Apartment hunting in Paris should be considered an Olympic sport. It requires stamina, muscular calves, sharp eyes and a lot of willpower. We have been looking for an apartment for a week straight. By Parisian standards that is nothing.
There is no real centralized listing system in Paris for real-estate. Very few apartments are rented with out the help of a real-estate agent. Each agency (and by my estimation there must be about a 100 agencies per neighborhood) deals with a few apartments for sale and one or two rental properties. Each agency only handles its own listings.
For example if the agency on the left side of the street has five apartments for sale and one for rent, the agency on the right hand side of the street would have no knowledge of those listings, it would only know about the three properties it has for sale or rent.
So essentially you have to go from door to door asking if that particular agency has any rental properties. Most say non (I'll have to write a whole other entry about the French lover affair with the word no) so then you move on down the street to the next one and pop your head in there.
Once you have tracked down an apartment listing that matches your needs you have to request a rendez-vous with the agency listing it. In order to qualify for a visit you must first present your dossier.
Our dossier included the following items:
- A photo copy of my passport and Greg's French ID
- Our joint 2007 tax return to show how much we earned last year
- My last three pay stubs from Rick Steves
- A copy of our most recent bank and Smith Barney statements
- Our French bank account number
Then since we are young and only one of us in employed we needed someone to vouch for us incase we aren't able to pay rent. So we also had to include:
- Gégoire's parent's tax return
- Their pension plan
- An official estimated value of their home
- Their bank account number
My jaw nearly dropped to the floor when I heard the list of things they were asking from us. It took us one full day to collect, print and copy all of these documents. Then we raced around town looking for snazzy folders, as we say in my family, packaging is everything. Now all we need is a cover letter explaining our unique situation.