How to Rent An Apartment in Paris
Paris. A city where rich folk hoard the nice apartments and use them as home offices - while the foreigners are left with the crusty scraps.
Paris. The city where you’re lucky if you have a toilet inside your apartment, and you’ve absolutely hit the jackpot if you’re landlord isn’t an asshole.
I’ve heard all of the horror stories imaginable - shady landlords who sneak into your apartment when you aren’t home, landlords who frame you in order to kick you out and steal your deposit, racist roommates, etc. The housing situation here is a constant game of chance. Although it’s hard for foreigners, it’s also difficult for other French people.
This is Paris in a nutshell: You need this paper, but in order to get this paper, you need that thing, but in order to get that thing you need the paper!
You get the point.
It’s like the people who created these rules only wanted to be the only ones who inhabited this city. Now, i’ll be honest. I believe my story for finding an apartment was relatively painless… AFTER I had my documents in order.
I’ve heard apartment searches in this city take people anywhere from 1 week to 10 months. Wild, right?
My search began pre-covid. Small budget in mind I began to look on sites like: pap, leboncoin, fusac, and so on. I found some places, small, but liveable, and with my 700 euro budget burning my front pocket I began to tour these places…
Bed, kitchenette, and… what do you mean the toilet is in the hallway?
In Paris, there are these things called “chambre de bonnes” which are old maids' quarters. There are a lot in the city and I’ve heard some as low as 400euro/month. Cute. But for me, towering at 5’10 & 230 pounds, living in a box with a hot stove wasn’t tickling my fancy.
I emailed, called, searched, and scoured websites, for hours on end. No responses, and the few responses I had they asked for a “dossier”.
What the hell is a dossier?
un dossier: a tenant file of your compatibility as a prospective renter. It's usually comprised of:
A work contract (if you work for a company in france) AND/OR a school certificate if you’re enrolled in a school in france.
IBAN (FRENCH bank information) c’est treeees important apparently
A garant mother fu**ing tor. a garantor is basically a cosigner… but of course they must be FRENCH.
In some cases they want to see your tax documents/last three pay stubs but that’s not so often **it’s important to note A LOT of places want you to make 3x the rent AND put down 2 month’s worth of rent as a deposit. this is based on if you rent furnished or unfurnished**
So now you see why I said the creators of the renting system in Paris only want to rent to themselves. This is where most foreigners have the biggest issues because the system makes it nearly impossible to get anything in France. But that’s why your local cutie mc-dootie bootie (me) comes in because there are some loopholes and services I’ve found helpful on my apartment journey. Are you following?
The time is June 2019, I have NONE of this. in order to ease my stress and overwhelm, I stopped searching. may 2020 comes around, and magically through being fired as an au pair, covid, and the sheer will to commit myself to life in Paris despite all the bureaucratic drama, I managed to have ALL of these documents ready to go.
This is what changed my experience… and also raising my budget a few hundred dollars. Suddenly with a complete dossier and a few more hundred, I was no longer at the mercy of the city’s kindness.
So I began my search, this time directly on websites that are geared towards foreigners like:(book-a-flat.com, lodgis, newyorkhabitat) and that also have fully furnished apartments, in order to better avoid dealing with sketchy landlords who want you to pay 2 months deposit for a crusty yellow mattress, an end table. (lord I’ve seen some gross places)
Within a few weeks of my search, I found my apartment, the landlord accepted my complete dossier and I signed a lease. I used book-a-flat to find my lovely, furnished apartment. All this before returning back to Paris during the pandemic.
All in all, I do believe lady RONA (COVID -19) played a part in my apartment, and no one else was looking for apartments at the same time as me, but I’m not complaining.
Here are some tips I will give you on finding a place in Paris:
LANDLORDS ARE MORE LIKELY TO ACCEPT YOU AS A FOREIGN STUDENT THAN A FOREIGN WORKER. I have income from a non-french company, but since I was enrolled in french school (in language classes) landlords we’re more trusting of me.
LANDLORDS ONLY WANT TO ACCEPT FRENCH GUARANTORS. So do what you can in this department. If you have a french friend, significant other, anyone who is FRENCH and can vouch for you, take that opportunity!! However, if you don’t, like I didn’t, websites like GARANTME or VISALE basically “act” as your french guarantor to ensure the landlords of your reliability. Not all landlords will accept this, however, so when you message a potential apartment just be sure to ask if they accept it right away.
** I recommend using GARANTME. they were able to take into account my foreign income, my savings, the income of my American cosigner and still vouch for me as a renter.**
KEEP YOUR BANK OPEN! This is basically geared towards former au pairs. I was an au pair, so my host family helped me open a French bank account, and I kept it open. From what I’ve heard it can be difficult for foreigners to get a french bank account. So, again, if you have a french person/service that can help you, it will save you a lot of stress.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SUBLEASE/AIRBNB. I arrived a month before my apartment was ready, but I stayed in an Airbnb. Long-term Airbnbs can be a great solution for people who don’t have a complete dossier or are apartment searching it helps you get started in the city.
HAVE SOME THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT IN YOUR RENTAL.… and then throw them away. when I initially began my search I had this grandeur idea of what my apartment would be. I wanted to have - a full kitchen, a full bed, a washing machine, a bathtub, a balcony, and also live near the city center … I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen so I narrowed it down to what was important to me. living near the city center, and having a washing machine, and a bed fit for someone who isn’t Parisian.
With these in mind, I found a great apartment. Also arrondissement that are a little further out will give you a lot more for a smaller budget. (15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th)
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE SUBURBS there are some GREAT apartments in the suburbs of Paris that are inexpensive. Paris is a city of great transport, so if it’s important to you to have more space, definitely expand your search to some of the suburbs. (neuily-sur-seine, bagnolet, les lilas, chareton le pont, boulogne billancourt, vincennes) to name a few.
AGENCIES CAN BE YOUR FRIEND. If you’re a foreigner, going through an agency geared towards foreigners can be a great option. That’s how I found my place. Now, am I paying a little more in rent? Yes, did I pay an agency fee? Yes, but it’s so worth it as opposed to dealing with the stress of shitty apartments.
WEBSITES TO LOOK AT IN ORDER TO AVOID WASTING TIME:
lodgis.com: (furnished rentals agency geared towards foreigners)
newyorkhabitat.com: (furnished rentals agency geared towards foreigners)
bookaflat.com: (furnished rentals agency geared towards foreigners)
loueragile.fr: (a masterpost website of apartments available on all websites to help you save time)
pap.fr: (rent furnished or unfurnished apartments directly from the landlords)
fusac.fr: (rent furnished or unfurnished apartments directly from the landlords)
leboncoin.fr: (rent furnished or unfurnished apartments directly from the landlords)
plan apart donateurs: (apartments for rent posted by previous tenants, a good way to avoid the useless other facebook apartment groups)
casa housing paris: (furnished rental geared towards foreigners, having a french guarantor isn’t needed, but places are pricier)
Paris is a city that is stuck in its old ways. it’s also a city where loopholes are your friend. Click to watch my video on this topic below! Hope this helps & bon courage!