Moving to Paris as an American: What You Need to Know

Everything you need to know for living in Paris from the US.

Aug 14, 2023
woman with suitcase infront of eiffel towerwoman with suitcase infront of eiffel tower

The City of Love. Paris often ranks as the most popular tourist destination on Earth, with around 20 million people visiting the city every year. The city is steeped in history, and boasts spectacular architecture, making it one of the world's most beautiful cities to walk around. Above all, Paris is famous as a city of the arts; the Louvre being the tip of a majestic iceberg of Impressionism, Art Nouveau, Cubism, and many other schools of art which evolved in the city.

As well as all its history and culture, Paris is a vibrant, diverse, and modern metropolis. This makes it such a popular city to visit. In the 21st century, more and more are choosing the expat life to experience new cities for more than just a vacation, and move for a few months or years. In this complete guide, we tell you everything you need to know about how to move to Paris as an American.

paris streets with white buildings and eiffel tower in the background

Is Paris a good city for expats?

Let’s start with why you should move to Paris in the first place. There are many great things about the city that will make you want to hang around, here are some of them:

Laissez faire life

Translating to “go with the flow”, this expression has become synonymous with France’s capital. Those living in France as an American, are often surprised by the relaxed attitude in the city. The working week in France is 35 hours, and the French hold sacred the Apéro, the time before dinner where people meet to unwind and enjoy a drink together.


Paris is one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world due to the fact that people have moved here from all over. This has enriched the city and made it more tolerant, so it’s an easy city for those moving to France to relocate to.

J’adore l’art

Much of the history of world-renowned art is rooted in Paris. For centuries the city has been the soul of Europe for writers, painters, and sculptors. Today there are around 130 art galleries and museums in the city, far too many to visit on a 2-week vacation. If you consider yourself a fan, you’ll certainly need a move to Paris.

What documents do I need to move to Paris?

You don’t need a visa if you’re moving to Paris from another EU country, or are the spouse or child of a French citizen. US citizens do not need a visa to live in Paris short term (up to 90 days), and for many professions you do not need a work permit for this time.

passport with packed suitcase

If you intend to stay longer than this, it becomes a little more complicated. There is no digital nomad visa in France, so when moving to Paris as an American, you’ll need to be either employed by a French company or self-employed, and then apply for the relevant visa and work permit. If you plan to keep your old job, but live in a new city for more than 3 months, it may be worth considering other cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, where the rules are more flexible.

How do I find the best accommodation?

As with most cities, Paris has plenty of accommodation on offer for those on vacation. It is possible to rent long term, although this has its problems: You’ll need to have your paperwork in order, which might not be the case at the start. Also, the minimum length of stay can be 6 months or more, not ideal for expats and digital nomads who may only want to rent for a few months.

Fortunately Ukio has apartments to rent for short and medium periods, from 1 to 11 months. All you need is a passport, and our acquisition and design teams make sure that all apartments are in the best locations, and furnished with everything you need to feel right at home, so you can easily begin moving to France from the US.

What are the best neighborhoods in Paris?

Paris is a large city for European standards. You’ll often travel to other areas, but you won’t always want to, so the neighborhood you choose is vital. Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements, or administrative districts, which are numbered. We don’t have space to discuss them all, so here is a selection of the most popular neighborhoods for living in Paris as an American:

paris streets with people sitting outside

Montorgueil - 2nd Arrondissement

Montorgueil gained its fame from feeding the city (and much of the country) for centuries. Nowadays, some of the endless markets have been replaced by shops and cafes, but the neighborhood’s origins are still apparent. Montorgueil is very central, both Les Halles (the very center of the city) and the Pompidou Centre are minutes away. That said, the area manages to maintain a quaint, village feel to it, which is a large part of its charm.

Le Marais - 3rd/4th Arrondissement

The hipster’s choice. Trendy and cool, in the old Jewish quarter there is something for everyone. With lots of great bars and eateries, it’s also the most gay-friendly area of Paris. There are several museums and art galleries, including the Musée Picasso and the Musée Carnavalet.

Invalides - 7th Arrondissement

The high class option. Not cheap, but the choice of much of the French aristocracy. This residential area is very safe and well connected. Home to the Hôtel des Invalides, and a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.

Auteuil - 16th Arrondissement

Originally its own town, Auteuil was incorporated into Paris during its Napoleon-led expansion. A popular choice with the Bourgeoisie, and with artists, who would traditionally accept living in more modest homes to be able to mingle with the elite. A great choice for those looking for something a little more private, and away from the center.

Do I need to speak French?

Person learning words in dictionary

Maybe you don’t need to speak French when living in Paris as an American, but you really should. Most French people learn English at school, but they don’t like having to use it, especially in their own backyard. If you at least learn a few phrases then even if you do have to switch to English, people will be a little more sympathetic.

Given how sexy the language is, you will probably want to at least be able to speak conversational French while living in France as an American. There are so many ways to learn these days. You can get started through apps and video classes before you leave, take some classes once you arrive, and as soon as you can speak a little- get out and pratiquez votre français aux gens! Here are some important phrases to get you going:

  • Bonjour! - Hello!

