Moving to Paris
So after moving around in this city at least eight times (within one year) so far I’m beginning to get friends with the idea of actually looking into to finding myself a little Parisian flat for a longer amount of time. So why haven’t I done this earlier you might ask? Is it because I like living in three different suitcases or is it because I simply adore not having a real home? Neither. Honestly, it’s because I’ve been afraid of getting restrained by something long-term since I’m not entirely sure where I see myself in the future. All of the sudden I’ve become a person who’s scared of commitment and getting tied down – words that I never would have thought would leave my mouth a year ago (oh, how time can change things). Although now it actually feels like I’ve reached a point where I can’t stand not being able to buy those cute little cups for myself, not being able to paint my own walls or not being able to go away and knowing that a my home is waiting for me when I return. Even though I’m still a bit intimidated by the thought of signing my name to something for a whole year (or maybe even three?!) I feel like I’m (kind of) ready to be a (little bit) tied down.
My goal for the summer of 2014? To find myself a little place here in the city that I love so madly, which I can call my own and finally start decorating myself. Of course that quintessential Parisan apartment with floor to ceiling windows with a small cast iron balcony overlooking the part of town where the sun sets every day is what I’d like to end up with… Sounds pretty dreamy, no? Well, think again and this time add non English speaking landlords, mildew problems, non exciting kitchens, views over dark courtyards which allows you to be close enough to you neighbours for them to see you change every morning and flats the size of your closet to the list. Nah, not so dreamy after all.
I always receive a lot of questions about moving to Paris, and this time was no different. So this part of my answers are all about moving to Paris. How, when and why? You’ll find out now. For even more info see the category “Moving to Paris“.
What brought you to Paris?
I always knew that I wanted to see more of the world than just Stockholm. At first I had my mind set on Italy but after yet another weekend trip to Paris in 2011 I decided that Paris was the place for me. I moved because I wanted a change in my life, I wanted a challenge and I wanted to experience and see something completely new. I moved to Paris in February of 2012 during four months (yes, that’s how the name came to be) to study French. After my four months were up and I went back to Stockholm, I couldn’t get Paris out of my head and decided to move back in January 2013.
I want to move to Paris… How should I go about it?
This is one of the most common questions I get asked and it’s such a hard one. Since I have absolutely no idea about each person’s living situation etc. etc. it’s really hard to give advice. But generally here’s what I would say:
1) Visit the place you’re thinking about moving to if you haven’t already. I’ve heard about soo many people dreaming about moving to Paris and when they finally arrive here they don’t like it at all. So I would say that a visit is a very good idea before you pack up your bags and leave. I think so many people have unrealistic expectations of Paris and have built up the city in their head to a point where the only possible outcome is disappointment. It’s not all roses and macarons over here just so you know!
2) Make a plan. You can get help from the category “Moving to Paris” here on the blog where I’ve written down almost everything I know about moving to this city. Make a budget, look up different costs, look up options for obtaining a visa (if you need one), look for job opportunities or schools, look into the apartment situation and do your research.
3) If you, after these steps, still think moving to Paris is possible for you and it feels like something you want, I say go for it!
How do I find an apartment in Paris?
You can find an apartment in a few different ways here in Paris. You can either go through an agency (where you can rent an apartment from 1 week to 1 year), look on your own or look with a real estate agent. I always recommend seeing the apartment in person before you sign any papers but if that’s not possible one option is to rent something for a shorter amount of time so that you can look yourself when your on location, or you can go through a legit agency (although you can never be 100% sure unless you see it with your own eyes).
You’ll find different agencies that deal with apartment rentals in Paris by doing a simple Google search. I think it’s hard to recommend a specific one since it comes down to the apartment you pick yourself. You can read more about finding an apartment in Paris in this post.
How do you meet new people in Paris?
You can meet people in a bunch of different ways in Paris! Perhaps the easiest way is through your work or school but if that’s not an option for you perhaps these suggestions will help: Co-Lunching, different conversation exchange sites, social medias (a blog is a great idea), Meetup.com, a cooking class (art, photography or any kind of class actually), Voulez Vous Dîner and social gatherings like a book signing, opening of a new store or restaurant for example — the possibilities are endless! You just have to make an effort and not be too shy.
