The most trying part of my move to Paris was the first week I arrived. In the midst of all of the excitement, I was also extremely stressed. Finding an apartment in Paris is notoriously difficult, and can prove an extreme challenge. I spent several days not knowing where I would sleep at night, so I have some tips and Ideas for those of you who are planning on apartment hunting in Paris.
The market moves extremely quickly in Paris, and finding a place on your own will be extremely difficult if you don’t speak french. It’s not impossible, but it is difficult.
I do not recommend going to an open house alone if you do not speak french. If you have a francophone in your life, the best idea is to take them with you. I preferred to stay out of that mess altogether, as I knew very little french and knew no one in Paris at the time.
There are other options that can generate results.
Firstly there is the Couchsurfing website. You may know it as a site for contacting foreigners to stay on their couch. It came in very handy during my move. I contacted a host on the website and he welcomed me into his apartment for three days upon my arrival in Paris. This saved me a ridiculous amount of money while searching for a home. It was completely free, so if you can get over the idea of staying in a random person’s house, it is a godsend. I bet I saved over $150 by using couch surfing.
Another great thing about using the site for a move to a new city, is that it connects you to others who share your interests. This can be a perfect way to make new friends at a lonely time. Why not kill two birds with one stone? The website has plenty of safeguards if you are worried. The hosts and surfers are verified by the site itself, and host reviews are placed on each member’s profile page, negative and positive alike. If a person has 10 reviews, and all of them are positive, you can rest assured that you will have a positive stay and possibly even a new friend.
Here is the link to sign up: https://www.couchsurfing.org/register
Once a member, you can use the forums, which I found very helpful while looking for my crib.
Here is a great CS forum, where english speakers can search for a place online:
I should point out that your best bet as a non french speaker is to find a francophone to live with that already has a lease and is looking for a room-mate. There are a ton of young french people who would love to have an english speaking flat-mate in order to practice their english. Not to mention, it would also do you good to live with someone who speaks the language day in and day out. I live with a frenchman, and it has been extremely helpful.
There are of course tons of other places to search as well. Consider going to the American Church in Paris. There are daily postings in english about available jobs and rentals. Sometimes french families offer a room in exchange for english babysitting! And take it from me, hearing a toddler speak french is one of the most adorable things you will ever experience in life.
Also check out your school or place of business. There are often bulletin boards up with flyers and numbers to jot down.
It is very important to stay diligent. It won’t be easy on your own, but you can find a place to live in The City of Lights. I did.