Moving to Paris
Once we officially had our French visas we put all our plans into motion. We made a packing list of the kinds of things we wanted to bring with us. We researched movers and storage places to keep our things in San Francisco while we were gone. We started to take French lessons from a tutor. We tried to estimate what our monthly costs would be and looked for hidden costs so we wouldn’t be surprised. And last but not least we started to look for a Paris apartment. (Here is my first post.)
Looking for an apartment in Paris is a dream and a nightmare. Since I knew it would probably be the only time we were going to live in Paris, I really didn’t want to skimp. I wanted it all: parquet wood floors, floor to ceiling windows with a view, a great Parisian neighborhood with a market, a nearby Metro stop. I dare you to look at Paris apartment listings without getting starry eyed. It’s impossible. There are some really amazing apartments out there. On the other side of the coin, Paris apartments can be old, have very strange layouts, are hard to find, and can be very expensive. In general if you are looking for an apartment in Paris I would look on Seloger, Sabbatical Homes, Fusac, or Craigslist. (In order of helpfulness.)
(Continue reading below for our story and all the surprise costs.)
I am missing Paris this week. We have been home three months now and I have been trying to process the whole experience. I wanted to write down my thoughts on the subject before I forget everything. Moving abroad was definitely one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Before we went Paul and I had always talked about moving abroad like a lot of people do. But the motivation really came when I was at a photo shoot for Anthology Magazine and the photographer and the artist (whose home we were shooting) were talking about the time they each had spent in Paris. And it sort of clicked, I realized that a lot of creative people I knew had “done their time” in Paris. I don’t think moving to Paris is necessary for being creative but I decided if there was any way we could make it happen, we should try.
We started to research about visas and we realized if we could both keep our jobs and work remotely from Paris then we wouldn’t have to go through the challenges of finding a job and getting a work visa (very difficult). We were also happy to find out that rent in Paris is cheaper than in San Francisco. Our two bedroom apartment in Paris which was in a nice neighborhood and had a small view of the Eiffel Tower was about $2500/month. In San Francisco a two bedroom in an equivalent neighborhood would be more like $3200/month. If you don’t live in a city that probably sounds like a lot but all the New Yorkers reading this I’m sure are rolling their eyes about how affordable it is! (On a sidenote, my sister moved to the French countryside at the same time and they have a huge Farmhouse for about $1500/month. She covers all of that in this post.)
The financial aspect for me was the most frightening. I don’t get nervous very often but it was terrifying putting ourselves in a place where we weren’t sure how much we would make (as freelancers our income is always inconsistent) or how much our monthly expenses would be. Sometimes people use words like “lucky” about us moving to Paris, and I know we are. But I want to sit them down and explain to them how scary it was moving to France. It put us so far out of our comfort zone in every way possible. We didn’t speak French, we didn’t know a soul, we didn’t even have a place to live, or (continue reading below)