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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My husband will be attending SciencesPo this upcoming school year (for just 1 year) and we are looking for an apartment for the two of us + our 2 small children (too young for school). We are on a very tight budget, so we are looking for a 2 bedroom for $1400 or less/mo + $200 for utilities or any other fees. What are our options for that kind of a budget?

We know there isn't much in the city for that kind of a budget, but it's very important to us to be in a neighborhood that has some kind of Parisian/French charm. As in, we don't need to live right smack in the center of town, but we also don't want to be in an industrial neighborhood that is not aesthetically pleasing. We also won't have a car, so we can't be in a suburb that isn't walkable. We've looked at parts of the 17th, 18th and 19th (I think) and have considered some suburbs, like Versaille, Maisons-Laffitte, Montreuille, Levallois-Perret and Sceaux, but it's hard to get a good grasp on what the neighborhoods are really like, how expensive they really are and so forth.

Can anyone give us some recommendations and / or inside knowledge of any of the places already mentioned? Basically, any guidance on where to look for us would be great! Thank you!
 

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Mmmm I wouldn't recommend 18 or 19 personally. Gets more dicey there. I know those are cheaper, though.

As far as suburbs...other people on this board know more about that, which areas or good or not. I think that could be a good option for you. You'd get "more bang for your buck" as far as apartment size, esp since you have kids. And you don't need a car for those, I don't think. they have buses and the RER which connects to Paris.

In general, the north east area is not the best...Paris or suburbs...
 

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Not sure that 1400€ a month would get you much that is suitable for a family of 4 in Paris itself, much less $1400 (which is only 1231€). And unfortunately, the close in suburbs can be nearly as expensive as in the city itself.

You may want to consider looking at towns served by the RER network (at least to the west and south of Paris). The area around Palaiseau, Orsay, Bures and Gif is something of a "student area" so there is some less expensive housing available, and the towns themselves have actual "centers" with shops and markets and such. Not sure, though, if the "student housing" is set up for families with more than one child, but hey, you'll never know if you don't ask.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Just to check if my instinct was correct, I plugged in your budget (1200€), 3 pièces (3 rooms, which usually means 2 bedrooms), and told pap.fr (run of the mill non-agency apartment search website) to search all of Paris. I only got 2 1-bedroom apartments. So, unless you're willing and/or able to raise your budget a bit (I found a 2-bedroom apartment in the 20th for 1390€ plus utilities), you're probably not going to be able to afford to live in Paris. (Welcome to the club!)

It's also worth mentioning that the rental market in Paris is brutal, and as foreigners with no or non-French guarantors, you're not going to have an easy time of it. (Unless you get lucky, which, hey, is always possible!)

The suburbs you named are all safe, and you'll probably have an easier time finding an apartment in your budget there (except Levallois, which is nearly as expensive as Paris, I live right across the river from there), although Versailles is fairly far from Paris (half an hour on the RER C at least, if I remember correctly).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all the thoughtful responses everyone. Does anyone know if any of the suburbs mentioned (or any not mentioned) are cheap, under 30 min by transit to the Latin Quarter, have character, and are walkable (aka, can walk to bakery, butcher, etc.)? Some of those things are really hard to get a good grasp on from overseas and we won't have much time to find a place once we're there. Thanks!
 

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Thanks for all the thoughtful responses everyone. Does anyone know if any of the suburbs mentioned (or any not mentioned) are cheap, under 30 min by transit to the Latin Quarter, have character, and are walkable (aka, can walk to bakery, butcher, etc.)? Some of those things are really hard to get a good grasp on from overseas and we won't have much time to find a place once we're there. Thanks!
None of the suburbs you named are under 30 min. from the Latin quarter except maybe Sceaux. You probably want to look at the suburbs on the RER B (all of which except Bagneux are nice, safe areas) if that's a priority for you.

No safe neighborhood within 30 minutes of Paris is really "cheap", unfortunately. (Although I don't really know your standards for "cheap", so I'm going by mine). Ile-de-France is very densely populated and has a housing shortage. Usually if you stay within zones 2 and 3, you'll find yourself somewhere where you won't need a car. Zone 4 is where it starts to vary by town.

