If you have chosen to live and work in France, finding accommodation will probably be one of your main priorities. Here are some tips to guide you.
Finding accommodation is with no doubt a major step during any expatriation project. So if you are moving to France, you will probably have to find an appropriate housing unit for you and your family if you will be accompanied. It can be quite complicated at first, especially if you are not yet in the country. Hence, a first trip is advised so that you can take the time to assess the different possibilities. But if you can't, then Internet will be your best friend.
Good to know:
Since a few years, France has been experiencing a real estate crisis, especially in its major cities. In fact, housing is quite scarce while rent are prices are rather high. The rental market has thus become very competitive. But with some advance planning, you can still find accommodation.
Start by determining which type of accommodation best suits your needs: a flat or a house? You should seriously ponder about that before actually relocating. If you are planning to move to a major city, you are not likely to find a house for rent, unless you have a fat wallet. In short, apartments are more common in the city than houses. However, you can still find houses in the outskirts. If you don't mind traveling, you should still take into account the distance between your new home, your place of work and your children's school, if any.
Besides, you don't really need a real estate agent to find accommodation in France, especially if you are looking forward to relocate in a major city. You can start by browsing the Internet. You are likely to find offers on general and specialized housing websites, as well as in the useful links provided below. But in case you prefer to hire a real estate agent, you will have to pay a commission which is generally calculated according to the size of the housing unit (per square meter) and the neighborhood. Note that the limit is determined by law.
Good to know:
In general, you are more likely to find non-furnished accommodation in France. In fact, most furnished housing units are rather expensive and let for a fixed-term. These are more ideal for tourists or short stays.
The lease contract in the case of a non-furnished housing unit generally lasts for three years. So if you have opted for a furnished housing unit, you should expect to sign a yearly renewable contract.
To renew the lease contract, you don't necessarily have to meet the owner again upon its expiry date. In fact, it is automatically renewed.
Signing the lease contract before a notary is not mandatory. However, the contract must be signed at the latest on the lease starting date.
The lease contract must include the exact taking over date of the housing unit. It must also mention the charges which are the owner's responsibility and those which are the tenant's responsibility. In general, the rent price does not include charges such as water, gas, electricity and telephone bills. However, make sure to inquire whether heating charges are included in the rent with the owner or the real estate agency.
Note that you are expected to pay a security deposit, as well as three months' rent in advance. The security deposit will be refunded to you upon vacating the premises, but according to the housing unit's current condition. Also, do not be surprised about the fact that rent prices tend to rise every year. The price increase should line up with inflation.
An inventory of the premises is compulsory, both when taking over and vacating the housing unit. Some repairs (water heater, windows, etc.), should be taken care of by the owner before letting the premises. You should therefore make sure to read the lease contract thoroughly and settle for an agreement with the owner before signing.
If you are planning to vacate the premises, you are required to give a three months prior notice to the owner via a “Recommandé avec Accusé de Réception” form by post. In case you leave the housing unit during the prior notice period, you will have to pay the rent until the official vacating date. However, you are entitled to negotiation with the owner regarding the notice and payment of rent issues in case of emergency repatriation or loss of employment.
Good to know:
Once you have started occupying the housing unit, the owner is not allowed to enter it without your authorization. In case of disagreement, you can seek legal advice and assistance provided you can prove that your tenant rights have been violated. Find more information in the useful links provided below.
Rent is usually calculated according to the neighborhood, the type of housing unit and the facilities provided. However, there is no exact price grill regarding the number of rooms, floors, etc. In Paris, for instance, you are not likely to find a two bedroom flat for less than 1,000 euros. So you better be prepared.
Le Figaro www.lefigaro.fr
Le Monde immobilier.lemonde.fr
La Voix du Nord – Northern France www.lavoiximmo.com
Ouest France - Western France www.ouestfrance-immo.com
La Dépêche du Midi – Southwest France annonces.ladepeche.fr
Nice Matin – Southern France immo.nicematin.com
Paru-Vendu – the whole country www.paruvendu.fr
From individual to individual
De particulier à particulier – Individual ads www.pap.fr