Finding an Apartment in Paris: Top Tips
If you want a quick summary then here’s the key points:
Be in Paris, you can’t do visits if you’re not and landlords won’t accept you without a visit
Do not be scared to call people
If the ad is over an hour old you’re probably too late
Have all necessary documents ready when you visit apartments
Useful websites include:
(I write landlord to mean either a male or female as I’m pretty sure the term is gender neutral in modern times, and landlady isn’t particularly used anymore in today’s parlance)
In a market so flooded with consumers and so scarce on resources it’s no surprise that prices are high and the level of competition is higher. When there are thousands of people searching for exactly the same thing what you are, then it can be difficult not to lose yourself in despair as just when you find a beautiful place to stay, it gets swallowed up by another hopeful who just happened to be more liked by the landlord.
Finding an apartment in Paris is kind of like a full time job. It certainly was for me while I was looking for one: I set aside 2 days specifically for searching, calling, and visiting (I did of course arrange visits outside of these 2 days as well). I had tried to find one before arriving in Paris, but this was pretty much useless. The people I were speaking to didn’t care unless I could go for a visit today or tomorrow or very soon. With this in mind, tip 1 is: Be in Paris. Hire an airbnb or a youth hostel for a week before you would otherwise move there and search like mad.
The landlords, just like you with your apartment, are looking for the best person possible to fill the vacancy, but they don’t want to put too much effort in. In their mind, they’re the ones taking on the responsibility of sheltering you and it took them so long to set it all up and my goodness can’t people just be grateful! If you go into any communication with the mindset of “I’m trying to make a friend/talk to my boss” then you’re more likely to be successful. On top of that, you should make it a no brainer for them to accept you: Be polite, responsible, organised, and likeable. Most importantly, these people don’t want to have to take the time to write tons of emails, let alone read them! Tip 2: Just call! Don’t make them feel like they have to put in the effort to satisfy you, show them that you really want the place.
Linked with the last tip are the next two. If everyone’s calling everyone then everything happens much more efficiently, a landlord can fill a vacancy in a day: calls, visits, and papers all done and signed. With this in mind, just so you don’t waste your time: Don’t bother with adverts that are more than a day old (unless the requirements are quite specific), and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a reply, or they are fully booked, if it’s more than an hour old. I’m not kidding. Tip 3: Have email notifications set up, and be ready to refresh pages quickly to respond. Along with this goes tip 4: Have all of your papers ready when you go, this includes 2 proofs of identity (driver’s license, passport), a proof that you’re a student (student card, or a letter from your university explaining your situation), proof of your guarantors’ incomes (certainly apply for a Visale VISA as well in case you need a French guarantor), and if possible the last 3 bills and rents you’ve paid. I know it sounds like a lot, but again, you want the choice to take you to be a no brainer, leave no doubt in their mind that you will be a great resident.
Finally here are a few websites that I personally used to find a place:
Seloger.com – Probably the most expensive of them all, but incredibly useful, you can sort by metro line or area or department, it’s great also to see what sort of price you’ll be paying in different areas as they have a map viewer. Highly recommended.
Pap.fr – Particulier a particulier is pretty much another seloger.com, no real differences although it looks like stuff here is slightly cheaper and, as the name suggests, more person to person and fewer agencies
Lacartedecolocs.fr – A coloc is a coliving situation, with housemates basically. It’s less of a thing in France from what I’ve seen, everyone has their own depressing little apartment. I found my place on here and it’s way cheaper than what I could’ve gotten if I had chosen an apartment of similar standard. This one is probably my favourite, there’s new stuff all the time and the people are genuine white collar working people or students, not landlords (most of the time).
Leboncoin.fr – I can’t say much about here, it’s probably the cheapest of them all, but it certainly has a bad reputation for scammers and the like. Be wary, but you can find some amazing deals here if you know what you’re looking for. Use this as a last resort only once you know what a good deal is