Making an international move is rarely simple. However, being prepared can certainly make it easier—especially when you understand what to expect before, during, and after your relocation.

We did our first international relocation in 1958. Since then, we’ve helped tens of thousands of families move to destinations all over the globe, including Paris.

To add some extra ease to your move, below you’ll find our nine essential tips for moving between Paris and the US. With these pointers in hand, you’ll set yourself up for a simpler, stress-free move to your new home.

#1: Don’t Let Culture Shock Catch You by Surprise

Moving between the US and one of the largest cities in Europe may not seem like a big deal to some. Culture shock is more common than you might think—especially if a language barrier is involved.

After relocating, you might feel some of the emotions associated with culture shock, such as disorientation, homesickness, loneliness, or even depression.

There are a few things you can do to keep culture shock from overwhelming you, including:

  • Being prepared for culture shock. Expect it, and don’t pressure yourself to “fit in” immediately.
  • Allowing yourself to experience the very natural emotions of your transition— without judgment or dismissal. It’s only human to feel a sense of disquiet in a new environment.
  • Surrounding yourself with the familiar. As you’re choosing what to bring with you when you move, include some of your favorite pieces. Familiar furnishings and décor can make your house feel like a home quickly—and offer some much-needed stability.

Moving Tip: Bring Your Bed

In our experience, French beds and American beds can feel very different. If you’re debating whether to bring yours, we’d say: Pack it! A familiar bed will bring you a lot of comfort in your new home. Plus, a good night’s sleep is key to a positive outlook.

#2: For Paris Moves, Expect Your Movers to Use a Smaller Truck or Van

When it comes to international moves, you might expect to pack a container at your old home and unpack that same container at your new home.

For many moves, that’s the case.

However, for moves in Paris—as well as large cities in the U.S., like New York City—things work a little differently.

Many cities can’t accommodate a parked container sitting on the street. (If you’ve ever tried to park a car in Paris, you’ll understand immediately!) Instead, for Paris moves, your mover will use a smaller truck or van to shuttle your belongings to or from a nearby warehouse.

If you’re moving to Paris, here’s how it might work:

  • Once your container arrives in France, it will be sent to a nearby warehouse.
  • There, the crew will carefully unload your belongings.
  • Then, they’ll reload your belongings into a truck or a van for delivery.
  • The crew will have to make a few trips to your house to deliver everything, but they’ll keep track of it all closely to ensure you get everything safely.

(And if you’re moving from Paris to another location, this same process will happen, but in reverse.)

If you’re at all concerned about the “how” of your move, ask your moving company for more details. The more you know what to expect on Moving Day, the smoother your experience will be.

#3: “Dinner Time” Is Not the Same in Paris & the US

6:22 pm
Average U.S. dinner time

In the United States, the average dinner time is 6:22 pm. For someone living in Paris, 6:22 would be a shockingly early (and awfully specific!) time to eat dinner.

Instead, dinner is usually eaten in Paris from 8:00–10:00 pm, although some early-birds might eat as early as 7:30.

The French are also famous for not snacking the way Americans tend to, so what’s a hungry American in Paris to do?!

Take another cue from Paris culture, and enjoy a leisurely and filling sit-down lunch at noon. Don’t try to get away with stuffing something in your face at your desk or grabbing something on the go. Instead, sit down for a meaningful meal at lunch time, which will get you through until dinner time in Paris.

And if you’re moving from Paris to the US, you may have to embrace an earlier dinner time—or keep note of the places that stay open late, if you plan to eat out.

#4: Understand the Requirements for Duty-Free Entry

Both France and the US have procedures that allow for importing household goods duty free when you’re making a permanent change of residence. Since this can save you a substantial amount of money, it’s worth it to check out the criteria and complete your paperwork correctly:

#5: You May Not See Smiles in Paris, but You Will Hear Polite Greetings

Smiling at and making small talk with strangers is part and parcel of life in a number of places in the US.

(Of course, considering that the US is a large country, there are certainly exceptions! You won’t find as much of that on the New York City subway as you might while exploring Dallas, Texas.)

