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Student Accommodation In France: Cost and Options for International Students

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You’ve accepted that admissions offer, given the good news to your friends and family, and have furiously started practicing your French. You’ve never been more ready to study in France, and we don’t blame you!

But before you throw that final farewell party, you’ll need to figure out something more important than learning bonjour: where to live.

Here’s our guide to finding the best student accommodation in France for you -- and your budget.

What type of student accommodation is available in France?

There are a few options when it comes to choosing the best place for you. Remember: start early on your search to avoid inflated prices and the mad rush of other international students frantically looking for housing last minute!

Student residences in France

Student residences are the cheapest option out there. Average prices fluctuate based on what city you’re living in and what type of housing situation you’ve chosen.

First off: check to see if your university offers accommodation on its campus. Doing this can save a lot of hassle, if student housing was already available in front of you!

Applying for a room in a university residence

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If your university doesn’t offer housing, you should get to know CROUS: Centre Régional des Œuvres Universitaires et Scolaires. (It also goes by CNOUS.) It organizes everything related to French universities and their students. In addition to offering information from how to pay your tuition to getting help from social services, it can help you in your French flat search, too.

There are 20 CROUS centres across France who assist both local and international students. Make sure you reach out to the centre that is affiliated with your university. Towards the bottom of the main page of their website, you’ll see an interactive map of France where you can click on the region of your choice. From there, it’ll connect you to the CROUS website specific to that region.

CROUS offers rooms in university residences (called cités U or U-residences), but priority goes to students in France who have a grant or are on foreign exchange programs.

 If you are a student on a foreign exchange program, you will receive a file from your university that you will have to fill out with things such as your ID, proof of enrolment, bank account details and residence permit, among others. You must submit your application by May 31 before the start of the academic year to be considered. Your university will inform you as to whether you’ve received a place in one of their dormitories. It may be furnished or unfurnished. The residence will also typically include a laundry room, a leisure/common room and study rooms.

 If you are not a student on a foreign exchange program, you can apply to be put on the waiting list at the end of August. Your application should be considered in the beginning of September.

Living in a private student residence

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Private residences are also available for students to rent.

The prices may be higher than a CROUS residence due to the additional services provided in the residence, but these are also a good option if all the CROUS rooms are snapped up early. Residence websites such as Les Estudines or Studelites Residences are a good place to start. ADELE (Association pour le Développement Économique du Logement Étudiant) is another site that offers residences in some French towns.

Housing assistance for students in France

If you need housing assistance, you may be able to apply for CAF (caisse d'allocations familiales), a type of rent subsidy. This PDF from the CAF website explains everything about the program in English.

Renting from a housing agency in France

Okay, so you really want to find a flat in France, one that’s your own and not tied to a French university residence. Another option is to reach out to a housing agency.

There are many who offer English/French services, which takes any communication stress out of the way. Furnished apartments are also easy to find within agencies.

However, it is best to shop around and look at the reviews of the agencies before committing to one of their listings. Ask your university: they may already have an idea of which agencies are better than others based on past students. Sites such as Paris Housing and Paris Attitude are two good agencies to start your search.

Many agencies will list an initial email address or phone number on their website to get in touch with one of their agents. This is a good way to detail what you want in an apartment upfront.

Additional costs when renting from an agency

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Housing agencies require a deposit once you commit to a place (typically one month’s rent). This will be returned to you once you vacate the rental. They will also charge an agency fee for their services.

Electricity and internet costs will not be included in the rental fees, but these tend to be fairly cheap on average, so it won’t be a huge additional expense. Sometimes the agency will set you up with an electricity account once you sign the contract, so all you have to do is pay the bills when they come in. If not, research the energy companies in France and shop around to find the best deal for you.

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Remember to secure a guarantor

A guarantor is very important to have and a requirement to rent.

Again, it may differ between agencies, but you may not always need a French guarantor. Sometimes a guarantor from back home is just as good, as long as they provide their last three payslips and latest tax assessment -- just so the agency knows rent will still be paid within the rental contract period if something goes south on your end.

Purchase property insurance

Property insurance (assurance habitation) may be included in the rental price, but if not, it is strongly advised that you sign up for it. This is available from banks or insurance companies and can cover you for certain damages or burglary. The cost can depend on the size of your flat.

Renting from a French landlord

Rental sites such as SeLoger are a good starting point for students who wish to tackle the French rental system like a local. However, be aware of listings that are too good to be true. If you find a big, beautiful flat in a central location for a price that seems too cheap for the surrounding area, chances are it’s fake and you should move on with your search.

