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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Paris: Unfriendly & Expensive despite Its Thriving Culture

Expats moving to Paris face a tricky start due to a prohibitive housing market and lots of paperwork. But are there also highlights to life in this city of lights?

Paris places 41st out of 49 in the Expat City Ranking 2023. Expats have a hard time coping with the stifling bureaucracy, low pay, and unfriendly local residents. But Paris still attracts many expats due to its variety of cultural and culinary options, its nightlife, and very affordable healthcare. Overall, 70% are happy with their life in Paris, two percentage points less than the global average (72%).

Getting started in Paris is not so easy, as the Expat Essentials Index (43rd) shows. The French capital ranks in the bottom 3 for Admin Topics (47th): more than half (55%) struggle with the Parisian bureaucracy (vs. 38% globally). Another 41% have trouble opening a local bank account (vs. 22% globally). Housing (38th) is also a challenge, as 71% find it unaffordable (vs. 42% globally) and 60% describe it as hard to find, nearly twice the global average (31%).

Admin and housing issues are not made any easier by the fact that expats in Paris are expected to master the language. A Canadian expat admits: “I can’t live here without the language, and it is very difficult to learn while on the job.” About two in three (66%) say it’s difficult to live in Paris without speaking French, more than twice the global share (32%). So it might be necessity that drives expats to become proficient in French: 77% speak it fairly well or even very well (vs. 55% globally).

Despite their good French skills, expats in Paris are quite disappointed with their social life: 56% find it hard to make local friends (vs. 36% globally). This might be due to the fact that Paris places among the five least friendly cities worldwide (46th). In fact, 36% say that the locals in the French capital are unfriendly, more than twice the global share (16%). Overall, Paris ranks 40th in the Ease of Settling In Index.

Paris also receives mixed reviews in the Working Abroad Index (34th). While job security (15th) is a real highlight, salaries in Paris end up among the bottom 3 (47th). Almost three in ten expats (29%) feel that they aren’t paid fairly for their work (vs. 19% globally). Salaries that are considered too low might also impact expats’ Personal Finances (42nd). Unfortunately, 61% struggle with the general cost of living (vs. 35% globally), and 30% are unhappy with their financial situation (vs. 22% globally).

Yet, Paris offers great Leisure Options (15th), as well as excellent Healthcare (16th). Consequently, the city receives its best result out of all indices for Quality of Life (26th). Expats love the culinary variety and dining options (91% happy vs. 77% globally), and 83% enjoy the culture and nightlife (vs. 68% globally). Paris’ only top 10 rating is related to medical care: eight in ten (80%) are happy with its affordability (vs. 62% globally), with Paris ranking 8th out of 49 for this factor. Another 77% are happy with the quality of medical care (vs. 70% globally).

But other aspects of urban life also have an impact on personal well-being: Paris lands among the bottom 10 for air quality (44th) and personal safety (42nd), with only 63% feeling safe there (vs. 83% globally).

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