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Moving to Paris: Everything You Need to Know and Do

Moving to Paris: 16 Essentials Tips For Relocation

If moving to Paris conjures up images of moonlit walks along the Seine, enjoying a croissant et café in the morning and alfresco dining in the evening, then you’d be right. But just before you can take in all of the joys that Paris has to offer, you need to sort out some of the practical stuff.

 

Booking a flight to France is easy. Getting a visa to stay there for a long time is difficult. And finding your perfect abode can be an ordeal. But we’re here to help, especially when it comes to nailing down that first apartment in the city. We’ve put together these tips for moving to Paris so that you’ll have all of the know-how to move to France’s chic capital with confidence and excitement.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Take a read!

Things to know before you move to Paris

1. What is the average rent in Paris?

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about moving to Paris is the price of rent and accommodation. If you’re moving here from another large European capital, the prices may come as no surprise to you. If you’re moving here from a smaller town, or from outside of the EU, you may find Paris to be frustratingly expensive. However, like any big city, there are always ways to save money on accommodation.

 

The average rent across the city does hover between 1,400 EUR to 2,600 EUR per month. However, you can opt for the more budget-friendly outer arrondissements if you’re looking for something below the 1,000 EUR per month mark. 

 

According to Statista, this is how much you can expect to pay per square meter in some of Paris’ most popular arrondissements:

 

1st to 7th arrondissement: 32 EUR per square meter

8th to 11th and 15th to 17th: 28 EUR per square meter

12th to 14th and 19th to 20th: 26 EUR per square meter

2. Where is the best place to live in Paris?

If you’re struggling to get your head around Paris’ 20 arrondissements, the French word for districts, and can’t decide where you want to live, we’ve already put together an extensive guide to the best neighborhoods in Paris for you to check out. 

 

Paris’ districts are arranged in a circle, almost like the shell of a snail. At the centre of the shell is the 1st arrondissement, and at the outer edge, the 20th. As a general rule of thumb, the lower the number of the arrondissement, the closer it is to the city center. The larger the number, the further away it is. 

 

In this case, smaller numbers aren’t always better. The central arrondissements tend to be more expensive and overcrowded, but living here means you’ll be surrounded by classic Parisian buildings and lots of culture. The outer districts are slightly more budget-friendly, the streets are quieter, but you will need to travel a little further to get into the city center. 

 

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly neighborhood, somewhere that’s bustling with life, or a sleepy suburb, Paris will have something for you. Here’s what we found from our research:

 

Best Paris neighborhoods for families: 16th, 7th, and 17th

Affordable places to live in Paris: 11th, 18th, and 20th

Best places to live in Paris for expats: 4th, 1st, and 6th

Best places to live in Paris for young professionals: 5th, 11th, and 10th.

3. How to find an apartment in Paris?

Like many major European cities, Paris is experiencing a housing crisis. Space in the city is hard to come by, and more and more people continue to stream in each year. Not only does this make finding a place extremely difficult, but it also means that rent tends to be very high too. To add to this further, the majority of Parisian landlords will ask you to provide a French guarantor to co-sign your lease agreement. Unless you’re very lucky and already know a Parisian, this won’t be possible as soon as you move there. 


With all of these complications, you almost definitely won’t be able to find a rental before you move to the city. That’s why we’d recommend finding furnished, temporary rentals for when you arrive. This way, you’ll have time to settle into the city and make some French companions before you find your dream apartment.

4. How much does it cost to live in Paris?

There’s no way around it, Paris is an expensive city. From the rent you pay to the food you eat, it will cost you more than average to live your dream in the French capital. Saying this, if you’re happy to hunt around, you’ll be able to find affordable groceries at most local markets, and public transport will only set you back 86EUR for a monthly pass.

