Arriving in Paris can be stressful, especially when you are bringing enough luggage to last you for several months. So, unless you have a couple of free weeks to explore the city and find accommodation before you start your placement, it’s a good idea sort out where you are living before you arrive.
Finding a place to live can seem like one of the most daunting things about moving to a new city, especially when it is as large and diverse as Paris. Most universities provide some information as to where to find accommodation, but in our experience it is not always up to date or particularly useful. So, we thought it would be helpful to put together a few tips to make finding a home a little less overwhelming for you.
Finding an apartment
Most students who come to live in Paris choose to rent an apartment, either alone or with friends. If you’re looking for holiday rentals or short-term stays whilst you or your family visit the city, then it’s worth checking out HouseTrip.com which is the largest holiday rental website in Europe and offers a great variety of apartments in Paris at affordable prices. It’s one of the most reputable and trustworthy online booking companies so it’s worth turning to when looking for safe and comfortable accommodation in Paris.
There are also a number of useful websites to help you find both studios and shared apartments for long-term rental at reasonable prices, listed below.
Pros of renting an apartment:
- Flexibility – you have your own key and can come and go at whatever time of the day or night you please. You can also have friends and family to stay whenever you choose to.
- Facilities – in an apartment you will normally have a bathroom, kitchen and living area to yourself or to share with your housemates. If you’re there for several months, you can make it all feel really homely and it will be a great place to chill out.
- Independence – if you’re living in a rented flat you will be doing everything for yourself, from shopping to cooking! It gives you a lot of freedom.
Cons of renting an apartment:
- Price – renting an apartment, especially if you are doing it alone, is not always the cheapest way to live. Parisian rent prices can be higher even than London, so be prepared to fork out for the nicer and more central apartments! Parisian rent is often based on both size and location, so you might have to live somewhere far out if you want to go cheaply. We wouldn’t recommend living in the suburbs, though – they are far from the centre and it will be more difficult to make the most of the Parisian experience.
- Loneliness – if you don’t like the idea of living alone, make sure you look for a shared apartment. It’s sometimes nice to have someone to moan to after a hard day!
- Cleaning and maintenance – if you are renting an apartment it will be entirely up to you (and your housemates if you have them) to keep the place clean. Unless you’re really lucky, you won’t have a cleaner to do it for you!
- Space – you will often have a lot of space if you are renting your own apartment, but some of the single-person studios may be quite cramped. For example, the shower and toilet may only be separated from the bedroom by a curtain, and the kitchen will probably be in the same place as the bed.
Living in colocation
If you don’t like the idea of living alone but you don’t want to live in a residence or with friends, you will probably want to look for a “colocation”. This means finding a housemate, or housemates, who fit certain requirements, chosen by you. It is particularly good if you want find a French person to live with. You can also specify things such as the age and gender of person you are looking for, or whether or not they are a smoker. The websites listed below are aimed specifically at helping people to find shared apartments with like-minded people:
- Company – it’s a chance to make a new friend or friends and, if you choose to live with a French person, to brush up on your language skills. You’ll also have someone to share the housework with and to chat to after a long and tiring day.
- Price – living in colocation will usually work out cheaper than renting a studio apartment, simply because you are splitting the costs with someone else.
- Facilities, flexibility and freedom – you will still be living in an apartment, so it comes with all the same advantages as renting an apartment alone or with friends! However, if you want friends staying you will have to check with your housemate first.
Cons of living in colocation:
- Space – sometimes you will have a lot of space, but it really depends on the situation. You might find yourself practically living on top of the other person (for example, they may have to walk through your bedroom to get to the kitchen or the bathroom). If space is particularly important to you, make sure you check this before you move in.
- Weirdos – try and avoid weirdos at all costs! Anyone can post on the websites, so make sure you meet up with your prospective housemate before you move in with them. Also, even if they are nice people, you may find once you move in that they are actually not very clean or have annoying habits.
