Ah, the Paris accommodation search. What joy.
Perhaps one day I will look back on this period of my Year Abroad fondly and smile at all the troubles I had to secure somewhere to live, but for now I’m far too close to the reality of the memory for it to be the least bit funny: over a month of searching for somewhere online, and then a week or so of attempting to message landlords and visit places from France itself while working a 9-6 job… not the best start, I’ll admit.
That being said, I have now learnt of a lot of resources and tips to pass onto anyone else taking on the challenge!
General tips and tricks for finding accommodation in Paris
Work out your budget.
There’s no use looking for Paris accommodation if you don’t know your price range. You might need to pick an ‘ideal figure’ and then a figure you’ll stretch to if the place is really nice. Paris is not cheap at all, and what your price range is will determine the kinds of accommodation you can find – for less than 1000 euros a month, for example, you can probably get a decent flatshare or a small studio. Don’t forget you will need to find out if potential properties include bills or not – look out for “TCC” (toutes charges comprises) and be sure to ask if that is inclusive of things like internet.
Make a checklist.
What do you want from your accommodation? What are the MUST HAVEs, the LIKE TO HAVEs, and the NO GO factors? Prepare to be a little flexible, and also remember to look at factors which won’t necessarily impact on your daily life but which are equally important – things like fire safety, heating, whether or not there’s any kind of security/burglar alarm system.
You can use this handy checklist developed by SavetheStudent to help!
Watch out for scams!
You may have already been warned about the scams in Paris accommodation, but they’re really out there, and there’s a lot of them. Here’s a few ways to stay smart:
- Whenever possible, visit the property before you agree to anything.
- Do not under any circumstances pay a ‘reservation fee’ to see the property. Many landlords may claim they live away from the property, or are working abroad, and need you to pay a deposit to confirm you are really committed to seeing and renting the property. They may use any number of excuses. But if you haven’t even seen the property and they’re already asking for money, steer clear.
- If you see photos online or in an email and they seem too nice, try running them through a reverse Google image search. I did this for a property which seemed too good to be true and found the photos were from another site entirely, for at least three times the price!
- If you can’t visit in person, don’t be afraid to ask the landlord / flatmate if there’s any way to verify it’s a real property. For example, get your future flatmate to take a photo in the room with a piece of paper with your name written on it, or ask if you could do a Skype viewing!
Decide whether you want to use an agency, a private landlord, or a student residence to find Paris accommodation.
- Private landlords are great if you are able to visit the property before making a decision, and if you want to avoid things like agency fees and the particular demands of agencies. For example, having never worked before, I had no previous payslips, nor any French guarantors, but I found that private landlords were much more relaxed about these things.
- Agencies, on the other hand, can help to provide a greater peace of mind. Agents will generally take care of things like maintenance issues and provide an extra third party to manage things like the deposit and contract. However, in return for this peace of mind you’ll be paying extra money on agency fees (often several hundred euros!) and will also be expected to provide a much more detailed dossier.
- Student residences can be great for feeling safe and settled in an environment you’re used to, with your own room and some basic kitchen facilities. You’ll be able to live alongside other students, providing more opportunities for socialising, as well as having the added bonus of a reception area to answer your questions, and often a cafeteria for the days you don’t feel like cooking.
Searching online for accommodation in Paris
If you have the opportunity to plan in advance, I would recommend trying to search online. How far in advance varies – with sites like ErasmusU and Spotahome, you will need to look a few months in advance and keep monitoring the options now and then as they will appear – and disappear – very quickly.
However, when it comes to private landlords and direct messaging possible flatmates, you’re usually better off starting from a month before or later, as they will be wanting someone to move in quite quickly.
If you want a flatshare or studio through a private landlord / sublet, try sites like the following:
- Lacartedescolocs https://lacartedescolocs.fr/colocations/ile-de-france/paris – there is a lot of choice here for flatshares and it is frequently updated, but sadly it seems difficult to get replies out of people. If they provide a telephone number, I think I’d have had much more luck trying to ring people directly! Speed is key!
- Appartager https://appartager.com – quite a lot of options for flatshares, but again, some difficulties getting replies. If you’re going to pay for accommodation tools, this one might be your best shot.
- pap.fr https://www.pap.fr/ – there is a lot of choice here, and plenty of details – but be careful as they are all private landlords. As always, telephoning is a faster method of getting a reply.
- FUSAC https://www.fusac.fr – ads aimed specifically at expats. The ads here are less frequent as are seen by a LOT of people, but perfectly possible to get a viewing if you get in contact quickly!
- LeBonCoin https://www.leboncoin.fr/ – A private ad site with lots of different things for sale/rent, not just properties. Again, be wary of scams as it’s all private unverified properties.
