Finding a student room in France is daunting for prospective international students. With the number of international students in France exceeding 350,000 and trending upwards, demand has never been higher.
It is easy to see why France attracts international students. 80 universities — many world-class — and low course fees, combined with the rich cultural heritage of France, make this is a dream destination for many students.
Is it hard to find a student room in France? The short answer is not really. With a little knowledge and patience, good quality, affordable accommodation is readily found.
In this post, we walk through some helpful resources and practical considerations to help find a student room in France.
Where to start looking for student accommodation in France
You may have expectations about student accommodation. After all, there are options for every budget.
But if you are looking for an inexpensive student room in France, the choice narrows. Whatever your budget, the choice comes down to five broad options.
- University-managed residence, via CROUS or the university
- Hostels with student accommodation
- Private student residence
- Homestay (a rented room in a private residence)
- Propriétés locatives privées (private rentals, including studio apartments)
CROUS is the place to start when you want to find a student room in France on a budget.
CROUS is a French government program that subsidizes student accommodation to help students take their first steps into higher education. International students are welcome to apply.
Unfortunately, there are far more applications than available accommodation. And students who qualify for financial support are prioritized.
France excels at making higher education accessible with some of the lowest study costs in the world. But with over 2.7 million higher education students, CROUS only manages to house a small number.
French university residences
If CROUS cannot help you, the next best cost-saving option for a student room in France is applying directly to the university. Most manage student residences, commonly known as Cités U.
Often sizeable compounds with small self-contained rooms, accommodation is affordable, well-located, and probably includes essential services. They are a surefire way to find friends and immerse yourself in student culture.
Demand is high. For accommodation in university residences, there are just 5-8 rooms for every 100 students in France, a figure that varies from city to city.
If you’re a post-grad student, you may have additional options. Some universities offer private accommodation reserved for post-graduate students, like the huge Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, which houses 6,000 students.
Hostels might seem an unusual choice, but many hostels provide dedicated student rooms.
Far removed from cheap overnight accommodation for backpackers, they are commonly non-profit organizations.
Student hostel accommodation is available to learners aged 18-25: if you are eligible, this can be one of the most affordable ways to rent a student room in France.
The best resource for finding available hostels is the national union for youth housing, L’UNHAJ (Union Nationale pour l’habitat des Jeunes).
Private student residences
The reality is that most students find accommodation in the private sector.
One popular way to rent a student room in France is via privately run student residences. More expensive than their public equivalents, but cheaper than renting an apartment.
Private residences are popular with students seeking better-equipped facilities with inclusive service charges.
Finally, we get to private rentals, the most common route to finding a student room in France.
While costs are generally higher than our previous options, many students elect to rent privately for the choice and quality of accommodation on offer.
There are two main options for renting a student room in France privately.
Firstly, a room in shared accommodation. This can include chez l’habitant (homestay), a room rented from a property owner.
Secondly, direct rental. For many students, that means a small studio apartment.
Some of the leading websites for finding a student room in France are:
Immojeune – this site offers immobilier (real estate) for le jeune (the young) and specializes in student accommodation.
Location étudiant – this site (translation: student rentals) bills itself as the number one site for finding student accommodation in France. Easy to navigate, it covers all types of rental properties and offers pages of advice on renting a student room in France
LeBonCoin – France’s most popular site for buying used goods, and a popular resource for finding accommodation
SeLoger – the busiest French property site
Uniplaces – an international site with plenty of French properties
What to expect from private student accommodation in France
Most students in France choose to live in a studio or one-bedroom apartment.
Rental properties must be well-maintained under French law. You can expect to find clean, well-presented accommodation, even if the space is limited and the furnishings sparse.
Furnished accommodation may be available to students, unlike the general rental market. Basic furnishings will provide essential furniture and amenities — including beds, seating, tables, shower — but sometimes very little else.
