How do I move to Paris with a family? We’ve asked ourselves this very question before. As expats who have done it ourselves, we have the answers you’re looking for. Anyone who has moved before knows: organization and a timeline are key. In this article we will break down what you need to do when you’re: preparing to move, about to move, arriving in Paris, and settling in.

Table of Contents

Preparing to Move to Paris

When you’re preparing to move your family to Paris, it can be easy to see your to-do list and get overwhelmed. Where do I even start? Don’t worry, we’ve done this several times before and have created a simple timeline to help organize you.

School Search – 6 Months Before You Move

Finding schools in Paris for expat families

It may seem a bit strange to start your family’s move to Paris with finding schools for your children, but this will set you up to decide where to live and allow you to get visas for them. Choosing a school for your children is dependent on many factors such as, their age, what languages they speak (or want to learn), what kind of education you want them to receive, and how long your stay in Paris will be. Luckily, we have written a few articles on the topic already. I recommend you start with this article on the French school system and schooling options for expat kids in France. This article will give you a good understanding of how the French school system works and what your options are.

For those with smaller children, you will want to read this article about childcare options for your littlest expats.

If you’re looking for someone to take care of your children after school, you may want to consider hiring a nanny or au pair. For those interested in hiring a nanny, the process is a bit complicated in France. However, everything you need to know about this process can be found in this article.

Immigration – 3 Months Before You Move

You can apply for your family’s visas up to 3 months before your planned arrival date. We recommend applying as soon as you can. As you likely have already figured out, there are many different visas available. Finding the right one for you may seem a bit tricky. Determining the right visa for you and your family is dependent on WHY you’ve decided to move to Paris and whether you are planning to work or not.

I’m going to work in France!

If you’ve decided to move because a member of your family is planning to work in Paris, there are a few visas that may work for you. Determining which one is right for you depends on whether you are self-employed, an employee, and for how long you and your family are planning on staying in France. For those who are self-employed, you have the options of the passport talent – business creator visa or the entrepreneurial/freelance visa. Read more about those kinds of visas in our article here. If you choose to get a passport talent, the visas for your family will be granted in parallel as a “family member” of the main visa applicant. With an entrepreneurial/freelance visa, only one person’s visa will be covered, requiring separate visas for the rest of your family.

I’m not going to work in France!

For those that are not planning on working during your stay in France, the best option is likely a long-stay visitors visa. This visa remains valid for up to one year and you can renew it annually.

How do I get visas for my kids?

Generally, immigration authorities grant children under 18 the “family member” complementary visa of the main applicant. If not, they are (generally) given a dependent minor visitor’s visa. The most important thing to note for children is that if they are between the ages of 3 and 18 they will need to be enrolled in school. You will want to have supporting evidence of said school enrollment.

Finding Your Apartment – 4-6 Weeks Before You Move

How to move to paris with a family - finding an apartment

If you’re like me, it may make you a bit nervous to start looking for an apartment 4-6 weeks before you move. However, we recommend doing this to avoid paying rent for months on an empty apartment before you move. Before you seriously start your search, you should write down your criteria and your budget and do a cursory search on common apartment rental websites like SeLoger and Lodgis. This should help you understand what the market is currently like. This will help you evaluate which of your criteria are really essential.  

Deciding Where to Live as a Family

Figuring out which area you want to live in can be difficult when you have not lived in Paris before. Since you’re moving with a family to Paris and at this point you have already picked out your children’s schools, you should have a good idea of where you would like to live. In Paris, parents are expected to walk their children to school. There is no ‘drop-off’ line and most children do not take public transport on their own. Because of this, you will likely want to live within walking distance of your children’s schools, unless you will be using a car while you are in Paris.

For those looking to live in the suburbs, I suggest you check out our other articles on the topic. Check out our list of our favorite suburbs, our article on Maisons-Laffitte, our article on Saint-Germain en Laye, and our article on Le Vesinet.

For those looking to live in the city, I recommend doing some online research. It can be helpful to look at guides such as this one. Keep in mind that many of these articles cater to tourists, and living somewhere differs significantly from visiting. While a vibrant nightlife may make an area seem attractive to a tourist, as someone who will need to put kids to bed long before the party in the streets ends, certain areas may not appeal to you. I would also recommend turning to Facebook groups or online forums where you can ask people about their experiences living in different arrondissements.

You should also take into account your budget and housing needs when choosing an area to live in. I would recommend you check out this chart with the average price per square meters for apartments in each arrondissement. As a general rule, you can determine the maximum amount you will be allowed to rent an apartment for by dividing your monthly income by 3.

How to Rent an Apartment in France

Finding housing in Paris is something that many expats struggle with for a variety of reasons. This is why we have written several articles on this topic already! I would recommend you read our articles, How to Rent an Apartment in Paris Part 1 and How to Rent an Apartment in Paris Part 2.

