It’s been a while now I haven’t talked about my expat life. A subject I’ve wanted to cover for a longtime is apartment rental for France. As I’ve been in this situation when I moved to France, I decided it is time to regroup all my useful links and advice in a post on how to find a flat in France.
Find a flat in France
Finding an apartment is not an easy task when you first arrive to France. In order to find a flat, there are several websites that post announces on apartment rentals from individuals and for individuals, like this one or this one.
But the best option for you, in order to avoid scams, is to pass through a rental agency. The most known is Century 21, but you can find local, smaller agencies.
The advantage when you find a flat through an agency is that, on one hand, you avoid scams and, on the other hand, you can benefit of their counseling.
The disadvantage is that, in general, you have to pay agency fee the equivalent of one month worth.
What papers you will need
The papers you need to provide depend on what the agency establishes, but they will evaluate your portfolio and your situation and will provide feedback on your application.
What you will have to provide when you rent a flat:
- identity papers
- money resources and this means your monthly income (last 3 payslips) and last year’s tax notice
- profession: type of contract and its duration, type of activity, etc
- proof of address: last 3 rent receipt (or electricity/water/etc receipt from a valid organism), or a declaration of honor from someone who accommodated you
How much you have to pay
- 1 month worth for your agency service (non-reimbursable)
- 1 month worth for deposit (reimbursable when you leave)
- 1-3 months for starting rent, depending on the agency
Extra requirements to meet
Generally, your monthly income should be at least 3 times higher than the monthly rent. If you find a flat, make a demand with your partner/friend/s. This way, it will be easier, for your joint monthly income will be considered.
Specifications and disclaimers
If you don’t meet these requirements, you should go talk to someone from an agency and, based on your situation, they will give you advice.
The information I provide here is to offer you an insight on what you roughly need in order to obtain a rental apartment. I am not to be held responsible for any misunderstanding or incomplete information. For a complete guide, go check this website on what papers you need to provide (in French). But that is also incomplete, as agencies can ask different papers if you don’t meet certain criteria.
My situation when I moved to France
As you can tell, any person starting a new life in another country is not capable of meeting all these requirements for obtaining a rental house.
For instance, I didn’t have a my place when I built my case for the agency, so my partner had to write a declaration of honor stating I’ve been staying at his place.
Another document I was not able to provide was the last year’s tax notice. I also had to wait three months after I returned to France (after my study exchange) and started working (I came back with a promesse d’embauche from my future employer, a letter that states I should start my job at a later date). So I had to work three months, in order to be able to provide the 3 payslips.
Another difficult problem was the type of my contract, as I had a fixed duration contract (CDD – contrat à durée déterminée) of one year, and generally the house rental contract is of at least 3 years. My partner’s status didn’t help to build my case, as he was a student. Since we couldn’t show that we had the means to rent our place for 3 years, we needed a guarantor, a person who had a longer period contract or permanent contract.
CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales) is the Family Allocations Office for housing and financial assistance for people with small income. You can check if your situation gives you right for a demand of financial assistance using this simulator (in French).
For second hand free furniture there is a website called Donnons (We Shall Give), where you can find objects and furniture people don’t need anymore. So instead of throwing it away, they give it for free. You just have to contact to person who posted the announce and exchange information on how to proceed. In general you will have to go that person’s place and get the furniture/object on your own. You might need friends’ help and a car.
A similar website is Le Bon Coin (The Good Corner), with second hand furniture and different objects at an interesting price. Usually objects sold here are in better shape than on the previous website. Payment is in cash, directly to the vendor.
If you don’t really want to move to France, but only visit it, there are a lot of posts on different cities in France. Go take a look!