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Hi, again, folks!

My husband and I are arriving in Toulouse at the very end of November. The plan right now is to get an airbnb or some such short term rental through the very beginning of January (5 weeks), while we look for an apartment in the city. So, a couple questions regarding rentals and assumptions about the renting timeline:

1. Are there other good places to look for rentals for just a month or two? I'm checking out airbnb.com and a (new to me) site called HousingAnywhere.com. I checked VRBO and Homeaway as well, but they only seem to have nightly pricing and don't discount for longer stays. I'm thinking we need a small 1-bedroom (we might kill each other if cooped up in a small studio for more than a week), preferably with a washer.

2. I know it's possible to find apartments in the winter, but that the rental market is much slower. Given that the Christmas/New Years holidays come up soon after we move, do you think we're better off expecting to book a short-term place for a couple months to give us time to look (and to allow for holiday-related delays) and then plan to move in Feb. 1?

3. Or am I really over-thinking all of this? Do we plan for finding a place by early January and just find another place to stay short-term if we don't? My concern with not finding a place by January is that I have no idea when our appointment at the prefecture will be. The instructions that we got with our visas say that we have to go the the prefecture within one week of arrival to secure an appointment (which I thought was a little soon, but I'm not going to argue with written instructions stapled to my passport). And also it just delays all of the other things that we can't do without an apartment lease and gas bills, etc...

Thanks for any advice you may have to give!

Jessica
 

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It helps to understand how the rental law works here. Basically, any unfurnished residential rental rents on a 3 year lease. Granted, you can cancel the lease if you give sufficient notice (usually one to three months). But obviously, you supply all the furniture and most of the appliances (like a washer).

Anything furnished is essentially treated like a "hotel" (which may be why you're seeing so many per night rates quoted). It may be possible to rent a furnished place for, say, a year on a more "residential" basis, but holiday rentals and such tend to go by the night or by the week.

You may want to look into something like an apart-hotel (roughly equivalent to the "suites hotels" you get back in the US). Chances are they might have laundry facilities on site. But I think it tends to be rare for apartments to rent with a washing machine. (Again, your mileage may vary.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Jessica, I'm just validating what bev wrote. We couldn't find any furnished rentals in France except the high price vacation type. Once in a blue moon we came across a furnished studio.

There are some areas of france where a low priced flat or town house seemed to us a better idea than the vacation rental route!

If you are just planning to rent at holiday rates for a few weeks before your unfurnished long contract place, there seem to be quite a lot available in your area. You stand more chance finding a holiday flat now than most any other time imo.
Best wishes :)
 

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My husband and I are arriving in Toulouse at the very end of November.
See if you can find a good relocation firm that will deal with you as an individual (many of them only deal with corporations for its employees).

We found a good one here in Lyon and while it's costing some money (not a lot) I believe that it's money well spent. They arranged for us to be able to open a bank account, find an unfurnished rental, work out the lease, get hooked up to gas, electricity, Internet, etc. We found a nice AirBnB on our own but they were willing to help us find temporary digs.
 

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See if you can find a good relocation firm that will deal with you as an individual
What, and miss out on all the fun! It's a rites of passage to you're becoming more French-like; at times the intiation is more like hazing but we all get through it - well, most of us.

It only took a half-doz different banks over 4 months to get an acct, and extra money for deposit and prepaid rents but got a roof over our heads.

Look at the bright side, you get free French lessons and once you've gone through it you can give helpful advice on this forum (unlike this post :))
 

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A relocation firm is a good idea if you can find one that services your area, because there can be all sorts of issues renting long-term, not the least of which is often a guarantor.

I suspect it would be extremely difficult for the OP to find a long-term rental (other than a holiday let where the owner is prepared to rent for longer; many of those landlords, though, will not require you to pay the entire period up-front - check sites such as abritel.fr) in just 5 weeks, especially given end of year holidays.

Note: 'long-term' rental in France is a 1 year lease for furnished premises, 3 years for unfurnished (although, of course, you can give notice).
 

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I don't have too much to add...it's kind of a game of luck finding an apartment or not. Toulouse is a comparatively big city (compared to some other cities) so I feel you'll find something somewhat quickly. Maybe not as many will be open in the winter as in the summer (after school lets out), but even still. I mean, honestly, you might find something within five weeks. Maybe you could do through mid-January? I know that's random but maybe give yourself six or seven weeks just to be on the safe side. (Because like you said, maybe they'll be on vacation for Christmas a little)

I don't know why, but I'm not feeling like you won't be able to find anything. I bet you''l find something within a few weeks, especially being there in person. but maybe I'm oddly overly optimistic............ every time I've tried, I've found something within 1-3 weeks its seems lol, even from abroad. maybe I just lucked out. (Okay, the "1 week" time is when I had someone in Paris helping me, she found that within like four days lol, in January... but still, I don't feel I've never needed to look more than three or four weeks thus far?)

Oh and leboncoin is another thing to look at if you haven't already. Being there in person with a French phone will definitely help you though bc many of those will say "RDV/apartment viewing by phone call only" etc
 

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I feel that the experience of furnished rentals must be very different outside of Paris, as nearly everyone I know lives in a furnished rental with a normal lease (1-year).

Maybe as Toulouse is a pretty big city it will be the same thing as in Paris?
 

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piggy, I've found it to be about half and half outside of Paris as far as furnished or unfurnished...at least it seems like it. There are definitely furnished ones though, too. The unfurnished ones might be a little less expensive. But there've definitely been a good number of furnished ones available, too, during my searches on leboncoin and whatnot (outside of Paris!) Now keep in mind, the "furniture" might be sparse, like a fold out couch-bed and other very old and worn crap, but hey. Still furnished. (Again I'm always looking at the low-end bracket of apartments though as far as cost haha).

