Paris Plunge: 5 Things I Learned When I Moved to Paris

Paris Plunge: 5 Things I Learned When I Moved to Paris

moving to Paris
© Denis Kuvaev/Shutterstock

I moved to Paris. I really did it. I boxed up my apartment, packed a few pairs of shoes, and moved across the Atlantic to the land of fromage, vin, and French men. Well, the land of one specific French man.

I moved to Paris for love and adventure, and boy has it been an adventure. The early days weren’t easy, between losing our apartment and having to find a new one to moving in only to find we had no heat. Not to mention the adventure of living with a person for the first time.

moving to Paris
Photo courtesy of author.

But, I have no complaints. I live in Paris and I can see the Eiffel Tower just steps from my front door, and I challenged myself to do something which was (for me) a wild thing to do.

I’ve learned a lot in a short time here in France. And not just about France, either. I’ve learned about myself, what kind of strength and resolve I might have even when I can’t see it, about my friends and family, and about risks being worth it even if they’re scary.

When I made up my mind to follow my Frenchman to his homeland, I was afraid of so many things. I wondered whether I was truly making the right decision, whether my family would approve of the idea, whether the relationship was THE one, and whether I could really handle it once I got there. But I found that, the more I had to defend my decision and explain it to people, the more confident I felt that it was right. And, with the support I received from friends and family – both emotional and the physical, box-lifting sort – I knew it could only be a great adventure, whatever happened.

Here’s what I learned when I moved to Paris:

Moving abroad is no scarier than moving to a new state

Or, it doesn’t have to be. Especially if you’re moving with/for someone or it’s a place you’ve been to (and loved!) before, it’s really no harder than moving to the next town over or across state lines. Once you get over the distance thing, it comes down to the same things: get boxes, pack your things, find a mover, find an apartment. The details of it being international are hardly important when you’re in the thick of it. Once you commit, it’s surprisingly easy to move abroad.

People will surprise you, both good and bad

I experienced both sides of this coin. My family surprised me when they were incredibly supportive from day one, though I was nervous to tell them I was considering moving to France. But they were all-in as soon as I told them – and they jumped right on board helping to pack and figure out the details.

Some friends surprised me when they weren’t supportive at all. People I trusted and loved and considered to be big parts of my life suddenly were cold and judgmental and everything I never expected. Make no mistake, big life decisions can mean a loss. And then, people I haven’t heard from in years have come out of the woodwork to say nice, encouraging things, though they have no reason other than to show they still care.

moving to Paris
© Ross Edward Caimey

There are parts of myself I never knew were there

I’ve suddenly learned so much about myself. And it took other people saying it for me to start to wonder… is that me? Am I daring? Courageous? Am I that person someone would expect to wind up living in Europe? I am, and I’m embracing the idea that I might sometimes be bold enough to do something cool, and maybe not downplay it so much as “not that big of a deal.” I really did move to France, and that’s something not a lot of people are able to say about themselves.

I’ve rediscovered parts of myself that were forgotten

Beyond the things I learned about who I am and what I’m capable of, I also have had the opportunity to rediscover who I was. Moving to a new place is always an opportunity for reinvention, but what I’ve found is that this move has opened me up not to reinvention, but to take back things I loved and set aside. For one? Writing. I wrote for fun in middle school then gave it up. I write for work but it’s marketing and it’s different. Now, I’ve brought back a part of myself by allowing myself to write for me. I had forgotten how good it felt to put words on a page that mean something to me.

Taking the risk can be worth it

Was picking up my life and moving to Paris a risk? Absolutely. But it was a risk worth taking, and even just a few weeks into the experiment, it’s clear that what I’ll gain is so much more valuable than the safety and security of home, no matter what happens next.

Moving abroad is not for the faint of heart, but when “abroad” is Paris and it feels right, it’s worth at least considering. I’ve learned more about myself in a few weeks than I have in years. I’ve learned about my wonderful family and friends, and about who and what matters to me. Oh, and the food’s not so bad either!

READ MORE: about how my adventure all started

Elizabeth Vincent is a new expat, just beginning her Paris adventure. Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, she followed her heart across the pond to the City of Light to be with her French boyfriend. A content marketer by trade, Elizabeth holds a Master’s degree in Consumer Psychology and Business from Bangor University, Wales. Elizabeth is most looking forward to exploring the cheese, wine, and pastries Paris (and Europe) has to offer, as well as all the sites and excitement of living abroad. You can find more of her experiences on her blog above.


  1. Very nice article, Elizabeth. Thank you. I did the same thing almost 3 decades ago and have never looked back!! France is a wonderful place to call home. Welcome.


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