I work in Paris, France with plenty of free time to explore this phenomenal city with my children, because of my career. As a copywriter, I work a few hours a day, three or four days per week, and I can think of no better place to live.
“Ooooh, look—the Eiffel Tower!” This is what I hear from my kids, ages two and four, almost every day.
I can’t help but smile. They sound so much like the tens of millions of tourists to Paris that exclaim and gasp over the Eiffel Tower. But unlike the tourists, they’re not excited because they’re at last laying eyes on the most famous landmark in the world, the one they’ve only seen in movies and photographs.
No, they’re excited because their favorite playground lies at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. And the aquarium is just across the street. And sometimes we ride the carousel there. And because, if they’ve been very good, that’s where they get to nibble on a steaming hot chocolate-filled crêpe.
I look at them staring hopefully at the Eiffel Tower (can we go, Mama?) and can’t help but marvel at their privilege. Countless people dream all their lives of seeing the iconic, exotic structures my children see in Paris on a regular basis—Notre Dame, Jardin du Luxembourg, the Champs-Elysées—but for them, for now, these renowned sites are only special because of their proximity to some pretty cool playgrounds. The legendary City of Light is nothing more than home.
Me, I can’t take Paris that casually. Even though I’ve been living here for 10 years now, I still view myself as something like a long-term tourist. Sure, sometimes I take it for granted. There are days when I rush through the centuries-old stone arcades of the Places des Vosges, too intent on picking up my son from daycare to feel a pang of appreciation for their age and beauty. But often, when I’m passing through the paved courtyard of the Louvre to take my kids to yet another playground, or I glance out of my living room windows and see a bateau-mouche cruising down the Seine, I can’t help but shiver and think: “Wow…I live here.”
Right now, as a copywriter, I earn more than enough to keep my kids stuffed with chocolate-filled crêpes and spinning on carousel rides every day of the year (wouldn’t they love that!). And once my little ones are both in school and I have more free time, I expect my income to increase exponentially.
But what’s really special about living in Paris is the lifestyle I’m able to give my kids. Even at their tender ages, they speak and understand English, French and German (that last one is thanks to my spouse). They’ve visited no less than seven countries, and as part of the international expat community here, they have friends from places as far-flung as Singapore, South Africa, Russia, Italy and Denmark.
What’s more, they already understand that there is no single way of living; that people speak, eat and behave differently in different places. It is my greatest hope that as adults, they’ll be able to move fluidly between cultures with little of the divisive “us” and “them” mentality that plagues so much of the world.
If you have dreams of living in Paris, but you worry about how you’d support yourself overseas, consider copywriting. Because of this flexible and well-paying career, you can spend your mornings working on a computer in a café, and spending your afternoons exploring the City of Light like a local.
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