Housing Settling

Energy in France

Most energy providers in France let you choose between a flat rate or an usage-based payment system, if you go for the off-peak hours. Do check the times during which you would be able to use all of the energy (in Paris, par exemple, this depends on which arrondissement you live in) and they vary from provider to provider – I know, minefield. The good news is, that the offering right now is limited. I myself use mint which is 100% renewable energy and they have pretty good prices compared to EDF – and they speak my language(s).

What is it ?

Different types of energy in France 

In France, you can get your energy in several forms : 

  • Electricity : mostly produced by our very own nuclear power plants
  • Gaz : not produced in France, we buy it from the Russians, like every European country…
  • Oil : yep, some people have oil tanks in their garden that needs to be filled but it’s mostly in rural areas.

In France, the energy market is pretty much run by the giants EDF and Engie. Both have an English option on their website. However, the market is deregulated and recently new players have started entering the market, making it more interesting for you.

Can you choose between gas or electricity ?

If you rent a place, you’ll most likely not have a choice. It’s gonna be the same if you buy a place in a city like Paris, Lyon or Marseille. It is quite costly to switch a type of installation for another.

However, if you buy a place in a rural area or if you build your own house, it is very likely that you can choose the type of energy that you want.

What is a compteur Linky ?

It’s an electric meter that automatically sends your consumption data to your provider. This means that you don’t have to fill in summaries every couple of months and send them out to your provider.

How does it work ?

How to subscribe to an energy provider

in France?

First you should have the following information:

  • Does your house use electricity or gas, or both?
  • Do you have electric heating?
  • Do you have an electric boiler, a tankless water heater, etc?

Understanding what types of energy your property runs on will help you identify the right provider for you, bringing you to the second checklist:

  • Do you primarily use energy during the day?
  • Do you primarily use energy during off-peak hours?

Then the process is quite easy, you type in power provider in the internet with some criterias (like french provider, green provider etc…) and just get on with it.

Most of the time, they will only ask you for some specifics about your place, like square footage, type of heating etc) and your RIB.

What are heures creuses and heures pleines ?

You have several tariff options.

  1. A classic subscription where you pay every Kwh, whatever the hour of the day, at the same price.
  2. An adjustable option with heures creuses and heures pleines.

In the second option, for 8 hours a day, the cost of the Kwh will be decreased. These are the “heures creuses”. However, the cost in “heures pleines” will be slightly raised. The evolution of raise or decrease depends on your provider.

This is very interesting financially for you if you have electric heat and an electric boiler. Because usually, you can program these appliances to switch on at night time, so during heures creuses. It also is a great advantage if you’re an insomniac that loves to do laundry at 2am.

The heures creuses and heures pleines depend on the area you’re in.

For example, heures creuses in Paris are from 23h to 7h (11pm to 7am for our english speaking friends) while in Lille it’s from 1h to 7h (1am to 7am) then 12h30 to 14h30.

How to cancel your subscription and switch

from an energy provider to another ?

Similarly to insurances etc, power providers love when you subscribe and make it super easy for you to get a contract atc, even though it’s not always tailored to your needs. However, they are much less happy to see you go and are sometimes sore losers that won’t make it easy to cancel a subscription.

In my experience, the easiest way to cancel is : 

  1. to call them directly and ask them to do so
  2. Ask them to send you a confirmation email

Indeed, most of the time, you won’t find any cancelling button or category on the website.

If you move, you won’t have to cancel, most providers offer to tie your contract to another address for you.

However, if you move and want to cancel your subscription and get a new one from a different provider, make sure you do that at least 2 weeks before your move. Indeed, processing time is sometime quite long and if you move in the winter, you don’t want to have a stone cold place for a week.

Are there green providers in France ?

Of course, you’ve got a couple French ones like : 

Are there different types of payments ?

You can pay your energy in several ways.

  1. Every month, you can receive a bill that tells you exactly how much you consumed the last month and pay based on that.
  2. There is another option where you pay the same amount every month for 12 months. And then, based on your consumption either you have to pay more or your provider reimburses what you paid in excess.

Both choices have their advantages and drawbacks. For myself, I pay the same amount every month and get a yearly adjustment. It helps to build my budget.

