Living on a budget : flatsharing, colocation, subletting

Because the room rent of Paris and Ile de France region is high, and asks for conditions that are difficult to fulfill, many of us have gone through, or will go through phases in life, when they will live in a place which will be a sub rent or colocation, or sometimes a combination of both.

Types of flat-sharing :

A colocation or flat sharing exists in many ways. In the first type of colocation, multiple people rent and share a flat together. At times, you get together to rent a flat, and at times you get with someone / people already living in a flat and where one room has just been vacant. All of you share equally the roles, responsibilities and rights in the flat or house you are sharing.

This above type of colocation will give you equal rights as other occupants, and you are a part of the rent agreement. However, often in this kind of colocation, an agency is involved, and agency charges you need to consider paying. Besides needing to prove that your income is three times or more than the rent, and at times, need to bring in one or two French guarantors.

In a second type of colocation, you will deal directly with the concerned person, who may be the owner of a flat or a tenant who has taken in rent a flat bigger than what he will be using. Such types of colocations are easier to get as he who is managing the place will not want to keep his place empty for long. When such flat sharing is done without informing the landlord, this is illegal, though widely practiced.

We also have third and fourth types of colocations, both shady. Let’s see them one by one. This third type of colocation is like the second type, with the exception that the person you are in contact with is neither an official real estate agent, a person residing there, or the owner. They are middle men, or dalals as we call them in India, who know the owner, or the tenant who is renting the place officially. He will try to get you inside the place and will earn some commissions on the process, from you / from the renter / from both.

The problem in this system is, since your initial contact person is an agent and probably not caring about harming his business reputation, he may get you into obscure places you will regret getting in. If you are getting a place through this system, you will pay a less amount of middle men fee (agency fees) but be sure to get everything checked before getting inside.

The fourth type of colocation is the cheapest of all and is mostly seen among the (illegal) immigrant community. Here a room as little as 10 square meters can be used to accommodate 4 people, with two double storey bunk beds. In the worst-case scenarios, the same bed is shared by two individuals, one working during the day and the other during the night.

When multiple beds are kept in the same room, as described just above, the room rents are very low and is about 120 euros per person everything included, and you get a room in the surrounding cities around Paris. As these rooms are occupied by many single men, it may be uncomfortable for a girl to get into these beds. Besides such places do not come with a legal contract, as the minimum legal requirement for one person to live in France is 9 square meters, and such flats do not respect this minimum space.

How much for a room:

Speaking about price, the average price of living in or around Paris in a colocation / sub renting will be anything between (and around) 400 and 700 euros a month which should include all prices like water, electricity, internet, house insurance and yearly house tax. The price will vary depending on how posh the place your apartment is in, as well as the room size.

One way of reducing this cost, that some Indian students follow, is sharing one of these rooms with another student. Often, that means the price of the room will be increased by around 10% than if it were taken by one individual, but which is still significantly affordable as you are paying around 200 to 250 euros. At the same time, it demands greater flexibility as two people need to share the same room, and sometime, the same double bed.

Questions to ask while going for a colocation:

  1. Are you getting a key for the room? You must have it if you don’t want to wait for hours to wait for others to return. Never take a room without having a key.
  2. Will you have your name in the letter box? This is important in case you want to have letters. You will surely need to receive letter. In case you cannot have your name in the letter box, workaround would be to write “chez whose_name_is_there_in_the_letterbox”.  
  3. Are you getting a key for the letter box? Many times, you will come across people who won’t want to give you a key to their letter box. Having a key of the letter box will make your life comfortable, hence try negotiating this.
  4. Do you get a contract, and if not, do you get an 'attestation d'hébergement' to prove that you are living there, if needed. While the subletting will not give you a contract, most decent places should be able to give you an attestation d'hébergement.
  5. What cost the room rent includes, this is to be asked to understand if there are other charges to pay later. Normally your room rent should include everything, means: common charges, water, gas, electricity, internet, house insurance and yearly house tax.
  6. Ask also, if something is broken during your stay in the flat, who pays for the fixing. Like, the fridge, the washing machine etc. if stops to work, who pays to buy a new one. Often, it’s the residents themselves who will share the cost, and in some rare cases, it’s the landlord or main tenant residing there will pay for the same.
  7. Ask, how the daily expenditures are shared, like for detergent for clothes, dish washing liquid, toilet cleaning liquid, toilet paper, etc.
  8. When you need to leave the room, because you want it, or the other/s, what is the number of days before the concerned parties need to inform each other.

Make your flat sharing experience enjoying:

Before finishing, here are the golden things to remember to make your flat sharing experience an enjoying one. Remember that, a flat sharing is a concept of living together in the same flat, and hence it’s also about sharing a discussion, having a laugh, drink or going out for an event together. It’s like living with friends, where the friendship is “arranged”.

You also need to participate in the daily chores, like cleaning the common area or going out to throw the trash. Thereby making sure that the place you are living in stays clean.

If you are getting into a flat sharing only to save money and show indifference towards daily chores or your flat mates, at one moment or the other, tension will arrive, and you may risk yourself finding in a situation of searching for a new flat soon, which is a tedious process in Paris.

Where to look ?

If you are looking to rent a place by yourself, start by looking at posts on La Carte des Colocs and Appartager - these, along with Roomlala are the main sites for looking for flatsharing or colocations. There are also many facebook groups where members are publishing availabilities regularly. E.g. Colocation à Paris, Paris location, location / colocation à Paris, Accomodation in Paris, etc. Else there are sites that posts both flatsharing and private flats, as BoncoinPAP or Seloger.  Craigslist is another place.

One thing we need to be careful about, there are a lot of frauds happenning in the internet, through false availability posts. Stay always alert against possible scams, and use your common sense. In case of any doubt, or to be sure, post in our community and we will give you the best possible suggestions.

Author : Sourav Choudhury

Sourav Choudhury is a social entrepreneur living in France since 2003 and working for the cause of Indian community of France, since 2007. He is founder of multiple projects: the largest social network of the Indian community of France, a French language school for english speaking expatriates, this website, and few other projects.