Finding Adventure, Accommodation and Work In Paris - Part One
Seeking a challenge and an adventure, Alex, 23, moved to Paris in September. Here he shares his experiences so far, including essential advice on everything from accommodation, searching for a job, nightlife, to swimming pool etiquette.
I finished my studies in June, and over the summer I pondered what would be my next step. Eventually, attracted by the possibility of becoming fluent in French, as well as the excuse it would provide me with for not taking a boring office job, I decided to move to Paris for a year.
As a young man only recently having finished at university, I took the cheapest travel option from the UK – the Megabus. The journey was surprisingly smooth and comfortable, taking only six and a half hours from London. At only £30, it’s certainly worth considering if you’re on a budget.
My first challenge upon arriving in Paris was to find accommodation. Unfortunately, Paris is surprisingly small and densely populated. This means that the demand for rental properties exceeds the supply, leading to high competition for rooms and inflated prices. Consequently, like many others, I found my search to be a bit of a nightmare. Luckily for me, I had some friends who I could stay with for a while. However, as my search took three weeks, I also stayed in a hostel for many nights. There are several hostels for around £20-35 per night and it is a good way of meeting people; on the other hand, it does get a little tiring sharing a room after a while. For example when Japanese tourists move to your room at midnight talking at the top of their voices.
There are several routes for finding accommodation.
Pap.fr is popular if you are looking to rent a studio or an apartment. If you want to flat share, appartager.com is a commonly used website, though I found it to be severely lacking in offers, unless you pay a subscription fee.
Craiglist.fr is also worth a look, though watch out for scams. I found my room by visiting the notice board at the American Church in Paris, which specialises in housing and employment ads for English speakers. I would definitely recommend popping over there, though whatever route you choose, you will likely need to call/email as soon as the ad appears to be in with a chance. I did, and now I have a big room in an apartment for €600 (which is fairly cheap for Paris). I wouldn’t generally advise taking a place before moving here without seeing it – a friend of mine did that and is now paying €1000 a month to live in a room that resembles a prison cell.
Whilst house hunting, I was also busy sorting out my work situation. If you don’t speak good French, your generally have a few options. I am currently working as a babysitter, where I am tasked with teaching the children English. I love the job as kids are so full of life and mine in particular are very easy to deal with. If on the other hand, like a friend of mine, you don’t like children and the ones you are allocated to cry at the sight of you, it might not be so much fun. There is huge demand for babysitters who are fluent in English in the city and many young people opt for it as a part-time job. You can either go through one of the numerous agencies and/or work directly with a family. I do both, as I work with children from two separate families. French kids don’t always go to school on Wednesdays, meaning it is a lucrative day for babysitters. The other weekdays are likely to only be for the early evening, so 2-4 hours. The pay is normally around €10-11 per hour.
Another common option is teaching English to business people or children, either through agencies or through private tuition. Due to the dominance of the English language globally, there is also a great demand for English teachers. Indeed, I was offered a full-time job teaching business people. However, the pay is not always that great and the contracts can be short-term – one reason why I turned the opportunity down. Nevertheless, it can offer a chance to try teaching and if you can develop your own business, it could prove lucrative. Many agencies ask for prior teaching experience or a TEFL qualification, though not always (as in my case).
If teaching and babysitting don’t float your boat, hospitality is another obvious place to look. It is worth searching for hotels, restaurants and bars which tend to be frequented by foreign tourists as your English skills may be an advantage.