Renting in Paris
Find a new home with a view of the Eiffel Tower or Montmartre with our guide to renting in Paris.
Living in the French capital of Paris is an exciting way to dive into the French lifestyle. Although the city is home to over two million people, many districts (called arrondissements) retain their traditional charms, including regular food markets, charming cafés and independent bakeries.
Property prices are expensive compared to European capitals like Berlin and Madrid, but lower than London and some US cities. If you're planning to buy property in France, you'll find that property prices across France have dipped since the 2008 financial crisis but rents have remained high in Paris. The average purchase price of a property is around EUR 8,000 per sqm, and rents are typically around EUR 32–38 per sqm per month. This would be around EUR 1,280–1,520 per month for a 40 sqm apartment. However, smaller apartments tend to cost more per square metre, as do luxury properties or apartments close to the centre. There is little residential building in Paris, and as a result there is high demand for properties in desirable areas.
Renting a flat in Paris
French law tends to favour the tenant, but there's a significant amount of red tape to overcome. Expect to complete an application form for any property you're interested in, and to include detailed personal information. Financial information, such as salary, savings and tax history are standard, as well as place of birth, age, marital status and number of children. You can read more on the quirks of renting in France.
Rents in Paris
Negotiating the rent is almost unheard of. There is such a high demand for properties in Paris that landlords have their pick of tenants. In addition, once tenants are in place it's very difficult for a landlord to evict them, so they will be even more cautious. Newcomers, students, the unemployed and self-employed may be asked to provide a guarantor. Anyone who hasn't been previously living in France may be asked to place the rent for the duration of the lease in an escrow account upfront, but this is not a legal requirement and negotiation may be possible on this point. Rent may be increased during the tenancy, but only once per year.
Rent typically includes water and sewage rates, as well as the fee for the communal association that manages the apartment building's public areas. It may include electricity and/or gas. It will usually not include telephone, internet or cable TV charges. In addition, there is an annual 'residence tax' which must be paid to the local council office (mairie). Check the terms of your lease carefully to be sure you understand the costs you are liable for. You can read more about connecting French utilities, and internet and telephone and TV.
Fees and the deposit
The typical deposit in France is two months' rent. This is not a legal set point, and may be more or less. There may be a 'key fee' or application fee (typically under EUR 100), as well as the estate agent's fees (typically between EUR 250 and one month's rent).
Types of French properties and contracts in Paris
Short or long term?
It's important to note that the law treats unfurnished and furnished properties differently: the former have a standard contract period of three years (although the tenant can give notice at any time, three months in advance) while it's just one year for the latter. Properties let for less than a year must be classed as holiday properties, and as a result will typically be very expensive.
As standard rental terms are relatively long, it can be hard to find an affordable short-term let, particularly if you want one that is furnished. Sub-lets and house-sitting can be more affordable, but harder to find. In many cases, cheap Ikea furniture or second hand goods from the city's many flea markets make furnishing a property cheaper than renting a furnished place.
It's important to know that while the landlord has a duty to maintain the flat, this does not usually include the furnishings and white goods. If a sofa falls apart or the fridge stops working, you will typically be expected to replace it yourself, and pay from your own pocket. This does not apply to holiday lets.
Unfurnished properties typically have white goods (such as sinks, stove, fridge), flooring and lights but can be completely empty (vide). Curtains and light shades may or may not be included, so check when you view the property. As for furnished properties, while a landlord will maintain the structure of the flat itself, they will typically not replace any fittings, including appliances, that break during your tenancy.
The standard minimum lease is three years, and the notice period is three months. This means that although tenants have the right to give notice at any time, they can expect to continue to pay rent for at least three months even if they leave. Check the details of your contract to ensure you fully understand your obligations.
Paris has been ranked as the top city in the world for students by QS, and is home to more than 100,000 students attending dozens of institutions. As well as joining the usual apartment hunt, students may be eligible for accommodation provided by the university or by the central student housing board, CROUS.
