In this guide, we will describe how to find an apartment in Paris, including looking for an apartment, putting together your file (“dossier”), landing a viewing, what to expect when visiting an apartment for a viewing and finally moving in.
What are the challenges when finding an apartment in Paris?
One of the hardest things to do when you make a move to Paris is to find an apartment. There is big demand and people new to Paris can often be disheartened when faced with crowds outside apartment viewings and many applications with no response.
When arriving in Paris and trying to find an apartment it can be very overwhelming. Be wary of certain boutique apartment rental sites for English speaking sites targeting expats online, as they often have high agency fees and low overall support.
Scams can be a problem, so be extremely wary of any rentals that seem too good to be true like €500 for a 2 room apartment in central Paris.
The language barrier can be an issue if you don’t speak French as it can make it difficult to arrange viewings on the phone and to properly converse during the apartment viewing.
What are the main factors to consider when trying to find an apartment in Paris?
Some of the main factors you should consider:
- How much can you afford to pay for rent and utilities each month? In Paris some apartments may have gas included and maintenance fees included.
- How much are you willing to spend on other expenses such as transportation, food, entertainment, or insurance? Areas like Oberkampf or Belleville can be more affordable for food and drinks for example.
- How many people will live with you? Paris apartments are small and space is at a premium.
- How many bedrooms do you need? Many single professionals live in studios or small one bedroom apartments.
- Do you have pets or children? Some landlords and buildings don’t allow pets, however many do.
- What kind of neighborhood do you want to live in? Up and coming like the 11th or quiet and beautiful in the 6th?
- How central do you want to live? Arrondissements 1-8 are considered very central, however naturally they cost more.
- How close do you want to be to your work, school, or other places? Paris is well served by public transit, however they can be very busy during peak hours.
Types of apartments in Paris
In Paris there are furnished (“meublé”) and unfurnished (“non meublé”) apartments available to rent. Furnished apartments tend to be a bit more expensive, but still a viable option.
The difference between furnished and unfurnished apartments
The difference between them is that furnished apartments come with furniture and appliances, while unfurnished apartments only provide the bare minimum such as walls, floors, windows, doors, and a kitchen sink. Furnished apartments usually include items such as:
- A bed with bedding
- A sofa or chairs
- A table and chairs
- A wardrobe or closet
- A fridge
- A stove or oven
- A microwave
- A dishwasher
- A washing machine
- A dryer
- A TV
- A coffee maker
- A toaster
- Pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, glasses, etc.
Unfurnished apartments may not include any of these items or only some of them. You will have to buy or bring your own furniture and appliances if you choose an unfurnished apartment.
The pros and cons of studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments
- Size and price: Studios are the smallest and cheapest option, but they also offer the least amount of space and privacy. According to a 2021 survey, the average size of a studio in Paris was 23 m² and the average rent was €435 euros per month. The same survey reported that the average size of a one-bedroom apartment in Paris was 46 m² and the average rent was €851 per month. Two-bedroom apartments are the largest and most expensive option, but the average size of a two-bedroom apartment in Paris was 69 m² and the average rent was €1,300 per month.
- Location and availability: Studios are more common and easier to find in central areas of Paris, such as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th arrondissements.
The average rent and utilities costs of apartments
The average rent and utilities costs for different types of apartments in Paris can range from about €1,000 to over €3,000 per month depending on various factors. Statista and Numbeo provides a clearer picture of these costs.
The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is €1,296, while a three-bedroom apartment costs €2,836. Outside the city center, the average rent drops to €930 and €2,032 respectively. However, these prices can vary significantly depending on the arrondissement, the availability, and the demand. For example, the 1st arrondissement is the most expensive, with an average rent of €39 per square meter, while the 19th arrondissement is the cheapest, with an average rent of €25 per square meter.
Electricity, gas, water
For an 85m2 apartment, the average monthly charge is around €200.
The average internet cost for a household in France is about €30 per month, which includes broadband access and unlimited calls to landlines and mobiles in France and some other countries.
