Feb 1

Living in France: Housing

I’m going to do two posts about finding an apartment. One before and one after we find an apartment. Since our family is somewhat portable, several people recommended that we find a place to stay for a month so that we can search for apartments once we get there. This is good because if you can see it in person it’s easier to commit to living there a year, you can usually negotiate cheaper rates, and you can take your time rather than trying to find something fast. The bad part about this idea is I have no idea where I’ll be living a month from now. (Super scary.) Our fingers crossed we can find an apartment we love in a neighborhood we like that is within our price range.

We decided to rent an apartment from Haven in Paris for the first month (Who is also an advertiser on OHD.) Renting short term apartments is very common in Europe (My English friends that vacation in Paris rent apartments even for short stays instead of hotels.) Besides Haven in Paris I’ve also used Vacation Rental By Owner and had good experiences.

I’ve started looking for our real apartment in advance but it can be difficult. A lot of the furnished rentals are just so cluttered, I would consider furnishing a simple apartment ourselves (I prefer sparse to someone else’s stuff) the only problem is “unfurnished” in France means it also doesn’t have a fridge or any other appliance. We are only planning on staying a year so it seems like a lot of work to round up beds, a refrigerator, a sofa, and pretty much everything else. The other interesting I’ve found is three bedroom apartments are very hard to find. We are expecting visitors so I had my fingers crossed for an extra room.

By the time someone has staged, photographed and listed a furnished apartment on a website it is likely on the high end of the going price range. I’m curious to see if we can find something more affordable in person. For our budget we are hoping to spend the same amount that we would spend on an apartment in San Francisco.

I’m secretly hoping for a partially furnished apartment. I saved the picture below from a Craigslist ad. It’s pretty much what I envision for my dream apartment in Paris. A two bedroom, sparsely furnished in the Marais with HUGE windows and a balcony we can sit on and work when the weather gets warm.

Here are the sites I’ve found helpful looking for an apartment.

1. Selonger
2. Sabbatical Homes
3. Craigslist
4. Vingt
5. Lodgis
6. Fusac

Has anyone else had experiences renting apartments in Paris? Any tips?

33 Comments

  • Nicole Vedder says:

    Hi, What a great adventure. I rented a short term apt (1 week) in Oct 2010:

    Do stay away from Craiglist listing requesting wire transfers where their names do not match their acct

    Do stay Western Unions requests. I found VRBO very helpful and they do extended stays, so you may want to check those out.

    I found apartment agencies frustrating to work with, they don't seem to take their jobs very seriously.

    Do read David Lebovitz's Living the Sweet Life in Paris.

    Good Luck!

  • Nicole Vedder says:

    Oops, I meant stay away from Western Union requests

    Do check out VRBO – sort list by arrondisments, so helpful!

  • l'atelier13 says:

    not easy.. most probably you will be asked to pay the rent in advance as you may not be able to justify for your revenue
    it may be easier for foreigners than French people because you may be able to use different networks, but OMG – this is not an easy task.
    the chance you have is that most of French people needing a 3 bedroom appartment are looking to buy rather than rent

  • Gaby says:

    I've no idea. It must be crazy the feeling of not knowing what'll come next, but I wish you really good luck and I hope you enjoy Paris as much as I did.

  • Honora says:

    Also don't be afraid to check out more residential neighborhoods! They offer amazing glimpses of how Parisians (of all backgrounds) live. Also, it's really nice to be near a park. Good luck and can't wait to read more about your adventures!

  • Jennifer says:

    When I lived in Paris from 1998 to 2001, the place to look for apartments was "Particulier a Particulier" or http://www.pap.fr/

    These rentals are from "individual to individual," hence the name, so no middle man and no agent's fee. Generally the good places go fast here and so you may resort to an agent after all. I had mixed experiences with the agents, it really helps if you speak the language!

    You'll see real estate agents offices all over once you arrive, they post listings daily and you may end up spotting something in their window.

  • Owen's mom says:

    Long time lurker, first time commenter here…

    I couldn't agree more with Honora – when my son, husband and I moved to Paris for 2 months, we lived in the 15eme. We were within walking distance of Andre Citroen park, Rue de Commerce, and Eiffel tower. Lots of children and families around. And importantly, as we found out when our stroller broke, one of the few baby superstores was in the 15eme. If I recall correctly, the housing prices were much more reasonable (we were looking from afar so only had access to online listings). Have a wonderful stay, and I'm looking forward to all the things you discover!

