Tips for finding accommodation

Looking for accommodation takes time, organization and perseverance – especially when you are doing it from another country!
To help you search effectively and find the best place for you to live in, you will find here useful tips and keys to grasp specific features of the French system.

I. Be fully prepared

Consider the length of your stay and your family situation

If you are coming for less than a semester, the best option is to look for temporary accommodation. If you are coming with your spouse and/or children, student residences or hostels will not be the most appropriate for you.

Calculate your budget

Accommodation will be your main item of expenditure, so you need to budget for it carefully.
Do not forget that there will be monthly charges to be paid on top of your rent, for things like internet access, water, electricity and gas.

Prepare your application

If you spot an ad for your ideal place, you must be able to submit your application straight away, so have all the paperwork ready before starting your search.
Even though the documents required will vary to some extent from one landlord and property type to another, you will need copies of the following as a minimum:
  • Your proof of identity (passport, or ID card for EU citizens)
  • Your student card (or proof of enrollment), or the hosting agreement issued by your laboratory
  • Any document proving that you have sufficient resources, and documents related to your guarantor (“garant”) if one is required (guarantor’s identity and proof of resources, or “Visale” guarantee).
Worth knowing
An application can only be rejected on objective grounds, such as financial resources.
Owners and landlords cannot refuse to rent you a property on grounds such as appearance, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

II. Understanding the specifics of renting in France

Glossary of accommodation terms

Definitions of terms such as “lease” (“bail”), “deposit” (“dépôt de garantie”), etc.

The guarantor

French legislation gives tenants a relatively high level of protection (against eviction, for instance). In return for which, almost all owners check that you have sufficient income (at least 3 times the amount of the rent) before letting the property. Failing this, the alternative is that someone undertakes to pay the rent for you if you default: this is the role of the much talked-about guarantor (“garant”, also called "caution locative").
This is often the main obstacle for people coming from abroad, because many owners require the guarantor to be resident in France.

Fortunately, there are ways around this!
There are schemes that stand in for the guarantor – some of which are free, such as the “Visale” guarantee, while others have to be paid for (specialist organizations, banks, insurance companies). You can apply for these before you arrive in France; the “Visale” guarantee, for instance, is valid for three months.
Worth knowing
Doctoral students and researchers can find more information about accommodation specifics in the housing guide of Euraxess France.
> Euraxess France

III. Get help from Université Grenoble Alpes

Before starting your search, check whether you are entitled to benefit from any of the partnerships set up by Université Grenoble Alpes. Some of these remain accessible even if you do not have a French guarantor.

IV. How to search effectively for accommodation

Define your search area

The urban areas of Grenoble and Valence are not particularly large, and they are well served by the public transport networks. There is no need to limit your search to the area around campus!
For example, the journey between central Grenoble and the campus in Saint-Martin-d’Hères or in the “Presqu’île” campus takes no more than 30 minutes by tram, or slightly less by bike.
> In Grenoble: TAG journey planner
> In Valence: VrdMobilités journey planner

Understanding property ads

Some property ads use specific terms or abbreviations in their descriptions.

Be vigilant

Even though scams are rare, you need to be vigilant:
Avoid agencies selling lists of ads
Some unscrupulous agencies will ask you to pay upfront for a list of properties. But be careful, because these lists are rarely up-to-date and buying one does not come with a guarantee of finding somewhere to live.
Beware of excessively low prices
If an ad looks tempting but the price is well below those you have seen in other ads, it may be hiding something.
Be wary of transferring money remotely
If you rent directly from an owner or landlord, do not send money remotely without first having signed a rental agreement.

Where to start your search

  • The national student accommodation portal LoKaviZ: this national platform lists offers in the private sector for apartments, apartment-shares and rooms in private homes. You need to create an account to obtain contact information.
  • Real-estate agencies: these offer a wide choice of accommodation and act as an intermediary between owners and tenants throughout the rental period. However, they charge for their services (agency fees).
  • Private owners: some owners manage their property lettings directly. In this case, there are no agency fees, but note that this solution does not offer the same guarantees or framework as a real-estate agency.
  • Websites publishing ads for property lettings in the private sector (apartments and apartment-shares).
Published on  January 7, 2021
Updated on February 10, 2022