I've looked only in towns that also have a university, so maybe that's why. But Toulouse definitely does, so I agree with you...I am sure they'll have some furnished ones available. They may just be a little harder to get? I don't know. But the furniture might be stank anyway so getting your own can have its benefits (though I have some horror stories as far as furniture companies and their delivery, PM me if you want to know who I DO NOT advise...not allowed to bash companies in public )
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
See if you can find a good relocation firm that will deal with you as an individual (many of them only deal with corporations for its employees).

We found a good one here in Lyon and while it's costing some money (not a lot) I believe that it's money well spent. They arranged for us to be able to open a bank account, find an unfurnished rental, work out the lease, get hooked up to gas, electricity, Internet, etc. We found a nice AirBnB on our own but they were willing to help us find temporary digs.
Thanks, everyone, for the advice!

Colburn (or others),
Any ideas of a ballpark of what we might expect to pay to a relocation service (if we can find one)? And if anyone can recommend one?

I'm all for doing things ourselves and learning the ropes, however, I'm also not opposed to buying someone else's time - if they can work more efficiently and save me from some pitfalls. I'd have to do some mental (and emotional) calculus to see what that might be worth to us in timesavings and peace of mind. I honestly hadn't thought of a relocation service because I assumed that most were engaged solely by companies, plus I have no earthly idea about the cost. Is it expensive enough that we'd rather do it ourselves or just enough within reach that it might be a good investment to allow us to focus on other things (like getting my husband's dance teaching career underway).
 

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Any ideas of a ballpark of what we might expect to pay to a relocation service (if we can find one)?
We have paid 1850€ + VAT for our relocation services.

For that they arranged contact with a sympathetic bank, walked us through opening an account (documents and other paperwork were sent before arrival so actually opening the account took less than a week), found several apartments for us to look at within a defined budget (although we wound up with an apartment that my wife found on Seloger that had just come one the market), walked us through the rental process and dealt with the apartment's owner and rental/management agency and arranged the set-up of electricity, gas and Internet services.

We have had a single-person contact at the firm who has been excellent.

(We found a very nice two bedroom flat on AirBnB for around $2000 per month and it seems that Toulouse has similar listings. You'll often get a discount for a month-long rental.)
 

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We had a bank account six days after arriving in Lyon.
Knowing what I know now I could get a bank acct in less than 6 days. We lost 3 mos waiting for one bank to sort out new procedures on dealing with FATCA.

We have paid 1850€ + VAT for our relocation services
Ouch! Cost me zip-all. Found a lovely apt on quiet Passage in Oberkampf all by ourselves. One thing I'm learning in France is you need to be creative - get alerts sent to you from immobiliers, leboncoin, pap, seloger, louer agile et al. When they ask for guarantors, tax rtns, pay slips, etc put up larger deposit and/or prepay the rent several months in advance. Or, see if your bank will act as guarantor w/dedicated savings acct. Finagle, bargain, charm - they like that and you get to improve your French

But, I agree, if your time is more valuable and you have loads of dosh get a relocation service
 

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I'm not all knowledgeable for the French rental market. However, in my French family there are 3 or 4 current students,and 2 ex students......never sure how many exactly! They are studying away from home in places such as Rennes,Nantes and Le Mans. They, or their parents!!!!, don't seem to have difficulty getting sole student appartments of good quality, and in a recent case, at short notice.

Certainly the parents are French and understand the written and unwritten rules, and can provide payslips, proof of address etc.

My point is that it CAN be straightforward, but clearly it is often difficult for foreigners, especially if you are not in France yet. I fully agree with a recent post that creativity, boldness and a willingness to accept that France is different will win in the end.

DejW
 

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oh yeah it was completely different than renting an apartment in America. There you go to the apartment complex, look at what apartments they have available, sign a lease, etc. Or go to the office of the realty company. Here it's more a bunch of random apartments owned by random people and you have to hunt around to find one. There are some "residences" buildings here but I've never messed with that. And some agents who might help you navigate the random apartments out there.

But, yeah, Dejw, your student relatives' ability to find places matches mine, too. I feel confident jesshammer will find something and it won't take too long. However, be open to obstacles and frustrations, as always. And if one strategy doesn't work, try another ...
 

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Just bear in mind that this is France and the French you are talking about and not USA so things are going to be different. We would find the same if we went to the USA such as realtors listings and realtors that don't take up other realtors' referrals to avoid sharing the commission.
 

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Isn't that what I just said, lol? It is completely different. I was adding on to DejW's post. Not sure who you were responding to (or maybe you were just reaffirming) :)
 

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Isn't that what I just said, lol? It is completely different. I was adding on to DejW's post. Not sure who you were responding to (or maybe you were just reaffirming) :)
Probably the latter. It is a fact that many inexperienced people go to another country and become involved/embroiled in an enterprise/transaction expecting it all to be "just like home" when it isn't, not only are there different business/legal practices to be considered, different cultures with different senses of priorities, etc, etc. But still people go to another country and expect it to be the same as what they are familiar with - a good example is the US sub-prime market which caught out many Brits who bought property there, only to lose heavily when the bubble burst. We lost about $180k mostly because of a dodgy/unethical realtor [a female dog comes to mind!] but we didn't find out about her until it was way too late.
 

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I think the main thing you need to remember about the differences between renting in the US vs. renting in France is that there is no centralized credit rating agency in France. So every landlord is taking a real flyer on whether or not the potential renter is willing and/or able to pay the rent every month without hassle.

Then, too, the laws for renting residences in France do tend to favor the renter - certainly to the extent that a landlord can't evict someone just because they haven't paid the rent or may have trashed the apartment.

The key thing is to find a way to convince the landlord that you are responsible, can cover the rent and won't give him or her any hassle.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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