Is it difficult finding a job in Paris?
This is such an impossible question to answer since it totally depends on what kind of job you’re looking for, your qualifications and what kind of field you’re interested in. It also depends on your contacts, your level of French etc. etc. Without knowing French and without any leeds for a job I think it can be very though to find a job in Paris and I even think it can be super hard to find a job with good French. Perhaps I’m not the best person to ask since I currently work for myself, but I’ve had friends who’ve lived in the city for up to 1 year without any job opportunities… But nothing is impossible, right?
Wasn’t it nerve-wracking to pick up everything and move? How did you summon the courage?
It was absolutely super duper nerve-wracking to pick up everything and just leave. I, a person who loves to plan and have everything figured out, was panicked by the thought of not knowing how things were going to turn out. I struggled with this during months before my move(s). What finally pushed me over the edge and what made me go for it was mainly two things that I realised: 1) I wasn’t completely happy or satisfied with my life back home and my longing for something else was too strong to just ignore and 2) “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” my mom asked me. “That I don’t like it” was always my answer to this. “Well, then come back home then” she said. It’s really not more complicated than that. If you don’t like it, if you realise that this wasn’t the thing for you, well then go back home then, but at least you’ve tried!
I’ve noticed that we have a lot of new readers around here and I just wanted to take a moment and say welcome to you all! And also tell you a little bit about me and my Parisian adventure since it’s pretty complicated and hard to grasp by simply scrolling through the first few pages on the blog.
I first moved to Paris in February of 2012. I moved because I wanted a change in my life and a new challenge to take on. I felt that something was missing in my life back in Stockholm and perhaps that’s because I’ve always dreamt about moving abroad ever since I was a little kid. During my third weekend trip to Paris a year before my move everything just felt right and I started to dream about a life in Paris. So that’s what I did, I left both family and friends back home and moved to Paris to pursue my dream.
During my time in Paris (four months to be exact, and yes that’s the explanation behind the name of the blog) I studied French since I didn’t know a single word except merci and bonjour when arrived, which you can read more about here. When June finally came along I had spent four months in Paris and it had been the time of my life! Getting to know wonderful new people and living totally on my own for the very first time, a truly priceless experience that I’ll never forget. Going back to Stockholm again after this magical time was never something that felt right… Paris (or perhaps the taste for something new and different) had stolen my heart.
After a few weeks back in Stockholm I started to dream more frequently about my Parisian experience and during the fall of 2012 I decided that I had to move back. I couldn’t be in a place that didn’t feel right and I couldn’t spend my days, weeks and months just daydreaming about another place and never actually doing anything about it. Life’s to short (cliché — yes. But true, absolutely).
I started to plan for my new adventure and in January of 2013 I moved to Paris for the second time. This time around I have to admit that it’s a little bit more “scary” and “unsure” since I don’t have a plan written in stone. I’ve always been a control/planning freak so for me to do something without an actual plan is very unusual and quite terrifying.
So what’s happening right now? Well, right now I’m living in Paris, trying to make a little life for myself over here. I have absolutely no idea about how long I’m going to stay, if I’ll move back to Stockholm or somewhere else in the world or what life has in store for me during the coming months and years. And I have to say that even though it’s super scary (at least for the control freak inside of me) it’s also very exciting!
Through Paris in Four Months I share my experiences, tips and suggestions, setbacks, successes and pretty things that I find along the way with you all, mostly through photographs since that’s my big passion.
For restaurant tips (or actually anything eatable) check out the category “Paris Eats“.
For suggestions on where to get your sugar fix you can look under my category “Paris Sweets“.
And for general tips about Paris you can click on the category “Paris Tips“.
Today I thought I’d be strolling through Paris, running a few errands here and there and just enjoying the city. Perhaps even taking a photo or two for you to see! Oh how wrong you can be…
When I arrived at the apartment I had rented in St Germain (and that I had been dreaming about for almost six months now) yesterday I discovered that the apartment was in the worst condition ever. The smell of mildew hit you in the face as soon as you stepped inside, the bathroom looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in over a century, there were holes in the walls and the paint was chipping off on almost every single wall in the place. Yes, I panicked.
