There are many options for student housing in France, from getting a room in a university dormitory to finding your own apartment in town.
The rooms in the university dormitories, also called Cités U, are managed by the CROUS (Regional Centres of University and Academic Services). It is the cheapest type of student accommodation as it is subsidized by the French government. Contact the international relations department at your host institution to find out if they have a specific agreement with the CROUS.
Furthermore, check the “accommodation" and "international" sections of your CROUS website (each academic region has a separate CROUS, be sure you're checking the right one!) to learn more about the application process. Applications are usually open between January 15th and May 31st, before the start of the academic year.
Private student residences are open to international students. Rent is higher than in the CROUS Cités U as it is not subsidized by the French government.
Renting an Apartment
You may rent a room or apartment directly from a property owner or through a rental agency. If you rent through an agency, you will have to pay fees equal to a little more than a month’s rent, in addition to the security deposit required by both agencies and private owners. Apartments may be rented empty or furnished.
Property owners with space available often post adds on the French Craigslist, Le Bon Coin.
If you prefer to share an apartment, you will be looking for a colocation. You will share the apartment with other students or young professionals, which will greatly reduce the cost of the rent: a cheap(er) and more social way to experience France!
Organised by associations, intergenerational lodging lets you rent a room in a senior's home for a modest rent. In return, you must keep your host company for a few hours per week.
And remember the CAF (Caisse des Allocations Familiales - the Family Allowances Fund) proposes three types of assistance that can reduce the rent you pay:
- Allocation de Logement Sociale (ALS - the social housing assistance)
- Aide Personnalisée au Logement (APL - the personal accommodation assistance)
- Allocation de Logement Familial (ALF - the family accommodation assistance)
To find out if you qualify for any of this assistance, do a simulation on the CAF website. To meet one of the advisors, go to the CAF Facebook page dedicated to student accommodation.
How to Find a "garant"?
A garant is a person who guarantees to pay your rent if you are unable to do so. In France, a guarantor is required renting an apartment, whether you are French or not.
But your guarantor has to be French or to live in France. If you don't have a guarantor, other options are available through the VISALE scheme, a free rental deposit if you rent an apartment in the private sector.
Contrat de location, or bail (lease): contractual document establishing the responsibilities of the owner and the renter.
Caution solidaire or garant (guarantor): person or entity agreeing to pay the rent in the event the renter does not.
Dépôt de garantie (security deposit): amount requested at the start, intended to cover the cost of any damage. It is returned at the end of the rental period, subject to conditions.
Quittance de loyer (rent receipt): receipt showing the details of the amount paid by the renter. Rent and utilities must be distinct.
Assurance habitation (home insurance): insurance covering civil liability and any damage due to water, fire, burglary, etc.
Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF -- Family Allowances Fund): public organisation that may provide you with financial assistance to help you pay your rent.
Taxe d’habitation (housing tax): Tax paid by the occupant on January 1st of the tax year. The amount varies according to where the housing is and its size.
Préavis (notice): a renter informs the landlord of his/her intention to move out this much time prior to leaving the apartment or house. It is one month for furnished rental accommodation and three months for unfurnished, except in metropolitan centers and areas with housing shortages.