So, Bank of America is trying to persuade London staff to move to its new office in Paris. Doubtful London bankers are being sold the story that France has fine wines, mountains, beaches, famous chefs and amazing restaurants. As a French banker who left my home country over two decades ago, I'd seriously caution against believing any of it.
Personally, I have a huge allergy to Paris and a corresponding allergy to France. After living on a different continent for years, I have no intention of going back. Not even my ashes will be sprinkled in France. I am done with the country.
Why? Firstly, and mostly, taxes. When I lived in Paris 80% of every $100 I earned went to the tax man. Where I live now, 20% does. France is, first and foremost, a country with a communist attitude.
"What about Macron?," I hear you shout. After all, isn't he supposed to be personally persuading banks to move to Paris with his can-do attitude? Well, yes, but are you seriously that short-sighted? Remember that Macron is an investment banker by trade. And as an investment banker, he is a master of bait and switch. Anyone earning over €1m now who thinks they can move to Paris and be taxed less than they are in London in ten years time is deluding themselves: Macron's tax cuts won't last. The French government deficit is only just below the European Union's 3% ceiling and support for Macron is already fading. In a place like France, a president like Macron is not sustainable in the long term. It doesn't help that he's easily portrayed as a banking egomaniac who's out of touch with the real world.
So, I'm not sure Macron will last much beyond the 2022 elections. And then or soon after, the taxes will be back with a vengeance. I don't have anything against taxes, but I do object to moral hazard - France is a country where people have been told for a long time that someone else will pay for them. Many French people are not used to the idea that they will need to contribute themselves. The concept in France is simple: "The rich will pay."
If you are a high earner in France, you should not expect any thanks for this. In my experience, the French are also innately resentful of people who have money. This is a huge difference to continents like Asia, where wealth generation is respected. Even 20 years ago, when I was living in the XVI arrondissement in Paris, someone scratched my BMW with keys because they were jealous of a "rich guy." When I go back now for holidays I can taste the suspicion: I always lock my doors at traffic lights. I don't feel safe; it's not like this elsewhere in the world.
So what do you do? The alternatives aren't great, although I'd say Frankfurt is a better bet. If you can go to Spain, you'll have a better quality of life. If you can go to Benelux, you'll be fine but you might die of boredom. The truth of the matter, is that you should have been thinking about this before my friend. If you've left it this late to work out your future, maybe you deserve to go to Paris after all. Good luck to you.
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