Secrets to Finding an Apartment in Paris

My last couple posts about finding an apartment in Paris have erred on the depressing side (see here + here), so now that I’ve officially moved and am happily installée in my new place, I thought it was time to share what worked – and didn’t work – for me. I’m still standing by my old posts, and would rather go to the Préfecture than to have to find another flat, but let my story be a story of hope. Also, realize my 4 month search for a Paris apartment – operation Nomadicity – was ripe with the excitement of discovering new neighborhoods, but also rampant with misfortune as a couple places I had lined up fell through. Alas, c’est la vie.

Lessons learned:

    • I found my apartment through Hestia. Agency fees can suck your life – or savings – away, but Hestia has a one-time fee ~240 Euros + 15 Euros / month while you’re searching. There are no images with their listings (which you need to join in order to get the landlord’s contact info), but of the three I visited two were awesome. The other bonus here is that there won’t be a line of 30-60 people waiting in the queue to see it. I had one-on-ones with each place I saw (also important as a foreigner when it helps to meet the landlord in terms of trust – and I have the best landlady ever). Hestia also provides a straight forward list of what is needed in your dossier, including what is illegal for landlords to ask for. It’s way less shady than so many places I visited (the demand is so high that people can get away with anything here, including those killer agency fees that typically run at least 1 month of rent – see why this option is great!?!?).
    • Le Bon Coin is typically a French version of Craigslist essentially, yet with even worse web design, however, there are a fair number of listings here, including for roommates.  It feels a bit less frequented because it is often a place go for “things,” so you have more of a chance of actually getting a response when you contact landlords.
    • The other tried and true way of finding a place is to take over when a friend moves. There has to be a strategy of timing in here, and realize that even agreements with friends can fall through, or sometimes agency fees may be involved, but this can be a major sanity saver.
    • For ages people always told me PAP and SeLoger.com were the place to go. That’s the problem. Everyone knows theme so there is a TON of competition for the listings. SeLoger represents agencies so expect high fees there. PAP fees depend on the listing.
    • There’s always the old standbys of FUSAC and The American Church bulletin board.
    • If you’re coming to Paris in a short/mid-term capacity, I highly recommend you save your sanity and book through one of my friends with beautiful rentals: PerfectlyParis or VINGT Paris. You may be able to find one on Airbnb as well. Trust me when I tell you you’re saving your sanity. Seriously, trust me.

Donc, voilà these are my secrets to finding an apartment in Paris. Don’t forget there are other Paris apartment hunt tips tucked in my past posts here + here, not to mention some lovely illustrations of my friends’ first apartments in Paris. All you need to do is keep your expectations low, patience levels high and it will come. Oh, and btw, how do you like my new view? :)

Bon courage and happy hunting!

13 comments

  • Great points and timely for us! I didn’t know about Hestia so I’m interested to check it out. Honestly, we could have moved a while again but it’s such a nightmare I can’t even get started (again)! The fees are awful (and the requirments for earning three or four times the rent) but sometimes it seems like there’s no way out. Glad you found such an awesome place!!

  • I’m so relieved you found a new apartment (maybe I’m living vicariously through you too much :))! Thanks for posting these tips in such an organized fashion. Even though it’s a nightmare, I’d love to have my own apartment hunt in Paris someday.

  • Thank you for the information! I know this post is rather old but I just came across it and found it very helpful. Moving to Paris has been a nightmare so far but hestia seems like a good option. I hadn’t heard of it before. So you recommend it above any other agency? Do they help you look for apartments or do you just pay a fee and then go off on your own given the contact information they provide? Thanks!

    • Sorry to hear you’re having a bad experience. I have to admit finding an apartment in Paris falls under least fave things in the world. It’s la rentée and everyone is looking (students too) so it’s extra stressful. Hestia you can’t see the apts, but you have access to the listings and can contact the landlords directly. Make sure you have your dossier prepped for any visit. I thought Hestia’s offerings were far better than any others I saw (with 60 other people waiting). 2 of the 3 I visited were great, and I just narrowly missed getting the 1st one I saw.

  • Hello,

    I own a flat in Paris that I rent for short time periods. We just started working with a new agency that is great. We were before with Paris Select Apartments, and I don’t advice anyone to work with them, it has been a nightmare! For info, the new agency is called One fine stay.
    Good luck everyone

  • Hi Anne,

    This post is really helpful! It’s 2014 and I guess you’ll always know people still keep reading no matter how old the post is! In the process of looking for an apartment from Australia and it’s so stressful.. just like what everyone says!

    Do you recommend using hestia only AFTER arriving in Paris?

    Cheers!

    • I send this post to people all the time still :)

      Yes, for Hestia you need to be in Paris to visit the places… I bet some place like Paris Attitude you could do from distance.

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