How to find an apartment in Paris
The best websites and apps to search to find an apartment in Paris
- PAP particulier à particulier – Person to Person. PAP is a website that allows you to search for apartments and rent them directly from the owner. It allows you to meet the property owner in person and speak with them directly
- Lodgis – A website that lists apartments managed by both agencies and landlords
- SeLoger – A website that also lists a mix apartments rented by agency’s and landlords
- Flatlooker– A startup which allows you to sign the lease (“bail”) of an apartment without actually doing an in person viewing. This can be much easier for the renter and the rentee but does come with risks. They all have 3d showings of the properties so that you can see what it looks like and we’d also recommend visiting the neighborhood
These websites can allow you to search numerous apartments by arrondissement / number of rooms / rent price so that you can find what you’re looking for.
The importance of having a guarantor
Having a guarantor is essential when you want to rent an apartment in Paris, especially if you are a student, an expat, or have a low income. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your rent and expenses if you fail to do so.
However, finding a guarantor can be challenging, especially if you do not have any relatives or friends who live in France and meet the income and residency criteria.
Dossier – Documents and fees required for an apartment in Paris
The number one thing needed for finding an apartment in Paris is the dossier, this is a file of documents related to you (and your partner) and is essential to bring to apartments.
It is good to have a digital version of your dossier on your computer as well as printing several copies to have on hand. Keep your dossier files in a neat folder ready to have when touring apartments or meeting future landlords.
You will need to provide the following documents and money as part your dossier:
- A proof of identity with photo and signature, such as an ID card, passport, driving license or residence card.
- A document attesting to your professional activity or student status, such as a work contract.
- As many documents as possible attesting to your income and financial resources, such as the last three pay slips, the last tax notice, the bank statements.
- A guarantor.
- A deposit equivalent to one or two months of rent.
- The first month of rent (including charges) that will be paid when you sign the lease contract.
Landing a viewing
Landing a viewing is not an easy task, as apartments quickly have dozens of viewings already lined up within hours of the listing being launched. We recommend setting up alerts on all the most popular apartment websites, and once you are notified of a listing, immediately calling the landlord or agency, not emailing (unless requested specifically on the listing).
What to say when calling – Template
What to say when email – Template
How to sign a lease in Paris
Once you find an apartment and make an agreement with the landlord or agency, you will then proceed to the stage of signing the lease (“bail”). Remember to send the lease over to your guarantor (or Garantme) so that it can be approved. Once it is approved you can then sign the lease.
The typical duration and terms of a lease in Paris
The typical duration and terms of a lease in Paris depend on the type of lease agreement you sign with the landlord or the agent. There are two main types of lease agreements for furnished rentals in Paris: the residential lease and the civil code lease. The residential lease is usually for one year, renewable automatically, unless the tenant or the landlord gives a notice of termination at least three months before the end of the contract. The residential lease also allows the tenant to terminate the contract at any time, with a notice of one month. The civil code lease is usually for short-term stays or for specific situations, such as corporate housing or secondary residences.
Moving into your new apartment in Paris
Before moving in you must send the security deposit (“Dépôt de garantie”). Note, the maximum this can be is 2 month’s rent for furnished apartments.
State of entry – État des Lieux d’Entrée
On the day of your move-in, you and your landlord will go through the apartment to inspect it, and prepare a legal document known as an (“État des Lieux”). Ensure that everything is working and mark any damage to the apartment. You will also have 10 days to report any issues and modify the document that was missed during inspection.
Sign up for electricity, the main ones are EDF and Engie. To sign up for electricity in France, you’ll need either the name of the previous tenant or the delivery point (“Point de Livraison”) of your apartment.
Internet & TV
To make sure you have internet and TV when you move in you’ll have to sign up in advance. It can take a month or more to have an installation take place and the modem delivered. However the installation may not be necessary if the previous tenant had an internet connection. Consider scheduling all of this once you sign the lease to avoid moving in without internet.
This is a legal obligation for all renters in France, and it covers accidental damages to the property. It is also known as “Assurance d’Habitation” in French. There are many providers of renter’s insurance. I recommend Luko, which offers a basic plan for around €10 per month. However make sure to customize the plan suits your needs (burglaries etc).