Finding a place to live for the duration of your year abroad is probably the greatest challenge you will initially face. I had my fair share of ups and downs with finding accommodation in Paris, but I soon learnt some things along the way that I thought I would share.
Now when it comes to a city like Paris, finding somewhere to live can be quite difficult. In comparison to other cities, for example, London, it is a lot smaller and there is more demand for somewhere to live than places on offer. And it doesn’t seem like the French are planning on trying to solve this issue any time soon as new real estate developments are just not as common as you would find in London. So, here are a few places that you can check out to find yourself that lovely Parisian apartment you’ve been dreaming about.
The American Church in Paris: Located near the Notre Dame cathedral, the American Church is probably the best resource I can recommend to anyone looking for a place to live in Paris. Updated daily, a notice board with adverts of rooms available, as well as jobs such as nannies and au pairs, are posted in the foyer of the church. Most of the adverts providing accommodation are looking for students to fill their vacant places. Once I arrived in Paris, I visited the church a couple of times and viewed about 5 different studios/rooms from adverts posted there. The great thing about these landlords was that many of them were not worried about all the official documents that a lot of other people request through other sites and agencies when looking for a place to live. Also none of them demanded a ridiculous deposit…for the most part they were asking just for 1 months rent, and none of them asked that I provide a France based guarantor. But be quick with this one…these landlords get a lot of interest and tend to conduct viewings the same day you call, otherwise snatching up that lovely appartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower will just continue to be a dream.
Websites: Now I scoured what felt like a million websites during my search for somewhere to live, but here are the ones that I highly recommend and I was actually able to arrange viewings through them.
Pap.fr This site is very popular so do be aware that when arranging to a view a place from here, you are probably going to be competing with a number of people, but nonetheless, it’s a great site. It’s easy to use and allows you to few apartments in specific arrondissments in Paris so you are not left with everything that is available in Paris when searching. Also it has this great little feature at the bottom of the page that allows your to calculate how long your journey would be from that specific address to your place of work or school.
Craigslist Now I know some people are quite skeptical of Craigslist and so was I at first, but honestly it is a great site to look for accommodation. All I’ll say is though, do watch out for scammers here, but that is something you should be doing with all accommodation sites that aren’t going through some sort of agency or inspection before the listing is posted online. I’ll talk a bit more about how to spot scammers in another post.
AVOID http://www.erasmusu.com This site is literally scammer central! Despite the fact that I met a good friend through this site and spent a lot of my time with her while in Paris, I would avoid this site at all costs. At one point, it felt that like there were more scammers on this site than actual legit listings.
Utilise those family and friend connections: Ultimately this is what helped me find my apartment. A distant relation living and working in Paris eventually helped me find a guarantor based in Paris and found me availability in an accommodation building for students and young workers within walking distance of my work.
Student housing: Now this is the type of place I ended up living in for seven months. Although I was not studying while in Paris, I was able to find a place to live in housing for students and young workers. Visit www.estudines.com and you can find a good number of studios/1 bedroom apartments around various locations in Paris. The good thing about these types of places is that you have your own flat with a kitchen and bathroom all to yourself in a well secured and safe building which is staffed during the day. The only thing with these types of places is that often they require you to have a guarantor based in France, and if not, you will have to pay your rent in huge chunks rather than monthly. Also with my particular place, wifi was not available until about two months before I was about to move out and I had to pay my electricity bill on top of my rent as it was not included. Just double check these kinds of things before signing any contracts.
Start looking for a place early. Paris is very much in demand with large number of students looking for a place to live every year. I started mid-June to move into a place for the beginning of September, and I still had trouble. So really do start looking early or come September you will be wandering along the banks of the Seine with your bags in tow and without a place to live.
Set out to your year abroad destination a couple of weeks before you start your work placement/semester. Or head out for a week during the summer in order to specifically find accommodation. It’s always easier to find a place and set up viewings if you have an exact period of time set aside and once you are in the city.
Don’t ever agree to move into a place or hand over money for it before you have seen what the place looks like. Or if you are unable to visit have a friend or family member if possible view it for you. And if that isn’t an option, perhaps suggest arranging a viewing over Skype?! A few places I ended up seeing looked very different from the images I saw online and the places advertised at the American Church do not even post their pictures up so viewing the place beforehand is really is a must.
Be prepared for how expensive it can be in Paris. The places I viewed all ranged between 700-750€ a month. Also with accommodation in any city, make sure to check whether the rent you are being quoted includes bills and if there are any other additional fees you have to pay on top of rent, such as electricity, Internet or laundry.
Do not wait a week to get back to the landlord when you have viewed a place and you like it, as the likelihood is some other student, just as deperate would have swooped in and secured it.
Bonne chance witht flat hunting!!