Before you go
- Make sure you have all required documentation, including visas, work permits, marriage certificates, driving licence and copies of past bank statements.
- Brush up on your everyday French phrases – it’s not guaranteed that every Parisian can or will want to speak English with you!
- Finding your ideal place to live in Paris is certainly no mean feat, so ensure to arrange short-term accommodation for the first few weeks following your arrival. It’s great to have somewhere comfortable to stay whilst you get to know the city and embark on your search to find more permanent housing.
- Make sure you write down the address and the number of the district (arrondissement) of your accommodation – pronouncing a Parisian Rue with a good French accent is not an easy task and the taxi drivers don’t tend to wait until they understand you. Having a written-copy of the address to hand will make your arrival run that bit more smoothly…
Finding a place
- Walk around the different arrondissements, soak up their very diverse atmospheres and decide which area suits you (and your budget) the most.
- Once you have chosen the arrondissement you want to focus on, you can begin the search for your ideal place to live. Visit as many estate agencies (agences immobilières) as possible, set up several house viewings and weigh up your options.
- Have a look through local newspapers and magazines. There are always new properties available and it’s a great way to see what’s on the market and in your price range.
- If you are not a confident French speaker, be sure to research some key French phrases or take a dictionary with you on the property viewings. You want to be in an able position to ask important questions, such those regarding deposits or agency fees, without any misunderstandings or confusion.
Setting up a bank account
- You will need plenty of paperwork when opening up a bank account. This could including any or all of the following documentation: passport/ID (often two different types), proof of address, health insurance confirmation, student status confirmation (if applicable), and work permit (if applicable).
- Don’t rely on your account being open and ready to use straight away. In some cases you may have to wait for up two months before your account is activated and you can start to withdraw money. So, make sure you have access to other funds during your first few weeks in Paris.
- Ask about account/withdrawal fees. Different banks offer different services so make sure you have a look around to find the best option for you.
- Don’t underestimate health issues: get your health insurance before leaving. If you are a British citizen, make sure you apply for you EHIC card around 6 weeks in advance. If you come from outside the UK, research the best medical insurance package for you.
- Keep your healthcare insurance documents safe – not having any medical insurance is illegal in France!
- Once you are a French citizen, you are entitled to the same healthcare insurance as your Parisian neighbour. If you are working or a student, you most probably qualify for the state medical insurance, Securité Sociale. If not, there are plenty of services willing to inform you of the best healthcare insurance options for you (see the links below).
- Emergency number is 112
- Shield your PIN at cash machines, avoid empty Metro carriages at night and never get in an unlicensed taxi (only use taxis with a roof-top sign saying ‘Taxi Parisien’).
- Ensure your valuables are concealed from view when using public transport, or walking through a busy area.
- Buy a detailed street map and walk! It certainly is one of the most scenic, healthy and environmentally-friendly forms of transport.
- Buy a Velib pass and make the most of the abundance of public bikes in Paris. You’ll also get to know the city much better and much more quickly.
- Buy a Navigo Pass if you need to use the Metro frequently – it can help save you a lot of money.
- You can find Metro/bus maps in every Metro station (situated within about a 5-10 minute walk of each other).
further extension of this guide as well as top tips from a local on the best places to eat, drink and shop in NYC.
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