Subject: Re: Maybe moving to Paris in three months - Help
Hi Mike and Fran:

I've lived in Paris for the past 2 1/2 years. Overall I would say the cost of living in Paris is about the same as in a large eastern US city. Some things cost more, some cost less. We live in a middle-class-to-affluent neighborhood in the 15th arrondisement (on the left bank of the city and bordering on Issy les Moulineaux) and would say the rent for our two bedroom apartment is about what we'd pay for a similar apartment in a similar neighborhood in Washington, DC, where we lived before.

Daily expenses might run more because of the value added tax on most items of about 20 percent. Dinner at a nice restaurant is about what you'd pay at a US restaurant because service is almost always included. One thing far more expensive would be a car. Gasoline is almost $4 a gallon. We don't own a car, so we get around by Metro, bus or taxi.

I really don't know Issy, except that it is, as you say, right on the Peripherique, the paris beltway, and has attracted lots of businesses (there are lots of new office buildings bordering the Periph). I do think it is one of the nicer suburbs (it borders on Boulogne, which is a fairly affluent suburb), and it would be cheaper to live there than in Paris itself. I found my apartment in the classified ads of Le Figaro, one of the big newspapers. Some companies have real estate people in major cities to help transferees. Landlords will demand lots of information about you; so bring poast rent receipts, perhaps a reocmmendation for a former landlord, pay slips etc. They may also demand as much as a year's deposit; reject such a demand. But you may have to put some money in an escrow account. (Landlord are discriminating because once a tenant moves in it's very difficult to evict them.) Once you rent a place, you're responsible for almost everything, repairs etc. As a friend of mine put it, the landlord is responsible for taking your money.

As an American you will have the option of remaining in US Social Security for up to five years. If you have health insurance from your company, it probably behooves you to remain in US SS; it's much cheaper than French securite sociale. Also, as an American you will have to file both French and US income taxes; for the US taxes, you get an exclusion on up to $80,000 plus your living expenses (monthly rent) so your US tax bill will likely be low or none. French taxes have been reasonable, but you pay the first year as a lump sum, then get billed three times a year. There's no withholding.

I'm assuming your company will provide an immigration lawyer; you will need one! The French government is making it more difficult for foreigners to get residence and work permits and the whole process is bewildering and very frustrating.

I hope this helps somewhat. If you have other questions, feel free to ask. Evan Roth