Moving To France Alone: The Only Tips You Will Ever Need
After years spent dreaming of a life filled with baguettes, wine and beautiful French people, you’ve finally made the decision to move to France. While others might hesitate without the support of a family or a partner to share the experience with, you’ve also made the brave and brilliant choice to go it alone.
It’s natural to be incredibly nervous, especially before making a life-changing move to another country with a different culture and language. But don’t worry too much - we’ve put together a list of key tips you’ll need to get your new life off to a great start. Good luck, and have fun!
Save up before you go
The harsh truth about doing anything alone, be it living in an apartment by yourself or heading to another country, is that it inevitably ends up being a bit more expensive when there's no one to split the bills with - be that for estate agent fees or your monthly WIFI.
Moving abroad is already a costly endeavour, and when you add in the current strength of the euro you’re not going to be getting a huge amount once you convert your home currency. Once you’ve decided to move, focus your attentions on saving as much money as you can, even if it does mean sacrificing a few nights out and making packed lunches for work for a while.
You’ll be grateful for that healthy bank balance when you start going through the rigmarole of hunting for a job and sorting out an apartment, plus it's important to have enough spare cash to treat yourself to that takeaway sushi and bottle of champagne when you move in!
Finally, when it comes to exchanging your money, change some at home (M&S and the Post Office are often the cheapest) then transfer the rest using a site like TransferWise to avoid paying hefty bank fees.
Download the necessary apps
As weird as it sounds, moving abroad will change your relationship with your phone - while before it might have been just the thing you used to make plans and catch up on social media, it will quickly become an essential device for settling you into your new home with some key apps.
Our most-used apps in France include Citymapper, which will help you get from A-B in most major cities with the fastest, easiest route possible; Uber, which will get you a cheap taxi within a few minutes; and Yelp, which will tell you all the best places to eat and drink in your new neighbourhood.
Most French banks also have an app to help you keep track of your money once you’ve got an account which is useful for monitoring your spending, and don’t forget to get Instagram too for all those envy-inducing photos of perfect pastries!
Find some like-minded people
Going from having a big group of friends to knowing no-one in a new place can feel both scary and utterly isolating. Accept that it will take a while to make new friends and that this is an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and meet people you might never have met back at home. While sometimes it might feel like you're destined to be friendless from now on, it’s impossible not to meet people if you’re willing to get out there and get involved! Talk to everyone you meet, from the person who’s sharing your table at the coffee shop to the neighbour you pass in the hall.
Find events on websites such as MeetUp, which organises events based on interests so you can find friends who love the same obscure films or sporty activity that you do.
In addition, reach out to people you already know to ask if they have any friends in your new hometown. You’d be surprised how many people will have an old school friend or Year Abroad roommate who now lives where you do! Ask the person you know if they wouldn’t mind putting you in touch, and see if they’d like to meet up for a coffee. Plus, you’ve already got someone in common as an easy conversation starter.
Get used to some cultural differences
It may be just across the channel from the UK, but many things are different in France - in particular, the culture and the daily routine, which includes much more set times for lunch, early closures on Wednesdays and whole areas where nothing is open on a Sunday. Expect more people to push in front of you in queues, no rules about which site of the escalator to stand on in the metro station, strangers telling you off for having your bag wide open (beware of pickpockets!), less personal space in public and people openly staring at each other in a way that would be considered embarrassing by most stoic Brits.
You’ll get used to their quirks soon enough, and once you find yourself skipping the queue and never leaving a shop without wishing the cashier a good day, you’ll know you're becoming French!
Always remember that the hard times pass
Spent an evening in your room crying because the guy in the bank yelled at you, you can’t get your French words out properly and you’re feeling lonely? Completely regretting your decision to move to France alone? We’ve all been there!
Moving anywhere is always going to a brilliant, terrible, amazing and awful experience all wrapped up in one - and when you add the pressures of a new country and being solo to the mix, you’ve got a big challenge ahead.
Remember that these times pass, and before you know it you’ll be fully settled in and couldn't imagine living anywhere else. When those crisis moments do hit have a comforting routine that you can turn to, such as snuggling up on the sofa with some food from home (M&S in Paris is great for this!) and a few episodes of your favourite TV show, and give yourself time off before tackling the world again the next day.