- Amanda Rollins, 34, moved from Massachusetts to Paris six years ago.
- After experiencing the food, free healthcare, and a lower cost of living, she doesn’t plan on returning.
- Rollins is in the process of applying for French citizenship.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Amanda Rollins, an American from Massachuetts who moved to Paris six years ago. The conversation was edited for length and clarity.
I started learning French in sixth grade when I was 12, and I loved it. I I kept studying French all through school: I was in AP French in high school, and president of the French club. And then when I went to college, I minored in French.
I just always wanted to visit Paris, but I grew up really low income and tickets are expensive. So, when I got my first big commission check from my sales job, the first thing I did was book a flight to Paris from my cell phone in a parking lot.
I was like, “I’m going,” the moment I saw the money hit my account.
When I got back, I kept thinking to myself, if I could do anything I wanted I would live in Paris.
I kept making excuses, and then one day, I read the book, “The Alchemist,” and the second I did, I decided to make plans to move to Paris. So I made an account on AuPairWorld.com on a Monday, and by Friday, I found my family.
I signed the contract, I told my company that I was leaving, and then I made my appointment with the embassy to start the visa process.
I sold everything that I owned and moved here two months later with my cat and some clothes, and I have not looked back since.
Six years later, I am planning to apply for citizenship
Paris is the best city in the world. I love France, but Paris, especially every day, is like walking through a museum.
The buildings are art, everything is like a movie, everything is beautiful. Even the shittiest street seems like the most beautiful street I’ve seen in my life.
I feel reborn here.
I’m in the process right now of asking for citizenship. France is my home now, I just love it here, and I just wouldn’t ever want to live in the US again.
Food, healthcare, and the quality of life are some reasons for that. The school shootings, and how polarized the country is are also reasons for that.
I think this is a perspective you can only have if you leave the US, you don’t realize that you don’t realize that there’s a better way.
Health is no longer an expense
I remember one time in the US, I had to have this one surgery, or I had to have bloodwork. And I was like, can’t do it. Can’t afford it. That’s crazy.
You see these people who have a GoFundMe because their mom got cancer. It’s like “yeah, they’re going to have to get rid of the house.” That type of stuff really bothers me.
We have free healthcare here, so since I’ve moved here, my health is no longer a budget item for me. If I am sick, no problem. I went to the emergency room four times and I paid like 16 euros in total, then I was reimbursed.
I take care of myself because I can — and that that alone is huge.
Anyone that lives in France, permanently — even if it’s just for school for one year — is entitled to the national healthcare system.
That’s all I have right now, since I switched from my sales job to running my own business as a content creator. If I was working for a company I would have something called a mutuelle, which is supplemental. But I don’t have it right now, because I don’t even need it.
If I go to the doctor right now, it’s 25 euros, and then sécurité sociale, the social security program in France which covers healthcare, will reimburse me automatically. It’s connected with my bank account, it’ll reimburse me in three days. I think I get reimbursed most, if not all of it. At most, it’s five bucks.
Food and the pace of life are so much different than in the US
The pace of life over here is so different. We take our time, we take long lunches, we have five weeks of vacation.
The entire month of August, everyone just goes to the south of France.
Because I’m in the center of Europe, I can fly anywhere for so cheap. I flew to Barcelona for 60 euros, flew to Italy for 60 euros, and I went to the Canary Islands for 91 euros.
All of a sudden I have access to all these other countries that I never had before.
The food here alone is one reason I don’t ever want to go back to the US. Do you know how many food ingredients are in American food that are banned in Europe?
Natural beauty is valued, and everyone is very chic
I also don’t wear makeup anymore because natural beauty is really encouraged. I love that because even if you care about these things, you can’t help but be affected by the people around you.
So I look around me and I see all the other women going bare-faced and I just think “we’re all doing it.”
French people are chic, and — I’m not gonna lie to you — speaking French makes me feel so cool. I feel so cool that I’m fluent in French. That’s my biggest flex in the entire world because it’s not normal for Americans to speak two languages.
The cost of living is much less than in the US
My apartment is across the street from the Louvre, in the center of Paris with my cats. It’s about 400-square-feet and I pay 1,300 euros per month. In Boston, that would be $3,000, easy.
And it’s not just rent.
I pay 20 euros a month for my cell phone plan, and my wifi is 15 euros a month.