In this, the last of our articles taking a look at the different regions of France from the view of the prospective expat, we travel to the heart of the country and take a look at moving to Paris. France’s biggest metropolis needs no introduction, but did you know that around 60,000 English speaking expats already call the city by the Seine home? Maybe you are looking to set up home after securing a job there, or perhaps you are just looking for a little pied-à-terre for weekend visits from the UK – whatever you’re seeking, you can be sure to find it in Paris. But apart from the café culture, the museums and the classical architecture, what are the main differences from one part of Paris to another?
When you are looking at areas of Paris, the first thing you notice is that the city is divided into districts known as ‘arrondissements municipaux’. There are 20 of these arrondissements in total, and they are simply municipal areas numbered in order, starting roughly at the centre. So, for example, the First Arrondissement – denoted as 1er – is the geographical centre of Paris, while the 20th – or XXe - corresponds to the area of Ménilmontant in the eastern inner suburbs.
Naturally, each arrondissement has its own character, and some are more fashionable or expensive places to live than others. In the end, where you choose to live will very much depend on the lifestyle you are looking for – do you want to be in the heart of the action, or would you prefer somewhere a bit quieter with plenty of green spaces? Below we list a few options to consider.
Okay, so let’s deal with the absolute epicentre of Paris first. If you’ve been on holiday to the so-called City of Light, you’ll know that the centre is about as bustling as a European city can be. Perhaps surprisingly, the 1st and 2nd arrondissements aren’t really residential areas at all, and most buildings are instead geared for business, retail and tourism. This can make finding an apartment there difficult, but if you do manage to bag one, you’ll find yourself living in a very walkable area, and river boats along the Seine make transport to the rest of the city easy.
Living right in the centre means that you’ll be on the doorstep of famous Parisian landmarks such as the Louvre museum, the opera and the massive underground Forum des Halles, which is the biggest shopping mall in Paris. Naturally, the centre of the city is a major junction for Metro trains, making travel a breeze.
As you might expect, buying a flat in the centre of Paris is not going to be for those who appreciate a good bargain. If you’re looking for a rental, prices start at around €1,900 a month for a modern one-bedroom apartment and rise to around €14,000 for something that would suit a family in a classic Parisian building with high ceilings and decorative plasterwork. Should you wish to buy your own flat, a tiny 24m2 apartment will set you back a cool half million Euros.
If living smack bang in the middle of the most touristy part of Paris is not your thing and you’d rather be surrounded by art galleries, coffee shops and small venues, check out the Saint Germain area. Not only is the architecture in the so-called Latin Quarter to die for, there’s a pleasing vibe of creativeness and intellectual chatter in this most urbane of quarters. The word most often used to describe this area is ‘charming’ and we’re sure you’ll agree if you take a look around this elegant enclave that is home to the Sorbonne university and the famous bookshop Shakespeare & Company.
Finding an apartment here is easier than you might think due to the number of students who call it home. A clean and comfortable bedsit can be rented for as little as €1,000 a month, while two-bedroom flats start at around €2,500. If you were thinking of buying a pied-à-terre here, a small one-bedroom flat will set you back at least €400,000, although this could rise to €2.5 million depending on the building and its location.
North of the historical Marais area you’ll find a tangle of streets, fashionable addresses and an uber trendy area that will appeal to the young at heart. The 3rd arrondissement is divided into four neighbourhoods, including the well-known Quartier des Arts-et-Métiers, also called the Temple Quarter. It’s an area packed with small art galleries, trendy eateries and museums, and the blend of gothic architecture, historical charm and up-to-the-minute urban culture is an irresistible draw for wannabe hipsters.
Getting a flat in the 3rd or 4th isn’t cheap, with most one-bedroom apartment rentals starting at over €1,400 a month. If you’d like to buy here you will be looking at paying a minimum of €550,000 for a small flat, rising to over two million Euros for something with a floor space of over 100m2.
The three areas mentioned above are all in the inner-city area of Paris, and as such you will be right in the thick of the action. If, however, you want to be within striking distance of the city for work or sightseeing but would prefer to live somewhere with a bit more space and a lot less traffic, you’ll want to look to the outer suburbs.
The outer suburbs – or banlieues as they are known – circle the inner arrondissements, and it’s out here that you’ll discover space to breathe. Options for housing are greatly expanded, especially if you’re bringing a family along and want to have the option of a garden. Indeed, you do not need to limit yourself to the suburbs as there are plenty of towns and villages with excellent road and rail links to the capital in the Ile de France region which surrounds Paris – see our other article here for some ideas.
In general, living on the periphery of Paris as opposed to the centre will give you more choice and more room to move around – and it will likely be cheaper. However, commuting costs and property taxes could be higher if you own a larger property in a dormitory suburb, although that may be a trade-off that you’ll be happy to make.
Even if living in Paris isn’t your cup of thé, but you can nevertheless picture yourself living somewhere else in France, make sure you check out the other articles about moving to France on the Currency Solutions website.
Remember, if you do end up taking the plunge and buying a property abroad, always make sure you get the best exchange rate you can and avoid wasting money needlessly on expensive bank fees. So, whenever you are ready to buy, be sure to give us a ring and we’ll tell you how we can easily arrange a funds transfer so you can purchase your dream home in France.
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