Since this is one of the hardest parts of moving to Paris for many people, it is not uncommon to ask for help. While we highly recommend working with a relocation agency, such as ours, you do have other options for help with this. Check out our other article on exploring your options for managing your move to Paris to determine what kind of experts will work best for your move.

About to Move Your Family to Paris

In the weeks leading up to your move you should have the ‘big’ things figured out. You should know where you’ll be living, your kids are enrolled in school, and have your visas. Now its time to focus on preparing to leave your current home and ironing out the details of your life in Paris.

What’s Coming with You

Deciding what to keep and what to get rid of can be a very hard part of moving. You probably want to take everything and “copy-paste” your current life into your new one. However, this typically isn’t the best option. If you and your family aren’t planning on moving to Paris for too long, you may consider renting a storage space for any non-essential belongings you’ll want when you return (like furniture and fragile items). For those planning on moving to Paris for a while, you’ll need to start deciding what to keep, what to give away, and what to sell. If you are using a moving service, remember that it will usually take 4-6 weeks for your things to arrive. You may want to consider bringing some personal items or essentials with you in your bags.

Health Insurance and Doctors

France offers public health insurance, but you and your family cannot apply for these benefits until you receive your titre sejours (which you can apply for 3 months after your arrival). Because of this, it is a good idea to have international health insurance. Depending on your visa, you may even be required to have health insurance. You should register each member of your family with health insurance and understand exactly what this insurance covers before moving to Paris.

Family doctors in Paris, English speaking doctors in France

You should also investigate how to file claims and determine which doctors your insurance will cover. It is also a good idea to find general practitioners for each member of your family before your arrival. To find doctors, most of France uses a wonderfully helpful website called DoctoLib. There you can find all kinds of doctors, along with practical information about them such as what languages they speak and what kinds of insurance they accept. DoctoLib is also where you will receive any prescriptions or bills from your doctors (super useful for filing insurance claims!). I would recommend also downloading the app, as it can be very useful when filling prescriptions and keeping track of appointments.

Making a Plan for Paris

Before your arrival it can be a good idea to lay out a game plan for your time in Paris. This plan can include things you want to see, goals for your time here, skills you want to learn, and anything else. Make goals for through out the year as well – What will you want to do around Christmas time? Will you want to take a trip in the Summer?

I also recommend including how you’re going to stay in touch with friends and family back home in your plan. Once you arrive it can be easy to put off connecting with friends and family back home, but these people will remain important parts of your support system while you’re adjusting to living in a new country. If you’re a planner like me, it can be helpful to schedule regular calls. This will make sure you stay in touch and remember that you’re not alone during this stressful time. Here is an example of a ‘Paris game plan’:

Paris Game Plan:

Making the most of my time in Paris with my family
  • Learn to make croissants
    • Class scheduled for Saturday’s
  • Enjoy nuit blanche
    • Visit the Louvre
    • See the Luchadore performance in Chatelet
  • Call Mom & Dad every Friday at 8pm
  • Learn French
    • Find language exchange groups
    • Listen to French music
    • Watch my favorite TV show in French
  • Visit the Marches au Noel

As shown in the example, it is a lot easier to follow through on your goals when you know the steps to complete them. Also, by writing down your goals you’re much more likely to make the most of your time in Paris!

It is also generally a good idea to have some fun activities planned for the whole family the first few days after you arrive. Moving is stressful for children too, and a fun activity like a trip to the zoo or going up the Eiffel Tower can help get them excited about living in a new place.

Arriving in Paris

You’ve just arrived in Paris! You and your family find your apartment and move all of your bags in, now what? You’re tired, probably jetlagged, and have no idea where to start.


If you’re a perfectionist like me, unpacking can seem daunting. Finding the perfect place for everything can be overwhelming, and can make unpacking much harder than it needs to be. Something we’ve learned from our many moves is that things don’t have to stay where you first put them. Getting things out of boxes is crucial for starting to make your house a home. Don’t put too much pressure on perfectly organizing everything at first.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your home. It’s unreasonable to expect you to completely unpack after one day, but living out of boxes isn’t a great way to start your Paris adventure either. If you’re like me, it can help to set a goal for yourself each day. For those more hesitant to unpack, maybe you promise to unpack one box every day. For the more brazen unpackers reading this, maybe you try to get one room unpacked and set up every day.

Again, many things won’t stay in the first place you decide to put them. Relax, put on some music, and have fun assembling your new life!

Being Prepared for Emergencies

While we never want to think of emergencies happening in our homes, its important to make sure you and your family are prepared just in case. We recommend making a list of important emergency numbers with your new address at the top and posting it in a central location.

