The Babylangues Accommodation Guide in France
Finding accommodation in France can be very difficult, especially in Paris, and in particular for a foreigner who has just arrived. Even if the market has improved slightly over the past few years, the hunt for the perfect apartment can be long, with no shortage of scams.
Babylangues feels it is important for you to feel safe and at home during your stay. That is why we suggest some alternative solutions beyond just regular renting to avoid these problems! And, of course, we will give you some advice about avoiding scams too.
The Babylangues accommodation guide should provide you with everything you need to know about finding a place to live in France, especially in Paris where the search can sometimes be very tedious. From ex- plaining all your options, to advice on creating your tenant dossier, to links to all the possible sites we could think of, we’ve covered it so you don’t have to do it on your own.
We know the process of finding accommodation is long and hard, but it will be worth it! Once you’re settled, you’re set to make some amazing memories and have an incredible semester or year! And we’re here to help you too.
Here’s a summary of accommodation options in France. The prices we refer to are the approximate prices of such options in Paris – most things are cheaper in the majority of other French cities!
Studios (i.e. You Live On Your Own):
You can (in theory) find very small studios (around 9m2) for about €500 a month, but these are extremely rare. They’re also often illegally small so most of the time you can’t apply for the CAF/APL French accommodation grants for them as they’re often deemed un- suitable housing. (every studio under 9 square meters is illegal, so pay attention during visits)
You can find small, but more acceptable, studios (12m2-18m2) for €600-€800 a month in good locations (but naturally they get more expensive the more central you go!). They’re usually attic rooms, and everything is all in one room i.e. your bed, kitchen, and shower are all in one space—most small studios have a sofa bed to economise on space
After €900 a month the studios get a lot nicer in better locations.
Studios are hard to get your hands on during August/September when universities start, as demand is incredibly high.
Furthermore, some landlords will not accept an English or foreign guarantor – note that, technically, it is illegal for them to reject your application if you have a viable guarantor who simply happens to come from abroad, but since the competition is so immense, they will often just pick another tenant. It is likely that landlords will receive over 200 messages per studio and arrange visits for around 30 people, so the competition will be extremely high.
Essentially, a landlord will prefer someone who is French and the guarantor with the highest income.
It might also be difficult to rent a studio for a short period of time, as most places want you to rent for an entire year or 10 months minimum.
In order to avoid this, and if you are set on wanting to have your own space, it is worth booking your studio through an agency with reasonable agency fees.
At Babylangues, we suggest you try to find alternative accommodation so you can avoid the competition for regular apartments and studios.
Colocations (i.e. You Live With Roommates)
Having a network of support, friends and a sense of community is important while travelling. While, of course, you will be welcomed into the Babylangues community with open arms, if you want to establish other connections with people in a new place, one of the best ways to do this is to live with them!
This is probably a better option than the studios – you get to live in a bigger apartment for the same amount of money as you would pay for a studio, it’s a lot less lonely, and if your roommates are local or have been there for a while they can introduce you to their friends! Plus, if you’re not living with English speakers you get to practice your language a lot more!
Prices vary a lot and it mainly depends on the location and quality of the apartment.
You can find quite a lot available between €500 and €750 a month in quite reasonable places (a lot bigger than the studios as well, because you have access to the whole apartment) but the apartments start to get genuinely nice at prices above €750 a month.
Watch out for places with rooms where you have to use someone else’s room to get to yours, or yours is the corridor-type room (if that bothers you)
Watch out for offers where your “room” is a sofa-bed in the living room (again, only if that bothers you!)
Try to make sure your potential roommates seem somewhat compatible with you (age, gender, religion, taste, interests etc.) Just to avoid any big personality clashes (but usually most people are nice!)
When you’re reading the listings make sure they have availability for the time you want to be there – a lot of people just let out rooms for a summer or a few weeks while they’re on holiday.
Homestays & Intergenerational Living
This is another kind of colocation, except instead of living with roommates of similar age, you live with a family or a senior citizen!
This is another great option for if you’re looking to improve your French, and it can be a lot cheaper, especially if you find an arrangement where some of your rent is reduced in exchange for helping out around the house.
Living in The Suburbs
If it’s not important to you that you live in central Paris (or the centre of another city!), you can find a lot more affordable housing (colocs and studios, sometimes even entire houses) outside the périphérique (or ring road) in the commuter suburb towns. For Paris, these are places like Saint-Denis, Vanves, Pantin, Boulogne Billancourt, Nanterre etc. if you don’t mind commuting on the train to come into the city!
They’re often much bigger spaces for the same price as you would pay in a central place– some even have gardens and terraces!
Foyers & Student Buildings
These are essentially like halls of residence
They’re a good option if you want to try to reduce the amount of admin, time and paper-work you have to do to secure other types of accommodation as they are catered for students, and quite often international students.
Prices vary from €500-€1500 euros a month depending on the room and on the place: sometimes they’re more like a hostel so you have to share a bedroom with another student, sometimes you get your own room, sometimes you can get a whole studio to yourself!
They usually look and feel like youth hostels so have a reception front desk, security, games rooms, laundry rooms, and sometimes canteens. All the good rooms in central locations go quite early on so if you want one of these then commit to it early if you can!
A lot of Airbnbs have the option of long term renting on them. Howev- er, in Paris this is usually a very expensive option – even an Airbnb for €70 a night (which in Paris is cheap for an Airbnb) will add up to about €2000 a month! However, in other cities (Lyon etc.) it becomes more affordable and is definitely worth considering.
It can be worth it to have a look as some places might give you a dis- count for staying for a long time!
If you want to be in on the ground for the last part of your search in order to be able to visit apartments, or if your search so far has been unsuccessful and you need a place to stay, there is no need to worry, just try something short term!
Youth hostels are probably the best option for this – it can be slightly inconvenient when you’re bringing all your belongings from home, but as long as you keep your valuables in a hostel locker it’s a great solution to be in the centre of the city for a low cost!
You can also find short term rentals online, especially during the summer months when people are renting out rooms or apartments.
Financial Help For Your Accommodation in France
Another piece of advice regarding accommodation in Paris is to apply for CAF. In short, this is a French government organisation, which provides students or people on a low income with financial help to pay their rent. It can be a lengthy process, so try to get it done as soon after your arrival in France as possible! Babylangues provides you with any administrative support you may need.
Have a look here to find out more: http://www.caf.fr/sites/default/files/cnaf/Documents/DCom/Accueil/Actu/ALE2019/Private%20market_English.pdf
Finance, Details & Documents
Know your budget – calculate how much you will have on a monthly basis when it includes:
All and any income you might have (but make sure you know the figure for this net not gross)
Gross (English) = brut (French)
After tax (English) = net (French)
Any grants or loans you might have, such as an Erasmus grant or money from Student Finance (UK), or any other financial aid you receive!
If you receive money from Student Finance or a student loan company, remember it does not come in monthly! So it’s best to include that in your calculations – if you can, do a cashflow spreadsheet for the monthly costs so you can see what money goes in and out each month and make sure you don’t have a short fall at any time.
Your budget needs to be able to cover all of you living costs:
Rent, bills (although sometimes bills are included in the rent for a property, which is known as “charges comprises” or “CC”), food, personal items, leisure, clothes and travel.
Remember that Babylangues offers benefits to help reduce your monthly costs and make your stay in France as stress-free as possible! As part of the Babylangues community, we can provide you with:
- Free mobile phone and contract for the duration of your stay, including two hours of calls a month, with unlimited texts within France, and internet access.
- Free Velib’ pass to help you get around the city! Velib’ is the Paris bike service, and we offer the equivalent pass in all our other cities in France.
- Free French lessons! So, to give an example, if the amount of money you have available per month is around 1400€, and your rent including bills is around 750€ a month, you will have 150€ to live on per week, which equates to just under 20€ per day.
Prepare A Dossier
If you’re renting somewhere which requires you to sign a lease and have a guarantor, get organised as early as you can to save time and effort later! Some landlords will require a full dossier, some landlords will only ask for some documents. Generally, it is a good idea to compile a PDF file before you arrive so you have a complete dossier available to copy and send whenever needed. This way, you can start your search without any delays
You can visit apartments!
Please do not hesitate to get in contact with us should you require any assistance and we will do our best to help!
Here is a link to all the regulations on what a landlord (propriétaire) is legally allowed to ask you for! If they ask for more than one of anything, be very cautious :
In most cases, you will need:
– A scanned copy of a valid ID, such as :
- Your passport
- driving licence
- student ID
- And your and your guarantor’s signature if signing anything online
– Your IBAN number (which you can usually find on most banking apps)
- However, you might want to consider opening a new bank account for stay in France to help deal with currency exchange rates
- If you are interested in setting up a French bank account during your stay, Babylangues will guide you through
the process with a local BNP branch within walking distance of the office. Even if you do not have a definitive address yet, Babylangues will provide you with the necessary documentation allowing you to have your post sent to the office in the meantime.
– Your guarantor’s IBAN number
EXTRA TIP: If you don’t have a guarantor, there are websites where you can pay a subscription to have a French one! And there are advantages to this too, because quite often landlords prefer to have guarantors from such companies/insist on a French guarantor. One example is garantme.fr/en , who require a payment of 3% of your rent per month
One of the best ways to find an apartment is to ask people you know!
As a Babylangues Instructor, you are able to join our Facebook Group and ask other Instructors for tips or even perhaps rent their previous apartment.
Or, have a look through one, or many, of the numerous housing websites! To save some time it is a good idea to write a quick 300 words about yourself on a word document to copy and paste into all the “profile” sections of your accounts on each site and have a profile picture ready, or to write an email template to copy and paste each time you want to make a booking request.
Finally, here are some useful links to almost all of the accommodation websites we in the Babylangues office could think of where you might be able to find your dream room.
But First! Be Careful:
There are no shortage of scams all over France, especially in Paris and on the majority of housing websites which are not covered by an agency. Don’t panic! You just have to stay smarter than the scammers:
Be wary of agencies that offer access to their databases of often non-exhaustive lists in exchange for high administrative fees (between €150 and €450). Reliable agencies only ask for these fees when you come to sign a contract or lease.
Be on the lookout for landlords with attractive offers but who are not available for an apartment visit, are difficult to get hold of by phone and ask you to pay by interna- tional transfer in exchange for the keys and contract.
Never pay fees and never send a copy of your identity documents before having visited the apartment and signed a contract.
If you decide to visit an apartment, try to bring a friend along with you so you’re not meeting with anyone on your own if you can.
If an online post appears to be look suspicious, if there are no photos available or the place seems ‘too good to be true’ i.e. great location for suspiciously low rent, it is necessary to be extra cautious. Some of these places might turn out to be fine (for example, elderly people might not post photos) but definitely make sure to stay safe.
Please note that Babylangues is not affiliated with any of the following companies or websites – your use of them is at entirely your own risk, and these are simply suggestions for what is available to you!
Have a chat with former Babylangues instructors on our Facebook group, and they can give you personal recom- mendations according to their own experiences. Here’s the link:
Studios, Apartments, Online Ads & Colocations For Most French Cities
This website is designed for students, there are a mixture of studios, colocs, homestays and student foyer
buildings on it. Plus, the website itself can be your guarantor upon booking! It’s endorsed by a few
Parisian universities. PAP: http://www.pap.fr/
Entreparticuliers: http://www .entreparticuliers.com/
SeLoger : https://www.seloger.com/
Logic-Immo : https://www.logic-immo.com/
Craigslist : https://paris.craigslist.org/d/logement-%C3%A0-louer/
http://internationaloffice.ceasaclay.com/spip.php?article54 – a website with further links to housing websites Paris Attitude: https://www.parisattitude.com/fr/location-appartement-paris-arrondissements.aspx – expensive agency fees but very nice studios or apartments
Le Figaro: https://immobilier.lefigaro.fr/annonces/location
Le Francophile: https://lefrancophile.com/tag/paris-accommodation/
Central Paris Rentals: a specialised agency, which owns all of its apartments, and works mainly with English speaking students. Agency fees are included in the monthly rent. http://www.centralparisrentals.com/
La Carte des Colocs : http://lacartedescolocs.fr
Help with finding housemates: http://paris.metroroommates.com/
Help with finding housemates: http://www.recherche-colocation.com/paris.html
Le Jeudi de la Colocation (Thursday Flat Sharing): organised every month in various bars and restaurants across
Paris, Le Jeudi de la Colocation allows you to get to know other people who are either looking for or offering flat shares. Don’t forget to check their Facebook page and website to find out the location and date of the next gathering:
Le Paris Solidaire: http://www.leparisolidaire.fr/wp/
Ensemble 2 Generations: http://ensemble2generations.fr/
Logement Intergeneration : http://www.logementintergeneration.org/pages/index.html
Hostels: https://staygenerator.com/destinations/paris?gclid=CjwKCAjw1_PqBRBIEiwA71rmtSF- NypYHmhfIEAbUn43_yJ34Jhjab07eEh67qbPkB8kDQwTECtHKRoCyI0QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds – this hostel is only a 30 min walk from the Babylangues office in Paris, a step away from the metro stop Colonel Fabien, and has a great rooftop bar with a view of the Sacre Coeur!
Find others on https://www.hostelworld.com/
Foyers / Student Buildings :
Student studios in big building blocks in multiple cities!
https://www.fie.fr/en/ – a big foyer in a great location in central Paris, which is often used by students of the Sorbonne There is an extensive list of foyers on this PDF of housing advice from the Sorbonne!
Facebook ads are never screened or checked, so there is a lot more risk of finding a scam – just remember to be careful!
Location appartement, Colocation, Sous-location chambre à louer – https://www.facebook.com/groups/parischambresalouer/ Colocation à Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/Colocation.in.Paris/
Roommate and Flat Finder – Paris, France – https://www.facebook.com/groups/roommatesparis/
RoomMates in Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/roommatesinparis/
Classifieds in Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/246051252097378/
Student Housing in Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/StudentHousingInParis/
Flat for rent in Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/212816458728463/
Apartments Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/382813278559353/
colocation à Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/pariscolocation/
Accommodation and room exchange in Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/452330474889213/
Exchange Students Looking for Apartments in Paris (GIRLS ONLY) – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1479814572307169/ Logement et colocation sur Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/216747468526166/
PARIS: Location appartement, Colocation, Sous-location chambre à louer – https://www.facebook.com/groups/parischambresalouer/
Logement, colocation & Sous location sur Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/216747468526166/
SOUS-LOUER MON APPARTEMENT –https://www.facebook.com/groups/sous.louer.mon.appartement
Colocations et location appartements Paris – https://www.facebook.com/groups/424628364407944/
IMMOBILIER PANAME – Vente et location entre particuliers sur Paris et IDF – https://www.facebook.com/groups/Immo.paname/
DE BOUCHE A OREILLE – se loger à Paris entre étudiants – https://www.facebook.com/groups/437116859654396/ PARIS FOR RENT – https://www.facebook.com/groups/PARISFORRENT/
Adopte un coloc (Adopt a flatmate): a simple and efficient way to find possible flat shares; all you have to do is post your profile on their Facebook page: https://www .facebook.com/AdopteUnColoc?fref=ts
Recommendations From The British Council:
– http://www.topannonces.fr/ : petites annonces de toute sorte.
– http://www.vivastreet.com/ : site généraliste d’annonces
– https://www.lokaviz.fr/ : locaviz, avec des annonces privées de location pour étudiants.
– https://www.toitchezmoi.com/ : Une solution originale qui tend à se développer. Des conseils et des annonces. – https://www.location-etudiant.fr/ : Voir également la rubrique dédiée au logement intergénérationnel
– http://fr.chambrealouer.com/location : si vous souhaitez louer une chambre chez l’habitant.
Vous trouverez également des annonces à l’office de tourisme de votre ville, dans les commerces et près des universités. Consultez également les sites suivants, qui présentent un dossier spécial logement très complet avec des nombreuses informations concernant les astuces, les pièges et les arnaques à éviter, les documents à fournir pour la signature du contrat, les solutions alternatives, etc. http://etudiant.aujourdhui.fr/etud…/se-loger/logement.html
For a further list of foyers, hostels, links and advice for accommodation in Paris, consult this extensive list from the Sorbonne and St Andrews University.