Paris is by far one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen – and this year I have fulfilled my dream to live here! However, while it really is like a dream come true, there are a few things about living in Paris, I wish I had known before. Not everything is the way I had imagined it…

I had visited Paris for the first time in 2013 with my sister. We were on vacation and visited all the must-see places. We ate crepes, stayed in a hotel in the city center and even had a guided tour of the city. My experience of moving to Paris this year could not be any further removed from that. I was familiar with the city, knew my way around, how to use the metro, what characterizes which arrondissement, and luckily I come from a big city myself – so city life itself was not the problem. Still, I had to face a lot of challenges, particularly in regards to my job where I have to prove every day that I can do my job just as good as a French person.

Here are four of the biggest challenges I had to overcome when moving to Paris, and I think you should know about them before you decide to take the same step!

Moving to Paris is like a dream come true, but there are a few things you should know before you make the move to France's beautiful capital.

1) Learning the language

The first barrier that I had to overcome was the linguistic one. I had been studying French since I was in junior high school and even though I had not continuously practiced my skills, I thought that I was ready to live and work in France – and I was wrong…

The French classes I took at school and at uni gave me a great formal knowledge of the French language – but that’s not the way you communicate in your everyday life. In the beginning, my attempts at French conversations were mostly entertaining for the people I spoke to. Luckily, my French improved quickly, particularly I speak it a lot on a daily basis at work and because I am lucky enough to have a French flat mate – she is just the best and helps me with me with almost everything.

We have a set rule in the house: we speak only French, except for very extraordinary situations in which we may switch to English. Living with a French person and working in a French environment helped me to catch up on the everyday language skills that I didn’t learn in school. There is no better way to learn these local expressions. Moving to a country where people speak the language that you want to learn is the best and the fastest way to become fluent!

2) Finding a home

Moving to Paris is like a dream come true, but there are a few things you should know before you make the move to France's beautiful capital.

Housing is a big problem in Paris. The city is highly populated but the area is actually not that big. As a result, rent prices are extremely high. If you want to live by yourself, it is even worse. a tiny one-room apartment can come up to 650 Euro, so the best way is to share a flat with others. Compared to other cities, rent might still be high that way, but for Paris it will be a lot more reasonable.

The biggest advantage of living with others though is that you get to meet other people and share your days with them. It is by far the best option if you are moving to a different country without any contacts.

In Paris finding a flat can be really difficult. You should start searching a lot earlier than your arrival date. Moreover, there are many requirements you must fulfill – for example: a salary three times bigger than rent. If you are not being taxed in France, you have to find someone who is and they will have to guarantee for you! Be careful though, a lot of the announces you find online are not real, so never pay a deposit without an actual viewing appointment or at least a Skype conversation.

3) Adjusting to everyday life

Moving to Paris is like a dream come true, but there are a few things you should know before you make the move to France's beautiful capital.

Working and being a student at the same time is kind of difficult in Paris, but every time I think like this, I keep telling myself that I must make the most of my time in Paris! I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to live in one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever seen. There is always an exhibition, a museum, a concert, a garden, a new neighborhood to explore. It is impossible to get bored!

My favorite thing to do so far, is going for after work drinks! It can be so relaxing drinking a beer or a glass of wine at 8pm after a long day at work. There are some cool and cheap places close to the Centre Pompidou and around the Luxembourg Garden, which is closely some of Paris’ universities. Luckily, like everywhere else student bars are much more affordable. It also gives me the chance to hangout with friends and practice my French – what a reason to go for drinks! 

Another one of my favorite new habits is to explore French cuisine. During my lunch breaks, I usually pay a visit to a boulangerie in order to try all the marvelous desserts. I recommend trying the classic croissant, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisins (I did not even like raisins before), chausson aux pommes, tartes with fruits and éclairs. Make sure you also try a crèpe salé (and not the typical sweet one with chocolate) – it tastes amazing. Another small detail that I adore about living in Paris is that even the cheapest wine in the supermarket tastes like luxury. Where else can you find tasty wine for as little as €1.30?!

On the flip side, life in Paris definitely has its challenges too. Readjusting to the language to doing everything in French is a real struggle. From a little paperwork to opening a bank account, it can be quite challenging to navigate the official documents when you are not 100% sure if you understood what you have been told or what you just read.

And then there is the cost of living, which is quite high. Everything is more expensive in Paris than any other part of France, and in fact most of Europe. If you want to save money and find good deals, it is essential that you never stop searching for them.

4) Making Friends

Moving to Paris is like a dream come true, but there are a few things you should know before you make the move to France's beautiful capital.

Moving to a new country without knowing a single person can be terrifying, and I am not gonna lie, I was terrified! It was the first time that I did anything like it and the days after my arrival were particularly hard. I was alone in my flat without anything to do. I started thinking about my family and everything I had left behind. I cried for a while, but soon after I told myself that I had to be brave. I considered myself lucky to be able to live in such a beautiful city.

Now, everything is much better. Fortunately, my workplace is multicultural and many people there are around the same age as me. We often go out together and someone will also bring another friend – this makes it really easy to meet new people all the time. And again, sharing a flat with a local (or at least someone who had lived here before) means that you have a group of potential new friends to tap into at your doorstep – quite literally!

Moving to Paris is like a dream come true, but there are a few things you should know before you make the move to France's beautiful capital.

To make a long story short, Paris is a big city with countless opportunities. The first impression of moving to Paris can be a little bit scary, but as time passes everything gets so much easier. It is a beautiful city to live in, with so many different people to meet. Now, I cannot even think what it will be like when I will have to leave. 

Have you ever dreamt of moving to Paris?

This is a guest post by Marianna Anastasopoulou.

A Greek student of international and European studies. Originally from Athens, having lived  in Thessaloniki, Hungary, now Paris and hopefully, in the future, many more. Likes to travel, explore new cultures, meet new people, taste local dishes, camping and watch sports. In love with the sea.