Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Going Local


It's that time of year where some people are worrying about how to pay off their Christmas credit card bills, save for their tax bills, or just pay the regular bills.

Yet in a cozy café in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, there's one American mom who's not happy that she has to start paying her bills. Her free ride is almost over.

Michigan Mom: La Mom, the worst thing has happened! Michigan Dad's three year expat contract is up and we've been offered the option of staying in Paris indefinitely.

La Mom: That's great news. Are you going to stay on? What's the bad news?

Michigan Mom: No, it's not good! Michigan Dad's company wants to put us on a local contract.

La Mom: That's great news, actually. You're almost French now.

Michigan Mom: Did you hear me? We'll have to go l-o-c-a-l. How can we go local after living on an expat contract? It's like eating le pain without the au chocolat.

La Mom: C'mon. It's not the end of the world. You get to live in Paris for as long as you want. Do you realize how many people would love to be in your shoes?

Michigan Mom: I don't care. We're going to have to start paying our own bills. We'll have to pay the rent on our apartment! Plus we lose the hardship allowance, the all-expenses-paid annual family trip back to Michigan, and all of the kid's international school tuition.

La Mom to self: What the ooh la la? "Lose the hardship allowance?" Since when is living in the most beautiful city in the world "hard"? Ok, the Parisians and their dogs can be quite hard to live with at times, but still. It's Paris, not Detroit.

La Mom: Well, you wouldn't have those benefits in the U.S., so what's the difference?

Michigan Mom: It's no fun living in Paris if we have to pay our own bills. I haven't paid a water bill in three years! I spend all that extra money on Vente Privée. How am I going to pay rent on a 300 square meter apartment in the 7th and buy designer labels at discount prices on a local salary? Mon Dieu, we may have to move to the suburbs or the 17th arrondissement!

La Mom: Well, the 17th arrondissement isn't exactly a slum. Look on the bright side - at least you'll have a garden in the 'burbs AND there won't be so much dog crotte on the streets. The kids' shoes will stay crotte-free.

Michigan Mom: Don't make fun of me, La Mom.

Photo credit Ian Britton
myfreecopyright.com registered & protected

20 comments:

TN said...

O poor Michigan Mom...now she has to live in the REAL world haha! 300 square meters!!!! WHAT? Is that right? Sounds really big. That's more than most have in the US! Couldn't she down grade and stay in the 7eme?

At least she doesn't have to live in the 18, 19 or 20eme ;-0

I would never be able to live in the Suburbs even though I would like a garden.

hotels in Mayfair said...

What the ooh la la? that's funny!I like la Mom, she keeps it cool!

Kimberley said...

Not gonna lie....kind of hate Michigan Mom....I'd love it if mon mari was transferred to Paris indefinitely!

Parisbreakfast said...

The crocodile tears are falling fast and furiously!!!

Boo Hoo!!

Beadboard UpCountry said...

Wah, Wah, Wah, I'd love to be in her shoes........!Maryannexo

Rosabell said...

Yes, true... after all, who needs expats ?! They're just a continuous pain in the ass ... Never happy, always wanting more, complaining when they get much more they would ever ever have in their own country ... trust me, all HR Departments hate them, all over the world ! And the employed expats on expats contracts are not exactly as hated as their wives are ... I shouldn't complain ( and I don't , because many of our local clients are expats wives , but in general, HR departments just HATE to make arrangements for " the famillies "... They get stupid and insolent requests like " the plumbing is not leaking, so send me over the company's plumber to fix it at no expense ' etc ...

La Mom-an American Mom in Paris said...

@TN- Next time I see her I'll tell her to downgrade, but I have a feeling MM is not going to like that idea...

@hotels in Mayfair - merci!

@Kimberley - That's the point I was trying to drive home. She's so fortunate yet only sees the down side.

@Parisbreakfast Thanks for stopping by!

@BeadboardUpCountry I know you would Maryanne. Maybe you will be next time you're in town?

@Rosabell I can only imagine the "wife" must be a word uttered with disgust in HR circles.

Gail Boisclair said...

Very good post and true- I guess Michigan Mom would not want to be me as I have been here almost 10 years, paying my own bills and running my business that was created in France !

Expat Canadian Mom who is happy :)

Margarita said...

What a hilarious story, some people are truly ridiculous!

Severine said...

I loved this article. It is so funny since I heard the same thing from my French friends with expat contract. The poor little ones after 5 or 6 years with these incredible benefits realize that living in NYC is expensive.

the grouse said...

Ummm..if I may chip in with the gentle suggestion that not all of us 'Expat Wives' are complaining witches. May I also suggest that any HR staff member dealing with expats (and their wives) should probably have spent a minimum of 2 years living outside their comfort zone, in a country where they don't speak the language, don't understand the bureaucratic system, know nobody and have no support from HO, before they criticise...

I do admit that Paris doesn't exactly count as an "expat posting" for many of us where African, Middle Eastern and small Asian countries feature frequently on our 'moving map'.

Which brings me to my original reason for commenting! Michigan Mom might be interested to know that a few years ago, the UN decided that living in Cairo was the same as living in Rome, so withdrew the hardship allowance...

La Mom-an American Mom in Paris said...

@Severine @Margarita - Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments.

@The grouse - Love the input you bring to the debate! Très interesting that Cairo is considered to be on the same level as Rome.

La Mom-an American Mom in Paris said...

@Gail - I was happy on my expat contract (it only lasted for 9 months) and very happy to go local for French benefits.

Sweet Freak said...

lol. "It's no fun living in Paris if we have to pay our own bills."?? I did it for two years and had a freakin' ball! (But, oui, sometimes wanted to slit my wrists...)

Snippets/Sarah said...

Yes, we had this corporate arrangement when we lived in Japan. We had no idea how much we WOULDN'T pay until we were there and no bills were presented to us. It sure was nice! Sure can be taken for granted quite quickly. No international schooling, however, ouch...expensive!

Viv said...

I am an expat mom in France, not necessarily Paris which is a lot more américaine tolerable than outside of Paris. I spend 10 hours a week in French classes than beacoup of time studying on my onw to learn the langue. It is important to me to be able to communicate and actually live the life in France and not in a bubble. I have been here almost 6 months and like Michigan mom I might feel the same as far as getting accustomed to a certian life style with the extra money. Right now is not a great time to ask me would I live here indefinately.

Though I have to say for another expat wife to say that we are not on real assignments in France I would have to disagree. Who is one person to dis validate what other expats feel. I have been pulled out of my "comfortable" life our choice of course to further my husbands career, and enrich our lives with a new culture, but "easy"!?! NEVER EVER! It will get easier as time goes on as it would any whre else but you do not wake up in France on your first mornning and say, EASY PEASY!

A Seattleite in Paris said...

300 m2 in the 7th paid for plus a hardship allowance??!! Such a hard life...

à la parisienne said...

La vie à la crotte ou sans crotte est une vie fabuleuse si on vit à Paris!
c'est mon avis quand même...
Mandy

Anonymous said...

Conseils tres interessants. A quand la suite?

Anonymous said...

"May I also suggest that any HR staff member dealing with expats (and their wives) should probably have spent a minimum of 2 years living outside their comfort zone, in a country where they don't speak the language, don't understand the bureaucratic system, know nobody and have no support from HO, before they criticise..."

What, like the rest of us do *without* the 300m2 (jeez louise - we started in 38m2) paid for apartment, found for us? Add on trying to convince someone to rent to you, building a dossier... Absolutely no sympathy here whatsoever. How spoiled.

 

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