Friday, 3 January 2014

Where to live in Paris?

Picture source: Creative Common/Goutaste

House-hunting is an important consideration for any expat, and will affect your budget in terms of initial purchase costs or rent, living expenses and lifestyle. In Paris, like with other popular cities, this becomes even more important, because the places in which the tourists hub are probably going to be different to the areas where most people actually live.

It is a good idea to research the best places to live (not stay), and look into all of the neighbourhoods to find the right fit for you.

Unlike the blocks of New York, Paris has a different and rather unique layout. It is laid out like a snail with 20 neighbourhoods, or ‘arrondissements’ making up the spirals.

Picture source: Creative Common/Stephen Carlile

The 1st through to the 4th arrondissements are the smallest, but also the most centrally located. This centrality, combined with the size means that it can be difficult even finding property to buy or rent - a lot will be short-term rentals, aimed at visitors staying from a week to a month, which means very high prices longer term. The fact that these areas are also home to attractions such as the Louvre Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral means that you can expect to pay tourist prices when shopping or eating out.  While being in such close proximity to the museums might be a bonus for the weekend, for most, these areas are more convenient for visiting, rather than living.

So… if you want to be fairly central but get slightly more ‘bang for your buck’ then head to the 8th or 9th arrondissements, where rents are a bit lower. The rule of thumb in these areas is the further north you head, the cheaper the rents become; however there are little pockets around the Champs Elysées and Opéra where you can expect rent and amenities to be higher. Nevertheless, it is a lovely – and very ‘chic’ - place to live, being home to endless boutiques and famous fashion brands.

The 5th and 6th arrondissements - with their many Parisian Universities and Grandes Ecoles – are very popular among the student population. For this group, not only are these areas convenient for travelling to and from campus, but there are also many libraries, cheap restaurants and bookstores in the vicinity.  As you would expect, accommodation is fairly affordable but unless you are studying, it can be difficult to source.

Image source: Creative Common/Carin Olsson

If you don’t want to be on the Left Bank, but still want a great student scene, the 10th, 11th or 12th arrondissements might be the places to go. In these areas, there is great accommodation as well as an abundance of shops, bars and nightclubs and it is easy to find reasonably-priced restaurants as it is a bit off the tourist belt. Not only home to Gare de l’Est (one of the biggest train stations in Paris) these districts are also very well connected so you can whizz around the city to your heart’s content.

The 7th arrondissement, similar to the 16th, has become a popular neighbourhood among British and American expats, who are drawn to the areas for their good schools, historic buildings, parking availability and roomier apartments – so maybe consider these areas if you are moving with a family.

While Paris is an expensive city to live in and highly sought after because of its beauty, if you take the time to think outside the box, and do your research, you can find property to suit both your lifestyle and your budget.

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