Apartment Hunting, in the style of “House Hunters International” (Part 1)

This has been an interesting ride.

Before I came to Clermont-Ferrand, a group of us had hoped to room together in a great apartment near the city center. After an incredible effort by one of my colleagues, we learned that the apartment was already taken.

Then came the mad scramble.

Most of the students who are working in the lycées (high schools) were able to live at their schools. The accommodations aren’t always ideal, but they have everything you need, they are inexpensive and are all set-up for you. With both of my assignments, that option wasn’t available. That was fine because they are far apart anyway and living close to one would have made getting to the other very difficult.

Back to the mad scramble.

According to the handbook we were given it said that outside of Paris, it would take about one week to find a place. So, I reserved a room at a hostel for one week. Once I was conscious again after my trip here, I used the resources provided to find a place. There were several of us that were still looking so I kept an eye out for both 1-person apartments and 2/3-bedroom apartments. They needed to be furnished (meublé) and near to the bus line (for one school) and the train station (for the other school).

I contacted several places by email…no response. Others said that you had to give them a French phone number or they wouldn’t respond. I got a French phone and added that to my emails. Still nothing. After talking to my colleagues again, they said that you need to call the people about the postings or I should work with an agency. Because I was struggling to comprehend anything said to me, I figured I would start with an agency.

The following Monday (after I arrived), I went with two of my colleagues to a couple of agencies. Every time we asked for a furnished multi-bedroom place, they said that there were none available. We asked about 1-bedroom apartments with our specifications and they had maybe one available. They said that the students had started school on the 15th, so most of the lodging was already taken.

Then began the mild onset of panic. I had already extended my stay at the hostel until Saturday. There was some type of summit of youth/young adults, so all of the hotels, hostels, etc. in the area were booked. So if we couldn’t find a place to stay, there’s a chance that we would be homeless.

Finally, I did find an apartment that I really liked. It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but it seemed like I was pretty much running out of options and it was nice. I went to sign the paperwork and…I needed a “garanteur”, someone to essentially co-sign the lease. I showed them the assurance from my parents, but they said it had to be someone from France. They said they would hold until for a couple of days, but I knew that I would not be able to find a garanteur.

Back to the drawing board.

That night, I went into overdrive and looked at as many places online as I could find. The next day, I called at least five places. I wrote out a script and tried to call at times where I would likely be able to leave a message rather than talk to someone. (I also tried to avoid answering so they could leave a message, but they wouldn’t leave messages, so I had to start answering my phone.) I didn’t want to call too many because I was worried about getting places confused and not be able to keep track of everything, but at the same time, I tried to contact enough so that statistically, someone would have to call me back.

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