Apartment hunting in Paris is no easy feat, in fact, it was the aspect that challenged me the most. Parisians sometimes say it’s easier to find a job than an apartment. I would have to agree and what’s more the documentation needed for a flat lease is much more than a 2 page CV for a job! You could be asked for bank statements, months of payslips, a guarantor, letters from your employer, plus proof of all your previous flat leases.
Finding a place to stay can be a lot harder for foreigners not on a permanent French contract, CDI, as the French prefer their tenants to stay as long as possible, or 2 or 3 years. It’s miles apart from the rental market in London, where a reference check and application should see yourself in an apartment within 1 or 2 weeks, and where its understood that travellers come and go, and may only stay for 6 months in total.
Craigs List was helpful at the start where I found a small studio of 17 sq metres, nearby Parc Monceau. This may seem abnormally small, but apartment sizes are smaller in Paris and you adapt to this. I was living in the 17th arrondisement, a posh and tranquil family area. A 5 minutes walk from Parc Monceau was a highlight and just 10 minutes to work on the Champs Eylsee, by metro.
Parisian appartments are clever for making use of every bit of space, so despite having a tiny kitchen, it managed to fit everything I needed, just in a miniature version. 6 months was enough in this small space, I then used appartager.com to find a flat share. The site is easy to use even for a foreigner and puts you in contact with lots of potential flatshares. I used this site to replace me in an apartment, and it took not even 2 weeks to find someone. Se loger, is also a good site to find studios or apartments.
As to be expected, meeting random people online can be a complete mixed bag. You don’t know what you will get until you meet them and it’s important to keep your wits about you. I heard stories of lonely older people using this site to meet potential girls for a drink etc, so it always pays to be careful. On the whole, it works well, I moved into a much larger apartment sharing with 2 girls in the 18th arondisement. I had a big room, with a view of Sacre Coeur.
Supposedly, my room was very Parisian, consisting of wooden floorboards, a chimney and light ceiling decorations, a friend told me.
If you are going to Paris on holidays, try and book a place well in advance, to secure a good location at a good price. Some sites to consider are Airbnb, a site where you can stay with locals, you either pay a price to have the entire appartment or a room hire within the hosts’ appartment. It normally works out well, with the hosts giving valuable local advice to see the best in the city. I know of hosts’ renting out a whole appartment on this site for tourists, and this worked out to be better value than the cost of staying in a small room in a hotel.
Vacation in Paris is another site I used to have a small appartment for a holiday. Although I think you can find better value on Airbnb, if you allow enough time and do a thorough search.