Maybe just as important as obtaining that visa sticker for your passport is finding a place to live. Although NYU does offer its services in finding its students housing while abroad, I opted to find an apartment on my own since I wanted full control of where I would be living (i.e. I didn’t want to leave it up to chance that I may wind up with a two-transfer hour-long commute from the 13th arr.). So you must be thinking, “isn’t it really hard if you’re not there to see the apartments?” Well, yes it is.
Before you can start making deals, you are going to have to look at the possibilities and realize your budget. The short route to all of this, of course, is to contact a broker or an agency, but I’m looking to see all the possibilities and to minimize extra costs. From having rented an apartment before, I realized that my budget would be running around 900€ choses comprises (which means utilities and electricity bills are included) for approximately 200 sq ft with a washing machine and convection oven (these are my two deal breakers). Of course, you could tell me to forgo the washing machine and I’d have plenty more options available, but you have to realize that to do one load of whites and colors, and then dry, runs you about 9€ each time. I rather just integrate that in my budget and have the convenience of walking five seconds instead of five minutes. Anyway, there are several places to look for an apartment, seloger.fr, FUSAC, and Craigslist.
I considered using Se Loger, but I realized quickly that a lot of the available apartments were not within my budget or not in locations that I was considering (I wanted to secure this as soon as possible, and started looking from late April through June); well, I also found the website difficult to use (some things would load and some wouldn’t, it was all just very odd). The last apartment I stayed in, I found through Craigslist. But when sifting through the listings this time around, they were either out of my budget or were scams. Adhere to that old saying, if it’s too good to be true, then it can’t be; it’s much better to err on the side of caution in this case, as opposed to thinking you struck lucky. Knocking two out of three resources from my list, I stuck to using FUSAC, which is a classifieds listing geared towards ex-pat anglophones. Eventually, I did find an apartment within my price range and to my liking – 880€ (not including utility bills, but it would amount to approximately 930€ per month) for a 20m2 (approx 210 sq ft) with my beloved washing machine and convection oven, and also four metro stops away from school.
Securing the apartment, though, is difficult. I wanted to make sure that the person I was communicating with was the “real deal.” I asked one of my friends to see if she could check out the apartment for me, and circumstances didn’t allow so, but she did manage to chat with my future landlord over the phone and told me that my landlord was more wary of me than I was of her. I hadn’t realized that she could communicate in English, and was attempting to write in my two-year old style grammar. In either case, there were several phone conversations that followed, one between her cousin and I (my landlord went on vacation to Los Angeles for the month of June), and finally, between her and I.
My only gripes about the apartment is that the kitchen is too integrated with the apartment (I usually had a door or more space separating the living space from the kitchen) and that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of storage for my equipment. But with that said, I could probably buy a small table for my spices and another to put a dishing rack on. Aside from that, I’m quite content with this apartment and am quite in love with it. That, and it’s always good to know that I’m not homeless in a foreign city!