Moving to France from the US

You’d struggle to find a country with a more immediately recognizable culture than France. Its influence is so ubiquitous that when non-Europeans think of “Europe,” Paris is often the first image that pops up in their head.

You might be so enamored with the culture or land that you’ve decided to move there. And whether you’re moving to France alone or with a family, we’re here to help you look at the logistics.

One of the biggest hurdles associated with moving abroad is figuring out how to bring all your stuff along with you. If you’re wondering about the cost of bringing your belongings with you to France, fill out our quick form and you’ll receive tailored shipping quotes.

We were legally obligated to have a picture of the Paris skyline in this article

Cost of shipping to France from the US

If you’re looking to ship your stuff to France, how long will it take, and how much will it cost? Let’s estimate that your belongings fall around the average cost of the contents of a three-bedroom household, which, according to Admiral Insurance, is around $53,000.

The shipping rates themselves are from World Freight Rates, based off the sea freight rates for a 20ft container of used furniture. The duration of the trip is sourced from SeaRates.

OriginDestination20ft Container CostDuration
New York City, USARouen, France$1,098.4215 days
New York City, USAMarseilles, France$1,160.2118 days
Los Angeles, USARouen, France$3,430.8141 days
Los Angeles, USAMarseilles, France$2,825.5740 days

Data updated as of August 2020

Cost of flying goods to France from the US

If you want your stuff ASAP, then you might want to look at using a flight service to move your belongings across the ocean. While this is faster, it’s also considerably more expensive. Sometimes it can be up to 18x moreso.

We’re only showing the cost of flying to Paris, as no matter what the city, the cost of flying is almost identical. These estimates are based off a single meter-cubed 250kg container of household goods. Keep in mind, it’s a lot harder to transport a heavier shipment by air than by sea.

OriginDestinationCost
New YorkParis$2,587.12
New YorkParis$2,587.12

Data updated as of August 2020

Healthcare in France

France’s healthcare system is one of the best. Enrollment in the public system is all but mandatory, but that’s a good thing, as this system is consistently ranked top in the world.

Unlike some European countries, it’s not entirely free – but most essential procedures are covered by taxes, through a reimbursement system. Waiting times are low, and the need for private insurance is definitely debatable.

For a full rundown of France’s healthcare system and whether you need private medical cover over there, check out our dedicated article.

Cost of living in France

Healthcare and shipping is one thing, but in reality, a large portion of the money we spend is on the small things – the groceries and the transportation. Let’s compare the prices of some basic amenities in the US and France to see how the cost of living measures up.

MetricFranceUSA
Basic groceries (milk, bread, eggs, cheese)$23.62$20.01
Coffee$3.28$4.08
Basic restaurant meal$15.36$15.00
Single beer$2.19$2.84
Movie ticket$11.66$12.00
Monthly gym membership
$42.24$36.11

Data from Numbeo. Updated as of August 2020

You can tell from this data that France is slightly higher in some areas, while slightly lower in just as many. For the sake of conversation, or if you were to elevator-pitch France to an American, you can say that they have an equal cost of living.

Transferring money to France from the US

If you’re about to move to France, you’ll probably need to convert some of your savings into euros. However, it’s best to avoid using high street banks for this process, as you’ll usually have to pay high fees, and you won’t get the best exchange rate.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with TransferWise, an online international money transfer service which uses the real exchange rate, and charges low fees. How much could you save? Well, its service can be up to 8x cheaper than high street banks.

Join more than 7 million people and start using TransferWise today.

Working in France

It would be nice to be able to freely travel around France, looking at vistas and tasting wine, but the reality of our cold harsh world is that you’ll need some form of income. And traditionally, the easiest way to get an income is to get a job.

Getting a work visa for France

If you’re not a French citizen, you’ll need a work visa to be able to work in France. If you’re moving to France specifically for your job, you’ll have been sponsored by your company and won’t need to worry.

