What Expatriates Should Know About Working in France

By OptiLingo • 5 minute read

If you’re planning on moving to France, you’re in for a treat. France is a gorgeous country, with beautiful sights and incredible food. And the French language is equally beautiful and easy to learn. But being an immigrant comes with its fair share of challenges. Here’s what expats should expect when they’re in France.

Is France Accepting of Expats?

France may not be the melting pot that the US is, but it does have its share of immigrants. Expats from other countries help populate some of France’s biggest cities, making places like Paris true international communities. 

Dealing With Culture Shock

No matter how much you’ve traveled, there will always be a culture shock when you move to a new country. France is no different. When you move to France, you’ll discover the key differences between the French and your nation. The different attitudes, values, and logic can take some time to adjust to. However, once you get used to French culture, you’ll surely enjoy the expat life in France.

expats in france

Pros and Cons of Living in France

France is very unique. Some aspects of daily French life are extremely appealing, while others are annoying. These opinions about the pros and cons of French life are common for expats living in France:


  • Amazing food: It’s undeniable that French cuisine is marvelous. When you live in France, you can fully experience every dish and taste the country has to offer. This is especially true if you live in a smaller town.
  • Great healthcare: Permanent residents in France have the pleasure of French socialized medicine. Although you can get additional private insurance, you can rest assured that French healthcare will take care of you in case of an emergency.
  • Constant positivity: The French admire beauty. They treasure the good things in life, and they often focus on the positives. This optimistic view can have great mental health benefits for expats in France.
  • Better work-life balance: In France the typical workweek is only 35 hours. And a law called “right to disconnect” protects you from having to check your work emails in off-hours. This means that you can enjoy your weekends completely. 
  • Higher quality of life: Overall, the quality of life is very high in France. This is why many expats in France decide to stay long term or return as frequently as possible.


  • Not everything is convenient: While the US is famed for its amazing customer service, the French have the opposite reputation. You won’t find 24-hour restaurants or shops in France. Instead, you have to get used to shorter opening hours, and therefore more personal time management.
  • There are a lot of strikes: Striking to prove worker’s rights is very common in France. While the French are used to this, and they support their fellow worker’s efforts, expats can find this a difficult adjustment when they move to France. Strikes by postal workers or transportation providers is not easy to manage. 
  • No air-conditioning: As strange as it may sound, air conditioning is not common in France. Many Americans complain about this fact. France has four seasons, so summers can seem extremely hot without any form of cooling.
  • The cost of living: French rent prices are relatively higher than the rest of Europe. This is especially true for Parisian apartments. 

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How to Fit in as an Expat 

The French are lovely people, but they have certain expectations from their visitors. And this doesn’t just mean legal immigration and completing bureaucratic steps. You need to conform to French culture to fit in. Here are some tips that can help you achieve that fast:

  1. Learn French: If you want to be accepted into French society, you need to speak their language. Fortunately, learning French for English speakers is relatively easy. With a little determination, you can reach French fluency fast. And then you can communicate and live life smoothly in France.
  2. Make Friends: The best way to join a community is by making friends. Since French friendship groups are very common, when you make one good friend, they will likely introduce you to more people. If you’re lost on where to start, here are some top tips for making French friends.

expats in france

How to Find Other Expats in France

If you’re looking for other expats to connect to in France, Paris is the hub for that. The capital definitely boasts the greatest number of expats within France. However, if you’re planning to live in another city, you can still meet similar people easily.

Organizations, such as Accueil des Villes Françaises organize activities for newcomers. These can help you join a community. You can use their resources to make friends and get help when you move cities too. There is a small membership fee, but members can partake in activities and courses, such as pottery, art, cooking, and sports.

However, if you truly want to learn French, you should try to make French friends. You can practice your language skills, and discover France through their eyes. They can give you an authentic French experience, whereas other expats can only share the same things you find. Take advantage of learning French with true immersion.

Learn French as an Expat in France

If you’re planning to move to France, you have to speak the language. Although many French people speak English, the country is run in French. You can navigate, shop, and run errands much smoother by knowing the language. And if you want to learn French fast and effectively, you need to try OptiLingo.

OptiLingo’s mobile app shows you high-frequency phrases. So, you’ll learn exactly how everyday people speak. And you’re guaranteed to remember your lessons with built-in spaced repetition. These trusted techniques can help you reach French fluency and comfortably speak to the locals. Discover how effective OptiLingo’s method is. Try FREE today!