July 11, 2013

How to Find an Apartment in France (Or At least How I Did)

I have now successfully found housing all on my own three times in France, and am currently working on getting apartment number 4!

I completely understand that this is an area of stress for many people moving abroad, whether as an assistant, on study abroad, or just because. While I am far from an expert, here’s what I’ve learned:

Finding roommates is really difficult in France.

Both years I spent as an assistant in Lille I tried to find roommates, and was unsuccessful. I originally wanted roommates because the thought of living by myself for the first time ever in a country where I barely spoke the language and knew nobody wasn’t very appealing.

However, some other assistants that I know were able to find roommates. They used the website appartager.fr, which is like a roommate searching site. It's not the best because you have to pay to be able to access a lot of the contact info.

I gave up trying to find roommates after about a month and a half of searching. I got myself a nice little studio, and I loved it!


The website that I’ve used the most often and had success with is leboncoin.fr. It is similar to craigslist back home. Every single apartment I have rented in France has been from this website.

In order to use the website, click the area of the map that corresponds with where you are in France. Then in the first drop down menu, select “location” for apartments, or “collocation” for roommates. Then it’s possible to make the search more precise, with options like highest rent/lowest rent, number of rooms, furnished, etc.

Rental Agencies

There are numerous rental agencies all over France. Some even place ads on the leboncoin (it says professionel). With them, just be prepared to pay them the equivalent of the 1st month's rent (if not more) after they find an apartment you like.

CROUS and Foyers

Another possibility would be to live in a dorm like situation. CROUS is France's version of student housing. I tried to get housing with them when I came over here to do my masters, but the registration for student housing is in April, and I didn’t even know I was accepted until June. I was unable to get student housing, but am quite glad actually! I love living in the city center and having my own apartment.

There are also foyers, which are like really tiny studios, but usually come with a shower, toilet, and kitchenette - meaning stove tops and a mini fridge. Some foyers have rules (one assistant wasn't allowed to have over night visitors, or boys in the foyer after 10 - it was an all girl foyer), but some are chill.

Play It Safe

On a quick safety note, I wouldn't accept living somewhere until you actually see it. I've seen some pretty scary apartments that seemed good on leboncoin. Also be aware of fake ads trying to take your money, etc.

If I Can Do It, You Can Too!

I've lived in France for three and a half years in three different apartments in two cities, and it's all been an adventure. Good luck on finding housing in France!


  1. Did you ever use a real estate agent? I thought I'd bounce off on that a little in case you haven't cause I had to do it twice. When you try to move in September or if you have to move before you are enrolled in school/have a job/something that makes you not "unemployed", it's nearly impossible to convince somebody to rent to you without using an agency. the first agency I used back when I was living in Normandy sued me but lost (it took 2.5 years to wrap that case up) and the second was here in the Lille region and weren't very responsive either. They will often hide problems from you so be sure to ask a lot of questions. Both times I was moving using an agency it was in August/September/October, and that's got to be the hardest time to find an apartment because towns like Lille are just full of students. The good stuff gets snapped up by students right away because they have the insurance of their parents so it's a better bet for landlords.

    If I had to give my unsolicited advice to anybody trying to get their own place (;)) I'd highly recommend looking well in advance, using sites like leboncoin and having a good idea about what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice :)

    1. Nice heads up! I haven't used a rental agency before because I didn't like the idea of paying them money for a place I was only going to live in for a short time... good advice though!


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