It has now been over 3 years that my life has been divided between France and Australia. I first came here to study for a few months but after meeting a certain Frenchy, it became clear that I would be spending a lot more time than predicted in Paris. At first, I saw the city with rose-coloured glasses. Everything was perfection and Parisians were somewhat of a mysterious species that I completely idolized. I thought French woman were elegant and stylish. I thought all French men were all charming and amazing cooks. It turns out that my assumptions were not always accurate. Three years later, I’ve taken the tinted glasses off. I still love living in Paris but now I see the city for what it really is. There are quite a few negative aspects of living here but I do believe they are balanced out by the city’s beauty and charm. For those of you who are considering taking the plunge and moving to Paris, I’ve created a list of pros and cons of living here. If you live in Paris let me know if you agree with the list.
Paris is seriously beautiful
People who are planning on visiting Paris often ask “where should we go?”. They don’t realise that almost the entire city is filled with beautiful buildings, green parks and cute cafés. Every arrondissement has something to offer, which means that you’re never short of discovering something new.
This is one of the fundamental reasons I love Paris. Not only is there an abundance of cheese and freshly baked baguettes, there is also a new emergence of fresh international cuisine, modern French food, and cafés selling lighter options like fresh organic juice and salads.
The sense of community
Paris is a densely populated city, which means families and individuals tend to live in small apartments and share a lot of public space. Because of this, I find that Parisians are slightly more respectful and considerate towards others – although there are exceptions. The sense of community here is very hard to describe but I have the impression that those living in Paris are more willing to share or help their neighbour than what we are in Australia.
Plenty to see and do
Living in a big city like Paris means there are constantly new things to see and do. From pop-up markets to art exhibitions and the ballet, there will always be something to entertain you.
There is always someone who wants to practice their English
This can be both a pro and a con. When you’ve been speaking French all week and you feel as if your brain is about to explode, it’s really nice to know that there will always be someone to speak English with. Sometimes you just need the chance to relax and speak your native language. However, this can also mean that you don’t get to practise your French as often as you should.
If you dislike paperwork this is not the city for you. Everything you do, from buying a subway pass to visiting a doctor, requires a pile forms to be completely. Often months are spent running around in circles before anything can be accomplished.
The creeps and weirdos
At least several times a week I am approached by sleazy men who believe they are they right to hit on you. At first, it didn’t bother me, I was honestly very slightly flattered. However, it quickly becomes awkward. They don’t seem to take a hint that you’re not interested meaning that you are forced to tell them to simply leave you alone – that’s something I find very uncomfortable doing. This combined with constant comments, kissy noisy and rather aggressive people in general that make you feel unsafe, can really push you to your limit.
Small tasks take all day
Running errands in Paris requires a full day of dedication and a hell of a lot of patience. It is not uncommon to spend over an hour in a post office or bank. It seems to be quite normal ok for staff in France to spend more time chatting to each other than helping clients.
The customer is never right
In France the customer is never right and consumer rights simply don’t exist. If you buy a dress and it has a hole in it, obviously it’s the consumers fault; If you buy some bread and it’s mouldy, it’s also your fault. You really need think before you buy and double check the quality of everything while you’re still in the store because unless you’re ready for a fight, you wont be getting a refund.
Life in general is harder and very competitive
Pay rates are quite low in France. That combined with lots of taxes and high rental prices makes Paris quite an expensive city to live in. Decent rental properties are highly sought after, which means you often have to compete with hundreds of other applicants with very similar credentials.
You witness a lot of things that you don’t necessarily want to
In the couple of weeks, I have witnessed: a naked woman almost die, a two year old girl try to pickpocket someone, countless homeless children begging for money, a serious scooter accident, a man dealing drugs with his 8 year old son and a violent fight between and man and a woman as they rummaged though garbage. Sadly, this is the reality of the world we live in. In Australia we tend to be quite sheltered from a lot of this issues, which makes it quite confronting when dealing with it on a daily basis.