 

You will also need to factor in the cost of utility bills like heating, electricity, water, and the internet. On average, this will cost between 150 to 200 EUR each month depending on the size of your apartment. Many buildings also demand maintenance fees, and you’ll need to pay council tax as well. If this all seems a little too complicated, consider a furnished apartment instead. Here, everything will be taken care of for you, so all you need to do is pay one lump sum each month.

5. What are the French visa requirements?

Unless you’re coming from one of the 30 countries in the EEA (European Economic Area) or are a Swiss national, you’ll need a visa if you want to move to Paris. Getting your hands on a visa can take up to two months, so make sure you apply well in advance of moving day. 

There are four reasons why you can apply for a long-stay visa in Paris, these include:

  • Tourist/personal reasons
  • Business reasons
  • Education 
  • To join family members 

 

The visa application process varies depending on the passport you hold, so you’ll want to check out the French government’s website’s requirements for all of the details.  Here are the general steps you’ll need to take to apply for a visa.

 

  1. Gather all of the necessary information you’ll need for your visa application.
  2. Fill out the visa application form online and upload the relevant documents.
  3. Book an appointment with your local visa application center.
  4. Submit your file, and pay the relevant visa fee.

Track the progress of your visa and wait for it to be approved!

6. How can you relocate your pet to Paris?

It’s not difficult to bring your pet to Paris, but it does require a little bit of forethought and some careful planning. 

 

First of all, your pet must be microchipped and have a valid EU Pet passport if you’re moving from inside the EU.  Your pet will also need proof of an in-date rabies injection.

 

If you’re coming from outside of the EU, you will also need to get a non-commercial EU health certificate from a licensed vet. This needs to be issued within ten days of moving to Paris. If you’re flying into France, only certain international airports will accept your pet, including Paris, Toulouse, Reunion, Nice, Marseille, and Lyon.

 

Other than the cost of vaccines and microchips, the only other cost you’ll incur is paying for the transportation of your pets. Airlines charge different amounts depending on the size and weight of your pet but expect to pay around 150 EUR.

 

For those of you moving to Paris from within Europe, you can also choose to drive yourself, or jump on a train. If you’re driving, you’ll simply need to present your pet and their documentation at each of the borders you drive across. If you choose to travel by train, some trains will allow your four-legged friend to travel in the carriage with you. Others will ask you to bring your pet in a crate which will travel alongside the luggage compartment. 

 

Currently, there is a limit of bringing in five pets per person, so you’ll need to pick your favourites if you’ve got a lot of four-legged friends.

7. Do you need to learn French to live in Paris?

It’s more than possible to move to Paris without learning French. However, a little bit of language does go a long way in the capital city, and most locals will expect you to at least try and speak to them in French before reverting to English. 

 

Getting your head around the basics of the language before you move will make it a lot easier to pick up the language while you get there. You can do this by watching French news and television programs, by joining a language course or through an app such as Duolingo.. 

 

Learning French will also make it much easier to find a job once you’ve settled in Paris, as most positions in respectable companies will expect you to know at least the basics of French. Plus, integrating into your local community will be much smoother if you can have a conversation with your neighbors and work colleagues.

Things to do after you move to Paris

8. How to find a job in Paris

There are plenty of opportunities in Paris when it comes to finding a job in the City of Light. As a global city, it attracts international corporations that operate in tonnes of different industries. From fashion and design to technology and computer science, this city has it all. Like most places nowadays, you’ll find jobs advertised on online marketplaces, in your local communities and even on Facebook. 

 

Unfortunately, in recent years, unemployment in the capital has risen, and moving to Paris without a job in place is a risky strategy. If you do come with the intention of finding a job once you’ve moved, it’s a good idea to have a high level of spoken French, as this will widen the pool of jobs considerably. 

9. How to open a bank account in Paris

If you are planning on moving to Paris for the long term, it’s best practice to set up a French bank account. This will make everyday life a lot easier, from buying your groceries to getting paid by your employer. You’ll also avoid any foreign conversion fees, which can stack up considerably over the year. 

