Moving to Paris From the UK
Paris is many things to different people: the home of Voltaire, the cradle of the French Revolution, the refuge of novelists from Dickens to Hemingway, the incubator of early cinema and the birthplace of the cabaret, just to name a few.
Where else in the world can you see the world’s most famous opera house, best known art gallery, most exclusive hotel and most recognisable free-standing structure on a single morning’s walk?
Where else can can you enjoy such exquisite cuisine, such efficient public infrastructure and such a diversity of entertainments? Paris’s place in the hierarchy of global cities is well justified.
A European financial centre on a similar scale to London and Frankfurt, Paris has plenty of opportunities for workers in finance and in the service industries in general.
Moving to Paris
As the capital of France, Paris also presents a significant language barrier to most Brits, used to the almost universal use of English. While Parisians might be more forgiving of the Anglo-Saxon sounds than other French people, mastery of the French tongue is still a requisite for anyone looking to set up home and get ahead in business.
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Luckily there are hundreds of courses in French to choose from so it shouldn’t be any problem finding one that fits around your schedule.
As an EU citizen, a UK native will have no trouble relocating to France to live and work - you already have the right to work and will be able to sign up to the national health insurance scheme (CMU) which is widely regarded as providing better care than the NHS.
Comparing Paris vs London
In terms of climate, cost of living and property prices there isn’t much to choose between these two great European cities: both see a similar amount of rainfall and a similar number of average annual sunshine hours. However, Paris does have greater extremes of temperature meaning winters are colder but the summers are gloriously warmer!
The cost of groceries and consumer goods in Paris is greater but rents won’t make as big a dent in your salary as in London; property prices are roughly on par.
What then separates them? Cultural attractions? Perhaps - it all depends on your personal preference since both host some of the world’s finest galleries, museums and public performance spaces. In Paris the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay and the Opera Garnier easily match, if not better, their London counterparts.
Quality of life then? Now we’re getting somewhere as well as healthcare in Paris oustripping that in London, public transport is also better in the French capital. The stricter planning controls also mean that the centre of Paris is a more spacious, greener and more easily navigable city than London which greatly scores in its favour.
The population density of Paris is high among world cities - leaving even London in the shade when it comes to the number of people packed into every square kilometre - so adjusting to urban living on the Paris scale might take some time, even for the most sophisticated of UK city dwellers.
There are of course downsides. Planning regulations in Paris have changed little since the great remodelling of the 19th century. This keeps the avenues of central Paris wide, the parks plentiful and the skyline unmolested but also leads to some of the highest property prices anywhere in the world.
This means that the central business district of La Défense has had to locate itself far from the historical centre and that a ring of low-income ‘banlieues’ has formed around the outskirts of the city where social problems are ongoing.
Comparing Living Costs
Property in Paris
Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements which are numbered in a clockwise spiral out from the 1st at Louvre. Property sales by volume were down sharply in 2012 with less desirable or poorly located apartments dropping in value by as much as 10% (desirable properties saw stable prices).
In the 1st and 2nd arrondissements you’ll be looking at paying €8,500 to €13,000 (£7,225 to £11,050) per m2 for an apartment.
Continuing north from the centre, in the 9th and 10th prices are closer to €7,000 to €8,500 (£5,950 to £7,225) per m2 in an area that’s well coveted and near the main train stations.
Keeping the same trajectory, apartments in the 18th arrondissement can rise higher than €12,000 (£10,200) per m2 due to the incredible views of Paris obtainable from Montmartre. In the 19th and 20th it’s possible to find bargains at €4,000 (£3,400) per m2 though the average price is more like €6,100 (£5,185) per m2.
The equivalent of stamp duty in France - registration fees - are set at a maximum of 4.98% of the purchase price but you’ll also pay variable ‘notaire’s fees’ of around 1.1% of the purchase price (including VAT).
You can rent a studio apartment in the centre of Paris (1st to 8th) for as little as €650 (£552) per month.
- Family Friendly: The Latin Quarter, straddling the 5th and 6th, is traditionally a student neighbourhood but has great access to the Luxembourg Gardens and the Jardins des Plantes.
- Hip and Trendy: The 20th is the site of the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise - resting place of Sarah Bernhardt, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde - as well as a cool, multicultural crowd.
- Upmarket: The 16th arrondissement is the traditional home of Paris high society, embassies and prestigious schools.
- Up and Coming: Le Marais - in the 4th - is a bit bohemian, a bit gay, a bit Jewish and a lot of tasty falafel.
Schools and Education in Paris
State schools are free in France and, as a city traditionally known as a centre of learning, Paris has some of the country’s finest - for example the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and Lycée Henri-IV.
Education becomes mandatory at 6 years when children begin primary school but many parents opt to begin their children’s schooling at the earlier age of 3 years with nursery school (maternelle) or even at 2 with pré-maternelle. Such classes are usually provided by the local primary.
Children will normally be registered at their local primary school via the town hall in their arrondissement - it is necessary to enrol between September and the end of January for students beginning in the next school year.
Private schooling in Paris is widely available and often provides bilingual education in French and English. Private schools can either be sous-contrat i.e. they receive state funding and provide the national curriculum or hors-contract i.e. they receive no funding from the state and set their own curriculum.
Fees for sous-contrat schools, including many private catholic schools, start at around €400 per year whereas fees for hors-contrat schools, including prestigious international schools such as the Lycée International de Saint Germain-en-Laye, rise to over €20,000 (£17,000) per year.
Paris is home to 4 of the world’s top universities according to Times Higher Education, including the École Normale Supérieure and the École Polytechnique.