If you don’t think an apartment is for you, there are a number of residences around Paris especially for young people who study or work in and around the city, which are more similar to university halls. Some are for girls only, others are mixed; some house mainly international students, whereas others are mainly French; some have cafeterias, whilst others have shared or private kitchens. There are loads to choose from! L’Association pour le logement des jeunes travailleurs (ALJT) will give you a comprehensive list of residences in the Paris region. Visit www.aljit.com for more information. There are also various other websites aimed at helping you find a room in a private residence:
If you want to live among French people, the best option would be to live in a Foyer (a French style hall of residence). However, it is important to realize that the French university system is very different to what we have in England. The student partying culture is not prominent and the people living in the foyers are likely to be mainly academically oriented.
Pros of living in a residence:
- Cleaning – you might be lucky enough to have a cleaner in your residence, so you don’t need to worry about keeping it all clean yourself.
- Location – many of the residences are located very centrally, which can obviously be very convenient
Facilities – like with university halls, you can choose your residence based on what facilities are available. Some rooms may be en-suite or have cooking facilities.
- Company – you will be surrounded by other people in a residence, so it is very likely that you will find friends easily!
- Choice – you can choose your residence depending on all sorts of factors including facilities, proximity to work or university and the type of people living there.
Cons of living in a residence:
- Curfews – some residences have curfews, so require you to be in by a certain time. This could be very annoying if you wanted to have a particularly late night!
- Visitors – a lot of residences are very strict about people having guests to stay. If you are planning to have friends to visit throughout your time in Paris, make sure you check the rules before you choose your residence!
- Space – depending on the residence, you may have to share a bathroom or kitchen with several people you don’t know.
- Loneliness – although you will be surrounded by people, it is still possible to be lonely in a residence. Generally speaking, French students living in the foyers are more academically than socially minded. For a more sociable atmosphere, it would probably be advisable to live in a residence with other international students.
If you are looking to pay rent cheaply and don’t mind helping someone out, there are certain websites which help you to find accommodation with an elderly person. You will pay rent of under €300 in return for doing basic chores.
Pros of logement intergeneration:
- Price – the rent will be very cheap compared to most Parisian accommodation.
- Language – if the elderly person you are paired with is French, you will have a lot of opportunity to practise the language!
- Company – you will always have somebody to talk to, and old people can have very interesting stories and wise advice!
Cons of logement intergeneration:
- Chores – you will have to do chores for your elderly housemate in return for the cheap rent, and this may take up quite a lot of your free time. It is probably not ideal if you are working all day on weekdays.
- Lack of young people – obviously, living with an elderly person you won’t have young people to speak to or hang out with while you are at home. Elderly people are also often very set in their ways, so you might have to work around their particularities!
Other useful tips for finding accommodation
- The American Church and FUSAC
If you do get the chance to come to Paris before your placement begins, the American Church of Paris posts adverts for accommodation every day. Make sure you get there in the morning because the best offers will get snapped up quickly. You don’t have to be Christian or even religious to go there – lots of students of all different beliefs and backgrounds find their accommodation that way. Alternatively, take a look at FUSAC, a bi-monthly magazine especially for English-speaking expatriates living in Paris. It also has a website, www.fusac.fr, so you can browse before you come to Paris. If any adverts catch your eye, call up the landlord or landlady straight away to avoid disappointment, as cheap accommodation is in high demand in Paris!
- Ask a friend
Another way of finding accommodation in Paris is just to ask around. You may find that a friend of a friend is looking to rent a room, or that someone you know is leaving Paris and wants to pass on their room or flat. Try speaking to people who are already in Paris, as they will often be able to give you useful information. You could also look on your university website, as they often provide information for year abroad students.
It’s not always easy to find a place to live in Paris and often you can’t expect to find the flat of your dreams in the first place you look. The most important thing is to be patient and to persevere, and eventually you will find what you are looking for. Don’t go for something which is less than ideal because you are worried you’ll never find anything else; it’s a huge city and new opportunities arise all the time. However, don’t set unrealistic expectations – prices and demand are high, so decide what your main priorities are and be prepared to compromise if needs be.
Anyway, if you plan a short stay, please check our partner Tripadvisor for your stay in paris: