Moving to Paris in 47 Easy* Steps

*not easy at all. It’s actually really complicated. And involves a lot of paperwork.

I’ve been doing a lot of research. A LOT. And there’s a bazillion different things to consider and keep in mind and juggle and balance and straddle when looking to move to France. And then there’s the bureaucracy.

And boyyyy do the French love (to hate) bureaucracy.

If you think dealing with the American government and process is frustrating, just read a few expat blogs about their experiences filing paperwork and dealing with French bureaucratic offices and red tape. I guarantee you’ll immediately feel better about your own “struggles” if you can even call them that anymore.

As you might imagine, moving to a foreign country is a lot of work. It involves a lot of steps and process. Much more than just buying a plane ticket and packing a suitcase. (The movies lie, guys. Seriously)

So here I’ve started outlining all the things I’ll need to do, in order, I think, in order to move to Paris:

  1. Translate & Reformat my resume. The French CV structure is very different from the American resume, despite the fact that we stole a French-ish word (that they don’t even use) for the document. A CV Français can (and should) include your picture, your address, your age, and a whole lot of other personal information you would never ever put on your resume. And then you talk about your experience & background – in French.
  2. Get a job. Apply, apply, apply. Between Glassdoor, Indeed, and similar French sites, it’s time to go to town sending out my CV. And networking, and reaching out to anyone I know that could help me get a job. Because without a job, I can’t…
  3. Get a visa. And without a visa, I can’t work or live in the country. So I need the aforementioned job to sponsor my visa application. This requires a LOT of paperwork. Seriously. A crap-ton of documentation:
    • Work contract (approved by the French government). The company has to prove/argue that they can’t hire a French person to do the job instead of you.
    • Passport (plus copies)
    • Application form (plus copies)
    • Photos (2)
    • Processing fee ($$)
    • Bonus: you have to apply in person! Yup, no mailing it in. Even if your closest French consulate is several states over.
  4. Get more documentation. Seriously. Because once you get to France, there’s even more paperwork to be done! You’ll need your birth certificate officially translated (plus copies), more ID photos, bank statements, your first born child…
  5. Deal with your stuff. Pack things in boxes. Sell things you love but don’t need. Give away things you want to see loved by others. Toss all the stuff you probably should have gotten rid of years ago. Get a storage unit. Maybe that’s your parents’ basement. Now’s the time when you decide what to take and what not to take.
  6. Register with the French authorities. This is apparently a thing. Also a large part of the “more documentation” section. I think you need to show proof of residence? Bank statements or French bank statements? And your visa, of course.
  7. Go to the French doctor. In order to get your magical socialized healthcare, you have to go to an official check-up. Also cause for extraordinary documentation. Also apparently really bad if you miss your appointment. Dear future self. For the love of god, do not miss your appointment
  8. Carte de Séjour (residence permit): Apply for this at least 2 months before your visa expires (or sooner!!), if you’re planning on staying in France long-term. Again, you get to do this in person (!) at a local office. And again, all the documentation.
  9. Yearly renewal. You get to relive the madness! Don’t think that you can get away so easily once you’re a carte-carrying resident. You have to renew it every year! More applications! More documents!
    • After 5 years, you can apply for a longer-term residence card that is good for 10 years.
  10. A bunch more steps. There’s no way this list is comprehensive. Once I’ve gone through it all myself, maybe I’ll update with all the things I never knew to fear.

See, moving to France is easy! jk. this is going to be insane.

However, I firmly believe that all this bureaucracy is the source of the French attitude and/or ennui. Suffering through it is your initiation, and surviving gives you the right and privilege to scoff, shrug, and make non-committal French sounds of disdain or disinterest.

Bahh, non… Bof…

In the meantime, I’m thinking of investing in a photocopier for all those documents…

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