We recommend including on your list of emergency numbers:

Moving to paris as a family - Being Prepared
  • Your new address
  • 112 – French 911/ National Emergency Hotline
  • 18  – Firefighter hotline
  • 17 – Police
  • 15 – Medical services
  • The number for your landlord or rental agency
  • The number of a local trusted plumber or handyman
  • The number of a local trusted locksmith
  • Your new French cell phone numbers
  • The number of a local take out place

You should also go over these numbers with your children and review what to do in case of an emergency. If your children do not speak French, maybe help them learn a few phrases that could come in handy should they ever need to call one of these numbers. You may even want to have these phrases written down on your emergency number list as well. It is also a good idea to have these numbers (especially the locksmith!) saved in your phone and ready to go.

Settling In

You moved your family to Paris and you’ve been here for a while, it’s time to really settle in! You won’t become a Parisian by staying at home. Take the time to explore the city, find a community, and embrace the culture!

Exploring Your Neighborhood

Whether you’re living in the city or in a banlieu (suburb), your neighborhood will have lots to explore. A great way to learn about your area is to find where you will be buying your food.

While Paris and it’s surrounding neighborhoods will be undoubtedly equipped with grocery stores, the true French way to get your food is through the morning farmers markets. These farmers markets occur on  a weekly basis, and often start early in the morning. In these markets, farmers, butchers, cheese mongers, and other vendors will set up their stands and sell their fresh foods directly to customers. I’ve found that these markets are a great way to make friends. After a few times, many sellers will recognize you and want to make conversation when you buy from them. These markets also present a great opportunity for you to practice your French.

Another key part of learning about where you live is finding the best bakery near you. You’ll notice that I didn’t say the closest bakery to you, but rather the best. In Paris, bakeries can be found on every street, with many only a few steps away from the other. Exploring different bakeries near you and finding the best one can also be a fun way to get your kids excited about their new life in Paris.

In the same way you need to find the best bakery, you should also find the best cafe near you. Cafes are a social hub for the French, and you can find many of them enjoying apero at local cafes after work. This can be a great way to make local connections and learn about the culture.

Finding Your Community

Part of making a home in a foreign country is finding your community. Part of this is finding friends that understand your situation and may be able to offer some advice or a sympathetic ear. This is why we like to host breakfasts for our past clients. Tt can be incredbily encouraging to meet others who have been in your position and flourished.

We also recommend joining Facebook groups for expats in Paris. Many of these groups are very active and can be a great resource for advice and finding people who understand your situation.

Another great way to find your community is through expat groups and organizations. If you’re interested in finding out about these communities, what kinds of events they host, and what kinds of fees may or may not be associated with them, check out our free list of expat groups in Paris! To get the list, sign up for our newsletter using the form below and we will send it directly to your inbox.

Getting Your Titre Sejour – 3 Months After Your Move

A big part of moving to Paris with a family is getting everyone set up with social benefits. After living in France for 3 months as non-EU citizens, your family will be able to apply for their titres sejour! What is a titre sejour? A titre sejour is a residency card that distinguishes you as a resident of France, and entitles you to a variety of social benefits – including your carte vitale. Getting your titre sejour, like any bureaucratic process in France, requires a lot of paper work, a meeting with the prefecture, and a lot of patience. You can apply for your titre sejour through the French government website here.

Getting Your Carte Vitale

Once you have picked up your titre sejour from the prefecture, you will then be able to apply for your carte vitale. Like the titre sejour, every one in your family will need to apply separately and get their own. Once again, this procedure will require paperwork and patience, but the end result is worth it! To get your carte vitale, you’ll need to apply through Ameli, with separate accounts for each member of your family. For more information on getting your carte vitale, check out the French government’s webpage on the topic here.  


Is it a good idea to have a car in Paris?

Having a car in Paris comes with it’s pros and cons like anything else, so let’s go through them:


  • Safe mode of travel for you and your family
  • Public transport can be unreliable at times


  • You will need to pay for a parking spot, and depending on where you live this can range from 100-500 per month.
  • Traffic in Paris can be frustrating, and you may encounter difficult drivers

Are there any English-speaking volunteer networks in Paris?

Volunteering and giving back to your community is a great way to get involved and make a new place your home! We highly recommend volunteering with Serve The City Paris, they have lots of regular programs mostly focused on feeding unhoused people in Paris. They also have a language exchange night for those looking to give back and improve their French!

Need Help?

Moving is one of the most stressful things we can go through as humans, especially when you’re moving to a foreign country with children that depend on you. That’s why we’re here! We offer a variety of services that cover everything mentioned in this article. Whether you just need help with one thing, or the whole thing, feel free to reach out to us! We offer free 30 minute calls with our experts to assess your needs, explain our services, and give you a quote for anything you might want help with. If you’re interested in scheduling one of these calls just click the button below!