Paris - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Apartment living - Aug 2022

We live on the embassy-owned compound. It is the outskirts of a Paris suburb. Commute is 45 mins-one hour to get to the embassy. - May 2022

Housing is varied, but for the housing pool there seems to be a standard to max out the meters possible. So places are unusually big. The exchange of that, is further from the center, 10 min walk to the metro for a 20-30 min commute is the norm. Public transport is so easy. Also, apartments are old, so the water heater goes out, the elevators stop, there is no AC. The response is "wait till Monday" and so you just get used to it, but it drives some people mad. - Sep 2021

Embassy provided housing: I live in the Neuilly compound in a 2-bedroom apartment. Commute time to Embassy is about 25 minus by bike, 35 minutes by public transport. Pros of the compound: ready-made community, right next to the Bois, quiet, AC in the master bedroom. Cons: 15-minute walk to nearest metro (though it's possible to take a bus to the metro), outside of the city, not "Parisian" feeling, far from nightlife, you live next to colleagues (hard to 'leave' work), most leadership forget that not everyone lives downtown. Put it this way, during the yellow vest protests that got violent, the compounds were safe and quiet. On the other hand, during transportation strikes, leadership required us to come in anyway at our own cost, assuming everyone could walk in easily. Several small but fully stocked groceries nearby, plus boulangeries and pharmacies. La Defense malls a short metro ride away. - Jul 2020

There are basically two options for FSOs: one of two USG-owned compounds in Neuilly/Boulogne or leased apartments downtown. The compounds are ideal for families but tend to go to younger officers, who generally aren't thrilled to be assigned there. However, units are in the process of being combined to make them more attractive to families, so things are changing. The compounds are very nice and are in quiet, safe, wealthy neighborhoods, but they are not centrally located near nightlife. The leased apartments are spectacular and almost universally loved. - Jan 2018

Mostly apartments and a housing compound at a near in suburb. My husband uses a local bike share and can get to work in 20 minutes. - Aug 2015

For USG there two options: apartments in the city, and apartments on government-owned compounds in the 'burbs. Unless you have a gaggle of small children and a spouse at home to take care of them, you do not want to be on the compounds. The commute is double the worst in-city commute (20 minutes vs 45). Plus it's former military housing, so you do the math. The apartments in the city vary in size and style, but most are plenty spacious. (I'm single and have a 3 BR 3 BATHS apartment in a nice part of the city.) It's much nicer than anything you could afford on your own as a government employee, or than most French people you encounter will have. They tend to be in old buildings that can be quirky, but charm is the flip side to that coin. Beautiful crown moldings, wood floors, marble fireplaces.. - Feb 2015

Apartments in the city vary in size and layout. I think the housing is very nice. - Jun 2013

All embassy-provided housing is pretty awesome. Some see the government-owned housing complexes as less desirable and not a "true" Paris experience, as they're slightly into the suburbs, but it has many advantages (spacious, furnished, green space outdoors). Leased apartments vary in size and style. - Jan 2011

We live in a large, beautiful apartment very close to the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. Sky high ceilings, parquet wood floors and charming historical accents abound. However, ancient apartment living is very noisy. We can hear everything our neighbors above and below are doing (and we try to keep our children from making too much noise). Street noise can be a big problem at night too since we are in a fairly central location. My husband takes a bicycle to work which he loves and I can get anywhere quickly by foot or via public transport. Note that closets are not common in old apartments. Prepare to stuff your suits in small armoires. - Sep 2010

Varies hugely depending on what your employer does for you. U.S. Embassy housing is in very bourgeois, boring parts of town. Most people have 3 BR apartments regardless of whether they are single or married with a kid. The embassy compounds are outside the city proper, but not necessarily a much longer commute. Embassy housing is way more spacious and in fancier neighborhoods than if you had to pay your own rent. - Apr 2009

Apartments in Paris tend to be at least 25% cheaper than similarly sized apartments in similar neighborhoods in Manhattan, but will probably seem expensive to people coming from other parts of the U.S. Kitchens are often small and under-equipped. Commutes within the city limits rarely exceed a half-hour, except when the Metro breaks down, which can be often. - Dec 2008

Embassy personnel will either live in a government leased apartment in the city or one of two housing compounds in Boulogne or Neuilly, in the suburbs of Paris. Commute time from the housing compounds is 45 minutes door to door and anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes if you live in the city. The housing staff will encourage you to accept an apartment in one of the housing compounds, but if you are single or a couple without kids, try to get an apartment in the city. Your quality of life will be much better and the apartments in the city are NOT old, dark, problematic apartments as they housing office often portrays. - Jun 2008

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