For most of us, moving to France is a fantasy years in the making, if not a lifelong dream. Finding out you’re moving to France is a cumulation of all the times you watched your favorite French films, read Annie Ernaux and Molière, and every verb conjugation you studied. You know the history, and now you can live it all by visiting the Arc de Triomphe, the sites of Renoir’s paintings, the scenes of Camus’ stories, and so much more.
Of course, once the initial jubilation has subsided, you can think clearly about the logistics: moving to another country isn’t cheap — nor is it easy. Here are a few ways to make your move to France and your first few weeks in your new home as fun, affordable, and stress-free as possible!
Set Goals for Your First Month
The best part about moving to France is realising that you have time to mark everything off your to-do list. Unlike when you visit for a few days, you don’t have to rush to see all the sights and eat a month’s worth of food in a couple of days. On the other hand, you should make the most of every moment as a French resident!
Goal 1: Get Settled
Though you might be tempted to do as much as you can as soon as you arrive, think about the time you have and spend the first bit of time — a week or so — getting settled. Set up your apartment, unpack your bags, and make yourself cozy. Once you are comfortable chez vous, you can really begin exploring around!
Goal 2: Explore Your Neighborhood
Moving to France a gives you l’opportunité incroyable of living in a whole new world. As you unpack, get to know the restaurants by your house, discover which pâtisserie has the best pastries and which café you will spend the most time in. Try all the foods you’ve read about, like croque-monsieurs and escargot, as well as new foods you’ve never heard of. Most likely, you’ll be spending a lot of your time in your own neighborhood, so get to know it!
Goal 3: Speak French
Assuming that you have taken French speaking classes, make an effort to parlez français whenever possible. Of course, even if you’re an advanced or proficient speaker, it will take some time to get used to speaking actual French with actual French citizens. If you don’t speak French yet, start learning! You can download a language learning app, take an online course, or take lessons from a native French speaker.
Goal 4: Make a Bucket List
In order to see everything you want to while living in France, you should make a bucket list. This list can include cities you would like to visit, foods you would like to try, and even other countries to take trips to. Looking at guides and making a list will help make your rêveries françaises into a reality. And don’t forget to commemorate all your memories by taking lots of pictures!
In general, moving is an expensive and stressful endeavor. This increases exponentially when you’re moving across the sea to another country! If you find yourself anxious about the moving process, take a breath and plan it out. A little organization and a few moving tips may be all you need to make you feel in control of the process.
Take Only What You Need
The first thing you will want to do is get rid of everything you can afford to leave behind. When moving to another country, simplicity is key. You don’t want to be drowning in unnecessary gadgets and knickknacks, or lugging around unnecessary weight. Take what you need to feel comfortable and at home: a modest wardrobe, some pictures of loved ones, and living necessities. Ne paniquez pas, you will have many opportunities to shop for anything you need in France!
Cut Down On Costs
Getting rid what you don’t need to take with you is one way to lower the costs on moving. Some other tips to keep costs low include keeping in mind where you shop and looking for coupons whenever you can. Fiscal expert and writer Emma Johnson recommends a few tips for making the moving process easier and more affordable, including:
- Consider shipping packages over air and overseas
- If you hire movers, schedule them in the morning
- Book movers weeks in advance
- Pack the boxes yourself
- Label and package carefully
Get to Know the Different Regions in France
Living in Europe also means that you will have many opportunities to travel. Traveling across different countries in Europe is easier than traveling across single larger countries, like the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This means that you will be able to explore nearby countries. However, exploring the different regions of France is a parfait place to start.
You can go for a snowy trip up the French Alps and get some skiing in, teach yourself to surf through the beaches in the South of France, and visit les Ch’tis in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region (after watching Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, of course). To be sure, you cannot live in France without visiting the beautiful ville de Paris. Visiting the many museums, monuments, and historical restaurants could take weeks, if not months to complete. You may need to make a few trips to Paris to get in even the essentials, like seeing the Tour Eiffel, L’Arc de Triomphe, Les Catacombs, Montmartre, Notre-Dame de Paris, and more.
Remember to make this your own adventure. See as much as you want to, and experience as much as you can. This is your chance to live out all your fantasies you’ve had for years, so make the most of it. The most important thing when making yourself at home in France is to enjoy la vie en rose!
Article written by Guest Contributer Devin Morrissey