While we were looking we found a few surprises in the hunt: agencies will simply give you the keys to check out the apartment on your own-no tours, but no squatting either since they have your ID; most French apartments come completely unfurnished-expect no more than a kitchen sink and light bulbs hanging from the ceiling not even cupboards; bathrooms and toilets are separate-you’ll find the water closet nowhere near the sink and shower, and showers are optional too- most apartments have the shower head mounted just a few feet above the tub meaning you’ll always be holding the shower head, but most have tubs; the French love wallpaper, most places had new color and print in every room (you can negotiate the option to repaint); and finally, most of the places we saw didn’t have closets.
A trip to look at appliances ensued to see if buying everything-fridge, stove, washer, mattress, and sofa would be possible with our budget. On top of the cost of appliances, add on the agency’s finder fee and your security deposit. If you are planning on making the move, have your savings well planned-or expect to have mattress as sofa or vice-versa and a hot plate for a few months.
So, if you’re considering making the move keep in mind these loopholes. You might be required to show proof of employment and have a French co-signer. If these are not your options, steer into the private landlord direction. But, on last tip, if working with a private landlord, get everything in writing! If you are told the place is furnished, get it on paper. If you are told heating is included-put it in words. I had a few friends who rented from website while abroad with no real contract in writing until they arrived, only to find a very different apartment than what they expected and were sold online.
But, agency or private, you will find your place, even if it is a little more complicated and expensive than you expect. We are so happy with our apartment, colored wallpaper and all. It’s super spacious and bright, just a few minutes from the city center, the neighborhood church bells mark the hour, and we have a view of adorable rooftops and chimneys just off our balcony. And one last surprise-we ended up renting from the first agency we walked into on our second day in France, sweating and stuttering to say even numbers-funny how what feels like a complete disaster at the moment can turn out so well in the end!
Have you got any other European house hunting tips or stories?
It’s almost Halloween, but I have to admit my heart skips a beat for the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos. All those colors, the sweet little sugar skulls, and taking time to remember the ones we love who have passed. Although I never got to celebrate in Mexico, I thought I’d bring some Día de los Muertos to the Halloween celebrations this year!
My favorite costume: Frida.
These colorful and clever office supply pumpkins from a subtle revelry remind me of papel picado dancing in the warm Mexican wind.
For dinner, a warm and healthy Pumpkin Pozole is perfect.
Finally, top if off with a spicy tamarindo tequila cocktail from HonestlyYUM.
If you are in the Chicago area this is a great time to visit the National Museum of Mexican Art where they are celebrating 100 years of Posada y su Catrina. Read more about Mexico’s delicious culture and get some recipes at Saveur.
How will you be celebrating Halloween this year?