The Hunt

So, I recently signed a lease for my first apartment… ever…and, out of all the places, to have it be in Paris…in the center of the city. Man, how did I get so lucky?

This feeling of “I-can’t-believe-it” didn’t come so easily though. I spent many months (started in March) looking for a safe and affordable apartment that I would start renting in August.  I forgot to mention that I’m also quite picky…which mostly comes from my dad. He demanded a high level of security.

If you plan to look for a place to stay for a relatively long term, I’d suggest you start looking now. And be aggressive. Several apartments th
at I found and was almost able to sign a lease with always had tenants change their minds and wanted to renew their lease. These are the Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.36.50 PMapartments that have good reviews, at a good location, have reasonable prices and some sort of security.

So yes, looking for a decent place to live in Paris was/is super tedious, especially with my mom nagging about it every day. Also, if you are a picky-person…then I would definitely start the hunt now, pronto. All the districts in Paris have different things to offer, so it depends on what you want out of your Parisian experience.

Some apartments come at a higher price than I was willing to pay, but the agency will talk to the owners for you if you want to negotiate. For one apartment I was able to get a discount of almost 400 euros. I didn’t end up getting the place though since I found out the location was a bit iffy. For the apartment that I am leasing, I was able to get a discount of 200 euros/month…which is already a lot for the French. Typically, it is hard to bargain with them. It shouldn’t be so hard if you tell them that you are an exchange student, and you’re neat/clean/organized.

I highly recommend these agencies:

They all have good reviews and agents that speak English! They also respond rather quickly on the weekdays. They usually don’t respond at all on weekends. I guess the French really value their leisure time…

A note about “Book-a-flat”: every time I’ve contacted them, I seem to get a response from a different agent. This inconsistency has created some miscommunications and some difficulties when trying to track down a specific apartment. Nevertheless, the site still has some good listings that you should check out.

My personal favorite is “Paris Attitude.” Even though I didn’t end up renting an apartment from them. They always, and I really mean always, follow up with your requests. They respond really fast when you have questions and can actually provide you a list of apartments suited to your needs if you don’t want to sort through all of them. They’re more aggressive when it comes to keeping their customers, so expect a lot of updates/e-mails from them if you don’t respond.

The downside with these agencies is that you will have to pay agency fees…but for me, I think it pretty worth it because it’s safer since you will definitely have someone to go when something happens with your apartment or if you need extra appliances/something fixed. Plus, they also negate the language barrier for you!

Most of the apartments listed come with:

  • Linen
  • Some sort of security lock (either a digital code that you will need to enter the building, or two sets of keys)
  • An equipped kitchen, including a refrigerator and microwave (definitely very helpful and convenient for us study abroad students)
  • Internet (because hello, how do you live without this?)
  • TV (even though the sun doesn’t set until like 10pm in Paris, you’re probably too lazy to go out after a day of classes and would rather sit in front of a TV and eat some comfort food)

The website is also pretty good. You can usually contact the owner right away, but some of them may not speak English. The website is a bit hard to navigate and there is a long-ass list of apartments (some of them seem very sketchy and don’t provide pictures). So I would only suggest it if you are willing to sort through them!

After you’ve picked your apartment, don’t be surprise when the agency asks for several documents (especially if you are renting for the long term and if you are not paying it yourself)!

It’s very typical for them to ask for:

  • Passports of you and your parents/the person paying your rent
  • Tax return/proof of salary
  •  Bank statements (as proof that you do, in fact, have enough money to pay the apartment)
  • University acceptance letter

If you can provide the documents needed, the agency works in a very fast pace and it all becomes official within 2-3 days!

This is only my experience with apartment hunting in Paris…obviously, not everyone will have the same opinion/advice to offer! Feel free to chime in with other suggestions/ideas or questions!

Happy apartment hunting and see you all in August!



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