Message boards are also good places to find new listings. France is still a very paper-based society, and tons of advertisements -- whether they’re offering housing, French lessons or job opportunities -- can be found on bulletin boards in your nearest house of worship, community centre or coffee shop.

Find apartment listings on Facebook

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If you’re not in France yet to look through message boards, there are lots of Facebook groups for international students and locals alike to share new listings. Many people also advertise rooms in their flatshare (a flat with three or four bedrooms, shared with a couple of other people).

Some good examples within Paris are Plan Coloc à Paris and Location appartement Paris (longue durée). For other cities, simply type in the name of where you’re staying plus the word “location” or “appartement,” and you’ll be able to find groups specialized to that area.

Taking a room in a flatshare may be a more attractive option to some international students, as it’s a way to meet new people (many who are students themselves) and they can help you with the rental contract and all the details, versus if you were renting alone. Renting with others also saves a ton of money, especially if you’re renting in a place like Paris. To start looking for a flatshare, check out Appartager.

Be aware of scams!If you do find a flat that looks promising and you decide to reach out to the landlord, be wary of any initial requests for deposits or your bank information. A reputable landlord will never ask for this right away, and should offer a tour of the flat and discuss your decision before asking for any deposit or contract details.

Remember to secure a guarantor

As with renting from an agency, a guarantor is required. If the landlord will not rent to you unless your guarantor is French, you can check out VISALE, which can act as a guarantor through a visa process. Please note the requirements to use the program are to be within 18 to 30 years of age, or, if over 30, you must be an employee of a private or agricultural company. Make sure you fall within the other requirements by checking the VISALE website.

Additional costs when renting from a landlord

A deposit, usually the amount of one month’s rent, will be required upon signing the contract. This will be returned to you once you vacate the rental. Also look into taking out property insurance (assurance habitation) from a bank or an insurance company, which can cover certain damages or burglary. The amount will depend on the size of your apartment.

Electricity and heating will likely not be included in the price of rent, so familiarize yourself with the energy providers in France and shop around for the best deal for your needs.

Living with a French host family

house in France

Living with a French host family is attractive to some students as your room-and-board is relatively cheap and interacting with the family allows you to practice your French. However, in exchange for the cheap rent, the family will ask you for your help with certain tasks, such as babysitting, cleaning or cooking.

Renting an Airbnb in France

If you’re in a last-minute crunch and really can’t find anything before you arrive in France, Airbnb can be your safety net. You’ll have to do some searching to find good value for price, especially if it’s close to the date you arrive, but it’s a reliable option for those whose housing search just isn’t adding up yet.

Once you arrive in your Airbnb, you’ll have a better idea of where things are in the city or town you’re staying in and can kick off your rental search from there.

How much is accommodation in France for students?

Paris will, of course, be the most expensive French city to live in, based on its centrality and reputation. Finding student accommodation in Paris can start at €400 a month, but can drastically increase based on demand. Elsewhere in France can be half that. University residences through CROUS can start as little as €190 a month. Rentals from housing agencies can vary depending on the location and how many square metres you require.

What documents do I need to rent student housing in France?

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Get that handy dossier ready!

Though the documents may differ between landlords, agencies and university residences, you will typically be asked for:

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of student status
  • Proof of residency within France
  • Identification of your guarantor
  • Guarantor’s latest tax assessment
  • Guarantor’s last three pay slips
  • Guarantor’s employment contract

I’ve found my flat in France. What now?

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Congrats! That wasn’t so hard now, was it? Here’s some parting advice:

 Always read through the contract (called a bail or contrat de location) thoroughly to see what is included and not included in your rental. If it’s in French, ask for a translated version or plug it into Google Translate. Don’t skimp on this step. It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting when you sign on the dotted line.

 Once you sign the contract, you and your landlord must go through the rental together. This is important as it confirms the state of the flat between the two of you and prevents any miscommunication down the road. Once the inspection is complete, you will both sign a document (état des lieux) verifying what you’ve observed. This document will be consulted after you move out to check for any damages that may have been incurred during your stay.

 Confirm how much notice you need to give before deciding to move out. This is typically one month in advance, but it may depend on the landlord and type of residence. Remember that you must give notice by registered mail and your landlord must confirm they’ve received your notice with a receipt.

With housing out of the way, now you can focus on having the best experience of your life studying in France!