  • Annabelvita says:

    I rented a totally non furnished flat when we lived in France and second hand appliances were super cheap to buy second hand (look for an emmaus, troc d'ile or trocante outlet) with a hired van, and easy to sell through the same outlets (although we sold them to the next tenants). The only friends we had that rented furnished got a flat fuullll of the landlord's rubbish.
    Good luck xx

  • The Airharts says:

    I know this has nothing to so with this post,I have just been reading back a few posts and wanted to share my most favorite airplane distraction…light sticks from the dollar store-you know the braclet/ necklaces with conectors. seriously these are so great in the night time hours and they never get old. Plus it helps for litle ones that are scared when it gets dark and they dim the lights. Its a nice way to keep one quiet when they wake up and everyone is asleep around you. Good luck…I am so excited to read about all your new adventures in paris!

  • kim says:

    I agree with the commenter above – we stayed in the 15th and it was wonderful! Close to everything, on a wonderful metro line, a quiet neighborhood, close to lots of parks. I found it through homelidays.com – deal direct with the owner (we had dramas dealing with Lodgis like the apartments listed as available not actually being available, or wanting to charge us a higher rate than advertised and wanting it all up front!). Here's a link to a post I did about finding the apartment we stayed in (granted it was only for a week, not a whole year, but I think I certainly would have been happy to stay there forever!) – http://stellacake.blogspot.com/2011/01/things-to-do-in-paris-with-kids-stay-in.html

    Good luck!

  • Prêt à Voyager says:

    I'm with most of the commenters!

    I was talking to an American who has lived here for seven years now with two young kids. He said being near a good park is crucial. As you'll soon notice, there's not much green space (which is so theraputic) in Paris, so being nearby will be such a blessing for the boys. It will also be good to be a "habitué" (regular) and see familiar faces, as the French can sometimes be a hard group to break into. The park is everyone's refuge. When it warms up and you can picnic, it's just magical!

    Every neighborhood has it's own charms and they're fun to explore. Big windows are less common in the Marais, as streets are tighter and narrower and the apartments are not the typical Parisian/ Haussmanian style. Also, be careful with the boys by the windows, because not all of the safety standards in the US are in play here. Just play it safe!

    Rent furnished!

    Once again, my favorite resources for apartments (and the adventures) are at the bottom of this post I wrote: http://pretavoyager.blogspot.com/2010/12/unglamorous-paris-chapter-1-paperwork.html

    Anne

  • Prêt à Voyager says:

    I'm with most of the commenters!

    I was talking to an American who has lived here for seven years now with two young kids. He said being near a good park is crucial. As you'll soon notice, there's not much green space (which is so theraputic) in Paris, so being nearby will be such a blessing for the boys. It will also be good to be a "habitué" (regular) and see familiar faces, as the French can sometimes be a hard group to break into. The park is everyone's refuge. When it warms up and you can picnic, it's just magical!

    Every neighborhood has it's own charms and they're fun to explore. Big windows are less common in the Marais, as streets are tighter and narrower and the apartments are not the typical Parisian/ Haussmanian style. Also, be careful with the boys by the windows, because not all of the safety standards in the US are in play here. Just play it safe!

    Rent furnished!

    Once again, my favorite resources for apartments (and the adventures) are at the bottom of this post I wrote on finding an apartment: http://pretavoyager.blogspot.com/2010/12/unglamorous-paris-chapter-2-finding.html

    p.s. sorry for the mis-post above. Someone needs to go to bed ;)

  • Heather says:

    I've had great success with both Airbnb.com and http://www.parisperfect.com/apartments-for-rent-in-paris.php. I don't have kids but the places that I've found have been the perfect setting for Parisian living. Have a pastry and glass of something fabulous for me!

  • Life Abroad says:

    It's so exciting that you're living in Paris! I remember when we first started looking for homes in Amsterdam. It was really difficult and we went through a lot of the same issues that you're dealing with. We ended up finding a beautiful (but super-tiny) canal house, but it was by no means a "steal". I think we got slightly taken advantage of, being expats…don't let the same happen to you! Good luck and I can't wait to read about all of your adventures :)

  • Laura says:

    I lived in Paris for three years–and went through three different apartment searches! pap.fr definitely has the best listings, but it's competitive. Many French landlords (especially those posting on sites like PAP) want to see your dossier, i.e. three months of bank statements, paystubs, a letter of guarantee for something like a year of rent…and maybe some other things, right at your first visit of the apartment. Because of that, the anglophone rental places like craigslist and fusac might be easier to deal with.

    All three of my apartments were furnished, in varying degrees of niceness and completeness. If I had known I would stay 3 years, I would have gotten unfurnished right off the bat. So, you never know, you may fall in love and not leave for awhile and might as well have bought furniture you like!

  • Kjirsten Brynn says:

    OH my goodness thanks for posting about this! I {hope} to move to Paris after graduation. Bon chance!

