Paris expat property guide - to rent or buy?

When making any big international move, sourcing appropriate accommodation is top of the ‘to do’ list. While your employer may offer a housing solution as part of your corporate package, for many British expatriates moving to France, there will be a period of research to find the right Parisian home for yourself and your family.
If you’re looking to reside in the ‘City of Lights’, should you rent a property or invest in a permanent French home? We explore some of the key details for both renters and purchasers in our expatriate guide to Paris.

The rental option

For expatriate families moving to Paris, there are a number of attractive and desirable suburbs to consider, as well as the city centre itself. In the city, you will find traditional apartment blocks, which are practical in terms of location, but limited in size. If you’re relocating with children, you may prefer a larger property, particularly one with plenty of outside space.
Opting for a commutable neighbourhood a short distance from Paris itself, such as Saint Germain-en-Laye or Saint Cloud, is a good solution. These suburban areas are close to the best international schools and have a strong community feel.
Most expatriates start by renting in Paris, in order to ‘test drive’ a location before committing to a purchase. There is a certain amount of red tape to navigate on the rental market, but in general it’s a tenant’s industry. Unlike in the UK, you are likely to have to fill in a detailed application form for any property you wish to rent.
It can be quite difficult to find the perfect property quickly. With almost half the population renting, and many doing so long term, the most exclusive apartments and houses get snapped up quickly. In France, unfurnished properties are usually rented for a minimum of three years, though you, as the tenant, can opt to give notice sooner.
Furnished properties can have shorter contracts, however there is a legal definition of what ‘furnished’ means and what must be included in the property.
The rental market is booming in Paris, and prices are soaring as demand continues to increase. However, it is still comparable to London. Most rentals tend to be apartments in the city centre itself, but if you require a family home, be specific with your rental agent about your requirements. Rental agents may hear of properties before they come to market and this can be invaluable when it comes to acting fast on the right home.
Once you have found the right property, there will be various fees to pay as well as a detailed tenancy agreement. See our guide to renting an apartment in France for more information.

Investing in Paris

Many expatriates who relocate to Paris long term will end up buying a property, whether initially or after a period of living in the country in a rental home. The property market in Paris is strong and prices have been rising more rapidly than in other areas of France. In fact, at the end of 2018, property prices in Paris reached record highs, with no sign of slowing in 2019.
For those wanting to live right in the centre of Paris, expect to pay an average of €9,750 per metre, with prices rising to as much as €17,410 per metre in the most-expensive area of Odeon. The suburbs remain more affordable, at around €5,970 per metre, but this is a still a significant rise on previous years. There are no signs of a drop-in value on the horizon, so property is still considered a good investment in the region.
After engaging the services of a registered real estate professional, you can begin searching for and viewing properties. The property buying system is a little different to in the UK, but it is straightforward. It’s also a market that is more than used to international investment. See our expat’s guide to buying a property in France for further information on how to proceed.
Whether you opt to rent or buy in Paris, see our guide to moving to France to find out how we can help you with your international relocation.