In contrast, you’ll find that people in Paris may not smile as much and may not engage in chit-chat. Those used to living in America may be taken aback by this, so prepare yourself if you’re making the move.

That said, there’s a polite formality you’ll often see in Paris that you might not experience in the US. It’s very normal in the US to walk up to a clerk in a store and ask a question without offering a greeting. However, you’ll find that people in Paris enjoy (and expect) a bonjour before being asked if they have this sweater in a different size or where you can find a particular Métro stop.

No matter which place you’re moving to, these cultural differences might take a little getting used to. Spend some time observing the people in your new home, and you’ll soon find your own way of “fitting in” to your environs.

#6: Packing Yourself Probably Isn’t Worth It

When it comes to an overseas move, it might feel like the costs add up quickly. If you’re paying for the move yourself, you might also be looking for ways to save money.

We often recommend downsizing to budget-conscious customers.

However, there’s one thing we don’t recommend: packing your own boxes. For international moves, it’s usually not worth it, and here’s why:

#7: You May Want to Adjust the Volume of Your Voice

Overall, Americans have a reputation for being loud talkers. Walk into a busy restaurant on a Saturday night and the atmosphere might seem downright cacophonous.

However, walk into a similarly busy restaurant in Paris on a Saturday night, and you’ll likely encounter a different—and much quieter—scene.

As an American in Paris, be conscious of the volume at which you’re speaking. Your natural level may seem loud to the Parisians around you, so you may have to make some adjustments.

And as a Parisian in the US, you may find that people ask you to speak up. Don’t be afraid to exercise those vocal cords—and be heard!

#8: Size Matters

Nine square meters or 97 square feet. That’s the minimum size for an apartment in Paris. Compare that to the regulations in New York City, which require a living area, kitchenette, and bathroom that, due to building codes, add up to 218 square feet (20 square meters).

Look at the difference in these two numbers, and you’ll start to understand the difference between size and scale you’ll find in Paris vs. the US.

Minimum size for a Paris apartment

97 feet2

9 meters2

Minimum size for an NYC apartment

218 feet2

20 meters2

(And that doesn’t even take into account the larger American homes you’ll find outside of the country’s urban areas!)

If you’re moving from the US to Paris, it’s important to understand the available space in your new home. Large sectionals, king-size beds, and oversized furniture may simply not fit.

Also, don’t be surprised if your mover uses an external lift to get your items into your new place in Paris. Stairwells and elevators in Paris are notoriously small, so your furniture may have to be hoisted up outside your building, and then brought in through a window or a balcony door. It’s all part of living in Paris.

If you’re moving from Paris to the US, be aware that you may have a big space to fill—a good problem to have.

#9: In the US, 24/7 Culture is Common

In the majority of places in the US, stores are open seven days a week. Many are even open on holidays. Additionally, you’ll find plenty of stores and restaurants that never close, like 24-hour pharmacies and 24-hour Walmarts.

When it comes to conveniences, the US offers them in spades. As a result, if you’ve moved from Paris to the US and you find yourself needing something in the middle of the night (or on a Sunday), you may be pleasantly surprised by what’s open.

On the flip side, those moving from the US to Paris may be surprised by store closures. A number of shops in Paris close on Sundays—and sometimes Mondays, too. Save yourself time and energy. Make sure to check whether your destination is open before you leave the house. With very few Sunday closures in the US, you may be used to breezing around on Sundays without any problems. However, taking note of what’s open and when can significantly add to your enjoyment of Paris.

To Paris (or from Paris!) with Love

Moving to a new country is one of life’s greatest excitements. Just imagine all the experiences, cultural opportunities, and adventures you’ll enjoy in your new home country. By preparing yourself for the differences between your old home and your new one, you’ll pave the way to enjoy all of the positives headed your way—and create a simple, stress-free relocation.

Moving to or from Paris? Our international team has helped tens of thousands of families and individuals make simple, seamless overseas moves. We’d love to assist with yours! Just reach out for a free quote to get started.

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