Top Things You Need to Know About Expat Life in France

People choose to move abroad for different reasons – to explore a new job opportunity, to enjoy a better lifestyle, to be closer to their partner who has a job abroad, or simply because they’ve got tired of their home country. But no matter what the reason is, it’s always difficult to leave behind all the things that you’ve been used to your entire life and get adjusted to a new country, a new culture and a new way of doing things. Here are a few ways to help you adjust to expat life in France.

Cost of living in France

Cost of living, like in any other country, is higher in the cities than in the rural regions. On an average, a 40 sq m apartment in Paris can cost you anywhere between 1,280 EUR to 1,520 EUR per month. To add to it, all tenants in France, no matter whether you are living in the city or the countryside, have to pay an annual amount as French residence tax. If you are planning to stay in Paris for the duration of your stay in France, Expatica has some very useful information on the different types of properties and rental contracts in the city.

France has a very good public transportation system, which makes it easy for expats in bigger cities to move around without a vehicle. However, if you are living in the countryside, you will find it easier to buy a car.

Clothes are also much more expensive in France than in the US, so it will make much more sense to bring your entire wardrobe while moving.

Learning the local language

Contrary to popular belief, the French don’t hate people who don’t speak their language. Though you may find some people who prefer to interact in French than English, it may be because they are not comfortable speaking in a language that they don’t use that frequently.

On the other hand, any attempts to speak in French, however clumsy it may be, will win you favor with the French. They will appreciate you more for making an effort to learn their language and will at least try to respond to you in English. So don’t forget to enroll in a French-speaking class or at least learn a few key words and phrases before you make the move!

Mastering French etiquette

Though a handshake is the most common way to greet someone you are meeting for the first time in France, many people kiss each other on the cheeks when greeting someone they know or have met at least once before, bewildering expats who often have no idea how to tackle this tricky social custom. So if in doubt, take it slow, watch what the locals are doing, and take it from there!

In France, the use of first names or the informal tu or toi is restricted only to friends and family, though the younger generation is not very rigid about this. For more tips on proper French etiquette, including gift giving, table manners, and dining and business etiquette, check out this useful link from The Telegraph.

A slower pace of life

Those who are moving from big cities in the US may initially find it difficult to adjust to a slower pace of life in France, especially in the southern regions. Here, people lead a simpler, less extravagant life and prefer to enjoy the moment rather than chase the next big thing.

You’ll notice many shops closed during lunchtime and on Sundays. You’ll also find that people are not always in a hurry to get somewhere or do things. If you are invited for lunch at a restaurant, get ready to set aside at least an hour or even more for a good meal and some great conversation.
Remember that something is not bad just because you are used to a different way of doing it. Give yourself time to adjust to the new life, don’t take yourself too seriously, and tackle everything that comes your way with a smile. Who knows, you may even fall in love with the French way of living and decide to settle in France for good!

Kurt Jacobson is a snowboarding enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 11 times in the past nine years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding the mountain, he writes about all things home related for the website