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  • Lost In Cheeseland says:

    If you need a hand in finding an apartment, you might want to check out Unique Paris' services as they have experience working with a variety of different budgets. Otherwise, check FUSAC the English-speaking magazine as well. You can pick up free copies at many locations (sometimes even Starbucks) which you can check out on their website: http://www.fusac.fr/en/lieux_categories.php (scroll below the map for listings by neighborhood). They even post SOME offers on their website but it's probably easiest to pick up a physical copy (their site isn't great).

  • Traveling Mama says:

    It's sounds similar to when we came to Copenhagen. We did the same thing and rented a temporary place first. Most people do not want to rent without seeing you first, and honestly, it's probably better that you go see the property in person as well!

    Good luck! I'm sure you will find a wonderful place to stay!

  • Colleen says:

    Wow, I wish I could help! Good luck in your search! That apartment does look perfect : ) You'll find the right one! xx

  • christine @ [ink*lemonade] says:

    I don't have any tips, but that is one gorgeous apartment!!

  • noemie says:

    You can try PAP : http://www.pap.fr

    Exemple : http://www.pap.fr/annonce/location-appartement-loft-atelier-peniche-meuble-paris-75-g439-a-partir-du-4-pieces-a-partir-de-3-chambres

    It's really hard to find for one year, but I can ask around me if i hear abotu something. A friend of mine who comes from England with her husband and her little girl found a lovely appartment for 6 months.
    I'll let you know.

    Good Luck !

  • BussBuss says:

    When we traveled around Europe, we always stayed in apartments/villas rather than hotels. We mostly used vrbo.com and homeaway.com (we were only in places a few weeks at a time but longer stays are possible). Bon chance!

  • Sarah says:

    I found my apartment (in Nice though, not Paris) via Angloinfo.com. They have a Paris apartment rental section for your needs too. I rented furnished.

  • Marlo says:

    When we lived in Paris, we ended getting an apartment from http://www.nyhabitat.com. It was small, but we loved it. We were there for around 9 months and had a baby while we there. It was only a one bedroom, but the sofa in the main room was really a futon that folded out. So we were able to host many guests and they had their own room…at least to sleep in. When my inlaws came to visit they rented from the same people and they had a fold out bed as well. It seems that can cut costs, while still offering places to sleep. We lived in the 16th and LOVED it. There were virtually no tourists and we lived a few minutes from Jardin du Ranelagh, steps away from the Metro and the RER. Just writing this is making me homesick for Paris.

    One way that we found dressers, babybeds, etc was by joining Message http://www.messageparis.org/public_website/faq.html. It is a support group for English speaking parents in Paris. They had a bunch of online forums where people sold things (we bought a DVD player that could play other regions), gave things away (a dresser, baby clothes!), and helped me finally find a pumpkin to carve for Halloween. It was invaluable. Plus they have a garage sale twice a year, where I was able to get a lot of things we needed for cheap. Plus, then I could sell these things to people when I moved. It was awesome.

    Have fun and good luck and PLEASE eat an almoond croissant for me. Please.

  • Anxiety Cause says:

    Wish I can also have a cute little yet lovely apartment on the heart of Paris!

  • Damaris @Kitchen Corners says:

    It's so fun for me to read your posts and also Gabrielle's posts about moving to France. In July we're moving our family of 4 to Itacare Bahia for a year. I can't wait, except that I am already stressing out about trying to find a furnished place. I hope you find the apartment of your dreams.

  • Denise Laborde says:

    I see other commenters have suggested http://www.pap.fr, that was my first thought.

    Then I thought, what about House Hunter's International (the HGTV TV show)? I think I have seen episodes where they find rentals in Paris. I would totally watch that episode!

    Good luck!

  • Forest says:

    my friend just pointed me towards your blog in case I had any apartment info. Haven in Paris is a really good place for your temp rental apartment. They are really nice and the apartments look great. I don't know of any good longterm apartment rentals off the top of my head, but feel free to mail me with details and I'll ask around (which seems to be the best way to find a place in Paris) I have a couple of twitter friends looking for apartments who I just put in touch so they can pass on info to each other that meets their requirements. My mail is forestcollins (at) gmail (dot) com

    Good luck and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or need any input – i'm always happy to help cool people moving over here.

  • Carissa Shapiro says:

    Hi! Loving your thoughts and comments about moving to Paris. While it may be stressful and scary-you truly are living a dream :)

    My husband and I honeymooned there this past August and I just fell in love with the city. It really is so romantic. I don't know if this helps or even if it's what you're looking for but I had to share..
    We stayed in the yellow flat. I think it's pretty small but don't know if there are long term rent opportunities either. Had to share just in case though : )

    good luck on finding a place!

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