25 April 2021
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I moved from Nice back (sort of) to Paris almost 1 month ago, and rented a great apartment in a nearby city called Issy-Les-Moulineaux – which is seemingly so small it feels more like a neighborhood. I am in love with it and very pleased that my quest to find a place turned out to be more successful than anticipated.

Just in case you might be thinking about moving to France or know someone that wants to do it, I thought I’d write a little about the process and bring attention to possible issues and ways to work around them.

First of all, when I first moved to France for my Masters program in 2019, I stayed at a Crous residence. There are Crous residences all over France, and they are by far the cheapest type of lodging you can get as a student (€240/month in Rennes, for example). If you or someone you know is moving here to study, make sure you ask your university if they have any partnerships with Crous – it could make it easier for you to get a room there. Some buildings have studios, which are bedrooms that feature a bathroom and a very basic kitchen, some others (like mine) have bedrooms with private bathrooms, but a shared kitchen for the entire floor, and others have just the bedroom and a shared bathroom and kitchen. Cities that have multiple Crous buildings might have all of them. In order to book a Crous dorm, one must register at the website MesServices.etudiant.gouv.fr. It will let you know the date in which booking will be made available to your type of profile (some groups have higher priority, such as scholarship holders), and you’ll have a better shot if you’re connected at the earliest possible time that day.

My university had a partnership with Crous, and they actually booked a dorm for me. They did, however, forget to mention that detail, so I paid for 3 weeks at an Airbnb and spent the entirety of that time going out of my mind looking for places to rent. Finding out I had had a room that whole time was simultaneously an annoyance and a relief. 😂

When I moved to Nice, I had 3 months left of my Masters program, which had been extended due to the covid-19 pandemic. I couldn’t stay at Crous anymore, so I used another site that my university had a partnership with, Studapart.

This brings me to another important detail about moving to France: most places (all, in my experience) will ask you for a French guarantor. If you’re 30 years old or under, you can use a French government service for that, called Visale. You’ll add details about yourself, the city in which you’re looking to rent, your employment status, etc, and it will grant you a document with the value of the guarantee they’re granting you. Some landlords will accept it, some won’t. My understanding is that Crous always accepts it.

For the apartment I rented through Studapart, I ended up using the website’s guarantee service. I paid a fee, based on the amount of rent I’d be paying monthly and the duration of the contract, and then bought a package that allowed them to act as my French guarantor while I lived there. I can’t remember exactly how much that cost me, but I think it was somewhere around €250-350, for a rent of €690/month, and a contract of 6 months.

When I moved back to Paris, I decided to share an apartment with a friend – a great option mainly because of my loneliness while working for a full-remote company, but also because it would allow us both to have a lot more space than what we would have been able to afford living by ourselves. We couldn’t find any suitable apartments on Studapart, and, naturally, we could no longer live at Crous. After months of casually looking through places (before we were ready to make the move), we realized we hated the furniture in most of them, which would prevent us from feeling at home. After years moving around as students, that was our priority. So we decided to rent an unfurnished apartment and slowly deal with the hassle of buying our own things (low budget, however, so Hi, Ikea 😬). We also decided to focus our search outside of Paris – my friend was still looking for a job and the location didn’t matter to me, as I would have no need to commute. Some of the locations that were recommended to us were Montreuil, Ivry-Sur-Seine, Issy-Les-Moulineaux, Vitry-Sur-Seine, Boulogne-Billancourt and Rueil-Malmaison.

For a couple of months, we visited the website Leboncoin.fr multiple times a day. Although it can be a little dodgy, it might be a good option if you’re careful to analyze every ad you see (lots of scammmers!). Landlords post about their apartments for rent, which means there’s a high chance you’ll find a place without agency fees. We messaged multiple people and got to visit several apartments, none of which were to our liking.

We also used rental websites like pap.fr, seloger.fr, lodgis.com and parisattitude.fr (furnished, just out of curiosity). A more expensive option was Uniplaces.com.

On the side, I also created two accounts on the website LocService.fr, at the price of €29 each. This is a paid service in which you create a profile to search for a collocation, or another one to search for a rental – I created both. You add some important information to it, such as the amount you’re willing to spend, the region you want to live in, whether or not you have a pet (you don’t need to disclose this when renting an unfurnished apartment, since it is apparently illegal for landlords to refuse you based on that), if you want an elevator, if you need to be near schools/public transport, and etc. The website uses this information to send your profile to landlords that have accommodations that fit your criteria, and, if your profile interests them, they will reach out to you.

Thankfully for us, that worked! A landlord e-mailed me with the information + photos of an apartment in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, about 2 blocks outside of Paris’ 15th borough. The area is adorable, surrounded by trees, super clean, with bigger supermakets than what we got used to inside of Paris, as well as plenty of bakeries and restaurants. We’re between two metro stations and next to a tram. Score!!

The process of providing documents to the landlords was very easy because we had Visale guarantee. I didn’t know this, but Visale creates a dossier for you and, once you give your profile number to the landlord, they have access to everything. We ended up only needing to send him copies of our identity cards, and he gave us many documents pertaining our new apartment – its original scripture, a register of natural disasters that happened in the region (nothing other than some mild flooding, thankfully), a log of the conditions of the floor, windows and the kitchen furniture, and some other details we needed to check to make sure we were aligned. Overall very easy, and the family who owns this place has been very helpful throughout the process.

Anyway, we got lucky! If you’re planning on making the move, I hope you find a place that’s as nice as the one we found for ourselves. Never send your dossier to any landlords before visiting their apartment! Make sure you google the location before visiting, avoid apartments on the ground floor (although most regions seem to be on the safe side, you might have more expenses related to insurance, for example), and ask about the type of energy the building uses. Whether or not the building has collective heating might be a good question, too.

You can leave a comment if you have any questions, and I’ll do my best to get back to you! 🙂

I hope you have a great week,

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