What it’s really like to move to the City of Lights.

In late 2017, Mulu Araya left the sunny shores of California to start a new life in Paris, France. She partnered with Hanami International to find a role that would suit her background as an Audit/CPA professional, and a year on, Hanami caught up with her to get her advice on moving countries, learning new languages, and eating cheese!

Hanami International – What attracted you to Paris?

Mulu Araya – Well for me, it’s a combination of things. So first I have always been international. I was born in Ethiopia and moved to the US when I was young, so I’ve always had this desire to work internationally. It has just always been in the back of my mind. And then I met my husband, who is French and American. He also had the same desire to work abroad, and as he was born in France, he thought it would be a great place to start. I always wanted to learn French and in the end it all worked out!

HI – Amazing! So you moved over from California, landed in Paris, I imagine it was a big culture shock. What did you notice to be the biggest cultural difference as an American in Paris?

MA – That’s kind of a tough question because everything is different. But, I think I was mentally prepared because I knew it was going to be different. I think if I had to say one thing that I didn’t anticipate, is that to get things done in France, you go through people. Being from San Francisco, and the US in general, which is very tech orientated, you are used to doing everything online.  Whereas in France, you have to have a banker to handle your banking, which is a very different experience. It has its positives, but you have to prepare your time to work around this.

HI –What about finding somewhere to live?

MA – I think all round, you have to do things in person. There are so many processes where the phones aren’t answered so you have to go into an office or see a realtor, so I think those processes move a little bit slower. I had to adjust myself to move at the same pace of Paris; long lunches and coffee breaks for example! It’s nice and there are a lot of positives; change certainly isn’t a bad thing.

HI – That leads really nicely to what I was going to ask, which is, what have you found the real benefits to life in France to be? What have you noticed that is a positive change from your old life?

MA –Being able to learn and understand the culture. I think you can hear a million things about a country or a city like Paris, but working and experiencing it, is very different and an exciting way to learn and develop yourself. You have to adapt to a specific culture because your way of thinking and approach to situations or problems have to be different. To me, that’s a really big positive. I’m learning through new experiences, like learning the language through everyday interactions. It really opens your mind and broadens your perspective. The daily fresh smell of baguettes through my window is also a perk!

Is the weather in Bermuda everything you expected?

It is, it’s very good. It’s relatively warm in winter (ranges from about 10 degrees to around 18). However, there is lots of rain and it does get a little chilly on the scooter (especially in the mornings and evenings). In October and November, it becomes very windy and wet during these months. If the island has a direct hit from a hurricane, it can become a little nasty. However, it does provide a great opportunity to host a “hurricane party” at your house.

Summer, it’s hot but never really exceeds 30 degrees. The problem is the humidity; it’s hard to cope with, especially if you rely on public transport and if you plan on walking around a lot, I would recommend taking a change of clothes. Very important! The first thing you should buy (other than a scooter) is a de-humidifier otherwise you will have mouldy clothes very quickly. You can also get a good second-hand de-humidifier from Emoo.

What is your opinion on the cost of living in Bermuda?

The downside to living in Bermuda! Rent is expensive and most ex-pats live with one or two housemates to split the costs. I was living in a house with two other mates, and we were paying $ 1,500 each per month. Food and drinks are also expensive and eating out can set you back financially if you do it too often. Also, as almost all food and products are imported, they are not the freshest and not the best quality. Luxury goods are also very expensive. It’s very common for people to go over to New York for a weekend of shopping.

Despite this, individual salary in Bermuda is one of the highest in the world and you pay no tax. So, it evens out in the end and if you are smart and careful, you can actually save a lot of money on the island.

What would you say is your favourite thing about Bermuda?

The lifestyle, the scooter and the people you meet. Whenever someone asks me to explain Bermuda to them, I always say it’s like Neverland in the Peter Pan stories. You never really grow up there!

For more information on our Bermudan and other offshore Audit, Tax and Advisory opportunities, speak toAdam Nelson or Andrew Bell on +442070487880