During two days now, while taking in at a hotel in Paris I’ve desperately been running around town, looking for a place to stay and trying to get a hold of a million people, who apparently all are on holiday at the moment. Now I’ve found a little apartment in the 5th arrondissement that I can stay in for a month. Thank god! Then it’s back to panicking again. Let’s just say that this wasn’t exactly what I had planned for myself.
So my (fun) Parisian adventure has been on hold for a little while. I hope you understand and can look forward to many more updates about life in Paris once I’ve settled in and taken care of a few things. Cross your fingers for me!
What do you say? Are you with me? See you once I’ve landed on Parisian ground again!
When you’ve gone through all the steps (like making a budget, finding an apartment, dealing with all those feelings and figuring out where to live) I hope you can breathe a little bit easier and finally start to look forward to your moving date! So when you’ve booked your plane ticket and the date is getting closer and closer you can start to figure out what to do when your feet finally hits Parisian ground for the first time.
Getting cosy in your apartment
One of the most important things to me was to make “my” apartment a place where I wanted to be, where I felt safe and at home when I first arrived. I think this is a good tip if you’re afraid of feeling lonely or getting homesick. It’s much easier to be comfortable and feel at home in your new place if you make it your own. For me this meant unpacking all of my things so that I could see a part of me in the apartment. I also brought photos that reminded me of my loved ones and my little pug — another great tip to make you feel at home.
I really need to feel that the apartment is a cosy and warm place for me to be. Perhaps it’s just me but I really like that feeling! Beautiful candles (which you can find both here, here and here), fresh flowers and a stocked fridge and pantry are all things that gives me that cosy/homey feeling. A little stack of my favourite magazines, scented candles in the bathroom and the bed made up with my own sheets are also things that make me feel more at home. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Finding your favourite…
To make you feel even more at home I would suggest leaving the apartment to find your new neighbourhood gems! I love to try out/visit all the local boulangeries, cheese shops, wine shops, butchers, cafés and restaurants just to find my favourites. It can take a while of course but it’s always nice to see what you have to choose from.
When I arrive I’m going to buy a baguette from all the boulangeries close by to see which one I like the most, and voila, there’s my morning stop! Although just because one boulangerie has the best baguette doesn’t mean that they have the best pastries, so there you have something to keep you busy. Eating my way through the local boulangeries was one of my favourite occupations while in Paris haha. Other things to try as well are the boulangerie’s croissants, tarte aux framboises, crumble and gateau au chocolat! Mmm…
Another thing to look for is that café or that restaurant that you always can go to if you’re too tired or lazy to cook. Where you can sit and read a book for hours or simply have a quick bite before going out. In my previous neighbourhood, Île Saint Louis, this place was called Café St Regis for me. Here I could always have a bit to eat, a glass of wine in the evening or a tasty little dessert.
Your grocery store
Another thing that can be quite good to look up is which grocery store is closest to you. Which store is going to be your go-to grocery store for bigger purchases, and which one will be your go-to grocery store when you get the munchies during the evening? A few bigger chains that you’ll probably see around Paris are: Franprix, Monoprix, G20 and Carrefour. The bigger stores with these names, like one of the huge Monoprix stores for example, can be good if you want to go and make bigger purchases, while the smaller Monoprix stores (often called Monop’) is better for smaller purchases. Haha, yes, I know, a lot of names to keep track of. Monoprix also offers home delivery (thank god for that when you don’t have an elevator) and I’m sure a few other stores does as well.
Then there’s also the smaller stores, often without a specific name, called épiceries. These are often located quite convenient but they are quite expensive compared to the bigger stores. Let me just say that I probably spent a small fortune at my local épicerie… Just because of comfort.
If you’re really lucky you’ll have la Grande Épicerie or the Galeries Lafayette Gourmet close by… Or well, perhaps I should say “unlucky” since all your money probably will be spent here in that case. These two food stores are simply amazing and I could spend hours and hours in wither of them.
Where’s the closest…
Well ok, now when you’ve found all the fun stuff it’s time to find the more practical stuff… Like where’s the closest post office, pharmacy, bank, métro and bus station? Of course you can do this over time but it can always be good to know. The post office was surprisingly easy (by French standards) to communicate with and every time I received or sent a package it went smoothly. A bank or an ATM could also be a good thing to find close by, you never know when you’ll be needing it.