Student accommodation costs in France
Saving a few Euros is a vital part of student life. Daily noodles and pasta might save a few centimes, but rental prices are out of your hands.
How much of your budget gets swallowed up will vary widely across France.
As a rough guide, you can expect the price of a student room in France to match these examples:
€350– €450 – University residence/ CROUS
€400 – €600 – Hostel (for students aged 18-25)
€400 – €600 – Privately owned student residence
€400 – €800 – Private rental (Studio flats or shared accommodation)
(source: Campus France)
Accepting some compromises invariably reduces costs, especially if you are willing to look to the suburbs.
Remarkably, financial assistance may be available for international students if renting a student room in France is prohibitively expensive.
Students with long-term visas or residency permits can use CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales), which provides financial support for anyone struggling with accommodation costs. Two national programs can help international students, so it is worth checking if you qualify.
Don’t forget essential services, such as internet, electricity, heating. For private rentals, services (charges locatives) are usually an additional cost. For university residences, these costs may be inclusive.
One final cost to consider is property insurance, which can protect you against any liabilities and insure your possessions.
International student requirements to rent a property in France
Once you have found your future student home, it is time to deal with the legendary French bureaucracy. In truth, the next part is straightforward.
Having already successfully hurdled through all the stages of applying to study in France, you will likely have the required documentation to rent a student room in France.
A typical checklist for signing a rental agreement is:
- Valid visa for your stay in France/valid EU/EEA passport/proof of residency
- Passport/proof of identity
- Proof of student status (for a student-assigned property)
- Bank account details (RIB – Relevé d’Identité Bancaire), for both the tenant and guarantor
- Guarantor details (including previous 3 month’s payslips, proof of employment, tax status, proof of address)
You may have looked at the checklist above and gulped at the final entry, the need for a rental guarantor.
One of the obstacles to renting a student room in France is the need for a deposit (dépôt de garantie) and, for private rentals, a guarantor (garant/caution solidaire).
This requirement is not unique for students. But it presents an unwelcome hurdle for international students: guarantors are expected to be French residents and are usually family members.
But France could not open its doors to international students without a solution or two.
The best is Visale, a free guarantor scheme that is open to both prospective tenants and landlords. It is a free service, with some limitations: it is only available to 18-30 year old students whose rental is €600 or less.
Visale provides payment guarantees for property owners. It also helps students manage repayments should they encounter difficulties. Students must provide evidence of funding.
Students from the European Union can join the scheme with a valid student card and EU passport. Non-EU students require a long-stay visa. You can find out if you are eligible and what documents are needed here.
Contacts and legal obligations
A rental contract in France is called a bail or contrat de location. Some legalese can be daunting, so it is worth taking your time to translate it or seek advice from a fluent speaker.
A second document may also need signing. The état des lieux documents the property condition before rental, preventing itinerant tenants from ducking out of paying for any damages.
Rental agreements are normally signed after paying one month’s rent in advance and a deposit (a maximum of one month’s rent).
Student contracts might only run for 9 months, to cover the academic year. But private rentals must offer a contract for no less than 3 years (although some limited exceptions permit a one-year contract).
Don’t worry, 3-year terms are there to protect tenants. Tenants are only required to provide a notice of one month before leaving, however long they have lived there.
At the end of the contract, the property owner must issue a 2-month notice. Otherwise, the lease automatically extends.
Two essential resources for students renting a property in France
Hopefully, this guide will help you find a student room in France. But before we finish, I recommend bookmarking two websites. They provide essential information for anyone hoping to fulfill a dream of studying in France.
L’ANIL (Agence Nationale pour l’Information sur le Logement). The national agency for information on lodgings offers plenty of relevant info about rental rights. It can also help with any challenges between you and the property owner, and assist if you get into financial or other difficulties affecting your payments.
Another relevant resource is the French government-run mes services étudiant(my student services). This portal covers many aspects of student life, including up-to-date info about how to find a student room in France.