  • Ça va? - How are you? (can also be used to respond to the question)

  • Où est la bibliothèque? - Where is the library?

  • Un café au lait et un croissant s’il vous plaît - One coffee with milk and a croissant please

  • Au revoir! - Goodbye!

What's public transport like in Paris?

The traffic in Paris can be pretty horrific at the best of times, so driving often isn’t the best option. Fortunately there are a wealth of public transport and eco-friendly options to choose from, so you won’t have trouble getting around. Our public transport guide to Paris has everything you need to know for living in Paris as an American:


Like in most cities, the metro is a great option to start off with. The network is extensive and covers almost any route you can think of, tickets are fairly reasonably priced, and the lines are quite shallow, making it quicker to access in your move to Paris. Unlike in most cities, some of the metro stations here are tourist attractions in themselves. The stations at Arts et Metiérs and Louvre-Rivoli are especially worth a look. There are a plenty of different ticket options available, the two you’ll most likely need are:

Single trip (t+)

Costs €2.10, and can be used on the metro, bus, tram and light rail lines. Bundles of 10 are no longer sold in paper form, but can be bought electronically.


This card costs €5 and can then be loaded with various tickets. You can buy one month of unlimited travel for €75, or pay per trip at a reduced rate of €1.69, with a daily cap of €8.45. Even if you only live here short term it's definitely worth picking up one of these.

people looking at paris metro map


The buses use the same tickets. While they are at the mercy of the Parisian traffic, they do have the advantage of being above ground, which allows you to take in the sights of the city. Citymapper is very useful when it comes to planning your route.


The light rail service (RER) is where the metro meets the train. Depending on your destination, your metro ticket may be valid, or you may need to buy a station to station ticket. You’ll most likely use this when traveling to and from the airport. Versailles can also be reached via the RER.

Regional trains will take you to some of the must see sights for anyone living in Paris as an American. You can buy tickets online, and this is a good idea as you normally pay less. If you have a paper ticket you’ll need to validate it at one of the machines on the platforms.

Taxis and ridesharing apps

Straying from public transport, taxis are a decent option for short trips, and are perfectly safe. They’ll get pricey if you use them for longer journeys though. Uber operates in Paris, but while their prices fluctuate more, they aren’t necessarily cheaper than taxis. Kapten is Uber’s main rival in the city, and generally works out cheaper.

Bicycles and scooters

These days, cycling is taken more seriously in Paris, and investment in cycle lanes has made the city a much more bike-friendly place to be. If you’re moving to Paris and don't have your own, you can use the city’s bike sharing system- Vélib. The green bikes are mechanical and the blue are electric. Various pricing options are available, but we recommend paying online, as doing it at the machines can be unreliable.

There are also now several companies that rent electric scooters, such as Cooltra and Lime, if that’s your thing.

city bike infront of the louvre

What about your feet?

Paris is a marvelous city to walk around. Meandering through the city’s boulevards and alleyways allows you to take in the history and architecture of the city. Walking will ultimately help you learn your whereabouts of Paris when moving to France from the US, and you can burn off some of that fromage while you’re at it.

What are the best things to do in Paris?

If you’re moving to Paris, you’ll most likely want to experience some of the sights and activities on offer. There are far too many to list them all here, but we have a few everyone living in Paris as an American should definitely sample:

Flâner dans les rues de Paris

Sticking with the walking theme, flânerie translates to ‘strolling at leisure’, and has been a quintessential Parisian activity since the city was redesigned in the 19th century. A highly pleasant activity in itself, walking around the city is also a great way to appreciate the city’s numerous landmarks when moving to France from the US. Despite Paris being enormous, most of its famous monuments are quite close to each other, which can come at a bit of a surprise living in Paris as an American.

On the Rive Gauche (Left/South bank) the Eiffel Tower is not far from the magnificent Hôtel des Invalides, and popular walking spots St Germain des Prés and Jardin du Luxembourg. On the Rive Droite (Right/North bank), starting at the Arc de Triomphe, you can wander down the Champs-Elysées, pass the Louvre, and reach the bridge to Notre Dame in an hour.

Muse the musées

Of all the cities you could choose to spend a few months in, you probably won’t choose to move to Paris unless you have some kind of interest in the arts. For western art, Paris has no rival. There are many, many more to visit, but here are a few of the most unmissable:

Musée du Louvre

Never heard of it? You’re on your own there. The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world, and the Mona Lisa probably the most famous painting. In all it holds around 38,000 pieces, so you’ll need to come back more than once. We recommend ThatMuse’s scavenger hunt, which helps to give you some sense of direction, and takes you away from the route most traveled.

Centre Pompidou

For contemporary art, nothing tops the Pompidou center. On the outside, the design is one of the most striking and radical in Paris. On the inside, its 120,000 pieces make it the largest collection in Europe. The permanent collection is one you can see for free on the first Sunday of each month.

pipes outside of the centre pompidou

Musée d’Orsay

The second most popular museum in Paris, Orsay is famous for its impressionist art. Full of instantly recognizable masterpieces by Van Gogh, Cézanne, Renoir, Monet, and many more. Pre-booking is recommended.

