Je m'appelle Loraine, comme la quiche.
I'm just another American college student trying to balance work, school, extra-curriculars, and a relationship. I just happen to be doing all of that in another country!
Three years ago, I decided to become a Freshman in France at the American University of Paris.
Over time, my adventures continued as a Sophomore along la Seine, then as a Junior on the Jump (studying abroad at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon!)
But now I'm back in Paris and I'm getting ready to graduate...
Oui. It's finally time that this Senior Says Salut.
PLEASE DON’T LAUGH AT MY HORRIBLE ATTEMPT AT VLOGGING.
OK, moving on.
So basically my Parisian apartment is small. Very small. So small that I don’t even think it deserves to be called an “apartment.” In reality, it’s what the French would call a chambre de bonne. AKA - a maid’s room. Yes, I live in the former peasant quarters of the French bourgeois. So much for “oh la la,” right? Well, anyways. This is what 500 euros a month gets a poor student (like myself) abroad in Paris. Note - 500 euros a month is fairly cheap. The sad thing is.. I call myself lucky for finding my little cave too. I mean, you can find somewhat cheaper for the same size, but it’ll be a nightmare. Trust me.
Questions to ask when renting an apartment in Paris:
Is the Internet, electricity, and/or water included (charge-comprises)? My landlady charges me 420 euros a month including water but not including electricity which is an added 10-20 euros. I also had to get Internet installed, meaning another 50 euros a month extra. But hey, you try going without Facebook.
Is there an elevator?You try taking a 10 pound bag of laundry up and down 6 winding flights of stairs.
Is there a washing machine? If there is, then it’s ok about not having an elevator.
Is there a place nearby to wash your clothes (“laverie”)? How would you feel in the most chic place in the world, dragging your dirty laundry in Ikea bags 3 blocks away?
Is there an ensuite bathroom (toilet/shower)? Just pray to dear God, yes.
Is your shared bathroom clean? Learn to master the art of toilet bowl cleaning. The plunger is your friend.
Is there enough storage space?Obvious but you better not forget about your actual suitcases and what you’re going to do with it!
How are your neighbors? Mine is a fussy old priss who bangs on my wall if I make any loud noises past 10 PM. I CAN’T EVEN SHOWER. You can hope your neighbor is either tolerant or deadf.
Have you checked for bugs or rats? Only Disney can make French rats cute, ok?
Is it well insulated? The buildings are old so that’s a hit or miss. You might have to buy a portable heater if it’s not included. Paris is cold during the winter. But then again, this is coming from a Southern California girl.
Are there any groceries around open on a Sunday?You will learn to hate this day when NOTHING IS OPEN.
Are you close to school/work? It gets really tiring when you have to take the Metro/RER/Bus all the time because you live so far. That cuts your social interaction, increases your transport budget, and you’re basically SOL if the French are striking.
Is there a Metro/RER/Bus/Vélib nearby?If you do live far, I encourage you to apply for an Imagine-R card and/or a Vélib pass if you like to bike. Unlimited rides, oh boy.
How is your neighborhood?No girl wants to end up Taken. Take a walk around at night before you snag that offer.
How much are you paying for the size?Anything less than 600 euros for 10-15 square meters is normal. 600-800 for a 15-25 square meter. 900-1200 for 25-40 square meters.
Will you get CAF?Complicated French thing where the government will reimburse you for a part of your rent.
I can’t think of anymore suggestions, but then again it’s 8 AM here and I actually haven’t gone to bed yet. (Maybe not having Internet included in your apartment isn’t that bad of an idea….You’ll be focused?)
Oh and for the prospective AUP students creeping this. Unfortunately, there’s no French House anymore, it was disbanded. I was lucky to have been able to try out the roommate experience. But honestly, don’t try finding an apartment with one of your new classmates that you met via Facebook unless you meet them in person and spend a good amount of time getting to know each other. It’s like a relationship, don’t commit early on. If you’re new to the city and nervous about living alone, stay at the Campuséa dorms for the first semester to at least to get yourself acclimated and establish your network of true friends. It’ll be nice for you to have a little bit of a real American college dorm experience too. Well, the closest that you can get. But once you’re ready, get yourself out of that place ASAP and start living like a real Parisian. It’s just way too far and expensive.
Finally, for any of you non-AUP students who happen to be reading this and are wondering how to rent an apartment, check out the following websites: