Paris: an extremely beautiful and captivating city that draws people from all corners of the globe for work, study, and extended travel. When you look back on your time in Paris, it will likely be one of warm nostalgia, filled with memories of friends, museums, good food and the occasional strike. It’s these positive memories that should prevail over the frustrations that accompany administrative paperwork, working to make ends meet and finding an apartment. If you are able to come to Paris with lodging already taken care of, consider yourself incredibly fortunate. As an extremely dense city surrounded by the périphérique (ring road) which limits expansion of the city’s limits, decent and affordable housing is both difficult to find and incredibly expensive. As with most things in Paris, persistence is key.
There are a few ways of going about finding a place to live in Paris, and several different factors that should determine your approach. The first is whether or not you are looking for a furnished rental, or unfurnished. If you are a student or young professional looking to stay in Paris for a few months, even a few years, a furnished rental is the way to go. Rent will typically be a little higher, the security deposit will be double that of an unfurnished rental, but trying to secure (and then find furniture) for an unfurnished rental is not worth the headache unless you are positive you are settling in Paris for the foreseeable future.
As in any major city, there are two ways of securing an apartment: directly through the landlord or working through an agent/broker. If you have been in France for a while, have a stable job with a solid income, and are very comfortable in your French language ability, working directly with landlords is a great way to avoid broker fees (typically the price of one month’s rent). Be prepared though. When working with a landlord, you will often be asked to come to an apartment viewing where you will be lined up with your competition of up to 10, 20 other prospective renters all vying for the space you had your eye on. There is no first-come, first-served attitude either, as Parisian landlords can afford to be very selective in who they decide to have live in their apartment. Finding a smaller studio, however, can definitely be secured in this manner.
The best website for finding apartments directly through a landlord is Particuliers à Particuliers, or PAP for short. This publication, which can (and should) also be accessed online is a great resource. Don’t hesitate to call the numbers in the ads, as you may find you get a faster response than if you email. Craigslist is another way to look for apartments being offered without a broker, although be wary of scams. A Vendre A Louer and Se Loger are great websites that offer ads both through brokers and landlords (and like PAP allow you to set up email alerts based on the certain specifications you are looking for).
If you are coming to study or work in Paris for a few months and need to find acceptable housing during that time, look for websites that are aimed towards the expat community. While the fees may be higher, and the rent a little more expensive, there is a much higher chance of you getting housed in a shorter time frame than if you try to explore the other avenues yourself. Agencies like Lodgis, Paris Attitude, and Paris Stay all offer nice, modern apartments for people who may not be equipped with three French payslips, French tax documents, and French guarantors (which is what you will likely need to provide dealing with brokers and landlords for unfurnished apartments). In a way, these agencies work more along the lines of hotel bookings (you are still expected to provide information on why you will be in France and how you will support yourself), but the expectations are that students and young professionals (as well as families on vacation) will be the ones renting these apartments.
Don’t give up on your apartment search, and don’t settle for living in a part of down or an apartment you aren’t comfortable with. If you search gets desperate, remember that you can always rent a vacation rental for a few weeks to buy yourself more time before you settle somewhere longer term.
Paris is considered to be the most romantic city in the entire world and having an apartment of your own in the city of love is a dream that all people who are romantic at heart cherish for a long time but sadly, only a handful are able to see it come true. As far as apartments are concerned, they are quite spacious and more easy on the eye than the ones in US and UK but that doesn’t not mean that they don’t have their fair share of limitations regarding Porsche localities or small interiors, quite similar to say a Parc Central Residences floor plan, which is quite popular.