I've been warned.
Even before I dipped my toes into the Parisian dream I've already been hearing scraps of Parisian housing horror stories. Oh no, there are no ghosts nor ghoulish characters lurking under the beds. But worse...More vicious, more adult.
To gain access to dwellings for rent under your name, one must procure the necessary requirements and submit them to an agency, under its approval. And that means...
-Carte de Sejour
-agency fee (around 200-300 euros)
-one-two month/s deposit
Obviously I didn't have those when I was new. But through the help of a friend I succeeded in starting out my baby steps. In my first six months, I lived with a very warm and accommodating Filipino family in Boulogne-Billancourt. I payed 260 euros per month, and that includes everything including food and laundry. I didn't have my own bed though. I had to sleep beside a 12-year-old girl in a queen-sized bed. But for 260 for everything plus a warm treatment, who was I to complain?
At six months I developed enough guts to leave my hospitable hosts. I still didn't have enough money then but I had a friend who was equally courageous as I was in braving a new world. She found an ad in Craigslist by a French student. He's offering to sublet his studio in rue Letort for 2 months as he was leaving for vacation. It was located in the North though. Back then we were afraid of the notorious North because of all the bad publicities we've been hearing.
But the price lured us to change our perspective. At 350 euros/month for everything, it was absolutely perfect for our pockets! Day by day we were starting to get accustomed to the profanities in the wall, the Turkish toilet and flight of never-ending stairs(there was no lift in the building).
It was starting to become a sanctuary...Maybe because we had an absolutely magnificent view of Sacre-Coeur. I've never really fully appreciated the exterior of the Basilica until I lived in that "Golden Palace"
September was about to end and my friend and I had to part ways. In my search for a new home, Appartager.com and Craigslist became my everyday buddies. Craigslist offered more scams than real deals. Oddly enough, I almost bagged a free room in a posh home in exchange of "babysitting" a 12-year-old girl.
I ended up in a 250-euro-per-month colocation in rue Sofia with an Algerian roommate. I found his ad in Leboncoin.fr. This time I had a closer view of Sacre-Coeur. However at the end of that month, I decided I needed to leave.
Once again my friend came to my aid and for two months I lived with another accommodating Filipino family in Gabriel-Peri.
Big bang to 2010, by some miracle (and with the help of good people) I now have my own place. I don't know how it happened because honestly until now I'm still way below minimum wage. It's a 9m2 room though and the toilet and bath are shared with others. But it's under my name and I have peace and quiet. Best of all, it's at the foot of Sacre-Coeur.
For the happy hunters, here's a list of the websites that might win you a home: