In some French cities it is easier to be admitted to a school or university than finding accommodation. In most of the big cities and student cities there is a great demand for accommodation and, in many cases, there is no offer that matches this demand, for this reason finding student accommodation in France can become a very complicated task.
Due to this imbalance between supply and demand, prices tend to increase from one year to another and these depend a lot on the city in which you are going to live. To cite an example, according to a study published by a website specialized in rentals the national average (excluding Paris) of a studio monthly rent is €424, the average within the Parisian region for this same type of housing is €731. For a one-bedroom apartment the national average is € 574, within the Parisian region this average rises to €1068. As you can see, the difference between Paris and the rest of France is considerable, so this becomes a very important factor in your search for a university as I mention in this post.
Before starting your search, it is important to know that in France there is a special nomenclature for any type of housing according to its size. This nomenclature is represented in the following way: Tx, where T stands for Type and x represents the number of rooms, for example:
T1: Single room (Studios)
T2: Two rooms (Social Area + One bedroom)
T3: Three rooms (Social Area + Two bedrooms)
T4: Four rooms (Social Area + Three bedrooms)
It is also important to bear in mind that the minimum legal surface for a studio or T1 is 9 square meters, in this small space you will usually find a shower, a bathroom, a space for a bed and a desk. This is generally the size of the rooms in the student residences, perhaps this is one of the reasons why students go out that much at night, to avoid claustrophobia ?.
Now that you know this, let’s see what the different types of student accommodation in France are, each one has its advantages and inconvenients, so the best will be the one that best suits your budget.
Student residences are a good option in terms of costs since they are a very economical option. They are also good for meeting new people because they have common spaces that allow students to do so. The inconvenient is that the size can be quite small, so you can feel confined. In some cases, the kitchens, showers and bathrooms are shared which can also be uncomfortable.
There are two types of residences:
Public Residences: This is the cheapest option available, since in some cases you can get furnished rooms from € 150 a month approximately. However, since the demand is much greater than the offer, these are granted by economic criteria and the priority is given to scholarship holders or students whose socio-economic conditions give them priority to access these residences.
These residences are managed by the CNOUS.
Private Residences: There are also residences managed by private entities. The size of the rooms can be larger, and the common areas are usually more comfortable, some have a gym and other amenities for students. The price of these residences is a little higher due to these amenities, in some cases it may be cheaper to look for a studio.
There are different residences throughout the country, the demand also far exceeds the offer, so it is important to make the request in advance. Here below you will find some of the most popular residences:
ADELE (Association pour le développement économique du logement étudiant): It is a search engine that consolidates ads from different private residences.
Les Estudines: One of the most popular residences, offering student accommodation in more than 40 cities.
Location-etudiant: Ad site regrouping ads from different residences.
Nexity-Studea: Present in the main cities of France.
Fac-Habitat: Present in 50 cities in France.
Another economic option is the “Colocation” or shared apartments. This option allows access to larger common spaces, since, depending on the number of people of course, you can have access to a big apartment. It is also an excellent option to meet people and practice your French.
The most popular pages to search for a room in a shared apartment are Appartager, Roompik, and autroisieme. This type of accommodation is also frequently advertised on the bulletin boards of your school or university.
Apartments or private studios
It is possible to find studios rented by individuals at interesting prices. If your budget allows it, you can also rent more comfortable one or two-bedroom apartments.
There are two ways to find apartments, you can either do it through a real estate agency, but commissions are excessively expensive, the commission for renting an apartment through an agency is equivalent to one month of rent approximately.
There is also the possibility of doing it directly with the owner of the apartment, there are several internet sites where individuals advertise their apartments and you can contact them directly without going through an agency. The most popular sites are: Leboncoin, PAP, and entreparticuliers.
Again, the demand far exceeds the offer, so you must be prepared to go to the apartment visit with your “dossier” in hand including all the documents needed to rent the apartment. In larger cities, visiting an apartment is almost like a job interview, during your visit you must convince the owner that you are the best candidate to keep the apartment, in many cases apartments are rented on the same day as the ads are published, so you must be patient and put together a solid dossier.
For private rentals you will always be asked for a guarantor, which is complicated as a foreign student since our parents, when abroad, do not qualify as guarantors. If you are lucky, the owner may understand your situation and not ask for a guarantor, in some cases the owners request two months of rent as a guarantee deposit for foreign students.
Also keep in mind that you will always have to insure the place you live in and require a civil liability insurance. Most banks offer this service, so you can ask for information at the bank where you opened your bank account.
In addition to this, it is possible to finance a portion of your rent thanks to an aid provided by the government to students and low-income individuals through the CAF (thank you France!), more about this in this post.
Tip # 1: be very careful with scams that abound on the internet, if you see that the advertised rental price is well below the market or it sounds too nice to be true, it is very likely a scam so do not fall for it.
Tip # 2: when you hand back your apartment, it must be in same conditions you received it, otherwise a part of the guarantee deposit will not be refunded. In my experience after 7 moves in France, I realized that some owners do everything possible to not reimburse the entire deposit and come up with a thousand excuses not to do so. Inform yourself in advance about your rights and duties so that they do not take advantage of you and you can recover your money.
Do not hesitate to share your experience finding student accommodation in France, or your questions in the comments!