Living in London, Paris and New York City compare?

How does living in Paris and New York City compare?

NYC vs Paris cost of living new York is 113.0% more expensive than Paris. New York housing costs are 330.3% more expensive than Paris housing costs. Health-related expenses are 13.4% more in New York.

If you’re from any minority (Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Black, Asian, etc…) then I would forget Paris.

France is a deeply racist and intolerant country.

Paris and New York City

A few personal examples…

  • I know a French guy of Moroccan descent with top grades tell me his teachers told him to become a taxi driver because that is what people like him do. After experiencing years of racism in France, he ended up with a top job at Morgan Stanley in the UK.
  • My wife, who is white and French, has told me about the outright racism her black friends experienced when she grew up. She’s told me in the 10 years she’s lived in the UK she’s never seen anything like it.
  • Another friend of mine, an Oxford Ph.D., who is of Indian descent but spent most of his life in the UK, moved to France a few years ago. He told me that many of his French colleagues had told him that in France he must do as the French, something he had never heard once in all his time in the UK and the US.

I could go on and on, and on.

Every person that I have spoken to from a minority group that has lived in both Paris and London has told me the same thing. And I’ve spoken to many.

But it goes further. A Sikh boy cannot wear a turban to a public school. Same for a Muslim girl with a hijab and a Jewish boy with a kippah. That’s veiled intolerance.

In London people from minorities are free to wear what they want. That’s tolerance.

Paris and New York City

However, if you’re not from a minority then you do have an interesting choice.

London is richer, cleaner, and has far lower levels of crime. It is a more vibrant and confident city.

Paris makes more sense if you have an interest in architecture, you’re planning to make a career as a criminal, and if you’re French…

If you compare strictly Manhattan vs. Paris “intra muros” (not including suburbs which would equate to other boroughs), then Paris is a bit quiter, and cheaper for restaurants, groceries, nightlife.

You have more green spaces spreaded around although they tend to be more crowded than Central Park. There is MANY more pedestrian areas in Paris were you can just stroll and enjoy the streets atmosphere.

in Paris is as or even more crazy than Manhattan so forget about it and just ride the Vélib, a better equivalent of Citibike (wear a helmet!). You have more often a dishwasher and cleaner-dryer inside your apartment in Paris than in NYC at an equal level of housing. Life is different in each but in terms of “big western city” style, it is pretty much an even match.

How do London and Paris compare to live in? Which is better to live in and why?

Having lived in both cities and not being a citizen of either country (unbiased!), I guess I’m somewhat qualified to share my views. What you need to understand is that both the cities have their own different “culture” which shapes up how the city is. You need to understand how this “culture” sets each city apart before you can compare them. Let me try to explain:

Paris: Busy, fast paced and efficient.
London: More laid back, friendly and mixed.

Paris: Pedestrians are always rushing from one place to another, the natural pace is quite fast.
London: Pedestrians are more laid back, almost strolling.

Paris: Streets are narrower with tall imposing multi-story buildings (Upto 15-20 floors) on either side.

Paris and New York City

London: Streets seem to be wider because of large expansive greeneries and smaller buildings with only 3-4 floors.

How does living in Paris and New York City compare?

Paris and New York City

Paris: Roads are uniform and mostly perpendicular to each other.
London: Roads make all sorts of angles with each other and you will find quite big ‘pedestrian islands’ in the middle of the main road for pedestrians to wait at. Often, they are triangular shaped, distorting the shape of the road further.


Paris: Streets and sidewalks are ample wide but you see less ‘random greenery’. Frequent tall trees along the road, though.
London: Random parks & green patches of grass adjacent to building blocks, between roads, etc.

Paris: Small lawns in front of houses, if any. Judicious use of land for greenery.
London: Wide lawns in front of most houses, and often, courtyards behind houses.

Paris: Tall painted modern looking buildings.

Paris and New York City

London: Smaller, brick pattern buildings. Quaint looking.

city compare

Paris: Not as diverse, with smaller immigrant populations often segregated into a few areas which are known for its immigrant population. Eg. Gare Du Nord.
London: Lots of diversity, with a large immigrant populations. You can find Indian/Arabic/Other stores on almost any road/area.

Paris: Not as much neighborly feelings. In fact, you won’t have much interactions with your neighbors except the casual greeting as you pass by.
London: Friendly neighborly feelings. Local store keepers will remember your name and ask you how your day was.

