Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to...Find Accommodation in Paris

Congratulations, you've secured a study or work placement in the City of Lights, Paris! 

You've seen all the romanticised Hollywood films, the quintessentially Parisian Amelie and soon you will be following in their footsteps. 

But before you start dreaming of wandering through the same bohemian streets in Montmartre as Amelie did, you need to secure a roof over your head for the duration of your stay. Otherwise, you will be just wandering the streets with nowhere to go, and we don't want that.

Now the task of finding accommodation in Paris is often described as a mammoth task and whilst it can be difficult and super competitive, you just need to find as many options as possible to snag a room.

But first and foremost, there's a few rudimentary details that you need to know before looking for accommodation:

The Essentials

Let's talk money first: expect a room in Paris and the nearby suburbs to be €500-€700 a month. Anything less and it's usually too good to be true (Unless an exchange for au-pairing)

On the subject of rooms, as you may have already heard, Parisian flats are infamously small. My room had enough space for the bed, a desk and enough room to open the door. It was also originally a studio adapted into a two bedroom apartment, so go figure.

When flat-hunting, bring every piece of paperwork humanly possible. Think bank statements, copy of your passport, translated birth certificate (this is so useful in France), the whole shebang. A lot of landlords ask for a French-based guarantor which makes things tricky for foreigner but if you bring as much paperwork as possible it will make the house search a lot easier. The French love paperwork.

If at all possible, have at least a weekend (preferably a week) before your start date to house hunt. Especially if you're beginning in September it's La Rentrée season and competition is even more fierce. 

So now the basics have been covered, how do you go about finding accommodation in Paris?

Online Listings
Pap.fr is the most comprehensive source but also the most competitive. Listings go almost instantly. However, there is a huge range of accommodation websites such as appartager.fr where paying extra for a premium profile is worth it. Other websites to look at are leboncoin.fr, Craigslist.fr and fusac.fr (FUSAC also has more listings in its magazine too).

Halls of Residence (Foyers)
The most economical option for students especially as they cater for foreign students and usually don't ask for guarantors as well as usually being centrally located. The downside to foyers are the curfews and less freedom to live independently. If you don't mind that, foyers are a good option to consider. Try: CLJT (Centre du Logement des Jeunes Travailleurs, Etudiants et Stagiaires) and Cité Internationale.

Notice Board Ads
Targeted at expats, this means that securing the contract (or at least the paperwork that goes with it) requires less administrative obstacles. The one downside, if your aim is to improve your French, is the Anglophone focus and less opportunity to practise French. Try: Shakespeare and Company and American Church.

International Student Accommodation
Specifically focusing on international students, again like with the above example, there is often less paperwork and no guarantor required. But, that usually means that the rent is more expensive as international students stay there for the short term and generally they can get away with it. However, a flatshare immediately puts you into contact with other international students and it's an easy option. Try: Central Paris Rentals.

Word of Mouth
Try getting in touch with the outgoing intern or ask around people in the year above you who may know of rooms going free. This is often a simple procedure  and probably the easiest option as you can take up the lease instantly of someone else's room. Try: Facebook groups such as Paris: Location d'appart, échange, colocation ! and Paris Colocation.

Bon Courage!

This is the second feature of Year Abroad Fortnight, come back later this week for more!

What are your tips for finding accommodation in Paris? Do you have any other concerns outside of flat woes about moving to Paris?

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