Accommodation in France
Expats moving to France will find plenty of reasonably-priced, comfortable housing options available. Expats will discover that accommodation options in France run the full gamut, from furnished or unfurnished flats, to studio apartments, maisonettes, cottages, and stone farmhouses.
Renting property in France
Most expats will probably opt for renting property in France. Expats – and particularly those wishing to rent property in Paris – will find that housing costs are chiefly determined by the location of the abode. The golden rule is that the closer to the CBD the accommodation is, the higher the rent. As a result, it is not uncommon for expats to seek accommodation in slightly outlying districts of French cities, where for their hard-earned money, they can find bigger properties that are in better shape and that boast more creature comforts (such as air conditioning, double glazing, etc.) than anything available in the downtown areas.
Finding a property to rent in France can be a little testing. If using an estate agent, expats will need to provide three recent payslips, showing that monthly salary is (at least) three times the rent-value of the property of interest. Furthermore, the estate agent's fee will be as much as one month's rent. Renting directly from the owner or landlord of a property is possible, and can work to be more cost-effective.
Rental listings are given in a variety of print and online publications – usually, a time will be announced and all interested parties will view the property while it is 'on show'. Expats are warned, however, that competition for rentals can be very stiff (sometimes, as many as 50 applications for a single property). Expats should note that if opting to live in an apartment building or government-subsidised housing complex, their monthly utility bills will be included in their rent fees.
The standard of accommodation in France is similar to other western European countries, with comfortable – though small – living quarters predominating. Air conditioning is not a common feature except in the south of the country, while an adequate heating system is essential for those cold winters. As one travels further from the cities, iconic French châteaux, farm cottages, and stone houses become available.
While shipping furniture to France – particularly from within the EU – is a viable option, expats can also rest assured that they won't find much difficulty in buying furniture to suit their new home after arriving in the country. Paris, especially, is wonderfully shopper-friendly, boasting a famous range of second-hand and antique stores, as well as modern superstores such as IKEA.
Furthermore, furnished accommodation, as mentioned, is available and easy to find, though, the selected style may not exactly align with your own tastes and preferences. Do note that unfurnished accommodation in France, as opposed to other destinations, does not include any white label appliances, like a refrigerators or washing machines.
Since France is such a massively popular expat destination – with swathes of foreign nationals living in Paris, and in the wine country surrounding Bordeaux to the south – another benefit of relocating there is that expats do not need to worry unduly about feeling lonely or alienated, or 'cut off' from familiar society. Nevertheless, culture shock can be a factor for those unused to the famously robust Gallic personality style.
Home security will not be a major issue for expats relocating to France. Although petty theft and minor break-ins do occur in some neighbourhoods (especially downtown Paris), these crimes are seldom violent, and time and again, expats report that they feel very safe in their homes in France.
Buying property in France
Buying property in France is a popular option for expats, especially for retirees looking to live out their days in Provençal style.
Buying property in France is relatively straightforward for EU citizens: once you've selected a property, negotiate and enter into an initial agreement with the vendor. This agreement is called a Compromis de Vente or Contrat de Réservation, and is a legally-binding contract between the buyer and seller, which sets out the terms and price of the sale. A notaire – a publicly-appointed official representing the interests of the French government – will then be employed, to ensure that the property has sound title (i.e., that there are no irregularities in the ownership), and that the purchase or sale is correctly transacted.