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.
- 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!?!?).
UPDATE: Sadly, it appears that my best secret to finding an apartment has gone out of business.
- 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!
December 6, 2012 at 10:35 am //
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!!
Prêt à Voyager
December 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm //
Abigail, you comment is the exact reason no one ever leaves their place once they move! Don’t be fooled by my view, I still very much a proponent of shoebox living! ;)
Little Pieces of Light
December 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm //
OMG, I need to go apartment-hunting again in Paris which just stresses me out completely. The whole dossier / agency-hunting / landlord-contacting thing is simply stressful. I’m so glad to read that it worked out for you!! Cross your fingers for me in January :)
December 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm //
so happy you’ve found your place! congratulations and happy domestic bliss to you.
December 6, 2012 at 11:25 pm //
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.
December 7, 2012 at 6:07 am //
So happy for you! Congratulations on finding your new place!
September 3, 2013 at 3:39 am //
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!
September 3, 2013 at 8:24 pm //
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.
October 8, 2013 at 3:42 am //
I’ve been perusing SeLoger and notice that the prices are listed “… euros cc”. What does cc mean?
October 14, 2013 at 5:45 pm //
CC = charges compris (heat, water, electricity – depending on the apartment)
January 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm //
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
February 7, 2014 at 2:07 pm //
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?
February 9, 2014 at 2:18 pm //
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.
February 12, 2017 at 6:40 pm //
I’m living in Paris for a long time now. I’ve found an awesome co-living & co-working: https://www.koalition.co/?utm_source=meute4
April 21, 2017 at 9:32 am //
Do you have any suggestions on real estate agents/agencies since sadly Hestia is now out of business? I am looking to move to Paris next month and I am having trouble finding an apartment (not surprising!)
December 1, 2018 at 12:50 am //
I like what you said about how taking over a friend’s apartment when they move out can really help you feel more comfortable. My son is starting his internship in the city so he needs a place of his own. To make the process a lot more streamlined and secure, I will be happy to suggest him to look for friends that are looking to move out of their apartments.