Feb 192012

Week one in France is all about lack of sleep and rushing to get as many things done as possible because my work wants me to start so soon that we only have three week days before I start working. This includes finding an apartment, opening a bank account, going to the préfecture to continue the visa paperwork, getting cell phones, etc. Despite questions about settling in, this week isn’t really about settling in. We’re still in a hotel and we’re not doing any settling.

The apartments we’ve looked at have been okay and varied, as you can see from the pictures. The kids aren’t adjusted to the time change yet on day 3 here, obviously…

Lesson learned from moving: Open a bank account before you go, and get the check book and carte bleu before you go. This will facilitate buying things and may not be possible with some banks (like Crédit Agricole). BNP Paribas is probably a good one since they are a part of Bank of the West in the States.

Things we didn’t budget enough for:

  • The hotel stay in the states,
  • the hotel stay in France,
  • and Jen’s new iPhone (because AT&T sucks).

Things we did this week:

  • Looked at 6 apartments,
  • visited the OFII (l’office de l’immigration et de l’intégration) for the visas,
  • finished opening a bank account,
  • went grocery shopping twice,
  • bought a single stroller because a double wide is too big,
  • and got myself cell phone service (but not Jen because AT&T sucks).
Feb 012012
Airplane Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s actually happening. Almost 6 months after I was offered a job in France, we will actually be flying there to live. So much for the “it will take about a month” that I was told 6 months ago.

There was about a 2 month pause of not hearing anything new from my employer nor the OFII or consulate. Then out of the blue I received an email from the french consulate saying my visa was approved by the OFII and that I should come apply for the visa at the consulate. It’s ridiculous and expensive to go to the consulate for your state in person, but it’s also necessary as they insist on it. So we flew to California, handed in our paperwork, and 7 days later we received our visas in the mail. The only reason I can see that they have you show up in person is because they take your fingerprints. Obviously this could have been done locally and mailed in…

Now that we have our visas (the first part of them), we have to go to the prefecture after we arrive in France. They will also give us a medical exam apparently. I imagine this is to make sure we aren’t going to France just to take advantage of their health care system, but it’s just speculation.

My family’s visas were easier to get because mine was already approved. We did NOT use the “regroupement familial.” Although it might seem to make sense to use that to get my family a visa, one of the requirements is that someone has already lived in France for a minimum of one year. Nevertheless, getting the rest of my family a long stay visa was easier due to my visa having already been approved. We filled out the “retirement” type of long stay visa on the form, but they didn’t ask us for much of the paperwork (like proof of income) because they already had it.

We’ll be very busy over the next month or so. I’ve added most things to the to-do list page to track what was necessary. We’ll have about 5 days in France before I’ve agreed to start working. This probably won’t be enough with the time change and the two young kids, but I’m not too worried. Being in France will be AWESOME! I’m very excited about finding a new place and visiting my friends.