What do you mean by "character"?
 

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Thanks for all the thoughtful responses everyone. Does anyone know if any of the suburbs mentioned (or any not mentioned) are cheap, under 30 min by transit to the Latin Quarter, have character, and are walkable (aka, can walk to bakery, butcher, etc.)? Some of those things are really hard to get a good grasp on from overseas and we won't have much time to find a place once we're there. Thanks!
As you'll probably find for yourselves once you get here, there isn't a simple answer to your questions. How long it takes to get to the Latin Quarter depends on how close you are to an RER station, and once you get into Paris, how many changes of train you have to make to get where you're going.

A larger town like Orsay, Palaiseau, etc. has many bakeries and butchers and a number of super markets or moderately sized grocery stores, too. Also most larger towns have one or more "marchés" (outdoor markets) each week. Again, it depends on where you find to live within the suburb whether you "need" a car to do your shopping or not.

The "character" issue is one only you can judge. And again, parts of a larger town will have lots of older buildings with some historical significance, and other parts will be more recently built, fairly sterile looking residential towers and whatever - though that's often where the less expensive housing is located. (There's a big move on here to build new housing to try to get around a chronic housing shortage.)

One thing you haven't mentioned is your own level of French. Once you get outside the touristy sections, it can be difficult to function without a basic level of French at least - or some helpful organizations (like AVF) nearby to help you settle in. For any of the towns you're considering, you should find the town website (not the tourist association for the town) - usually the site for the mairie (town hall). They'll list (in French) all the town activities and facilities and may give you a good idea of the "character" of a given town, at least the administrative side of things. Here's an example for Orsay: Mairie d'Orsay
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I think the OP budget will stretch for a place in Lavallois. It will be small but nice.

Location appartement 3 pièces Levallois-Perret - appartement F3/T3/3 pièces 58,3m² 1450€/mois

Lavallois is like a mini Paris basically. It is very charming. There is no difference in terms of architecture, restaurants, parks ect. In fact you would think you were in the 15th Quarter. I walk through there 2 or 3 times a week. There are loads of English speakers as well.

You could easily get to the Latin Quarter in 30 mins. It is just one change on the metro.

One thing to consider. If you are inside Paris with no car you will have to pay Paris prices for food and sundries. In Lavallois you have one of the best shopping centres in Paris. Underneath it is a very large Leclec supermarket. You will save a fortune by shopping there than your local Franprix. So you may have to stretch your budget a little bit for rent but you will save on your monthly food bills.

An alternative is to cross 'Pont de Lavallois' and have a look for flats in Becon de Bruyeres. They will be a little cheaper and bigger but the area is just as nice and very safe. Also you have the train (very safe too) to get into central Paris in less than 8 mins. Personally I would look here.

For example

Location appartement 3 pièces Courbevoie - appartement F3/T3/3 pièces 60m² 1200€/mois
 

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I think the OP budget will stretch for a place in Lavallois. It will be small but nice.

Location appartement 3 pièces Levallois-Perret - appartement F3/T3/3 pièces 58,3m² 1450€/mois

Lavallois is like a mini Paris basically. It is very charming. There is no difference in terms of architecture, restaurants, parks ect. In fact you would think you were in the 15th Quarter. I walk through there 2 or 3 times a week. There are loads of English speakers as well.

You could easily get to the Latin Quarter in 30 mins. It is just one change on the metro.

One thing to consider. If you are inside Paris with no car you will have to pay Paris prices for food and sundries. In Lavallois you have one of the best shopping centres in Paris. Underneath it is a very large Leclec supermarket. You will save a fortune by shopping there than your local Franprix. So you may have to stretch your budget a little bit for rent but you will save on your monthly food bills.

An alternative is to cross 'Pont de Lavallois' and have a look for flats in Becon de Bruyeres. They will be a little cheaper and bigger but the area is just as nice and very safe. Also you have the train (very safe too) to get into central Paris in less than 8 mins. Personally I would look here.

