Paris is expensive and can be really confusing, especially when you’re trying to find an apartment! Here’s my advice on how to find an apartment in Paris.
Overview of Paris
Paris is structured into 20 different arrondissements, or, neighborhoods. Each arrondissment has its own personality, pros, and cons of living there. Some are more touristic, while others are slightly more live-able.
The more live-able neighborhoods are going to slightly cheaper than the touristic centre, although living in the suburbs of Paris is always going to be your cheapest option. Most of the suburbs are well connected by train or by the RER so don’t completely discount them as an option!
Most neighborhoods within Paris are going to be fairly safe. My only advice is to stay away from the 18th Arrondissement if you can. While there may be some great and cheaper places there, you also take the chance of being in a not-so-safe area.
What is the best place to live in Paris?
When deciding where to live, first check public transport options. For example, if you’re working in La Defénse, you don’t necessarily have to live there. Instead, try to live near either a stop on RER A or Metro Line 1 so you have easy connection to get to work.
The 1st – 9th arrondissements are very nice but also very expensive. Sometimes you can find some deals, but if you want a more budget option, try going a little more outside, such as the 10th, 11th, 12th, or 14th.
Why are there so many documents needed??
I know, it’s insane. There are a crazy amount of documents to do anything in Paris and it’s 10x harder for foreigners. Some landlords just flat out refuse to let out to non-French because of the confusion with documents.
One of the most difficult issues to face as a foreigner is not having a French ‘guarantor’. A guarantor is someone that agrees to cover your pay of the rent if you refuse or are somehow unable to. In other countries, a deposit or a foreign guarantor is sufficient. In France, many times the guarantor must be French.
Luckily, there’s a work around for us foreigners! The website GarantMe acts as your French ‘guarantor’ and covers the cost in needed situations. There is a fee to use GarantMe, but there are many landlords who will not accept you into the apartment without it!
What are the best rental websites for Paris?
Now that you know where to live and what documents are needed, time to actually search for the apartment in Paris! There are many websites to choose from, including:
Leboncoin is the go-to place for flats in France. You can find cheap places on Leboncoin, but the disadvantage is that you should always visit in person first! It’s better to find an apartment on Leboncoin if you’re already in the city and looking for a lease that “starts next week.” If your goal is to live with a French roommate though, I would use Leboncoin.
Studapart is good for students and showcases several studio apartments and student residences. Normally Studapart will partner with your university to provide some options, although in my experience they haven’t had the most variety.
Know someone moving overseas? Help them prepare for their trip with this gift guide for a friend going abroad.
Lodgis is another great search engine for Paris apartment. With hundreds of listings, sometimes you’ll luck out and find the one!
Erasmusu is specifically for international students but still has some great options. People post both apartments and roommate inquiries. I actually found my host family in Italy from using this site!
I love SpotAHome because they extensively check the apartment, make note of the pros and cons, and normally provide a video so you can better see the layout and size of the actual area. The only issue with SpotAHome is the hefty booking fee they charge. To me though, it’s the best way to guarantee a nice apartment when you can’t visit yourself, and sometimes they have special discounts and waive the booking fee. They also have superior customer service so I will continue using them.
Uniplaces is similar to SpotAHome but I think with less extensive checks. However, there is still a huge variety of options and it’s easier to narrow by neighborhood. I also like the various filters included with Uniplaces.
Facebook groups are a great way to find a roommate or to take over someone’s lease. There are several different groups you can join and they’re all very useful! Just be sure to visit the apartments and not fall for scammers! If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The perfect option if you want to meet people! Chez Nestor has apartments with young professionals and students located all over Paris. The rooms are spacious and in a variety of budgets. If I were doing student life all over again, I would definitely choose them!
Pap.fr offers several apartments as well for any type of client. You can also search apartments by which metro line is close by.
SeLoger is another great site for finding places. They are a ton of parameters for you to narrow down your search. My favorite feature of SeLoger is that you can search by how far the apartment is from your work. Another cool feature is the ability to look for apartments for rent by agencies versus private. If you have a private landlord, sometimes they are more lenient on all the documents needed.
Airbnb / Vrbo
And last but not least, don’t be afraid to check out short-term rental sites such as Airbnb or Vrbo. Sometimes you can contact hosts directly and they’ll cut you a deal on an apartment if you stay for a certain amount of time. It never hurts to try and I’m currently living in an apartment I found on Vrbo.
P.S. If you’re moving to France, check out my other post on 7 Things No One Tells You About Living in Paris