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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I've spent some time reading through the forums, but my situation is a little unusual. My employer is likely going to offer me a package to live in Paris for three years. The unusual part is my family size: we have 3.5 year old triplets, a two year old and one due in March. We get to 8 as we have a nanny living with us who we would likely take with us if possible.

We currently live in a "cheaper" area of the United States - Georgia and I do not yet know the full specifics of my compensation package other than it is "supposed" to make my lifestyle somewhat equal to what it is now.

I think I understand costs around food and clothes. What I would really appreciate from you all would be help understanding the cost (and difficulty of finding) a 3-5 bedroom place to rent in Paris. Obviously, this is a family size much different than the average French family size... :)

Additionally, as we would be there for 2-3 years, are there any government helps for large families that we would qualify for (either at the beginning or after living there for a while). I only ask this as someone in our triplet group (who is French) received an insane amount of help/money when she had her kids.

Thanks!

(P.S. our other options are Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand), but France is our first choice.
 

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On a three-year assignment it's kind of doubtful you'd qualify for the allocation familliale that your French friend was receiving - and it may well depend on the terms of your offer. Many US employers take full advantage of a loophole that allows them to keep you in the US social security system while on a "temporary" assignment like that. It's a major savings to them in terms of social insurances, though it means you miss out on the local "standard" benefits.

The allocation familliale is also now means tested - so it will depend a bit on your salary level and with the usual perks of an overseas assignment, chances are you will be earning more than the cap amount (even with 5 kids).

The status of your nanny will be something to look into. An "au pair" is a relatively easy visa/carte de séjour to get - but as an au pair, there are age and work-related restrictions, common to all the EU countries, as an au pair is assumed to be in France primarily to study, with child care as a sideline. An au pair stay in France may also be limited to 18 months.

French homes - and especially those in Paris - tend to be pretty small by US standards. You may want to get assistance from your employer in this area - perhaps a relocation agent to help you locate a suitable place to rent. While French families tend to be larger than US families (thanks to the family subsidies), bedrooms are generally smaller, as are overall home sizes. Chances are you'll do better looking out in the western suburbs of Paris rather than in the city itself. It's prime expat area and there are more houses (some rather large) out in that direction.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Bev. You bring up a lot of interesting points (as you do on all your posts). I agree with your thought process that my employer will go the cheapest way for them...I didn't expect to qualify, but it was worth asking. :)

I had not yet started thinking through the nanny situation. Before we hired an American nanny, we had an au pair from Panama and saw the process they had to go through to get here (and the educational requirements). I would bet the process is even more lengthy to be an au pair in France. I'll look into it.

We wouldn't plan on living in the city. I would assume public transportation - even from the suburbs - is efficient and easy to use. I have been to France before (15 years ago) and remember it fairly easy to navigate the city. As most of my work will either be in the office or abroad throughout Europe, I should be able to establish a good routine for public transportation. Having a car large enough for 7 or 8 people is likely going to be difficult and something we need to look into. We could potentially bring our 7-passenger minivan or look into something larger while we are there (I believe the Sprinter is European and is oft converted to a passenger van).

Could you provide me the name of some of the western suburbs where I should look at housing?

Any other thoughts and advice is greatly appreciated.
 

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Not all suburbs have great transport links into Paris. And it depends a little bit on where in Paris you'll be working. But, take a look at the RATP maps here RATP, transports à Paris et en Ile-de-France : bus, métro, tramway, RER - Page d'accueil (click on the green "Plans des lignes" link on the left side of the page, then on "Le plan interactif (nouvel version)" to get a map of the whole Paris area system. Most of the trains from the west come into La Defense - keep moving left on the map and you'll see the names of the various towns with a train station.

You may also want to consider transportation options to and from the airports (Roissy CDG and Orly) if you are going to be traveling alot. The traffic up to Roissy CDG can be insane and the price of long-term parking is pretty high. Many of the suburbs close to Paris have shuttle services available that would take some of the stress out of getting to the airports and back. Otherwise, you take the RER - line B - which can be a "challenge" during rush hours.

As far as a car goes, what you're looking for is called a "monospace" - basically a van. They're pretty popular, so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding a car to meet your needs. I wouldn't bring a car over from the US - incompatibility of parts and the whole issue of the smaller neck on the gas cap which they never did over here.

As for the au pair visa, the regulations here are a bit different. The term "au pair" is pretty strictly defined in legal terms throughout the EU and is geared primarily to students. In France, au pairs must take a minimum number of hours in French language and/or culture classes and there are maximum ages, and a limit to working hours and duties that you have to take into consideration.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Once again, thanks.

