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When applying for a long-stay visa (non-lucrative) in France, how long does the accommodation have to be for?

And can it be in an AirBnb or similar or does it have to be in a rented apartment (or purchase) with a contract?

Seem to recall that it could be 90 days in an airbnb or hotel - is that correct?

Merci!
 

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How long are you planning to stay in France?

The loose secret rule is at least that you can show three months in one place. However, this might depend on which consulate you are going to. For example, mine was DC. Their website says you need to have a lease for your stay. I called and asked and she was like well at least show you have three months.... So I ended up booking a place for three months (that I could cancel) while also actively looking for a long-term lease. I made a point to show my efforts for looking for that lease, too. It worked at that consulate anyway. Some people report even less strict consulates than that. Eh?

I'm so blasé about it now, but this whole accommodation visa requirement stressed me out big time at the time!
 

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As Soleil says, it's not really a hard and fast rule - plus, there is the usual caveat that things can vary from one consulate to another.

Her point is well taken, though. If you're going to set up accommodation for only a couple of months at the start, you need to demonstrate that you have plans to secure longer term arrangements during that time. What they are trying to avoid is having you arrive on a long-stay visa and then disappearing into the crowd, never to be heard of again.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Bonjour to all. I'm a new member to the forum and while I've been reading for a while, I'm now registered and looking forward to sharing. My plan is to move to Paris in the Oct/Nov 2018 time frame. So I'm in my research mode at this point trying to learn all that is involved. So expect more questions along the way.:p

How would one document that they are actively seeking long term accommodations while having proof of a shorter-term rental? Would a letter from an apartment search company provide that? I'm hoping to find my long term (i.e. 12 month) apartment before moving but may not. It just seems like the process of obtaining a long term visa and finding a long term apartment is a catch-22 and a bit of the 'which comes first - the chicken or the egg'.

Merci!
 

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It can depend a bit on what type of visa you'll be getting. If it's one of the visas that requires you to go through the OFII processing, for example, you need to submit your OFII forms within the first couple of months you are in France and you need to give the OFII an address where you can be contacted to arrange for an appointment.

I guess the main thing is that your accommodation has to someplace where you can be contacted - usually by postal mail, as that's how they do things.

I'd be wary of arranging for longer term accommodation sight unseen. The ideal situation is, of course, to make a trip over as a "tourist" to arrange for a place to stay, but that has its own problems due to the need for a bank account, guarantor and whatever else. But the consulates know full well that is the case.

You probably won't need "proof" that you will be looking for a longer term place to live. Just to demonstrate that you have a plan for finding long-term accommodation after your arrival and will be reachable during the time that you're looking.

Do be aware, too, that the normal situation in France is that an unfurnished apartment rents for 3 years, while a furnished apartment rental can be for a single year (or shorter period). Of course you can get out of the full term of a 3 year lease with the proper notice and all.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hi ntoolan,

I'll just tell you what I did. There is no "rule" about "you must show evidence of at least trying..." so I can't say for sure what would or would not count. But I was just doing everything to cover my bases as possible.

I lived in Paris 2015-2016. I found a (not exactly cheap) "consultant" type who helps people find apartments in Paris. She wasn't willing to start looking until I got the visa, though. However, I had already signed the contract with her. So...then, with another company, I rented an apartment for 3 months (...again, they had a cancellation policy of a total refund!). I printed out the receipt and booking. I also brought the contract I had done with the other "apartment hunting consultant." During my visa appointment, I showed her both things and she seemed satisfied. She just reiterated to make sure I had a place for three months. I felt like she appreciated having evidence that I was looking longterm, too. (Then, a month before I left, the consultant found me an apartment and I cancelled with the other place).

So, other suggestions. If you're looking on leboncoin, or other rental sites...maybe if you can get an interaction going with one person, and bring copies of that. Or at least print out pages of LeBenCoin of apartments fitting your parameter to at least show you're actively trying...something! But yes if you're working with an agent, having an email trail or something for that would probably help too.

