The Parisian cliché of a flat overlooking the Eiffel Tower is a myth. Finding an apartment in Paris is a tough grind.
Given the housing shortage in Paris, my temporary host family and coworkers were surprised that I managed to find a room in two and a half weeks. I too was surprised and was desperate to shorten my commute, even if it’s normal for people to commute an hour for work. However, my time in France is limited, I want to enjoy Paris as much as possible and live in the city.
In my search, replies from scammers were inevitable. From my experience, if they spoke English, the chances of it being a scam increased. I noticed on one person’s facebook account they were in several housing groups in cities like Berlin, Warsaw, London, etc- a red flag that they probably preyed on students looking for housing like me. . There were long-winded varied tales – of fathers who passed away and left their inheritance to their daughter, people moving away for work, trusting me and putting faith in God etc etc. But the end, it was all the same: they weren’t available in person, and involved sketchy money wiring transactions.
As for real people, there were also some interesting cases. One girl offered an apartment with a view of the Eiffel tower for only 550€ /month! The catch? ….Sharing a bed with her. Non, merci. Another girl questioned me on my character and religion. Other more common situations are poor students who fit two or three to a one person bedroom, or tiny “studios” 9m2 boxes that are technically illegal (since 2010 the legal space is 10m2).
Thus I was thrilled to finally find a place with my own large room 3 metro stops and 15 minutes away from my workplace. Owned by a tiny wealthy old lady with a little wiener dog, she rents out her 2 extra bedrooms to female students.
This is my fancy bourgeois style room that looks like it came straight from another era.
However, looks can be deceiving. The old apartment is not maintained. If you look closer in my room, the walls and ceiling are peeling and cracking.The hallway has a layer of newspaper to cover the deteriorating, uneven hardwood., The kitchen is cluttered and dirty, the bathtub slightly clogged, and the landlord … strange.
During my first visit to her apartment, she gave off an air of sophistication donning pearls, perfume, makeup and styled hair. She explained the mess was due to renovations. Nowadays that my contract has been signed and I moved in, she barely leaves the apartment, always wearing the same thick house robe. Oh, and I learned that her hair was a wig. And she requests that we take turns buying a special kind of pink toilet paper (wth?) Those newspapers still have not been moved. Although there is a “cleaning lady” who visits twice a week, she never does a thorough job. I guess it’s easy when the landlord has bad eyesight and is hard of hearing. My rant can go on and on…
I also strongly suspect the landlord also has money problems and depends on student’s rent money to keep up her lifestyle. She asked me for 50€ to borrow until her new bank card arrives. Upon telling the story to my roommate, apparently she was also asked the same favour. It’s a weird combination of annoyance and pity I have for the landlord, and even more so for her dog. Trying to make the best of the situation, I guess I do have a super nice roommate that’s quickly becoming a friend, and the dreadful state of the apartment encourages me to get out as much as possible. I guess the worst thing that can possibly happen, is if the landlord gets evicted (along with me and my roommate) and we begin the search all over again.