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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

  1. vanessa joie

    January 24, 2011

    this has been my dream forever. I can't wait to hear about your experiences (good & bad).

  2. Janie | We Heart Paper

    January 24, 2011

    Congratulations on the big move – I think it's so incredibly brave that your taking the leap and going for it! We all spend too much talking about things and not being about it. Paris will be amazing, best of luck with the move and working out the kinks – I'll be following here. It was also really great hearing you speak at Alt! I wish it was longer so we had time to chat!

  3. --r

    January 24, 2011

    i hope your hiccups are few and far between, and that your year in paris will be as fabulous as i am imagining it to be. i'll be reading every snippet and tidbit, as it's highly unlikely we'd ever be able to do something like that, but it sounds thrilling.

  4. Betty

    January 24, 2011

    Wow Jordan, how courageous! Paul went there on his mission and loved it. However, I'm curious about the language barrier. Do you speak French?

  5. Tamuna

    January 24, 2011

    ohhh what a dream come true! You've just given me so much hope for future 🙂


  6. Ashley

    January 24, 2011

    Thank you for starting this series…while I don't have the gusto to move across the pond, it will be so fun to hear about this!

  7. Mandy

    January 24, 2011

    Can't wait to hear the rest of this series! I can only dream of one day being able to spend a year abroad embracing another culture. Hope it is a wonderful adventure for your family!

  8. elissa @ faucethead

    January 24, 2011

    how exciting! i can't wait to hear more about the city and your experience.

  9. alexandra

    January 24, 2011


    I'm a new reader (from Nienie's blog!)
    I'm french, living in Paris…
    You're very talented, I'm sure you'll find lots of things to do here!
    Paris is waiting for U 😉

  10. Pistachio

    January 24, 2011

    When I was a bratty teenager I took a trip to Europe and at the time I was not so into France (at the time I was a full on Anglophile.) Two years ago I went again for work and oh lord, I fell in love (I guess I am now a frankophile?) Anyway, Congratulations and enjoy living the dream everyday!!

  11. Jessica M

    January 24, 2011

    I moved to Madrid just over 4 months ago from Portland, Oregon and was also so surprised at how much more affordable some things tend to be here. We expected Madrid to be WAY more expensive than our small, beloved Portland, but clothes and a lot of foods are much more affordable.

    congratulations on your journey. Everything about living abroad is such an adventure!

  12. Mallory

    January 24, 2011

    ah, what a dream! i can't wait to hear more about your life in Paris and how you made it all happen. i'm getting married this summer and it's on our list to live abroad (hopefully before kids!).

  13. josephine

    January 24, 2011

    Thanks so much for writing about how you and your family were able to move to Paris. It's a dream of mine, as well as I'm sure many of your readers, so it's super generous of you to let us all know how you made it happen. Reading about your and Anne's experiences are invaluable to me.

  14. Prêt à Voyager

    January 24, 2011

    Hi Jordan!

    Just a reminder to brace yourself for the reality check that is living in France. Somethings are cheaper, but then other things make up for it. Things happen differently than in the US (and often slower, and involve lots of circles, and frustrations). It takes adjustment and an open mind. Every day is an adventure for good or bad.

    Before you go, I'd definitely touch base with Nichole of Little Brown Pen – someone who has been in your shoes before.

    A bientot!

    p.s. Pack deodorant! It's the one thing I can't buy here! (none of theirs works for me!)

  15. lindsay marie

    January 24, 2011

    I loved living in Europe…I did gain weight eating lots of Swiss, French and Italian chocolate, bread, cheese and ice cream – so watch out! 🙂

    the language barrier wasn't too bad, I learned just enough to get around. do you speak any french?

    It will go by so fast so definitely focus on all the positives and savour every minute!good luck.

  16. Randi

    January 24, 2011

    Congrats on following your dream!

    Did you have to get a certain kind of visa to do your work there? We are moving to Paris in November while my husband attends school, but he also wants to continue doing some design for clients in the US via the internet.


  17. Viv

    January 24, 2011

    Oh Congratulations on your big move! What a way to follow your dreams! It's wonderful that you are seizing the opportunity because yes, a mortgage can tie you down! I would suppose that Paris could be comprable in cost of living to S.F. But S.F. is one of the highest COL in the U.S. Can't wait to see more in this series so we can live vicariously through you! 🙂
    xx Vivian @

  18. The Shutter

    January 24, 2011

    Oh my goodness, what fun you are going to have. You are living my dream. I would gladly trade in my NYC life for a year in Paris. We go every summer with my 3-kids all under the age of 5 yrs and it is brilliant. I'll be checking in a lot to read about the big adventure.

  19. Kendall

    January 24, 2011

    I can't wait to hear more! I'm sure you'll inspire a lot of people.

  20. Megan

    January 25, 2011

    I've been looking forward to reading about how this unfolds for you. Ten years ago when I left San Francisco for Germany it was a very old school kind of affair and the job situation – light years away from how it is now.

  21. Noemie

    January 25, 2011

    I'm french, and I read your blog since a few weeks. I love it !!!
    I'm a graphic designer, leaving in Paris too, and I work as Free Lance since I've my two boys.
    I have to say it's not easy everyday, but as american people love working with french people in Design, it's the same thing here for you : French love americans in that kind of job and others jobs by the way 🙂 (french people like speaking the english 😉
    Welcome !!! I hope you'll have some fun !
    Paris is wonderful for culture, and museums, and Art. You'll love it !

  22. Sigrid

    January 25, 2011

    We lived in Marin for four years and I worked in SOMA, i can totally relate to Paris likely being more affordable than the City. You will have a great life experience and I am excited to follow the journey. Safe travels.

  23. Amy

    January 25, 2011

    Jordan, I know your sister is going to a more rural area of France, too. Will you be able to see each other fairly easily? It's so cool that you're both doing it, but in different regions.

  24. mel

    January 25, 2011

    have an amazing time in france.
    i was there for the year last year and i miss it so…
    a word of advice if you have to do any paperwork – have triple copies. honestly.
    otherwise have a brilliant time, and i'll be following along! cheers!

  25. Nicole

    January 26, 2011

    Its true- deodorant here is so weird (and expensive)! Other random things that are insanely expensive when comparing to the US:
    children's shoes
    party supplies
    cotton quilting-type fabric (I've spent 14 euros on something that would cost me 2 dollars at Walmart)

  26. marlene

    January 26, 2011

    i'm so happy for you guys! my husband and i both work from home and actually decided to live in our airstream for 4 months and travel across country. it was so awesome. most of my family thought we were nuts… but their tune changed once they saw how much fun we were having and how our young girls adapted to our new lifestyle. can't wait to hear about paris life!

  27. Lisa Long

    January 27, 2011

    That's the one good thing about the high price tag of the Bay Area – almost everywhere you go seems cheap in comparison! I can't wait to see all your adventures!

  28. Ransacked Goods

    February 1, 2011

    Thanks so much for posting all of your experience and advice on moving. I think there are a lot of us who share the same wish to live abroad for a year with our kids. It takes motivation and inspiration to take the leap — it never hurts to ask or to dream.

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