Again, these aren't rules...just ideas based on what I did. No one knows for sure the real secrets of what they want or find acceptable!

But definitely go in with the attitude that you have a place at least for three months but are looking for a longterm accomodation. Don't just be like "Well I booked a hotel for a week and will look for an apartment then, is that okay?" They want more commitment than that!

And, while Bev is right, renting "sight unseen" is not ideal ... I've done it twice now (in Paris, through that consultant, who sent me videos) and Poitiers (through LocService -- just me talking directly to the landlady -- a leap of faith, she just sent pics and seemed responsive and even drew me a little floorplan when I was confused about the bathroom -- I got here and it was indeed as advertised)... and thankfully it's turned out okay. It's a mix of going with your gut, and a lot of Google street view searches, as well as researching "safe" areas or not... To me, I wanted to just have a place secured before I got there and not have to deal with an apartment hunt on top of everything else once there. Ask a lot of questions though, about if there is a bathroom, etc ad infinitum....ask for photo proof too.

Hope that helps...?

PS. and YESSS it is a total chicken or the egg Catch-22!!!!! There are lots of those!! And I like your idea of printing out a letter from an agency....really, the more backup you have the merrier in my opinion.
 

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Thank you Soleil for sharing your experience. I'm all over the place in terms of how I want to proceed. I've already contacted several apartment search/property management companies and of course it's too early to look. I've probably looked at 1000+ apts online to get a sense of space, price, location etc. and done numerous google walks around neighborhoods. Like you I do trust my gut a lot and have done so with shorter term (up to a month) rentals in Paris. But committing to a year in a place is more daunting. But if I have a good representative that can provide photos and videos while doing a walk through, I would be comfortable.

One complicating factor is that I am planning to move my 2 cats along with me. So my strong preference is to have a place ready when I arrive, rather than relocating after a short term rental. I'm thinking that I may have to do a short trip about 6 weeks before I plan to move to scope out apartments that will be available around the time of my move. Then I could return with a signed lease etc. If that fails, then I could book something for the shorter term even if at an aparthotel. But then the timing of the visa application becomes critical as well as giving notice to my current apartment management.

Perhaps I could apply for the visa before this short term trip showing contacts with apartment search companies, a booking for a 3 month short term rental and documentation for the short trip to find long term accommodation.

At this point my head is just swimming with a variety of ideas, questions etc.. and I spend hours looking at various apartments online, even if not available for my time period. What I should be doing is starting to downsize and getting rid of all my stuff. I plan to sell most of my things.

But what keeps me sane is hearing from people like you who have made this move despite the hiccups and bumps in the road. Thanks.
 

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I'm in the middle of something else right now but just a quick response...

Taking a trip there, I feel like that will be daunting on top of all you're trying to do, and may be weird as far as the visa (when you entered or didn't). I don't know. I would lean towards just taking a leap of faith on an apartment from abroad vs flying there after your visa appointment but before your visa starts (which again, I feel like might complicate things as far as your allotted time in the country? I don't know how that works exactly). And, even without cats, I wanted to have a place as soon as I got there, too! I almost feel like visiting places in person is more competitive somehow, so finding that lone random person who is willing to work with your weird situation is what has worked for me (but again, try to make sure it isn't a scam or something).

Another thing that may reassure...technically you can always get out of a lease. You have to write a written letter to the landlord, I think at least a month before you want to leave for a furnished place (might be 3 months for an unfurnished, I'd have to double check). So say, you rent a place from abroad...you get there and it's hideous and dilapidated...well, I would try to get out of it as soon as possible and try to find another one. I guess my point is, though it's scary to commit to a year-lease, you're not totally stuck (legally)...

The cats does complicate it, so yeah, I think it would probably be helpful for you to have some kind of consultant or agent that can help interact with the landlords over there to find you something.

