18 November 2009

Apartment Hunting in Paris

Finding an apartment in Paris is a major pain. For over three months, my husband and I have been on the prowl, checking out rental classified websites like se loger, explorimmo and pap.fr which fortunately permit us to visit units sans charge (rejoice!) In other cases, as with one real estate agency we visited,  a downpayment of 400 euros was required just to have access to their roster of apartments and logically, you would assume some sort of guarantee as well, right? Ha, that would be wishful thinking.

Is this horrid apartment game of “search-find-wait-rejected” a harsh reality in France which we must learn to perfect or are we victimized newbies playing with the wrong strategy?

         at a recent visit across the street of UNESCO, former workplace

Out of the 20 visits, we had our eyes glued on 3 nearly perfect apartments, submitted 16 application forms with only 1 positive response and dealt with 15 rejected dossiers (file; application).

                                                               pretty courtyard

Since the nature of my blog is to share tips and secrets for an easier, happier Parisien living, I am gladly attempting to fulfill this duty below. I do not wish for any of you , future or new Paris dwellers, to make the same mistakes as we did.

               hallway to the salle de bain (bathroom). not so pretty ceiling

What are the major points in scoring an apartment in Paris?

  • photocopy of your carte d'identité/carte de séjour ( resident ID card/permit )or passport 
  • 3 latest pay sheets
  • a permanent job contract (you’ll have better chances if each partner is working) also dubbed in France as CDI, Contrat à Durée Indéterminée, a work contract with an unlimited term. Naturally, your file will be considered “risky” if you’re still in the probation/trial period of your job, which over here is the first four months. They require this contract to be given in original copy with details like entry date into the company, functions etc..
If neither of you are working--granted they will even look at your dossier-- have your parents, preferably French citizens residing in France, act as your guarantors.

  • Have guarantors-- just in case your salary is way below the monthly rent or your job post is temporary. They can be your parents or employer. You must insert a copy of their identity cards and avis d'imposition (which is explained below).
  • love the salon(living room)

  • 3 dernieres quittance de loyer :a certification by your landlord confirming that you have paid your rent for the last 3 months
  • dernier avis d'imposition:a most recent  notice of tax assessment based on what you declare on your income, earnings, deductions etc..which you owe the governement. 

 lovely bedroom

These are the A,B,Cs of apartment hunting and if some items mentioned above are out of reach for now, perhaps you should give your present quarters a second chance and consider playing the field another time. Trust me, because once you enter it, you better get ready to rumble!

Useful Tips:

  • Do not make the same mistake we made. Notify your present landlord of your last day (in the apartment) only once you have in your hand the signed contract to your new apartment! Keys would be good ,too!

                                an ok dining area. kitchen is before the counter

  • Before going through agencies with hefty honorary fees to pay, rid yourself of these 3rd party arrangements and try to benefit from some precious family connections and leads from friends. The process will be faster, cheaper and less painful without the many documents to submit.
  • Know which arrondissement of Paris you wish to live in and this comes with good research considering important factors like nearby groceries, public transport options and noise & safety conditions.
  • Watch out for those fake agencies publishing ads that are très obscure and too-good-to-be-true, fooling you into giving a deposit! Kiss that goodbye.
  • blah bano

  • An absolute time (and environment) saver is to have all the required documents scanned. When you attend visits, get the agent’s business card and simply email her the necessary files the next day. We learned the long and hard way, at our 10th visit, after detesting all the wasted trips to the photocopying machine.
  • Don’t forget to take pictures during your visits so you have something to look back on when your mind turns fuzzy from the many layouts you’ve seen.
  • If you have particularities which you want met like an elevator, top floor, parking or whatever else, make sure you inquire in advance instead of losing your time with the visit. Sometimes those details are indicated in the apartment description and if not, ask the agent on the phone.

                                 we didn't bother applying for it. goodbye!

  • If you are a part of the lucky folk depending on daddy's bucks or your office's housing (unlimited) budget, then this so-called hunt might be nothing but an adventurous shopping spree for you. Truly, each hunter's experience is uniquely, different.

Best of luck to your search and I assure you I will let you know once we've succeeded in ours! Don't forget to share some of your stories!


TMD said...

i feel your pain. i hate looking for apartments/homes. i second your tip about taking photos! here's another tip, for those with big couches, MEASURE THE MAIN DOOR!!!! i had to hire the 'couch doctor' who had to take my sofa apart cos it would not fit through those narrow new york doors. four hundred dollars, can you believe!!!!

regina said...

Gosh if they make it THAT hard to apply for an apartment, I can imagine what they sell / rent for! Has the recession effected the property market? What would a 2BR go for in a decent kid-friendly neighborhood and how many sqm?. Just curious how it compares to NYC and Manila...

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