France is on par with the rest of western Europe as far as expense, but is about 25-35% cheaper than in the UK. Groceries tend to be fairly inexpensive, but property or raw goods can be pricey.
When traveling, expect to pay about €50/100 per person for mid-range accommodations and meals per day. Backpackers using hostels and cooking their own meals can get by on as little as €30 a day, not including transport.
Research, research, and introspection should define your pre-accommodation search. Familiarize yourself with the different areas of Paris and find where you want to live. Discover the area and find local resources like expat blogs in Paris.
Ask yourself questions like:
How big should the place be? A studio? A three room flat?
Do you want roommates or to live alone?
Where do you want to live? Somewhere close to your work?
What's your price range? What are you comfortable paying?
With answers to these important questions you can begin to think of a specific place.
If you are unfamiliar with the area, it can be difficult to assess where you want to live and what exactly you want out of an apartment. Short-term accommodations and apartment hotels can be the perfect solution, offering you the ability to get to know the city before picking permanent accommodation. These are usually more expensive then renting accommodation outright, but less expensive than a hotel and offers amenities like a kitchen and the ability to live in more of a local setting. Most are offered furnishing and short-term contracts are available for as little as a week to several months.
As the expat might not often have all the guarantees asked by the lettting agency (see our article Rent), he/she might rely on short-term furnished flat, at least initially. Prices vary up to 100% more for the same kind of accommodation, so you better compare several websites. Cheaper offers are usually 10-15% more than similar furnished flats.
Deposits are 1/2 month-rent for 3 months, 1 month-rent for 6 months, and agencies are used to ask for a guarant or bank guarantee.
Resident halls offer inexpensive accommodations for short-term rental. Accommodations vary from house to house with some offering shared rooms, shared flats, or private residences. Prices start at €400 per month. Check directly with universities for opportunities.
Subletting, the leasing of a property by a tenant, as opposed to a landlord, during a portion of his or her unexpired term of occupancy, is another popular option. This can allow you to sign a short-term contract for a furnished place with few strings. Be aware that even though many of these agreements are fairly informal, it is important to have a written contract to protect yourself. It is common to ask for a small deposit (usually the amount of one months rent).
A flatshare (colocation) can be an excellent way to save money on your accommodations. It also offers an opportunity to get to know a new city with a local, or some other misfit expats. Shared accommodation in cities range from €300 per month (out of the city center) to 500 or more per month (city center).
colocation.fr is also a popular search engine. It costs a small enrollment fee, but offers worthy listings
However, an important trait in any roommate situation is having boundaries and a clear understanding of what each roommate requires. To protect yourself against potential problems, try to arrange it so that your roommates co-sign the lease. This makes all the roommates responsible for whatever happens to the property. If the worst was to happen, such as your roommate losing their job and not being able to pay rent, they will be held financially responsible - not you.
Hostels (auberges de jeunesse) are plentiful across the France. Most are clustered around the cities, although a few are interspersed in the countryside. Most youth hostels only charge €15 per bed, per night. Within Paris, prices are much higher starting at €20 per bed, per night. The taxe de séjour is €.10-2 per person, per day and is usually included in the price.
Standards are general adequate with some hostels creating a vibrant party atmosphere. The most popular can fill up quickly, so reserve the best places early. There are flexible standards and curfews are rare. Sheets and breakfast are rarely included, but may be offered for additional charges as well as internet access, laundry services, kitchen, etc.
The Fédération Unie des Auberges de Jeunesse (FUAJ) is a French branch of International Youth Hostel Federation (English and French). They offer access to a selection of hostels and discounts.
Looking for cheap accommodation in Paris isn’t easy and can be time consuming. Fortunately the times of browsing innumerable adverts, making hundreds of phone calls and visiting dozen of houses belong to the past: with Uniplaces now you can look for your room comfortably sitting at home. You can pick a room in a shared home with other expats, a studio flat if you want more privacy, or you can team up with other friends and rent an entire apartment just for yourselves.
The booking system is very simple and doesn’t require any visit: all can be done in advance thanks to the detailed descriptions and photos of the rooms and you can secure your room before even getting there. Moreover the Uniplaces team will be available for any questions and help.
Uniplaces is an online marketplace for booking mid-long term accommodation with thousands of verified properties.