So, the time has finally come and I packed all my bags and left my friends and family at the airport on the way to a new journey.
I landed on Sunday and I went to work on Monday. I had no time to waste. I needed to sort everything after work as soon as possible.
I won’t lie to you for me there was a huge cultural shock at first. With the time, it got easier. It did take me almost 3 years to start ” liking” Paris. I felt like there was something wrong with me for not loving living in Paris. I blame the system for that mainly as it was taking me so long to settle in and register myself. I don’t want to imagine what it must be for people that are not from European Union.
I’ll write more about the things I love about Paris soon, however there’s a lot of things I don’t like about living in France I will do another post for this as well. This post will be more about how to make your first weeks easier. What do you need to do to settle in quicker! I hope this will be helpful for someone who will be moving to Paris soon.
These are my top 5 things that will you help you settle in quicker. Apart from choosing an apartment of course, as this is whole another topic.
First: Make sure you get your “Navigo“pass. The Navigo pass allows you to use all kind of transportation. The card can be recharged monthly or weekly depending on your needs. Monthly cost of Navigo is 75€. In order to register for the Navigo just visit the closest metro station. There is “Information Services” on almost every metro station and you need to have only a photo, personal ID and so called “Justificatif de domicile”. This is a paper that proves that you have an address in Paris. It can be a recent bill for electricity under your name, receipt for housing (normally provided from the landlord every month after you pay the rent) or insurance for the apartment. In case you are living with someone you can also ask the person for “Justificatif” or written and signed letter by them stating that you are living with them at the address.
In case you are missing these documents, they can always create you the same pass but ” Navigo découverte“. This is the temporary card, but you can still use it the same way.
I really learned my way around in Paris and using public transportation using a phone application and adventuring out in Paris during free time.
Second: Opening a bank account. Choose a bank that is close to you. Here when you sign with a bank, you get a personal adviser. In case you need anything from the bank, you will speak with your adviser. So is just a bit easier if the bank is closer to your work or home! More or less you will require the same documents for the bank, proof of address, passport and they may require work contract. (Not in all cases and all banks)
Third: Get a phone number! If you are coming from EU, there will be no problem keeping your phone number and using it here. The good thing here (compared to my home country) is that France have really thought about the expats. You will have the option to purchase phone, home line, internet or anything else without subscription contract. This way if you need to leave you don’t need to pay the rest of your contract etc. This option maybe a bit pricier, but in general the prices here for those services are not expensive. You can easily get from a provider like “SFR”,”Orange”,Bouygues” or “Free“card for 2€ to 10€ per month, with unlimited data and some calls.
Fourth step will be the hardest, register for “Sécurité Sociale” and receive your ” Carte Vitale“. This was my pain. It took me almost 2 years to receive my social number and be covered by the social security system. Even though for my husband took only 3 months, with the same documents. During those 2 years I was paying all my medical, but couldn’t use them…. oh the irony. Before you come to France, make sure you translate and legalize your Birth Certificate. If you are part of EU you can go to your city hall and just ask for this. Translation of public documents from another Union country cannot be required if the public documents are in one of the official languages of the Union country where they are presented. In my case I went and they gave me single copy of my birth certificate and it was on 3 languages. If you are married do the same for the marriage certificate. Other documents will be -your passport or ID, work contract, bank information and address.
A few weeks after your enrollment, you should receive a letter in the mail with a temporary social security number. After this you will be required to send over the post 2 photos, and after week or two you will receive the “Carte Vitale”
You may also speed up the process a bit if you choose “Déclaration du Choix de Médecin Traitant” this is basically your GP. The doctor can register you as his patient and this may help the process.
Make sure you photocopy all documents, as you may need to sent them more than once, as it was in my case. Also if there is no any progress don’t be afraid to go to the “Sécurité Sociale” and check the progress.
Fifth will be to sign in with a Meet up group or Expats. I understood this later, but there is a lot of expats here and they can help with any question. Also, there is a lot of meet up and this way you get the chance to find friends and go out more.
And last do not be afraid to ask for help from someone you trust, or someone at work! I asked for a lot of help from people I worked with for any related issues. French system is hard to understand, so you maybe lost at first, but don’t worry you will make it!
What other ideas can you add to this list that I may have not mentioned?
Please let me know your experience so far if you already moved here?