Original text from 2014 by Discover Walks, updated by Kate Reeves
You may have spent a wistful while dreaming about renting in Paris .
Hotels are nice for the holidays, but at around 100-180€ for three star hotels and 40-50€ for hostel type accommodation, you may find your budget blowing up all to quickly.
As well as the extra comfort of a kitchenette, your own wifi, without some daft pop up asking you to put in your room number, and added space (actually don’t get too attached to this notion in central Paris), a flat is somewhere you can call home.
You’re likely to feel a million times more Chez-toi when you turn the key in the lock of your front door, or punch in the digicode down on the street, then cross the courtyard crossing paths with other residents.
Now, let’s imagine you’ve made up your mind: It’s an apartment you want for your stay in Paris.
Living the local life is important to you and you’re a savvy budgeter!
Your options are going to differ in line with your situation and the length of your stay. Let’s take a look.
Rent an apartment for a fleeting fly-by visit
Only a few years ago I can still remember how the very short-term rental market was dominated by the community-led rental giant Air B n B.
These years were good for Parisians looking to supplement lower incomes in the creative industries, or indeed anyone with a flat in central Paris going away on holiday and looking for a little help towards their rent or mortgage whilst away.
The problem was that the Air B n B renting in Paris snowballed and became so popular that the majority of tourists were spurning hotels in favour of Air B n B apartments.
The phenomena wasn’t necessarily restricted to the very young and backpackers à la Couchsurfing.com, as Air B n B flats could be found at every price point, some in some of the swankiest areas. Hence older tech-literate travellers and middle aged professionals travelling for business also booked.
Everyone was happy. The Silicon Valley fat cats were lining their pockets, yes. But tourists and locals alike were enjoying the ease and confidence of a simple transaction that worked.
That’s to say, almost everyone was happy, with the notable exception of the Parisian hotels, all too aware they were the ones losing out.
This wasn’t an entirely fair conclusion as the bulk of Air B n B apartment renters wanted just that: An apartment!
The hotel lobby and the Mayor’s office decided to do something about it, passing new laws and limiting the number of nights per year that Parisians could rent out their primary residence to tourists.
In 2018 the famous French newspaper le Figaro announced that 80% of Parisian postings on the site were in fact illegal.
So what exactly does this all mean for you, if you dream of waking up in your own quaint little apartment and shimmying into your very own kitchen to make a coffee and take it out onto your balcony?
The website still works, there is simply less choice. As in most other large European cities Booking.com is a good bet for short term apartments for a brief break.
Rest assured these apartments will be being offered by professionals likely to be paid up on the relevant taxes and up to date with admin, so the chance of a last minute cancellation as your trip just pushed your host over the edge of their annual allowance is limited.
Looking to stay a little longer…
Are you planning to stay in Paris for a month or more?
I can still recall with heady excitement initially arriving to spend a trio of months in town and scope out my options.
There might be many reasons you’re planning to be in Paris for 1-3 months: a sabbatical, finally taking the time to do that course, or write that novel. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to have got sent out for work.
Why ever you’re in town if it’s for a substantial length of time you’ll be looking at medium-term rental.
You’re not exactly a tourist any more, although that wanderlust and awestruck marvelling at some of the architecture will last a wee while. That said, it wouldn’t be easy for you to get a regular long-term rental contract as you’re still probably not committed enough to be able to sign up for a year or more.
Here is where some Mid-term agencies come into their own. This bunch will help you find mainly furnished flats, which are ready to move into.
Price-wise they sit in between the costlier tourism flats of Booking.com, but are still a little dearer than the long-term commitment, unfurnished options open to dyed in the wool Parisians who are looking for a good deal they can sit on for several years. French property law protects its tenants well.
Paris Attitude offers a wide selection of furnished rental properties.
One thing I like about their website is how it divides Paris into arrondissements, but not only. They also provide sectors to search: ‘the business sector’, ‘schools and universities’ – naming popular institutions where mid-term renters may be studying or taking a course, such as Le Cordon Bleu, the American University or ESCP.
You’ll be able to phone up for an informal chat with one of their advisors, in French or English, who will listen to your concerns, queries and criteria.
If we’re talking middle length rental agencies, you can’t go far wrong with Lodgis.
With 20 years experience under their belt and a multilingual team, I found them proactive and helpful on the occasions I made enquiries.
Although they also sell property and rent longer term unfurnished flats, their speciality remains shorter term furnished rentals for up to six months.
This service is apparent when you land on their site and are asked for your arrival date, alongside a toggle preselected for furnished flats, which you can toggle off and then of course the area you’re looking in.
Price wise, I found they came in a little lower than Paris Attitude and were even open to my ‘thin-end-of-the-wedging’ when it became apparent that what I was really after was a fairly reasonably priced long-term rental without the extensive paperwork headache.
