Finding accommodation in Paris: Part 1

Paris rooftops

Since I started blogging about moving to Paris last year I've had lots of questions about the specifics of things like the process of finding an apartment, or going to the doctor. The Paris-relaed posts are by far my most-read content, so I think it's high time for some more!

I've met so many awesome people in Paris, and my friend Ricarda is one of them. She and her partner arrived in Paris not long after us, and they came up against the same set of problems. There's no real resource (that any of us could find, anyway!) that gives an in-depth account of all the hoops you have to jump to when you're an academic moving to Paris. So here it is! Having said that, please note that this is in no way 'official' information, it's just advice sourced from our experience (and that of our friends in Paris).

Ricarda is a spectacular astronomer, but I think she may also have missed her calling as a writer. Over the next few weeks I'll be publishing her concise and humorous advice on making Paris your home. Of course we want this resource to be free to everyone which is why I'm hosting it here on my blog, but if you find it helpful and you want to support us in any way, I'm sure Ricarda wouldn't say no to her own cluster or an immediate tenured position (here's her publication record). And if it's astronomically accurate jewellery you're after, I've got you sorted with my Becky, Queen of Frocks shop....

Anyway, take it away, Ricarda!


Finding a flat in Paris can certainly be a little tricky but it is definitely not impossible. There is a lot of information here as there are many different ways of going about it, but to summarise quickly:

Finding a flat requires a “Dossier”, which is an application file full of paperwork showing you will be a responsible tenant, most of which you can only get once you have started your work. Most people find some sort of temporary accommodation for a few weeks to months, and then start their search in earnest once they are established here. Renting a flat usually requires a guarantor to sign the contract with you, who has to be living in France, but there are government sponsored options if you don’t have anyone. 

UNDERSTANDING PROPERTY LISTINGS

FURNISHED OR UNFURNISHED

There is a fundamental different in the way furnished and unfurnished places are let in France.

Furnished flats are rented out a year at a time, and should come equipped with anything you need to live there. Look for the word “meublé” in adverts. They should include things like furniture, but also bedsheets, pots and pans etc. However, it’s always good to double check what exactly your place will include before you move in. Furnished flats are, in my experience, the low hassle option but usually a little more expensive. They have a one month cancellation notice if you want to move out before your contract is up.

Unfurnished flats are called “vide” which means “empty” and can vary wildly in what they include. The most important thing to look out for is the kitchen. Some empty flats have a working kitchen, including hobs, fridge and (if you are very luck), an oven. It is not uncommon however for tenants to buy their own white goods, including the fridge, and sometimes even the kitchen cabinets. Unfurnished flats are rented out for 3 years at a time, and have a cancellation notice period of 3 months.

 
 So many rooftops, so many difficult landlords....

So many rooftops, so many difficult landlords....

 

RENT

Rent in France has two parts. The actual rent itself, and the charges. The latter cover some bills such as  water and building fees, as well as central heating if there is any, and vary from 30-100 euro for the kind of flats I looked at. Always check what exactly is included in the charges, as it can vary! In my experience, water often is but electricity and internet usually aren’t.

Most listings will give the rent “charges compris”, so charges included, as well as having somewhere a breakdown into the actual rent, and the monthly charges.

 
 They look fancy, but a lot of those rooftops house 9m² apartments that cost upwards of 900€ a month....!

They look fancy, but a lot of those rooftops house 9m² apartments that cost upwards of 900€ a month....!

 

STUDENT HOUSING 

If you are a student or researcher, probably the easiest way to find a flat is via some sort of student housing designed to make it easier for foreign Postdocs or students to arrive in the city. Probably the biggest and best known is the Cité Universitaire (http://www.ciup.fr/en/), but there are others such as Les Recollets (http://www.centre-les-recollets.com/en/). They are fully furnished, you can easily apply from abroad and all bills are usually included in the rent, making it easy to live here when you first arrive in Paris. That being said they often have a limit on how long you can stay (for the Cité it’s a maximum of 2 years) and at times quite a lot of rules on what you can and cannot do with your flat. 

These places are an easy place to start when you first arrive in the city. Apply to live there as soon as you know you are coming to France! The earlier the better.

 
 This is how happy you'll be when you've finally found yourself an apartment. Let the trumpet dancing commence!

This is how happy you'll be when you've finally found yourself an apartment. Let the trumpet dancing commence!

 

Are you thinking of moving to Paris? Check out Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV to read more about the ins and outs of life in a new country. And don't forget to check back next week for more wisdom from Ricarda!