There is also a number of privately operated long-stay hostels and boarding houses across the city that specifically cater to students. These tend to offer individual bedrooms with limited shared kitchen and living areas. The best way to find one is through the university's accommodation office or CROUS as these tend to be better in terms of price and quality. You can also search online at Adele.
Apartment or house?
The majority of properties in Paris are apartments. If you would like a detached house or a garden, consider living in a Paris suburb. Adverts should include the arrondissement (district) number, the living space in square metres and the floor number. Anything over 100 sqm is considered large, and under 40 sqm is a small apartment, but you'll see properties advertised that are as little as 15 sqm. This total will include hallways and cupboards, but should not include the balcony or other outdoor space. Ads usually list the number of rooms (pièces), including the living room and kitchen, rather than the number of bedrooms.
Many apartments are in beautiful 18th- or 19th-century buildings. The high ceilings and period features tend to come with a lack of modern facilities. Lifts tend to be small or non-existent, and buildings are typically six or even eight stories high. Shared laundry facilities in the basement are common. Modern apartment blocks tend to have smaller rooms but better amenities. Lifts are standard, balconies are common and some buildings even have a pool or gym.
How to find a property in Paris
Paris is the largest city in France, and is home to hundreds of estate agents and thousands of landlords so most renters start their search online. Renting directly from the landlord is typically cheaper but somewhat riskier than using an estate agent. Word of mouth still plays a key role in finding a new place to live for many people, so as soon as you know you're moving, tell everyone you know that you're looking.
Be particularly cautious if you're contacting a landlord or arranging a sublet online via a site where adverts are free and unmoderated, such as Craigslist. The rental market in Paris is very strong and foreigners are an easy target for scammers. Do not pay to view an apartment, hand over cash during the visit or provide bank details before confirming the legitimacy of the ad.
Using an estate agent
Once you've chosen where to live in Paris you may want to contact estate agents in your chosen area. Parisian estate agents tend to focus on a narrow geographical area, and often have excellent local knowledge so they may be able to help you find your perfect home quickly. Estate agents charge for their services, although typically only when you sign a tenancy agreement. Search agents will hunt down a property for you, including attending preliminary viewings. They will charge for this service, and a clear contract should be part of the deal.
Online property portals:
- www.pap.fr (French)
- www.seloger.com (French)
- www.seloger.co.uk (English)
- www.immoweb.fr (French and English)
Furnished apartments and short-term lets:
- www.parisattitude.com (English, French, Portuguese and a 24/7 multilingual hotline; long and short-term lets)
- www.booking.com (40+ languages)
- www.hotels.com (40+ languages)
- www.housetrip.com (English)
- www.sejourning.com (French, English and Spanish)
- www.airbnb.com (20+ languages)
- www.appartager.com (English)
- www.colocation.fr (French)
- www.chambrealouer.com (10 languages)
- paris.fr.craigslist.fr (French)
Where to live in Paris
Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements. The numbering system starts in the centre, with #1 (written as le premier or 1e) being home to the Louvre. The districts spiral outwards, growing in size as they do. The 20e (20th) arrondissement is at the city's eastern edge. The central districts (1e and 2e) and the 9e are mostly commercial and business areas.
The low numbers are typically more expensive, with the 8e being particularly chic, and the 7e popular with families. The larger, more residential arrondissements from the 12e to the 20e are often made up of several neighbourhoods, so the tone can change street by street. The 16e and 17e are home to international schools, and the 14e and 15e are quiet and peaceful, compared to the bustling centre.
Read more about where to live in Paris.
There are bus, metro and train networks connecting the different parts of Paris, and also linking the capital to its suburbs. Services tend to be frequent, busy and affordable. Strikes and disruptions are relatively common, so it's important to have a back-up plan if you rely on public transport to get to work. Cycling is growing more popular, while driving remains something of a nightmare.
The strong public transport network and growing number of businesses located in industrial parks outside the city make living in the suburbs appealing to many. If you're looking for a garden or just a bit more space, find out where to live near Paris.
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Updated 2015 / Photo credit: Paris-sharing.com.
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