Hanging up your hat and buying furniture
Congratulations! You’ve decided to move to Paris.
Whether you’re following your heart, a great opportunity or adventure, Paris is an incredible city to call home.
I think we’re all aware of all the Hemingway and Hepburn quotes I could easily insert here. But since you’re in a rush and longing to learn how you can land your very own long-term rental in Paris, I’ll respect your time and move along swiftly.
You’ve got a couple of routes to go down when looking for longer term property:
Community based – individual to individual
The Estate Agencies
Both these options have their advantages and their drawbacks. It’s important to weigh up what’s going to work out best for you and your needs.
At this level of commitment, I’m afraid nobody is going to handover the keys on a wing and a prayer.
You are lovely, honest and responsible. But the owner or agency doesn’t know you, and this is probably what even the most nightmarish tenants would want to persuade them of too, in order to clinch the keys.
Very occasionally, (see how I emphasised the very in italics), if you are renting just outside Paris, say in Montreuil or St Ouen, then you might get lucky.
This situation of someone trusting you on your word would probably arise from a situation akin to this:
Firstly, the property is a cheap one. Perhaps a studio a walk from a metro outside Paris proper. Secondly, the landlord is laid back and wants to rent quickly. Finally, you present well: There’s probably not a communication issue, either your French is fluent or their English is, so both sides can judge the other easily.
All that said and done, this situation is rare, so think of it as an exceptional stroke of luck, not necessarily a given likelihood in your Parisian apartment hunt.
Adventures on Le Bon Coin and PAP.fr
These are undoubtedly the two key site you’ll be needing if you would prefer not to go via an estate agent and pay their associated fees.
Granted you’ll need your wits about you, as well as plenty of energy, free time and the ability to ring the relevant mobile number as quickly as possible, or at the time the ad says the landlord is available.
Good to know: The client is not king. There will be a crowd of potential renters calling up and visiting the apartment. You’ll want to put all the odds in your favour.
In order to do this:
- Call early! As soon as you see the add posted, or from 18h, or whenever the add specifies.
- Be relaxed but keen on the phone. Speak calmly and clearly, try to drop any pointers that make it clear that you are a responsible and financially viable person.
- Set a time for the visit then check your route in advance with City Mapper. Aim to arrive ten minutes before the appointment.
- Private landlords might not ask for the infamous “dossier”. This folder essentially contains your last three pay slips, a photocopy of your passport (or EU identity card) and bills justifying where you currently live EDF (electricity), taxe d’habitation (council tax) etc.
These are incredibly useful to present. Even if you don’t have everything listed, but you can bring some of the papers or equivalent, it will reassure more than if you turn up empty handed.
Remember, when you’re seeing an independent landlord, it is likely to be the person who is actually the decision maker. This might work in your favour. For example if they are an older musician or university professor, they might be more willing to rent to someone involved in the Arts or finishing a Masters or Phd.
Whereas the agencies who are essentially screening prospective candidates for their clients are likely to err on the side of caution.
Parisian Estate Agents
Paris is not lacking in Real Estate Agents. In the most desirable areas you are likely to stumble across one every few shops, it might even leave you wondering how there is enough work and enough property speculation for them all to get their slice of the pie.
The Agencies clearly appeal to different markets: Century 21 is younger and functional, whereas Avenue Junot Immoblier deals with the luxury market and is a great place to window shop for what I’d describe as ‘Property Porn’!
All jokes aside, it ultimately comes down to how much money you have to spend. As a general rule; the bigger your budget the nicer the estate agents will be to you. You will feel the special service being rolled up. Desirable apartments, perhaps not on their books for all to see, or which have just come on the market will be offered to you like complementary cocktails on arrival. All this is part of the courting process for high net worth clients.
Bumping back to reality, if you’re in a middle salary, working professional bracket I would advise that you go for either a lower end functional agency ( you can find many of these on the biggest renting website Se Loger ).
Scroll through until you find something that takes your fancy in your price range. Then apply through the site, but also be proactive and google the agency then ring them directly to register and talk about the property on their books.
If you’re using an agency you’ll need the aforementioned ‘dossier’, in fact a really solid one – ‘un dossier en béton’!
Has your work given you a CDI contract? If so you’re in luck. If not you may well need a Guarantor who promises to pay should you default on your rent.
Overall, finding your Parisian rental will be exciting, if a little overwhelming and stressful.
But I can promise you that once you turn the keys in the lock of your perfect Paris home, it will all seem worth it.
This really is an example of getting back what you put in. You’ll learn a little about French property law and administration whilst you’re at it and get to peak into a few private residences behind those imposing carved doors.