Paris Update – September 10, 2018

It was only about a week ago that Sina and I started toying with the idea of moving to Paris.  Since then, we have organized house sitters, I’ve gotten the green light from work, and we have done a ton of research.  There was a period of about 3 hours where I was trying to convince Sina that perhaps we should choose Lyon or Marseille over Paris, to get a more authentic French experience and not be surrounded by English speakers.  I lived in Paris for about 6 months in 2002 during my Masters program at the Cornell Hotel School.  They had a sister program at IMHI which is part of the ESSEC business school in Cergy Pontoise, about an hour outside of Paris.  But I had landed an internship with Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts and I offered to work for free in exchange for a room in a city center hotel, which gave me the privilege of living in Paris during my time there.  I remember distinctly that when I would make an attempt to speak French to people in Paris, they would get easily frustrated with my lack of proficiency and switch to English, making it quite difficult to practice and learn the language.  I lost the argument with Sina pretty quickly.  Paris, being one of the fashion centers of Europe and its allure of romance has too much going for it to be shadowed by Lyon or Marseille.

This morning, we woke Luka and Taj at around 4am, got them dressed and fed, and sat at the kitchen counter for a 5am Skype Interview with a Montessori school in Paris.  Over a year ago we had a similar interview with a Montessori school in Mallorca when we were considering a potential move there.  We hadn’t prepared the girls, and during the interview they behaved like monkeys.  I can’t really say they behaved badly, they were just being kids… we made the mistake of sitting on the floor and so they were climbing all over us and giggling throughout the interview.  Suddenly, the school didn’t have enough space for them.  This time, we were not going to make the same mistake.  So we prepared the girls and on two separate occasions discussed how they would ‘keep their bodies still’ and speak politely and with confidence.  Well, at least this time they weren’t climbing on our heads, but the interview did last for about 30 minutes and they did start to get silly in the middle of it.  Sometimes I wonder if the person interviewing us is more interested in the children’s behavior, or how we handle it.  Nevertheless, by the end of the interview suddenly the interviewer wasn’t sure if they had 2 spots available and said she would have to check and get back to us.  After we put the girls back to sleep to catch another 2 hours of sleep before going to school, we debated whether we had just experienced yet another rejection based on the girls (or maybe our) performance, or if the interviewer really wasn’t sure if she had the space.

Luckily, we had another option.  Later that morning I called another school, and this time I spoke to them myself.  She asked why we had chosen a Montessori education for our girls.  I explained that my wife and I are a bit eccentric in the sense that we typically don’t fit in.  We are unique individuals and we are proud of that fact.  We wanted our girls to grow up being proud of their differences and to have the confidence to be who they are without feeling the pressure to conform to be part of a group.  Furthermore I strongly believe that everyone should do what they love, and that if you are passionate about something or talented in a certain area you can be successful even if you’re not great at math or science.  The Montessori philosophy focuses on each child’s individual strength even if that is art or creativity.  This is why we love the philosophy.  The discussion was great and it appears that we have now found a school for our two girls.  Check another box on the list!

We still do not have a place to live, and I think this is going to be a challenge.  There are very few options on AirBnB and maybe that’s because we are making such a last minute decision.  It says there are only 1% of listings still available but I really don’t believe that. While there are other sites that have longer term rentals available, the selection is quite limited in the neighborhoods we prefer, and we are worried that nobody is going to get back to us.  I have a feeling we are going to have to just pick something for October that is slightly outside the city and organize an apartment after we arrive.

Luckily, Sina and the girls have European passports so we don’t have any legal issues when it comes to staying there for more than 3 months.  I will be traveling in and out for work so I shouldn’t have any issues either.

We started to look at plane tickets.  I will never understand airline pricing.  If I buy a ticket to Paris leaving October 1st and returning in August 2019, the price is $2,000.  If I leave October 1st and come back in 2 weeks it’s $500??  So I’m better off buying the 2 week ticket and just not using the return trip.  In the end I think we will end up using frequent flyer miles on United.  Sadly they want 60,000 miles per person!  Ouch… But right now I would rather not spend the cash, and we really don’t know when we will come back so we need to have the flexibility to change that return date without paying $800 in change fees for 4 tickets.

There is so much to think about, not to mention a LOT going on at work so keeping up with both is challenging.  But we are starting to download French music on Spotify and I will soon download Babbel so I can start learning French.  I have forgotten what little I had learned 16 years ago.  I tried Rosetta Stone for German and I got about half way through it.  I have heard good things about Babbel so I will give it a try.

I started researching tax implications today as well.  If I stay in France for 6 months or more, then I have to pay tax in France on my full income for the year!  So we may need to modify our plan and spend July and August somewhere else.  Italy maybe?  Greece?  We shall see.  There is also apparently a tax credit if you are outside the US for a certain period of time but there are plenty of rules around that, so I have written to my accountant to learn more.

As of now I would say there is a 90% chance we are moving to Paris!  There are still some details to work out but right now everything appears to be falling into place quite nicely. The universe appears to be telling us to go.  Who are we to refuse?

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