artist and freelances as a graphic designer. I blog and do some freelance writing for a few different websites.

To make this work, We had to write a proposal to work remotely for Paul’s design clients and we had to schedule and plan ahead what art shows he would be in. I do all my work remotely but I still had to confirm with my clients that it wouldn’t be a problem to be working in Paris. There are some hiccups in our plans: I like to do projects with American supplies so that my (mostly) American readership can replicate them. And Paul will have the added expense of shipping paintings back to his galleries in the U.S. But both of these problems we are working around.

The most surprising thing to me has been to realize in a lot of ways Paris is more affordable than San Francisco. If you were moving from a small town in the US it might feel more expensive but so far the cost of things is pretty comparable if not cheaper. I’m curious to find out if this is actually true when we arrive.

I have heard (but have no experience) that getting a traditional job in France is actually quite difficult and that it does not always pay well. Anne did a post on this right here. With the internet and Skype, depending what your job is–it is a lot easier to make this work than it would have been ten years ago. If your job could translate easily to a remote position, casually bring it up to your boss to see what they say. You never know, they could say “yes.”

This is a series on all the details about moving to Paris.

both photos by Jen Gotch