Getting a job in France is very hard, even for the French. Jobs here are based on your diplomas or degrees, not experience, which forces young people to go to university for years in order to obtain jobs that 16 year-olds do in the US.
Every job is a contract; CDI if it’s long-term (no end in sight), or CDD if it’s short-term (a few months to a few years). Not only is there no job security with a CDD, but it’s also very difficult to buy or even rent a place to live if you only have a temporary job.
Living in France is just a series of long waiting periods between receiving official papers and requesting others. Getting your Carte de Séjour, applying for CAF, obtaining your Carte Vitale, opening a Bank account, joining a Mutuelle, applying for unemployment… and almost everything changes as soon as your CDD runs out or you move.
For example, I am currently in the process of changing my address, renewing my Carte de Séjour, figuring out if my health insurance is still valid, exchanging my American driver’s license for a French one, and waiting to see if I receive a new work contract (CDD, of course) – which I will need to renew my Carte de Séjour yet again in 3 months.
Granted, I didn’t have to get PACSed, or exchange my driver’s license, or move two times (which seemed to increase my paperwork by 30%) but the amount of paperwork needed to do even the mundane things can seem ridiculous.
This stress of constantly collecting paperwork and waiting for the bureaucracy to do something with it, coupled with the uncertainty of work/money factor, makes me want to stay in this country less and less each day. But at the same time, knowing that I have been able to survive here makes me feel strong enough to stay.
At least for another year or two.