My friend Pam, who lived in Paris for several years, warned me about this. She told me the following joke years ago. Never has this seemed so darn appropriate
There’s a really nice guy in heaven and he’s having a nice time. Everyone loves him and he’s more than content. However, he finds the area just a wee bit too boring. One day, he visits God and asks him:
“You know God, I really like it here but I need a vacation. I’d like to visit Hell for a week to see what it is like. Can I do that?”
God says: “Are you sure you want to go down there? It’s not what you think it is…”
The man says yes and God books the trip. When the man arrives in Hell, it is absolutely wonderful. The food is great, the weather is warm, people are drinking, partying, having sex, the whole nine yards. The man has the most fun during that week in his entire life. Afterwards, he returns to Heaven and talks to God.
“God, that was a fantastic experience. Hell was great. The people had so much fun, it was warm and gorgeous and Satan is a pretty neat person after all. I’d … I’d … I’d like to move there. Can I?”
God was shocked at the thought and suggested the man should really think it over. The next day they talked again and God was convinced to let the man move to Hell. A week later the man enters Hell.
The place is hot and steamy. The people are angry and yelling at each other. There’s no food, no water, no booze, no drugs, and certainly no sex. Just misery and aggrevation. The man walks up to Satan and asks him what happened to the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Where’s the fun times he experienced just a week ago…
Satan replied “Don’t mistake vacation with immigration!”
So that last line has always been in the back of my mind as I thought of moving to Paris. Here are some of the lessons/experiences I’ve learned over the week. If you want to move to Paris:
- Get a relocation agent to help. I was blessed to have Graziella at Acta Services Intl at my side. She arranged for about a dozen apartment viewings and assisted the bank account management. I learned a lot from her and would have been completely lost without her.
- Save up a lot of money. I mean a lot of money. Did I say that you needed money?I was about to rent a small apartment for 1,000 euros/month. Originally I was told that I would need to pay the first month plus two additional months rent for deposit. Also the apartment agency would get 12% of the annual rent. So, before I could move in, I needed 4,440 euros in the bank. It could have been more as the agency fee may have needed value added tax added. When I arrived to sign the lease, they also wanted to make sure that I was going to pay the rent. In france, tenants have much more rights than landlords and they don’t want to mess with deadbeats. So, she wanted me to deposit an additional 10,000 euros into a blocked account in France to insure that I would pay my rent. So, lets summarize. A 1,000 euro/month apartment requires 14,4000 euro (a little over $19,000) up front.
- Converting dollars to euros ain’t cheap, even within a bank. I brought some travelers checks to pay for the apartment deposits. I hoped to simply deposit the money into my new French account. Oh no, I needed to go outside the bank to their currency converting booth and pay 1.44 dollars to a euro instead of the going rate of 1.35. For a thousand dollars, that is a significant amount. I then had to deposit that into the account.
- I’m hoping HSBC is going to be a good bank for me. I set up an account in the U.S. and a new account in France. It would be nice if they spoke to each other and facilitated the transfer of money back and forth. However, my new branch near the Paris Yahoo! office can barely share information with the branch a few miles away, so let’s see. So far I am cautiously optimistic about this. Oh, and there’s no such thing as free checking in Paris. You’ll pay a monthly fee.
- Spread your money around and bring all of your debit cards. I have the majority of my money in Washington Mutual and they put a hold on my card 3 days ago after using an ATM once. I’ve never had them block it before. I tried calling and they said it was open again, but the transactions are still blocked. Don’t count on one American bank. I wish I had transferred more money to my American HSBC account or thought ahead and brought my ATM card for my credit union.
Arrrgggghhhh! This has been very frustrating. I am not money obsessed but this whole move has completely depleted my resources and I still don’t have an apartment. I still don’t have a phone account. I still don’t have a visa or final contract but that is another story that I don’t want to get into.
I must say the French people have been very nice and friendly, as they always are. Even the demanding apartment agency put up a nice front as she began requesting any future born children, my left arm, the money in my wallet, and anything else she could get as a deposit/guarantee.
I have been uploading images to my flickr account, but they are not the most exciting. I have not had time to visit any museums, parks, cathedrals, etc. Just apartments, the Yahoo! office, the bank, and Chez Prosper (a great restaurant/bistro).