American Expat In Paris - Expat Interview With Jenna

Published: 29 Oct at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,France
Jenna-Marie Warnecke grew up in Arizona, worked as a video editor in New York for 7 years, then quit and ran away to Paris in January to be a writer. She contributes to several sites online and writes fiction into the late hours of night. She enjoys the simple pleasures in life, and finding cheap ways to enjoy the city, which she shares on here expat blog called Paris Cheapskate ( - see listing here).

Paris Cheapskate

Here's the interview with Jenna-Marie...

Where are you originally from?
I grew up in Arizona and lived in New York for 7+ years, so I consider myself a New Yorker.

In which country and city are you living now?
Paris, France

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
9 months, and I'll stay until I'm forcibly removed, or my money runs out, whichever comes first

Why did you move and what do you do?
I was in a bit of a lull in my life and had nothing tying me down to where I was. I felt a craving for major change in my life. I'd always wanted to live in a foreign country, become fluent in another language, and dedicate some real time to writing, and I already loved Paris so I decided to try it out.

Paris CheapskateDid you bring family with you?
Nope, just li'l ol' me

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It's been wonderful. It's not a dream - I do have bad days once in awhile. But the fact that it's not a dream, it's real, makes it all the more wonderful to experience. This is my life; I live in Paris.
The most disorienting thing about moving was not having an office to go to every day, not having people who need me or depend on me each day. I kind of slipped into a chosen anonymity for awhile, which is both nice and sad at the same time. When you're a foreigner, you can sort of just disappear into a crowd; no one knows you. But then again, no one knows you. It's nice and sad at the same time.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It's not easy. I can't imagine how it is for expats in non-metropolitan places. It takes daily work and bravery and confidence to meet other people. People aren't scrambling all over each other to get to you, especially in a real city like Paris. You
have to make the effort to get out there and talk to strangers - find every means possible and try it all. Meetups and other online groups are great for that. I do have a few expat friends, mostly other blogging ladies, but the majority of my friends here are French. The expats are wonderful to know though - even if we all come from different backgrounds, there is a strong and bonding common thread that instantly allows us to understand each other. It's also nice to have silly American dance parties once in awhile. The French don't do that so much.

Paris CheapskateWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
It's very corny but I love just walking around and getting lost and having coffee in the cafés and watching people go by. A lot of people don't realize how cheap Paris can be - there are always things going on that are free or nearly free in all areas of culture - art, music, literature etc. To me the best thing to do in Paris is so cliché, but clichés are there for a reason: taking a friend and a bottle of wine to sit beside the Seine, especially at sunset, the golden hour when all the light is super-sharp and makes everything around you look magical.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
The cheese.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
The foods I like to eat (wine, cheese, bread) are much cheaper here, so I'm lucky. However, the cost of living, i.e. going out, bars and restaurants etc. are more expensive simply because the euro is stronger than the dollar. But it's not so vastly different than New York.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
No cheesesteaks

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Attempt the language as much as possible. Just making the effort takes you so far in the minds of locals - they respect you much more for it, and you gain so much confidence with every new word learned.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Worrying about money - how to get it, how to save it, what I will do when it's gone.

Paris CheapskateWhen you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I can't even think about it! No!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
1) Work hard to learn the language.
2) Don't be afraid to talk to strangers.
3) find simple pleasures.
4) write postcards often.
5) keep a journal.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
When I moved here in January I wanted to conserve my money as much as possible. Whenever I'd Google "cheap things to do in Paris" I'd get variations on the same list over and over - things I either could only do once a month (free museum Sunday) or couldn't do in winter (picnics in a park). So I decided to become a resource for cheap and free things to do, see, eat and drink in Paris. Everyone wants to save money. And some of the most fun things in Paris are free after all! It's not only fun and sort of a good service to provide to visitors and expats, it also helps me know what's going on all the time, so I'm never bored.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Email: parischeapskate{at}gmail-dot-com

Jenna-Marie runs her expat blog called Paris Cheapskate which is very worthy of a visit. Jenna-Marie can be found on Twitter @parischeapskate and she has an listing here which would appreciate a nice review if you can spare a quick moment! If you liked this interview with Jenna-Marie, please also add a quick comment below.
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Comments » There are 3 comments

Amy wrote 10 years ago:

I love hearing about people taking a chance on life. I will be checking out your blog for sure, I am bringing my daughter to Paris sometime in the next year. We are expats in Norway and are taking advantage of being able to travel while we are here.

Katie wrote 10 years ago:

Nice to meet you Jenna! Great tips and inspiration here. Paris on the cheap is such a useful idea for a blog, thanks for a great recourse and good luck in Paris. It sounds like you have made a fabulous decision on moving there.

Catherine wrote 10 years ago:

Hi Jenna, I enjoyed your interview and share many of your views about Paris (I lived there years ago, also ran away to write). It's true it seems so corny, doing the simple obvious things, but so lovely! I hope all turns out well for you and you can stay as long as you wish. Ciao cat

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