Last week both on my Instagram and during the OuiPlease takeover I did a little “ask me anything” which was such a blast. I want to make these Q&A’s a more regular thing on Instagram. I’ve had several requests to compile all of the moving to France and getting a visa related questions for future reference, so here you go!
Full disclosure: I am by no means a professional with anything visa-related. All of my answers are my opinions based on my personal experience. Every situation is going to be different, especially now with COVID-19. I highly recommend talking with either a lawyer or visa professional.
Getting a Visa Question & Answer
Other than getting a job, how else can one move to Paris?
There are a few different ways you can do it. Click here to see the different long-stay visa categories.
What visa did you get to move there? Was it easy to get?
I have the profession libérale visa. It was easy to get, but after I had someone help me to make sure I not only had everything I needed in my file but also that it was worded just right. I can’t recommend working with Jean Taquet enough.
Did you have to apply for a residency permit?
Yes, that’s my visa!
Do you get free healthcare since you live in France? Curious if that applies on visa.
You need to have health insurance before moving as a visa application requirement, but afterwards you can switch to the French healthcare.
Moving to France Question & Answer
What made you pack up and move to Paris? Was it expensive? It’s a dream of mine.
It was something I always wanted to do and I thought if I didn’t give it a try I’d regret it later on. It’s been such an incredible experience. Paris is generally more expensive than Dallas for example, but I also don’t have a car anymore so I’m saving in other ways. You just kind of learn to adjust!
I live in Dallas! What were the biggest changes? I would love to live in Paris.
You should give it a try! The biggest changes from Dallas specifically were: no air conditioning in Paris, you can’t take your car everywhere, and there’s no queso!
What do I need to know about moving to Paris?
A lot goes into a move to Paris, but I think two of the most important things are if you need a visa knowing which type and what you’ll need for the application and then also finding a place to live. I wanted to be in a neighborhood that I was already familiar with and that helped so much.
How did you move to France?
There are a lot of different steps involved including finding an apartment, opening a bank account, getting insurance etc. but exactly what you need varies depending on which visa you have or are applying for. Click here to read about my visa type, profession libérale.
I would love to move to Paris but I don’t speak fluent French. Any tips?
I don’t think you need to be fluent to move to Paris or France (I wasn’t and am still not). Just practice as much as you can! I used Rosetta Stone before I moved and enrolled in classes at Lutece Langue after I arrived.
Did you pick up on the language quickly?
Yes and no. It’s easy to memorize a little script that you can use to get by on a daily basis (plus a lot of people speak English in Paris). Sometimes I still have no idea what people are saying and vice versa. It’s definitely a work in progress!
How long did it take before you were fluent in French?
I’m still not fluent. Speaking is still difficult for me (and it’s partially just a confidence issue). I think it’ll probably be another year or two before I’m fully fluent.
I have been thinking about moving to Paris, how did you manage your work situation?
You need to have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to do before you move. In my case, in the visa application I needed to show that I already had clients in France. Another option if you speak French is to try and get hired by a French company (in this case they’ll help you get a visa).
Best neighborhood in Paris to stay/live in?
Every neighborhood in Paris has something special. If you’re living here I think you need to pick an area that makes sense for you: where you feel comfortable, it’s easy to commute to work, etc.
I study economics. I would like to find a job in Paris. Advice for first things to do?
If you’re a student I think trying to find an internship is a good starting point. I didn’t live here after I graduated, but Romain is French and he interned for a company and ended up working for them for four years.
Tips for finding a job in France for a person who speaks English?
How did you find a job in France? How did you secure moving in Paris?
I did freelance work for American companies to start. Finding an apartment as an expat without a French guarantor can be difficult. I used Book-A-Flat because they’re used to working with expats. I absolutely love my apartment.
Is it standard practice that all landlords request a physical person guarantor?
Not at all, but I think it definitely helps as an expat to have a French guarantor if possible.
How much do you pay for your flat if you don’t mind sharing?
Check out SeLoger for a good idea of Paris apartment prices. Apartment prices are going to vary greatly based on what size you need, area you want to live in, etc.
In your opinion, what is the ideal budget to move to Paris?
It really just depends on how much you’re going to be paying in rent and how often you’re going to restaurants etc. Before I moved someone told me that whatever monthly budget you come up with, add 10% because things always come up – from unexpected taxes to fun dinners. COVID-19 has also reinforced that it’s important to have savings.
How difficult was it, truly, to move your life to Paris?
Honestly it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It was difficult choosing what I wanted to bring with me to make my apartment feel like home. I brought a lot of photos and books and it made a huge difference. I was back and forth a lot for the first 18 months too which made the transition easier.
How long was the adjustment period? Do you feel like you have a solid group of friends now?
I was very familiar with Paris when I moved so it never seemed like too big of an adjustment. However, when I looked back on my second year I realized it was much easier than my first. I have great friends here, but the friendships are different than they are in the US. I think a lot of that just has to do with time. You really have to put yourself out there to meet people. Most of my friends are expats which is so helpful because everyone really understands what it’s like.
All of these questions and answers about moving to France and getting a visa are directly from the Instagram Q&A’s. If you have any additional questions feel free to leave a comment or send me an email – I can update the post with additional questions as needed.