For example

Location appartement 3 pièces Courbevoie - appartement F3/T3/3 pièces 60m² 1200€/mois
Ah, I forgot Levallois! Yes, that would get you to Paris in under 30 minutes. I don't think it's much cheaper than Paris, though.
 

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I don't think it's much cheaper than Paris, though.
I think you would get more for their money in terms renovation/quality of life in Lavallois rather than some dodgy street in central Paris.

Like I said I would cross the bridge as rents will be cheaper, and it will be quicker to get into Paris with the train.

The whole problem will be securing a flat. They would have to pay the whole years rent in one go I suspect. I don't know how it works on short term rents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
An alternative is to cross 'Pont de Lavallois' and have a look for flats in Becon de Bruyeres. They will be a little cheaper and bigger but the area is just as nice and very safe. Also you have the train (very safe too) to get into central Paris in less than 8 mins. Personally I would look here.

For example

Location appartement 3 pièces Courbevoie - appartement F3/T3/3 pièces 60m² 1200€/mois[/QUOTE]


That listing looks really nice and the apartment looks like it would certainly meet our needs. I'm surprised to find one that looks so nice, in an area that, from what you say, is so charming as well. When I search for this area on listing sites should I search Becon de Bruyeres? Lavallois? Courbevoie? Is it really so close to Paris (less than 8 min by train)? Basically, am I missing something here?
 

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The whole problem will be securing a flat. They would have to pay the whole years rent in one go I suspect. I don't know how it works on short term rents.
We might actually be able to do that! We're financing this whole thing through savings, pretty much, so we'll have all the money we'll be living off of from the beginning. Would that make a big difference?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The "character" issue is one only you can judge. And again, parts of a larger town will have lots of older buildings with some historical significance, and other parts will be more recently built, fairly sterile looking residential towers and whatever - though that's often where the less expensive housing is located. (There's a big move on here to build new housing to try to get around a chronic housing shortage.)

One thing you haven't mentioned is your own level of French. Once you get outside the touristy sections, it can be difficult to function without a basic level of French at least - or some helpful organizations (like AVF) nearby to help you settle in. For any of the towns you're considering, you should find the town website (not the tourist association for the town) - usually the site for the mairie (town hall). They'll list (in French) all the town activities and facilities and may give you a good idea of the "character" of a given town, at least the administrative side of things. Here's an example for Orsay: Mairie d'Orsay
Cheers,
Bev

Yes, I guess what I mean by character is that I want the buildings to look like classic/old French buildings instead of sterile apartment blocs. If we're going to move to Paris I want to feel like I live in Paris, not just another suburb that looks like every other suburb the world over. We live in a suburb in the US right now and I just feel it sucking the life out of me!

As for French skills, hubs and I both speak some, but are not fluent. That said, we spent a year in a fairly provincial area of Taiwan and didn't speak ANY Chinese and we survived, so I guess we're just figuring that at least we'll fare better than we did in Taiwan? One of the main reasons I want Paris to be very accessible though is that the kids and I really like to get out of the house and do stuff and that seems much more possible with an entire train network and large city a few minutes walk away than if we're over 30 minutes from even getting into the city. Aye.
 

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Basically, I mean somewhere that looks sterotypically old European I guess? As opposed to sterile apartment blocs.
Just be careful with that definition. If you've ever read the book, Le Divorce, by Diane Johnson, you'll get some idea what I mean. In the early days in and around Paris, the city can start to look just a bit "dirty" or "grungy" due to all the old buildings (with the obvious disadvantages of old style construction combined with modern day air pollution). Even more "modern" construction in and around Paris does seem to have its own "style" which may or may not suit your tastes. (And don't forget - air conditioning is still a rarity in residential construction.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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An alternative is to cross 'Pont de Lavallois' and have a look for flats in Becon de Bruyeres. They will be a little cheaper and bigger but the area is just as nice and very safe. Also you have the train (very safe too) to get into central Paris in less than 8 mins. Personally I would look here.