Is there any other way to sponsor someone to come live with us - even if not officially a nanny but rather a friend? I know this sounds underhanded, but we would love to be able to bring her if at all possible for a bazillion reasons.

Otherwise, any idea what a full-time nanny costs in France? I imagine it is more than we can afford to pay. Our current nanny has basically agreed to go with us (if we go) and only be paid spending money she needs (we pay all her transportation, food, board, etc.).
 

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I'm sure somebody will jump in here if they have experience in this area. Nannies aren't real common here in France. The State tends to provide reasonably well for families with children (especially those with 3 or more). School starts early - can be as early as age 2, if the child is potty trained - and there are tax and other provisions to encourage working women to have housekeeping help a day or two a week.

I'm not aware of any way an individual can sponsor a visa, other than an au pair visa. There's a bit more detail on that here: "Au pair" visa - Consulat Général de France à Boston You'll note that the au pair contract has to be approved by the Labor department of the departement where you are living, and I believe there is a standardized contract they use. Or maybe she'd fancy being a student for a while and living with you while she is. The language and culture course at the Sorbonne or the Alliance Française are a bit pricey, but if she has ever wanted to learn French, it's probably an option.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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infos and remarks

Thanks Bev

1- They are numerous places you can live in and around Paris with a family of 8 if you accept living in a flat. City houses (maison de ville) inside Paris (intramuros as they say) are extremely rare, a part from XIX (19) and XX(20) district (arrondissements) . Those 2 arrondissements are not usually favored by expats because of their (wrong) reputation, in my view. But in France, it should be nevertheless considered that where you live determines the primary and secondary education possibilities and some times quality. If you live in the 20th district, you will most probably have your children in a public school mingling with mid-lower income families and sometime no incomes families. Your children will have friends from France, Sri Lanka and Colombia, or Viet Nam and their parents could be Journalists, artists, employees, young entrepreneurs, IT geeks, jobless or civil servants. If you chose one of the international schools, residing in XX(20eme) might be a fit far, although I am ready to take a challenge between XXeme arrondissement and Suresnes (western suburbs): which being closer to International schools?

See samples here
for Western suburbs (house): Location Maison contemporaine - Villa 9pièces (260m) 3 000€ Rueil Malmaison (92500) - Proximité Mont valérien
for Paris (flat): Location Appartement 7 pièces - Appartement 5 Chambres (209m) 4 450€ Paris 11ème (75011)

2- For family subsidies in the French system ( social security scheme) you are eligible to perceive 9153,96 euros per year of public assistance (paid monthly x12) plus a lump sum of 1722 euros (for "rentree scolaire", paid in August each year before school resumes), irrespective of your level of income. You might want to ask the employer to give you (negotiate) these monies if he wants to keep you in the US medical insurance system. Check "prestations familiales" link here : Sécurité sociale - Prestations familiales.

If i remember correctly, you have triplets, and you should also consider transportation (and parking) has an big issue in Paris and suburbs. Large cars such as a Chevy van might not be the best option in town. Remember that children below the age of 4 travel for free on all Public transport systems (train, metro, tramway and buses). If they do attend a school inside Paris town, children are eligible to free transportation on all public transport network (inside Paris), which is a lot of savings, reliable and quite efficient. The mairie d'arrondissement (district city council) handles such travel passes. In addition as a family with more than 3 kids, you are also eligible to 30 to 75% discount on all SNCF (national railway network) travel fares with carte de famille nombreuse (large family pass, apply on their website). This pass gives also good discount possibilities in some shops (BHV), cinemas, theatres, shows, hairdresser, and entertainment. Finally, as a mother of 6 you are eligible to a "priority card" which allows you to jump queues (at the taxi station for instance) and obtain a sit in the public transport system when it is crowded.


3- Nanies are plentyful, official and non official salary rates. It is the favored job of young legal or illegal migrant ladies. And between you and me, having my young child taken care of by a young Polish or Haitian or Moroccan lady is reassuring to me. They are caring, loving, affectionate, agile with young children, honest, speak basic english and reliable. If you are able to provide accomodation, you will be treated as a god and they will soon become a member of your family. You might want to ask your local bakery or laundry if they know of any young lady. professional nanies are also available and au-pair schemes abundant. Google it.

Let us know your thoughts.... please.
 