Musée Carnavalet

When moving to Paris as an American, it never hurts to learn a bit of history. Musée Carnavalet is perhaps more appropriate for history than art lovers, but in Paris the two are inevitably intertwined. Carnavalet takes you through the fascinating history of Paris, from prehistory up to the 21st century. Each room represents an era, and are richly adorned with all manner of artwork and artifacts.

Bourse de Commerce - Pinault Collection

The latest addition to Paris’ art venue heavyweights, the Pinault Collection offers something a little different. With a more modern feel, exhibits are often not what they seem. The gallery aims not just to satisfy established art fans, but also pique the curiosity of those on the fringes.

Fancy some shopping?

After art and history, the thing that most attracts people to move to Paris is probably fashion. The French are famed for their effortless style, and fashion lovers everywhere flock to the streets of Paris in search of all things chic. Here are some of the best areas to take a look at:

  • Champs-Elysées - A must visit for more than just shopping, this iconic street is also lined with commercial chain stores.

  • Avenue Montaigne and Saint Honoré - The best areas for high-end, big name fashion designers, and one-of-a-kind purchases.

  • Galeries Lafayette - Spectacular department stores, worth a visit even if you’re not buying.

  • Les Puces de Saint-Ouen market - The largest antique market in the world. A little further out, Les Puces still draws in an estimated 180,000 visitors per weekend.

What’s all the fuss about French cuisine?

steak with fries

As you may have heard, the French do food pretty well. Paris is also a very nice place to enjoy a cocktail or two. Here are some of the best areas to help you plan your perfect evening living in Paris as an American:


  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés - Widely regarded as the *crème de la crème*. Its success has made it touristy, and at times overpriced. It is, though, still home to a multitude of Michelin star restaurants, and some of the finest chefs on Earth.

  • Le Marais - A stunning district, home to some of the best French cafés, vegan restaurants, and Kosher food- as it was once the Jewish center of the city.

  • Les Halles - Popular with tourists and locals alike. Les Halles is the place to go for French cuisine, and lined with some of the best brasseries, bistros and restaurants the city has to offer.

  • Pigalle - More famous for its nightlife, Pigalle also has some fantastic eateries. One of the more multicultural neighborhoods, a great choice for Indian, Italian and Chinese food.

Apéro and more

Tradition aside, moving to France, there’ll be many times when you want to relax and enjoy a drink. If you’re looking for some ideas on where to get started, read on.

people sitting on a nice terrace drinking


The place to be when the weather is nice. There are many of them in the city, with some of the highlights being:

  • Maison Maison - The riverfront, for spectacular views of the Seine.

  • Loulou - The Tuileries Garden, stylish and upmarket.

  • Ground Control - A more urban terrace, making use of disused train buildings.


In recent years, Paris has become famous for its rooftop bars, which give spectacular views over the city. Here are some of our favorites:

  • ROOF - Lively music, lounge chairs and views of Notre Dame.

  • Le Bar à Bulles - A hidden gem found on top of not-so-hidden gem Le Moulin Rouge.

  • Séquioa - Superb cocktails, and views of nearly all the city’s most famous monuments.


If you want to keep going until the early hours, some of the best places to be are:

  • Oberkampf - A traditional favorite with the young and trendy, one of the city’s livliest areas.

  • Pigalle - Once the red light district but fairly sleaze free today, home of the Moulin Rouge.

  • Le Marais - Another historic party area, the most gay-friendly zone in the city.

  • Belleville - A more reasonably priced, bohemian area.

How safe is Paris?

Moving to Paris as an American, you’ll probably be pretty happy to hear that Paris is generally a safe city these days. Pickpocketing, though, is still quite common, so it’s important to be on your guard, especially in the tourist hotspots and metro stations. Like all major cities there are some places which are a little more dangerous and best to avoid at night. Chatelet, Barbes and St Denis are three such areas.

Do they have good social security in France?

France has a very comprehensive social security system. All employees of French companies gain access, and other residents can make voluntary contributions if they want to enjoy the benefits. If you are moving to France for longer than 3 months, have your paperwork in order, and a French bank account, you can apply for your carte vitale to access the healthcare system.

Do they like pets in Paris?

Dog outside in paris streets

Paris is known as being a really dog friendly city. In fact there are an estimated 17 dogs for every 100 people in the city, meaning that you can take your furry friend with you when moving to Paris. Normal precautions must be taken, you’ll need to have your dogs microchipped and vaccinated. On public transport you’ll need a muzzle or a carrier, and larger dogs will need a ticket. In terms of accommodation, you’ll have no problem as it’s illegal to discriminate against pet owners.

The streets of Paris are wonderful places to walk your dog. Several parks and gardens, such as Bois de Boulogne, and Buttes Chaumont park, are particularly dog friendly.

Allez allez!

Hopefully by now you’re convinced, and know everything you need to get settled in the City of Love. All that’s left is to find your accommodation, book your flight, and come and start your Parisienne experience!