The Great Marseille Apartment Hunt of 2016

The wily explorer arrived to the Marseillais jungle with an accommodation booked for one week, and one goal: to finally capture a rare wild apartment.

Having hunted before in this country (albeit a different region), she felt thoroughly prepared. She conjured memories of her last wild apartment hunt in the mountainous region of Chambéry;  a lot of time spent in mortal terror, exhausted from travel, terrified at the prospect of making calls in a foreign language, ultimately unsure how she finally managed to finally trap one. “I know it’ll be difficult,” she thought. “But at least this time I know what I’m up against.”

Oh, how the explorer was mistaken.

She arranged her hunting tools first: a French phone number, a grammatically corrected introduction, an empty notebook, an internet connection. Then, she took a deep breath and lunged into the hunt. She traversed Leboncoin, crossing occasionally into Appartager and dipping toes into PAP and local agencies.

She left voice messages, text messages, email messages but still the wild apartment eluded her. She filled four pages of her notebook with details on sightings, but one by one their prospects were eliminated. She made visits, compiled years of tax returns, wrote letters and forged signatures only to find that all of her surefire traps were set just a hair too late.

She began to confer with fellow explorers who advised her of some important sightings in territories she hadn’t known of: La Carte des Colocs and even Facebook groups!

With much perseverance, she had a few solid leads, but upon closer examination the beasts were not quite what she was looking for… too far, strange roommates, undesirable neighborhoods.

The explorer began to doubt herself. “I didn’t imagine capturing a wild apartment would be so challenging,” she sighed. “But it’s been a whole month with no sign of hide nor hair. Am I being too picky?!”

The intensity of the chase relented. Work began. Motivation petered. And then, a new post! “Looking for someone to care for a wild apartment for one month, after which it will be available for permanent recapture.” The explorer saw the opportunity and jumped on it. The apartment was beautiful, central and everything she had nearly given up looking for. Within a week, it was hers. ❂

BONUS! Listen up fellow explorers, because our wily intrepid compatriote is here to give you some advice. If you are on a wild apartment chase of your own, here are some things you should know.

1) Landlords have very little rights in France, so they can be serious hardasses, especially in big cities like Marseille. In Chambery, I don’t think I encountered a single landlord that wouldn’t accept me without a guarantor. In Marseille, everyone demanded a guarantor and some demanded that the guarantor be French. This poses a pretty obvious reason; notably that I don’t know any French people willing to be my guarantors. As with every experience, it varies quite a bit…some landlords are more lenient than others.

2) If you’d like to be super extra prepared, go ahead and compile your dossier in advance. One landlord that I talked to sent me a massive list of documents he required in order to consider renting to me. I’d say if you manage to come up with decent equivalents, then you’ll be ready to submit a dossier to anyone (unless of course they require a French guarantor…) Here’s the list:


I used the following equivalents:

  • last three pay stubs for myself and my mom
  • wrote (and forged the signatures on) this attestation d’emploi for my parents and received one from my school
  • last two W2s for myself and my mom
  • tax returns
  • cable bill
  • property tax bill
  • passport photocopies
  • my arrêté de nomination.

Later, I also needed to provide a letter attesting that my parents would act as guarantors (pay attention, there’s a part you bizarrely have to copy by hand), along with my banking information (I used a blank check and explained that is the closest we have to a RIB in the U.S.).

Asking my mom to send all of these documents to me, she said she’s never had to give up so much information except to like…buy a house. In the end, I didn’t even get the apartment.

Good luck. Happy Hunting! ❂

6 thoughts on “The Great Marseille Apartment Hunt of 2016

  1. House hunting in France can be a real beast; I think the bigger the city, the tougher it is! The first time I lived in France I rented a flat from the school I worked in, but finding a flat in Lyon was significantly more stressful… Glad you found somewhere nice in the end 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I was prepared for the stress, I just didn’t expect it to be quite so challenging! Of course it’s really awful timing for assistants too, because all of the students have just returned as well and are also looking to snap up the cheap/well-located/etc apartments!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Trying to find a house at the same time as all the returning students definitely makes it more of a challenge, especially in the big cities!


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