It is a lot of catch-22s and like I said, I stressed out a LOT about this back in 2014 when I was trying to figure it all out. I remember there was one weekend I even had to just stop everything and hole up in bed because I was too overwhelmed. But at the end of the day, it worked out, I suppose. So keep the faith ;)
 

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A couple things to consider in your situation:

You say you're looking for a place for a year. Does that mean that you will only be living in France for a year and then returning home?

Are you planning on renting furnished or unfurnished? And if unfurnished, will you be shipping your furniture over or furnishing after you get here? (IKEA, thrift shops, rummage sales. etc.?)

You may have more problems finding a place with the cats if you're looking for a furnished place - simply because there is more potential for problems if you're relying on the landlord's furniture.

Shipping your cats over can be an expensive proposition, but when I came over (to Germany), the pet shipping people boarded my cats from the date I came over until a week or two later when I got possession of the flat I rented.It's an option worth looking into.

Consider, too, an apart-hotel for the first month or two. I think that could be OK with the Consulate (combined with looking for a place longer term). Apart-hotels in France are basically the "suites" kind of place that is common in the US - a hotel, but with kitchen facilities. I don't know how the apart-hotels here deal with pets, but you won't know until you ask. It's certainly a way to buy yourself a bit of time to find someplace you'll be happy with and can thoroughly check out in person. But if you're only staying for a year, it may or may not be a efficient approach.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Bev, just want to point out...not for the "first month or two"...I really would advise to at least have three months on paper, booked, somehow!
Agreed - however it can also come down to a matter of what, exactly, you are planning on doing in France. Very different if you're apply for a student visa vs. a visitor visa for a retiree vs. a work-related visa or a visitor visa to literally "visit" France for a single year.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Yes, true... for the student visa....they don't actually ask for proof of accommodation at all on the checklist. However, this last time I went (the time she decided to grill me for some reason), she did ask about accommodation. Thankfully, last minute I'd booked two weeks at an apart-hotel type place just to cover my bases and showed her that!
 

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Hi again,
I am looking for a year lease to start but with the option to renew. Most likely I'll be in France for several years but at this point, looking for a year + renew. I plan to rent furnished unless I find that is really a problem with landlords & cats. Then I consider unfurnished and buying a minimum of cheap/reasonable furniture. I am not shipping over any furniture or personal items, just what I can bring in suitcases.

I do know all the process for bringing animals. My cats are not chipped but will be by then. I took two cats to Africa with me and after 5 years returned to the US with 5 cats. These are my remaining 2 and while they probably don't remember the trip, I do. The requirements for their transport is why I'm planning to move in the fall when temperatures here in Florida will not be too hot. Also I'll most likely drive to either Miami or Atlanta so I can get a non-stop flight.

I have looked into apart hotels and while pricey per month compared to an apartment, it may be the best solution as their cancellation policies are reasonable and many do allow pets for a supplement.

It's quite the puzzle for sure but I have wanted this for so long so it's all worth it.

Thanks for all the invaluable information and advice. You'll see more questions soon!
 

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Bev you mention a retiree visa vs a long term visitor visa. Is there such a difference?

I am retired and don't intend on working. From everything I've read I would apply for a long term visitor visa. Is there something I'm missing?
 

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Bev you mention a retiree visa vs a long term visitor visa. Is there such a difference?

I am retired and don't intend on working. From everything I've read I would apply for a long term visitor visa. Is there something I'm missing?
No, you're correct - a retiree would get a visitor visa. It's just that in the decision making process it can make a difference what you indicate as your "reason" for wanting to go to France. (This relates to the ever-present matter of "discretion" granted to the fonctionnaires who make these decisions.) Your accommodation arrangements are considered in light of what you have said you are planning to do while in France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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So, given that you're going for a visitor visa, I'd say at least have a place for three months and try to show some active effort/intention for longterm. Be on the safe side.
 
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