A pharmacy could also be a good idea to look up. I ended up going there almost every week for small purchases that I had forgotten about when packing my bags so I was very happy to find one next door. Here you’ll also find a bunch of beauty products and hair care (yes, it’s really a little gold mine) which means that you don’t have to look up a separate store for that.
I also think you should look up the bus and métro stations closest to you. Otherwise it can take you half your stay to figure out that you could have taken a bus just a few meters away from your door instead of changing métro stations three times… The Parisan métro maps are really easy to understand and so are the bus maps (once you get a hang of it). On this site you can plan your trip in advance which works really great and here you can have a look at the bus map and the métro map.
Now it’s just a few weeks left until I head back to Paris and I’ve already started to mentally pack my bags. But how on earth do you pack up a life into a couple of suitcases? What do you bring and what do you leave behind? It’s impossible to bring it all because there’s no chance that I can unpack everything in a tini tiny Parisian apartment… Before my first trip it was much easier since I knew that I was packing for four months but now I need to pack for… I don’t know how long. Scary!
I’ve now covered a lot of the practical things you need to think about and do before a move to Paris; like making a budget, finding and apartment and figuring out what you want to do, but I also thought that it would be important to bring up the emotional side that a move can create… And it probably couldn’t come at a better time since I’ve just had a little bit of trouble with the feelings myself.
Doubting your decision
The first thing that I try to think about every time I’m doing something out of my comfort zone is “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”. And if you have any doubts, just like I had, try to close your eyes and imagine yourself in the city that you want to move to. What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen if you make this move? That you’ll be totally alone in your room, crying, wishing you never moved? Well, just go back home then! It doesn’t have to be harder than that. And well, if you’ve already payed the rent and don’t want to loose the money — spend a few months in the city and give it a chance! I tried to think like this before my first move. The worst thing that could happen was that I had to spend four months in Paris. And really, how bad is that? Nothing is written in stone and you can always make another choice later on.
Manage your expectations
Before I made my move to Paris I was totally prepared for the fact that I was going to hate it, that I would be sitting in a corner and crying, missing all the people that I loved every single second during the first 30 days. Well, let’s just say that I was wrong. I didn’t cry every single second during the first month. Actually I didn’t shed that many tears at all. I was so afraid that my dream about Paris would be crushed once I moved there. I was so sure that I had romanticised the whole move, the whole city, so much that it was impossible for the reality to live up to my expectations. I prepared myself for utterly and total disappointment. Which might, now when I look back, have been a little bit too extreme.
What I’m trying to say is: be prepared for some tougher nights, some days when you’ll feel a little bit lonely, a few tears and some hours when it doesn’t feel absolutely perfect. I’m not saying you have to feel all those things but it’s better to be a little bit prepared if you do. Try to figure out things that you could do if these feelings occur, then they are so much easier to handle if they suddenly should bubble up to the surface.
I can finally tell you that I’ve found the apartment I’ll be staying in during my first months back in Paris! It’s a tini tiny flat on the sixth floor in a gorgeous Parisian building. Since my stay will be longer this time (I don’t know when, or if I’ll ever leave) I had to think more economically this time around — meaning no gorgeous window overlooking the Seine or an address on Île Saint Louis… But I think I’ll manage anyway!
My little apartment is located in the 6th arrondissement, which just happens to be one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Paris. And now I need your help. I want to know about your favourite cafés, restaurants, bars, boulangeries, pâtisseries, stores, parks and supermarkets in this great neighbourhood. I want to find that perfect croissant, that neighbourhood café I can sit at for hours and that go-to restaurant that always delivers.
Give it to me!
I realise that I have not (intentionally) written a post about how to get a visa when planning a move to Paris. This is simply because I haven’t dealt with this frustrating issue since I’m already a European citizen. But I understand that for many of you, this is a must before making the dream about moving to Paris come true.
I still know absolutely nothing about this so I’m definitely not the right person to be asking but what you could do is to check out this great, and very informative, post on the HiP Paris blog about moving to Paris as a non European citizen. Hopefully it’ll clear a few things up for you! You’ll find it here.