How I lived in France and why I still returned to Russia


We have already talked about life in almost all European countries, but we ignored France. She generally keeps a little aloof – IT engineers are not too eager to go there, and there are not so many vacancies for foreign specialists. But to look in and see how life is there is quite curious.

Therefore, we talked with Eugene, who managed to work in two Parisian companies, but in the end he returned to Russia anyway. He will tell how he lives in Paris and why he still likes Moscow more.

How I ended up in Paris

I want to say right away that I never tried to leave for Europe. I like living in Moscow, so deliberately I am not looking for open vacancies in foreign companies. But there is a profile on LinkedIn, and offers are regularly received there, including from abroad. I usually don’t accept them.

But one day I was invited to work for a Parisian company. I was in Paris as a tourist, I liked it there, so I agreed. We were engaged in satellite technologies, I worked as a DevOps lead and came strictly to the project. The project was for the French army, and when it ended, he returned to Russia.

Then he again received an offer from Paris – he was invited to the position of DevOps engineer in a startup that did something like Avito, but for expensive vintage and used branded items. I decided to give it a try and went through five stages of the interview:

  • screening from HR;
  • technical interviews with future colleagues;
  • interview with the head of the DevOps department;
  • interview with the head of IT;
  • interview with the CEO of the company – this is how he got to know all the people who work for him.

During my work, the startup has grown to a unicorn – our director even spoke personally with the President of France. As a devops, I was engaged in the automation of development processes. We had many Kubernetes clusters for different regions, because the site worked in Europe, America and Asia – almost everywhere except Russia. They failed to enter our market.

While working and living in Paris, I realized that life here is not as good as I would like. Further I will tell you in detail why. As a result, I quit my job and returned from France to Russia. And I do not regret either that I went or that I came back.

What turned out to be wrong with Paris for me personally

I note that all of the following is true only for Paris – this should not be extended to the whole of France. On the other hand, the offices of IT companies are concentrated mainly in the capital, so if an IT engineer arrives in France, he will almost certainly end up in Paris.

VERY expensive accommodation. A 10-square-meter room without its own toilet, half an hour drive from the center, will cost 600-800 euros per month. I rented a cool kopeck piece next to the Arc de Triomphe for 1,800 euros. I was in quarantine just walking in the arch – it was included in the allowed kilometer of walks during self-isolation =)

In addition to rent, you need to pay utility bills and rent – this is also very expensive. And if you live in old historical buildings, of which there are a lot, the whole house also pays for housing repairs.

Complex apartment search. The demand for housing in Paris is greater than the supply. Finding a good apartment is difficult, and often just bare walls are rented out – you will have to buy even kitchen appliances yourself.

At the same time, many houses are old, they have spiral staircases, and it is technically impossible to bring a large wardrobe or refrigerator through them into the apartment. Therefore, there are special services that come to the house on a lift so that bulky items can be unloaded through the window. And the prices for services of such services are cosmic.

I was lucky: first the company rented an apartment, and then they managed to renew the same contract. But if there was no possibility of extension, the search for an apartment would be long and painful. Due to the fact that there are many tenants, the landlord chooses who will live with him. It’s like a job interview – they may ask about marital status, level of earnings, plans for the future. And if you don’t like something – refuse.

There is no normal heating. Most houses in Paris do not have central heating. Each house is heated separately, and the prices are gigantic. Residents decide for themselves when the heating season starts, and try to start it later in order to save money. This can make homes very cold in the fall and spring. And in winter they don’t heat very well, so you have to get used to walking in a warm jacket and socks.

Terrible internet. I had a 10 Mbps channel – and this is no joke. In fact, it turned out about 8 Mbit / s, my wife and I shared it into two devices, and this was absolutely not enough. I tried to push the repository from the github, or push something – nothing worked. And the Internet cost 25 euros per month.

Unclear paperwork processes. In France, there are several different packages of documents for applying for a residence permit, and they are constantly changing. You can’t figure it out on your own, especially if you don’t know French. The agency handled our documents with my wife, its services are expensive. The company paid for them, but this is not always the case, and bureaucratic red tape can knock someone down.

And according to official sources, citizenship can be obtained after 5 years of living in France. But in fact, after 5 years, no one will give anything, and you need to live at least 7.

You need to know French well. You cannot live comfortably in France knowing only English. You will be able to communicate at work, but in order to be friends with the locals, to use all the services, to communicate normally with the state, you need to know French. And the French are quite aggressive towards those who do not know French, or speak with mistakes and an accent. And gradually “tightening up” the language, communicating with the locals, will not work.

Love for homeopathy. While the whole of Europe is drowning for evidence-based medicine, in France at the state level, treatment with sugar balls is flourishing. Even I got caught – I was prescribed medicine for a bad tooth, and besides the usual pain reliever, homeopathy was added to the prescription. I bought it – it’s expensive! – and only at home I realized that they had sold me fuflomycin. So you need to be more careful.

High prices for services. In Paris, a barista without any special education can earn almost as much as an IT engineer. And the cup of coffee he makes will not be cheap. The same goes for hairdressers, taxi drivers, plumbers and anyone else who provides services. Because of the prices for everything in Paris, I could afford much less than in Moscow – despite the seemingly high salary.

As a result, it was the high prices for housing, services and goods that influenced my choice. I realized that in Moscow I would receive less, but live better, and returned to Russia.

What I really liked in Paris

Nice climate. There are no sharp changes in weather, in winter there is rarely a subzero temperature, and in summer you do not suffer from sweltering heat. We saw snow twice, and it immediately melted. Plus, everything is smooth, and not like ours – today + 25 ° С, and tomorrow + 6 ° С and the flood.

It’s beautiful here. This is Paris, and arguments are superfluous here =) It is not for nothing that tourists come here: almost every house is a work of art. Plus there are many museums and exhibitions for lovers of cultural recreation.

Quality food. Even if you buy the cheapest products, they are delicious and of high quality. For example, I noticed that if you buy tomatoes, they spoil in a couple of days. And not like our store, they lie in the refrigerator for a month and do not even wither.

I came to Paris with a little overweight, and literally in two months lost 10 kilograms. But I didn’t move more actively, didn’t change my eating habits – so I think it’s a matter of the quality of food.

There are many parks and a culture of recreation is developed in them. In Paris, all the locals come to the parks on weekends, lay blankets on the lawns, drink wine and eat cheese. I really liked it – it turns out to be a great relaxing holiday. In Russia, you can’t sit on a lawn in a civilized park, but you can’t find a lawn in a wild lawn and you can only feed mosquitoes =) Parks, in general, give the fattest plus, they are very beautiful and well-groomed. I miss them in Moscow.

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