Finding an apartment to rent in Paris - Expat Property

Published: 15 Feb at 11 AM
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Filed: Renting Property,France

Local Expert Series: Renting a Paris apartment by Megan McGuire



You need three things to find an apartment in Paris:
1. A perfect dossier
2. Patience
3. Patience

If you’ve got those two things, there is a small chance that eventually you may finally find a closet that someone will rent to you. I’m exaggerating, but ask anyone who lives in Paris – this is a time-consuming process!

One thing to remember is that French laws very strongly favour the tenant, so landlords only want to rent to people they are sure will be good tenants, and will be able to pay. They aren’t allowed to evict anyone from October to March, so imagine how nervous a landlord can get!

Also, Paris apartments are in serious under-supply. I’ve been on collective visits with 30 people, all of us sizing each other up to see who looks richest… Not only are you looking for an apartment that suits you, but you’re doing it in a competitive market.

Finding an apartment to rent in Paris
Finding an apartment to rent in Paris
Before you even start looking for an apartment, you need to ask yourself a couple questions: where do I want to live? And how much can I spend? You will be limited by your salary, as most landlords want your net salary to be 3x the rent. As to the question of where to live, that’s a lot more personal, but here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Transportation: do you use public transit? Are you going to the airports a lot? If so, you’ll want to take this into account when choosing the area in which you want to live.
  • The 6th, 7th, 8th and 16th tend to be “expat-heavy” – a lot of expats tend to live in these areas, which are also closer to the International schools and American Hospital.
  • Do you go out a lot? Like museums? Prefer a quiet neighbourhood? Each area in the city has a very different character and you’ll want to find somewhere you feel at home.

Next, you’ll need to assemble your dossier. It can feel a little bit like the Spanish Inquisition, but an incomplete dossier will make landlords worry, and therefore reject your candidature. You’ll need:
  • Identity card (carte de séjour or passport)
  • Last year’s avis d’imposition.
  • Last three pay stubs.
  • Current work contract.
  • Last EDF/GDF bill.
  • Last avis d’echeance (rent bill)
  • RIB (A document from your bank with your account details)
  • All of the above for your guarantor.

Ah… the garant. It’ll make you feel like you’re 18 and renting your first apartment again, asking mommy and daddy to support you. While it’s not necessary for all apartments, it sure helps. If you don’t have someone who can sign for you, check with your employer, as sometimes they have programs and offers to help.
Now, you can start the actual search!

People used to say that www.pap.fr was the best place, as you didn’t have to pay an agency fee on top of the rent, but last time I looked for a place, everything on PAP got snapped up by agencies in less than a couple hours. Craigslist isn’t the useful tool it is in other countries, as most of the French haven’t really got into that.

My picks for websites would be www.leboncoin.fr or www.seloger.com, where you can search with different criteria. Don’t rely on their automatic alerts – I’ve found that they miss properties. You’ll want to check at least once a day, and if you find something that looks good, call right away. In this market, a day’s wait can often mean that the apartment has been taken. You can also try going directly to agencies and seeing what they have in inventory.

Personally, I think the best is word of mouth (which is why I spent about 4 months telling everyone I met that I was looking for a place… Parisians love this topic of conversation, so don’t worry that you’re being repetitive).

You’ll probably have to visit a couple apartments, and it’ll feel like a full-time job for a while. But trust me, when someone finally accepts your dossier and you’re installed in your 3-pièce with parquet floors and mouldings, you’ll know that all the frustration and tears (yes, there might be tears…) were worth it!

About the author


Local ExpertMegan McGuire ran off to Paris 4 years ago, and can't remember how life was before. Originally from Canada, she decided that she'd stay for a year, but when given the opportunity to stay longer, she couldn't turn it down. Through her blog, she chronicles her life in pictures.



If you have anything to add about your own experience relating to this article, or perhaps have a question for Megan please leave her a comment below!
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Comments » There are 2 comments

Laetitia Montfort wrote 4 years ago:

Hey Megan Great article, I am French and totally agree with what you say; As you may know a lot of people, I am actually looking to rent my flat. 70m² metro - located rue Julien Lacroix in the 20th - entirelly redone a month ago, so brand new open and equiped kitchen, large living room, 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. My husband and I are looking to rent it furnished and around 2000 € / month. Let me know if you hear anything, or you fellow readers, feel free to contact Megan if you are interested.

Bee wrote 3 years ago:

Megan, hi there Thanks for the reminder, I am currently going through the "tears" phase.... pfffff... being a freelancer makes it near impossible to supply the dossier agencies ask for, and rest assured, every time I produce the document a previous agency wanted - the next agency will come up with yet another "truc". But it helps to read that I am not the only expat struggling! I shall stay focused... Enjoy! Bee

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