 

The best way to set up an account is to do so before you move to Paris. International banks like HSBC and BNP Paribas but operate in Paris and may even have a branch in your home town. You’ll need to set up an appointment and take along a copy of your passport, proof of your current residence, and, in some cases, an initial deposit for the account. 

 

If you’re struggling to set up a local bank account when you first arrive, try an online bank like Monzo or Starling to tide you over. This type of bank has waived international charges completely.

10. How does health insurance work in Paris?

France is recognized and praised around the world for its fantastic public healthcare facilities. In fact, it’s regularly voted as one of the top ten healthcare systems in the world. 

 

If you hold a passport from a country in the EEA, you should apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving home. This will entitle you to free medical treatment during your stay in Paris and is normally valid for up to five years. An EHIC card only covers you in certain situations, so make sure you know what you may have to pay for before you go. 

 

Once you’ve lived in France for three months, and if you intend to stay for at least another three, you’ll be eligible to be covered by France’s public healthcare system. To do this, you’ll need to register with your local healthcare provider to receive a carte vitale. Keep this safe and present it each time you see a doctor.  The public health system in France will generally cover you for 70% of your medical costs. The rest you will need to pay for yourself. 

 

If you’re moving to Paris with a job offer, your employer will more than likely offer you insurance from the beginning of your stay. You’ll need to purchase public health insurance that will cover you in France for any other situation.

11. How to set up a sim card in Paris

You’ll find shops selling sim cards on every corner in Paris, so you’ll have no problem sorting out a contract on your first day of moving to the city. Paris also has excellent 4G coverage and mobile phone signal, so you should always be able to stay connected around the city. 

 

France’s mobile market is a competitive one, which means prices are generally affordable and similar across the board. It’s still worth shopping around for the best deal when you arrive from companies such as:

 

 

You’ll generally have the option to choose between a contract or a prepaid sim card. Most expats tend to choose the latter as it’s the quickest to set up, and it gives you the freedom to use the sim card for as short or as long as you would like to. If you’re certain that you’re going to stay in Paris for a while, contracts will generally save you money in the long-term.

12. What is public transport like in Paris?

The public transport system in Paris is considered one of the most efficient systems in Europe, which explains why most locals use it daily. On your daily commute, you’ll have the option of using the metro, RER train, tramway, or buses. Oh, and there’s always a walk along the River Seine if you’ve got the time. 


Paris is split into six different zones, all of which are covered by the extensive tram and bus systems. The metro, Paris’ network of underground trains, only covers zones one and two. A single ticket on any of the above will set you back around 2 EUR. You can also purchase monthly or yearly travel passes, which will save you costs on transport in Paris.

13. Can you cycle around Paris?

Getting around by bike in Paris isn’t uncommon, especially if you’re traveling locally. If you don’t want to move your bike over with you, that’s not a problem. While you now see them all over the world, Paris was one of the first cities in the world to launch a city-wide bike-sharing initiative. Simply find your local station, pay for the ride and start your journey. It costs 1 EUR per half an hour you use the bike, and you’ll need to bring your own helmet.


Paris’ roads are notoriously difficult to navigate, especially right in the city center. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the French rule of the road and use bike lanes where you can.

What else is on the moving to Paris checklist?

14. Register with the French Authorities

 It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, you’ll need to register with the French authorities within three months of arriving in Paris. To do this, you’ll need to undertake an interview and a medical, and the whole process can take a while.

15. Set up a social security number

 Once you’ve lived in France for more than three months and have met the eligibility criteria for their public health care system, you’ll need a social security number. This is your personal identification number that you use for the healthcare system. This is a tricky process, not only because all of the application forms are in French but also because it can take up to 6 months to receive the number once you’ve applied.

16. Organize your tax identification number

 If you’re working in France, your employee should set up your tax number for you. If they don’t, you can set one up by completing a 2043 form and taking it to your local tax office. Alternatively, you can apply for your tax number online.

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