Expats Overcoming the Odds
I’m so proud of Americans who come here and create a real life for themselves against the odds. Of course, that could be extended to just about any expatriate who doesn’t automatically have the right to live and work in France like Europeans do, such as Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. I confine my list to Anglophones because that’s to whom I relate best. In most ways it’s ten times more difficult for these nationalities to accomplish what the average French person can, but in other ways, I think it can be easier.
Language and cultural differences are always up there on the scale of major challenges, but if they are not living off retirement pensions or savings, finding a way to earn a living can be their biggest single challenge of all. Getting a visa that enables these expats to work in France is near to impossible. This official website (in French) outlines what might be possible for you.
If you qualify for a visa that gives you the ability to “get a job,” then, you are already way ahead of the game — no matter that the unemployment rate is 8.5% compared to the U.S. 3.5 percent, a 50 year low. Note: the Whitehouse takes full credit for this, but John T. Harvey for Forbes explains it differently (as do a host of other economists).
The challenges of earning a living by expats who don’t have the right to work in France means they must get awfully clever and entrepreneurial to beat the odds. Thanks to the North American propensity for “thinking outside the box” and a strong sense of entrepreneurship, in some ways it can be easier for us expats to out-think and out-perform the French. (Don’t tell them I said this!)
This past week, several Americans were rewarded for their efforts to overcome the odds by the media. On France24.com, Craig Carlson, proprietor of two restaurants called “Breakfast in America” and author of “Pancakes in Paris” was interviewed by newscaster Stuart Norval on his show, “Perspective.” Craig’s story starts with a film job he was doing in Paris when he fell in love with the city and wanted to stay. When he was home in Los Angeles, while having breakfast at the L.A. landmark “The Pantry,” he realized that the one thing he really missed living in Paris was an American-style breakfast — pancakes, bacon, eggs, tall cup of coffee, etc., etc.
That yearning led him to start a business, about which he knew nothing, on top of a student loan debt of overwhelming proportion, taking on one of the riskiest businesses there is — restaurants. Was he nuts? Maybe, but one thing for sure, he was an American with a lot of determination and a big fat positive attitude. Now that Craig has survived and succeeded brilliantly with the two restaurants (not without a mountain of challenges) and one book under his wings, he’s about to launch a second book this coming June – “Let Them Eat Pancakes.”
Craig presented his books last night at The American Library of Paris, an event that I sadly missed because of our own Après Midi taking place and the transportation strike, still fully underway. But Craig is one of those people I applaud and of whom I am really proud.
Two others on the long list of accomplished expats are Richard Nahem and Lisa Anselmo. Richard Nahem is a New Yorker who fell in love with the City of Light when he was just a teen, but made it home more than 20 years later after a career as a trained chef, caterer and event planner. Richard just “put himself out there” with a blog, “Eye Prefer Paris,” offering up private tours and as a journalist for other guide books and publications. Richard made it a point to interview and highlight other Americans who made a mark on the Paris scene with his “Parisian of the Month” (I was featured in September 2015) and most recently began a video series titled “A Bite of Paris” (I was Episode 7: “Dinner with Adrian Leeds at Chez Omar“).
This week, Richard featured Lisa Anselmo and her newest cause, “Save the Paris Café.” Lisa is an author, coach, and branding guru who spent most of her professional career in magazine publishing, but who has been everything from a creative director to an opera singer…until she fell in love with Paris. Her Paris story starts with the untimely death of her mother that led to buying an apartment in Paris and that changed her life for good. Not only is Lisa responsible for starting the No Love Locks campaign that saved the Paris bridges from collapse, now she has this new “raison d’etre” — saving the Paris café. Lisa’s new cause to save the Paris café is getting a lot of press in other publications, too — featured in the new Taste of France Magazine with a multi-page spread article. Richard Nahem interviewed her for A Bite of Paris Episode 16 at Les Pipos Café about her campaign against the demise of the café that is at the heart of our Paris life — what would we do without our favorite cafés!? Even Woody Allen hung out at Les Pipos while filming Midnight in Paris. What would he have done without it? (The video is on Youtube)
Craig, Richard and Lisa are just three of thousands of expats in Paris not only creating lives for themselves, but really making a difference for everyone’s lives, the French largely included in that. They overcame the odds and you can, too. All you need to do is try.
A la prochaine,
Adrian Leeds Group
(with Lisa Anselmo)
P.S. To all of you who think it’s impossible, it’s not. It will be challenging, but doable. I know, because not only am I one of them, I’ve helped hundreds of expats fulfill their dreams by finding a way to settle in and earn a living. It all starts with a consultation to strategize the move and determine the pathways to take. Pursuing your dream now by doing something, not just dreaming. Contact us for more information.
P.P.S. Yesterday’s Après Midi was fun in spite of the transportation strikes that kept our scheduled speaker, Ella Dyer, home in Nice, and many of the regulars home in Paris. We showed two of our House Hunters International shows and opened the floor to a Q and A. Learn more about it and see photos at Après Midi!