Paris: Public transport is better with more stations per unit area, more trains per unit time and cheaper per ticket. Some trains are pretty dirty though. (Not the main lines though)

usa vs france

(Couldn’t find any appropriate pics from inside the train)
London: Less stations, less trains and more expensive. But, on the whole, a lot cleaner and comfortable.


DISCLAIMER: These are just my observations from my few years in both cities. I don’t mean to imply that either city is better, just different. Friends, I apologize for any inaccuracies. I don’t mean to offend anyone.

What is it like to live in Paris as an American? How difficult is it to integrate into the community as an American?

Living in France is very similar to living in the US. There are cultural and societal differences, but as far as what is available to you and the average standard of living, it is the same if not better than living in a major US city.

A few key cultural differences from the point-of-view of a US citizen engaged to a French citizen:

The French are more private, reserved and discreet than most Americans

From a social perspective, there’s a greater sense of relational formality and it is considered impolite to ask many questions about another’s personal life (or volunteer information about your own) unless you know that person fairly well.

The French are also less outwardly emotive than your average American; they view American friendliness/openness as either a refreshing/charming quality or as ridiculous and overdone, depending on the personalities involved (on both sides). This difference was most apparent when my boyfriend and I became engaged.

The American side freaked out, asking all sorts of questions about the proposal, the ring, the plans, whereas the French side (family included) offered very sincere and warm congratulations, but left it up to us to share what we felt like sharing.

Paris and New York City
Paris and New York City

Behaving properly and understanding social codes in public spaces/relationships is highly valued

You have a much better chance of being helped/engaged with politely if you play by the basic rules of French social engagement, starting with always saying hello and goodbye.

It will also behoove you to be fair, polite, reasonable and considerate toward anyone with whom you share public space (e.g. standing from a folded seat in the Metro if it’s packed). That being said, politeness does not mean you will receive the same level of “customer service” to which most Americans are accustomed.

The French do not live in an instant-gratification/if-you-can-pay-for-it-you-can-have-it culture. This means you can wait 10 or 15 minutes after seating before being greeted by your server, and that this is perfectly normal. It also means you are free to linger as long as you like at your table without your bill being rushed at you.

(I personally think that a combination of the above two factors account for the bulk of the French reputation in America for being “rude.” An additional factor comes into play with regard to language — language has a specific role in French culture that does not have an analog in the United States.

Word usage and pronunciation are dictated by an official governing body: L’Académie française (whose officials are called “immortals” for goodness’ sake), and all children in France are educated according to its guidelines.

How does living in Paris and New York City compare?

This means that language is standardized to a much greater degree than it is in the US and that the use of language has an almost moral quality to it — for instance, in France there is the notion of a “good” sentence.

Not just a sentence that is correct or lovely or well-written, but a literally good sentence, with its counterpart, the “bad” sentence, where the structure and grammar and vocabulary might be correct but the way the words work together is not.

This orientation toward language has the effect, I believe, of making it very difficult for native French speakers to engage with French when it is used by a non-native speaker. I do not believe most French people are deliberately being rude or dismissing the non-native French speaker’s French.

My observation is that often they actually literally cannot understand a non-native speaker’s French — that their minds and ears have not been trained to hear the French language in anything other than its most appropriate, correct, and “good” formulation. They just can’t parse the words.)

Two more things that stand out for me when it comes to differences in work culture:

The French are much more comfortable saying no

In my work, I will often ask for quotes or RFPs and am flat out refused or told it’s not possible at a much higher rate than when I was (doing the same work) in the US.

Only the direst of circumstances will induce someone to work in their traditional “off” hours: weekends, evenings, and vacations are sacrosanct and money alone will rarely be inducement enough. This can be enlightening coming from a country (and an industry) where when you need something done in a rush or extra fast, you simply offer to pay more.

As a whole, the French are not constantly optimizing for efficiency/capitalism’s sake

Case in point: Recently my cell phone malfunctioned while under warranty. We took it to the shop (Bouygues Telecom, so not a small company) and they did not even attempt diagnostics, but just put it in a box to ship to the repair center and told me the wait would be three weeks.

Another example: When printing invitations for our wedding (simply printing, not design or anything else — we had the file in PDF) the turnaround for the first proof was 5 working days, and after that getting 50 invitations printed was 2 weeks.

Things just run at a more measured pace here, and in general, everyone is ok with it. It can still catch me by surprise and requires adjusting my expectations, but there are advantages to taking life a little slower, to be sure.

How does living in Paris and New York City compare?

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