Living French: the art of apartment hunting
One thing I have learned recently: I am way too stubborn and picky for my own good. I knew it was going to come and bite me in the bum one day.
I have been here in Strasbourg for two weeks now. I love the city. I love the region. I love the University. I love the new friends I have made. I love the fact that I have a visa that now permits me to stay in France for another two years while studying. Basically, I am very happy to be here.
However, just one thing is putting a damper on my happiness: School started last Monday, and I have yet to find a place to call home.
Currently, I am making the trek from a youth hostel everyday. I suppose I can’t complain too much because it is cheap and breakfast is included; but it is located out of the city and has its disadvantages.
I suppose it is mainly my fault that I have not yet found an apartment. I came here with very specific wants and was naïve enough to think that they were pretty simple requests that would be easily (and quickly) fulfilled.
- I wanted to have roommates. I picture long, lonely winters in a studio with no envie de sortir.
- I wanted to live with French people specifically. I have lived in France two times previously, and each time I was with non-French roommates. Though I loved my previous roommates, I figured it was time to actually experience living with the French in France.
- I wanted to be not too far from the University. I think it’s a reasonable request, though the amazing tram system does get you places pretty quickly even outside of the center.
- I didn’t want to pay a fortune. Obviously, I am going to be a poor student again and cannot afford to be paying 600 euros a month on a place to live.
- I didn’t want to go through an agency. Though they find some nice places, there is always the finder’s fee which can get pretty pricey.
As I see it, these requests are not too difficult to accommodate. However, I am getting a little tired after two weeks of visiting weird apartments, calling would-be roommates, and waiting for answers from them after their so-called ‘interview processes’. And, I’m getting a little tired of being told multiple times, « Je suis desolé, c’est déjà loué. »
My only solution is to swallow my pride and be less stubborn and picky. I suppose that living in a studio wouldn’t be too bad, I could always invite people over and cook for them. I suppose that living with other international students would be a good experience as well, anyone who has the will to study abroad has to be pretty cool. I suppose that I could take the tram for a few stops every day or even ride a bike for a little while to get to class.
I suppose that paying a little more for an apartment would work out to be about the same after the money I would get back from CAF (an amazing program that gives you money back on rent!). And, I suppose that paying for an agency to find a great apartment is about the same as paying to live in a hostel for two weeks while I look myself…
So, now that I’m looking on the bright side and trying to change for the better, bring on the apartments!
1. Julianna Johnson
2. Strasbourg Map, via Welt Atlas
3. Studio for Rent, via Immopub
I really do recognize myself in your article. I haven’t had too much difficulty finding a place to stay while I was studying in Paris, but did have similar problems in another country I lived in. You’ve probably though of these already, but I’ll ask just in case: Have you thought about living with a French host family? There are also a lot of elderly people who take in students as well. It’s a great way to practise the language and get more intimate with the French. What about your university, the locals should be familiar with the the housing situation in their city?
Don’t give up, you will soon find an apartment, as long as you’re open to options. Good luck!