Agencies / verified properties
For accommodation in Paris, you can also use various agency-run sites, for peace of mind when it comes to avoiding scams:
- Paris-colocationS https://www.paris-colocations.com/colocations-a-paris.html – I sent some emails to this agency and also had a brief phone conversation (they do also have a contact who speaks English if that helps). If you don’t have a French guarantor they’ll let you pay 3 months’ rent in advance sometimes.
- Spotahome https://www.spotahome.com/ – a bit pricier, and availability fluctuates, but they’re all verified by the company and seem very good quality.
- ErasmusU http://erasmusu.com – if you go for a verified property, they won’t pay the landlord until after you’ve arrived and confirmed it’s as described. Better for finding accommodation quite far in advance!
- Laforet http://www.laforet.com / – quite a good selection of properties, but you need to ring the specific office of whatever arrondissement you’re interested in, there’s no central system. They were also pretty adamant to me that I needed a French bank account or French guarantors, but maybe not all of the offices are like that.
- Lodgis https://www.lodgis.com/en/ – I know people who managed to find accommodation through Lodgis, which seems promising. They have a good range of options at decent prices, although the first price you see is generally not including bills or agency fees. The agents are helpful at replying via email – just fill out the form from the property page or email them directly with your criteria and let them give you some suggestions.
- Interlogement https://www.inter-logement.net/ – I didn’t get to using this one much but one of my friends was successful with this one! Again, possible to filter easily according to your criteria.
Hybrid / managed ad sites
With both agency-rented properties and private rentals:
- Immojeune https://immojeune.com/en/ – a cross between an agency and a private ad site. A lot of the properties are rented out by the agency who runs the site, but there’s also some private landlords and student residences. The agency can be a bit slow to reply / offers very limited viewing times, but if you’re not working full time it might work. They also only let you send 3 requests a day, so you’ll need to either pay for premium (it renews automatically every week, watch out!) or go on and apply to 3 each day to get through all the possibilities.
- Seloger https://seloger.com – a great user interface which will allow you to filter by your criteria and see the available properties (private and with agencies) visually on the map. You can also sign up for alerts so you get new properties direct to your email (prepare for a LOT of emails). I would recommend telephoning directly to get the best response – I was working full time so had to send emails, which was not very fruitful at all.
- MorningCroissant https://www.morningcroissant.fr/comment-ca-marche – sadly I don’t have much experience with this one as they had very little on such short-notice, but the site allows you to pay online through a secure system, meaning a lesser chance of scams.
- LocService https://www.locservice.fr/colocation/colocataires – an impressive interface which allows you to input lots of criteria and get offers from landlords. HOWEVER, I paid for this for a short while to try and find a flatshare but was not impressed with the offers I got, and your payment only allows you to look for one type of accommodation. Maybe it’s better for studios or higher budgets. More of a last resort, I’d say.
Other useful places to search
- The American Church of Paris in the 7th arrondissement (metro: Invalides). Inside the courtyard there’s an announcement board with daily ads for housing / employment in Paris. Contact the landlords directly and you’ll often be able to get a viewing the same day, but quality varies and so does the price. You might also meet people there who also are searching for accommodation and might be able to team up with you! This is personally how I found my flat.
- Newspaper adverts. Look in the physical copies or, better, try online: http://etudiant.aujourdhui.fr/etudiant/se-loger/logement.html
- Talk to people! I almost found accommodation simply because when I went to one viewing (which was not at all what I wanted), another woman overheard us talking to the landlady and said she was looking to rent her studio out too! Ask everyone you know – work colleagues, relatives, Facebook friends!
Student residences tend to require you to apply online, with varying degrees of notice in advance. However, spaces are somewhat sought-after, and are sometimes reserved for students of certain Paris institutions (meaning that if you are an intern, it won’t be possible for you to live there).
However, residences are also more likely to have rules about what you can do in your room – guests, for example, are not permitted in some residences overnight. The quality of the facilities and security varies too – try to read some reviews of the residences online before making a decision.
Here are some of the places I came across:
- http://www.cljt.com/-Les-Foyers- Fill out the application form, attached the relevant documents (be sure to include everything they ask for) and email it to the locations which interest you. I’d recommend doing this as soon as possible, and then re-applying if they reply saying that it’s too early (they might). Students and interns possible.
- https://www.adele.org/ A list of student residences across the city.
- https://www.aljt.com/en/residences/ – Choose the residence which is most suitable for your needs, and apply online. Suitable for interns and students.
- https://www.fie.fr/en/ – A foyer international, specifically for students from around the world. Great for socialising with a mix of people, and the location is perfect, right in the heart of the Latin Quarter, and it has a roof terrace too! Interns and students.
As much as finding accommodation in Paris is daunting, there are more options than you would think at first. It’s frustrating when it doesn’t work out to begin with, but stay strong and persevere. All that’s left for me to do is wish you a hearty bonne chance with your search!
If this list helps you, or if you have more tips and tricks for students coming to live in Paris, please leave a comment below!