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In addition as a family with more than 3 kids, you are also eligible to 30 to 75% discount on all SNCF (national railway network) travel fares with carte de famille nombreuse (large family pass, apply on their website). This pass gives also good discount possibilities in some shops (BHV), cinemas, theatres, shows, hairdresser, and entertainment. Finally, as a mother of 6 you are eligible to a "priority card" which allows you to jump queues (at the taxi station for instance) and obtain a sit in the public transport system when it is crowded.
Let me just add one caveat regarding the carte de famille nombreuse. Officially, these cards are available only to French nationals with large families. For many years, they were handed out regardless of the nationality of family members, but about 10 or 15 years ago they started clamping down (particularly in Paris). There were a number of families where only the mother was not French (the cases I know of were American women married to French men where all the children in the family had French nationality) - and only the mother was denied the transport discount card. The kids and father got half price travel, no problem.

Things may have changed since then, but there is always the possibility they'll go back to the rules as they are writ and foreigners won't be able to benefit from the large family benefits.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Gallus. I've tried to address each point below (in bold). Additionally, I now know that when I transfer there, I transfer to our business which is a french company and I am paid for them and receive my benefits from them. As such, I also pay french taxes. This additional information may be helpful to figuring some of this out.

Can you help me out with average family incomes in Paris? If I had to guess, I will be offered somewhere between 80,000-100,000 euros (including bonus). That may shed some light on whether this is doable for a family my size or not. (And obviously that is a big range.)

Thanks Bev

1- They are numerous places you can live in and around Paris with a family of 8 if you accept living in a flat. City houses (maison de ville) inside Paris (intramuros as they say) are extremely rare, a part from XIX (19) and XX(20) district (arrondissements) . Those 2 arrondissements are not usually favored by expats because of their (wrong) reputation, in my view. But in France, it should be nevertheless considered that where you live determines the primary and secondary education possibilities and some times quality. If you live in the 20th district, you will most probably have your children in a public school mingling with mid-lower income families and sometime no incomes families. Your children will have friends from France, Sri Lanka and Colombia, or Viet Nam and their parents could be Journalists, artists, employees, young entrepreneurs, IT geeks, jobless or civil servants. If you chose one of the international schools, residing in XX(20eme) might be a fit far, although I am ready to take a challenge between XXeme arrondissement and Suresnes (western suburbs): which being closer to International schools?



THANKS

2- For family subsidies in the French system ( social security scheme) you are eligible to perceive 9153,96 euros per year of public assistance (paid monthly x12) plus a lump sum of 1722 euros (for "rentree scolaire", paid in August each year before school resumes), irrespective of your level of income. You might want to ask the employer to give you (negotiate) these monies if he wants to keep you in the US medical insurance system.

Obviously, this would be a huge factor if we can make Paris work for our family (I also note Bev's post on this). I'm going to try and look into it.

If i remember correctly, you have triplets, and you should also consider transportation (and parking) has an big issue in Paris and suburbs. Large cars such as a Chevy van might not be the best option in town. Remember that children below the age of 4 travel for free on all Public transport systems (train, metro, tramway and buses). If they do attend a school inside Paris town, children are eligible to free transportation on all public transport network (inside Paris), which is a lot of savings, reliable and quite efficient. The mairie d'arrondissement (district city council) handles such travel passes. In addition as a family with more than 3 kids, you are also eligible to 30 to 75% discount on all SNCF (national railway network) travel fares with carte de famille nombreuse (large family pass, apply on their website). This pass gives also good discount possibilities in some shops (BHV), cinemas, theatres, shows, hairdresser, and entertainment. Finally, as a mother of 6 you are eligible to a "priority card" which allows you to jump queues (at the taxi station for instance) and obtain a sit in the public transport system when it is crowded.

We have no issues with public transportation and would plan on it using it as much as possible. Reason for a car would be for driving throughout europe on vacations.

3- Nanies are plentyful, official and non official salary rates. It is the favored job of young legal or illegal migrant ladies. And between you and me, having my young child taken care of by a young Polish or Haitian or Moroccan lady is reassuring to me. They are caring, loving, affectionate, agile with young children, honest, speak basic english and reliable. If you are able to provide accomodation, you will be treated as a god and they will soon become a member of your family. You might want to ask your local bakery or laundry if they know of any young lady. professional nanies are also available and au-pair schemes abundant. Google it.

Thanks.

Let us know your thoughts.... please.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Gallus and Bev,

I appreciate your help. I've made a few phone calls and spoken with a person who went with my company there (although he is single). We don't think I would be able to maintain a decent living over there with the size of family I have so we are going to look at our second choice (Melbourne, Australia).

Thanks!!!
 
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