For example

Location appartement 3 pièces Courbevoie - appartement F3/T3/3 pièces 60m² 1200€/mois

'That listing looks really nice and the apartment looks like it would certainly meet our needs. I'm surprised to find one that looks so nice, in an area that, from what you say, is so charming as well. When I search for this area on listing sites should I search Becon de Bruyeres? Lavallois? Courbevoie? Is it really so close to Paris (less than 8 min by train)? Basically, am I missing something here?[/QUOTE]'



Not missing anything. Well, except that it is not as busy as 'Paris'. But after a hard day walking/exploring in Paris it is nice to come back to a bit of calm. They are all very prestigious places.

The 'Hausmann' type building you are referring to are everywhere in those types of areas. You also have some very nice 1930's brick buildings. The reason there are flats to rent in these type of character buildings is because they don't have car parking spaces. Also a 50-60 sq m flat is too big/expensive for a couple but too small for a family.
 

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'That listing looks really nice and the apartment looks like it would certainly meet our needs. I'm surprised to find one that looks so nice, in an area that, from what you say, is so charming as well. When I search for this area on listing sites should I search Becon de Bruyeres? Lavallois? Courbevoie? Is it really so close to Paris (less than 8 min by train)? Basically, am I missing something here?
'



Not missing anything. Well, except that it is not as busy as 'Paris'. But after a hard day walking/exploring in Paris it is nice to come back to a bit of calm. They are all very prestigious places.

The 'Hausmann' type building you are referring to are everywhere in those types of areas. You also have some very nice 1930's brick buildings. The reason there are flats to rent in these type of character buildings is because they don't have car parking spaces. Also a 50-60 sq m flat is too big/expensive for a couple but too small for a family.
Just seconding what Smeg says--Courbevoie is a really nice, calm, family-friendly area maybe 10 minutes by train to St. Lazare, and has the haussmanien (or haussmanien-esque) buildings you seem to crave :p Bécon les Bruyères, Levallois, and Asnières would be good choices too (Bécon and Asnières are on the L line to St. Lazare, Levallois is at the end of the 3), but there's still a chance you would have to exceed your budget for a 2 bedroom.

Also, for paying a year's worth of rent up front, I believe it's technically illegal, but people do it all the time to get a leg up in the insane rental market. (We lost out on an apartment in the 17th because someone did this!) If it's feasible for you, offer, because you will already be at a disadvantage as foreigners without steady employ.
 

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I think 1200-1400 euros is enough for what the OP is looking for.

Just to clarify things a bit more.

Bécon les Bruyères is a station that is in Asnières, Courbevoire and Bois Colombes. (You need to look on Google maps) I live in Bois Colombes 'Becon' but the road opposite is in Courbevoire 'Becon'. The station is a 5 min walk but I would access it on the Asniéres/Becon side. So within the space of 5 mins I can walk through 3 different areas. Lavallois metro is a 15 mins walk. Basically all the areas are all intertwined.

You can even look in Bois Colombes itself which is the next stop up the line...

Location appartement 3 pièces Bois-Colombes - appartement F3/T3/3 pièces 47m² 897€/mois
Renting a flat is going to be your biggest problem. I strongly advise going through an agency.
 

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That apartment in Courbevoie looks quite nice and the kitchen is equipped. A majority of places in the Paris region do not have kitchen appliances, just a kitchen sink, or maybe some cabinets. You have to buy all the appliances. If you are lucky the apartment has an equipped kitchen.

You can also try Montrouge which is on the No. 4 line and is a nice place to live with old buildings. The area is right next to the 14th district of Paris where you will find lots of parks and places to walk. And Montrouge is quite safe.
 

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That apartment in Courbevoie looks quite nice and the kitchen is equipped. A majority of places in the Paris region do not have kitchen appliances, just a kitchen sink, or maybe some cabinets. You have to buy all the appliances. If you are lucky the apartment has an equipped kitchen.
Agreed. You'll notice the last link Smeg posted the kitchen only had a connected sink - no cupboards, nothing else. Mind you, you also always have to consider the size of the kitchen in terms of how you prefer to cook (eg. is there room for hotplates, oven, microwave, appliances, pots and pans, refrigerator/freezer). Oh, and most French people have relatively small fridges, often tall and skinny (because that is what they can fit into the frequently small kitchens).
 
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