But if you’re planning on landing a job after moving, you’ll want a French work visa. Provided you find a job, it’s actually not too hard to enroll for a visa. They support all kinds of work, and last for a year, with an easy renewal process. You just need to be in good standing with the government (i.e. not an outlaw) and have your new workplace vouch for you.

Provided you’re not looking for an easily replaceable position, like a waiter or bartender, a company will most likely take the time to vouch for you.

Average salary in France

France’s minimum wage is €10.03 an hour, hitting a monthly €1,521.22 on a 35-hour work week (a typical work week for France). However, the country-wide average clocks in at just under €50,000, being estimated at €49,500.

Income tax in France

Like most countries, income tax in France is not a flat rate. The more you earn, the higher your percentage of income goes back to the country.

The starting tax rate is 11% (covering all salaries between €9,964 to €25,405), while the highest tax rate is 45%, imposed on anyone who makes over €156,244.

Bordeaux

Keep your hands off! These Bordeaux grapes aren’t for eating – they’re for wine!

Job-hunting in France

If you’re looking for a job in France, the best thing you can do for yourself is learn French. Most of the job-finding tools you’d use in America will work in France – LinkedIn and Indeed are great places to start.

Since France is such a massively tourist-heavy economy, there will always be jobs available in the tourism or hospitality sector, so those are good places to start.

For specifics, check out our page on job hunting in France.

Climate in France

France is a big place, with a lot of different climates. In fact, it’s so big, it has 12 different time zones – the most of any country in the world! With this much land, there’s bound to be all kinds of weather and biomes.

Overall the climate is very temperate in France. Winter lows are an average of 32-46º F, while summer highs reach around 61-75º F.

Does it snow in France?

It sure does! Not in every part of the country, but there are plenty of skiing resorts and snowy tundras to go around. In fact, if you take the right routes, you might even find yourself skiing into Italy!

The best places to live in France

Like we said, France is a big place, so you’ll need to iron out a more specific plan for where you’re going to live. Here are some of the places we’ve chosen to highlight.

Paris: Best for city life

We all knew it would be on here, so let’s not dwell too long. One of the most famous cities of all time – Paris is a hub for just about anything. Financial offices, museums, history, food, the list goes on. There are few things you could be looking for in a city and not find them in Paris.

Nice: Best for beach life

Nice is one of France’s most popular coastal towns. It’s not too highly populated, with a total population of around 330,000 (compared to Paris’s 1.2 million). There aren’t too many industries in Nice, as it’s definitely more of a holiday destination, but if you can find a job there, you’d definitely benefit from great beach vibes and some Nice weather. That joke has never been made before.

Nice

No this isn’t a tropical island near the Bahamas, it’s Nice

Bordeaux: Best for country life

You might have heard of Bordeaux when the subject of wine enters the conversation. France is famous for its wine, and Bordeaux is the country’s hub for all things aged and fruity.

We say it’s best for country life, which is a bit of a strange call. After all, it does have a population of just under 250,000. However, since it’s the wine capital, it’s surrounded by vast countryside, covered in vineyards and fields. Perfect if you want to take a drive to get away from any hustle or bustle. Or if you want to get drunk.

7 quick facts about France

Now for some quick fire fun:

  • France is the world’s most visited tourist destination, with over 80 million visitors a year
  • French supermarkets must donate unsold food to charities or shelters. This just shows how France cares for its less privileged citizens
  • France invented the art of film – with the Lumiere brothers first showing footage of a galloping horse. They considered film to be “an art without commercial future
  • The Tour de France is one of the oldest sporting events in the world, starting in 1903
  • They invented the metric system
  • It is considered unlucky to turn a baguette upside down
  • France gave the USA the statue of liberty. The US and France have been close allies since the very beginning, so it’s only fitting that one of America’s most famous landmarks was a gift from the French

Next steps

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and move to France, congratulations and good luck! No matter where you end up, you’ll be in a deeply historied country with tons of culture to experience.

Don’t forget, if you use our free form you’ll be able to get shipping quotes specific to you and your belongings.