Tips and tricks 

  • The average electricity bill in France is around 900€/year
  • 2 weeks before moving to avoid interruptions (I had the freezing experience of moving into another apartment in winter and spent a week without heating because of that…) 
  • A power bill is considered like a “justificatif de domicile” and can be used to prove that you are a resident in France.
  • Choose the option heures creuses/heures pleines if you are 100% electric.
Housing Settling

Phone in France

Getting set up in terms of telecommunications is probably one of the first things you should take care of. I remember that on my second day, I went to an Orange shop and purchased a SIM card and internet box. Why Orange? Because I used them in London and was happy with their services. Also, they had an English hotline. In that regard, getting a phone plan is a must !

What are the main French networks ?​

  • Orange is the main network with customer service advisors and physical locations. Sosh operates on the Orange network, but is online-based only and you manage everything from an online portal
  • SFR is the main network with customer service advisors and physical locations. RED operates on the SFR network, but is online-based only and you manage everything from an online portal
  • Bouygues is the main network with customer service advisors and physical locations. B&YOU operates on the Bouygues network, but is online-based only and you manage everything from an online portal

Which mobile network is the best in France ?​

In France, there are multiple providers. You probably have already come across Orange, SFR, Bouygues and Free. You may have also seen advertising for other providers like RED and Sosh.

Choosing your phone/mobile plan

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Do you need a phone or just a SIM card?
  • How much data do you need?
  • Where will you be calling?
  • What’s your budget?

Depending on what you have selected above, you can feed those filters into any mobile contract provider and see what pops out and go with that. At any time there are hundreds of different offers available and they change regularly. If you don’t like what you get (and you have a “sans engagement” plan), you can easily switch back and forth.

I recommend to head to one of the comparison sites using the info you have collected above. There are several, I usually find mine by googling “meilleur forfait mobile” or “forfait mobil pas cher” and it’ll come up, top choices being touslesforfaits,  lemon, or selectra

Here are the keywords to look out for:

  1. “Sans engagement” – meaning you can cancel at any time
  2. “Prix fixe” – fixed price. A lot of offers increase after 12/24 months, look out for this!

The provider will usually post you a SIM card and the contract begins on a date you decide. It’s quite easy. There may be an included cost for the SIM card (normally around 10€). Don’t forget to include that in your budget.

Tips and tricks

  • If you want to change your mobile phone provider but keep your number, you will need your RIO number (Relevé Identité Opérateur). You can find out what yours is by calling 3179 for free. It’s a 12-digit code including numbers and capital letters, so keep a pen handy (some will send you an SMS at the same time, that’s A LOT easier). If you enter this number when signing up for a new contract (and if your original one is sans engagement), the new provider will automatically cancel the old contract for you. Vive la France and it’s customer friendliness! ​
  • Traditional providers offer full contracts, usually including television and a personal customer service. But the savvy user will probably want to go with a subsidiary as it’s much cheaper. The only downside is that you’ll need to chat with an advisor rather than to speak with one.
Housing Settling

Internet in France

Getting set up in terms of telecommunications is probably one of the first things you should take care of. I remember that on my second day, I went to an Orange shop and purchased a SIM card and internet box. Why Orange? Because I used them in London and was happy with their services. Also, they had an English hotline. In that regard, getting connected to internet is a must !

Do you need a landline for the

internet in France? ​

Like in most countries, yes, you do. This is given to you by your provider. If you choose to hook up a phone or not is up to you. Most French people use mobile phones, only after a certain age landlines are more popular.

How much is the internet per

month in France?​

There are THOUSANDS of offers at any time on the market.Knowing what type of connection you have and what your budget is (checklist below), is very helpful. In France, signing up for internet also can come with a TV option. Thus, deciding if you want TV access (or access to private, provider-owned channels such as OCS (Orange Cinéma Séries) in addition to possible streaming services (Netflix, Disney+, you get the idea) is also good to have in the back of your mind.

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Do I have DSL or Fiber?
  • Do I want TV access?
  • What’s my budget?
  • Do I want the ability to cancel anytime?
  • Do I want a cheap offer now that will increase in a year ?
  • Do I need a human representative to ask questions or can I survive in a chat with google translate?

I recommend to head to one of the comparison sites using the info you have collected above. There are several, I usually find mine by googling “meilleur internet Paris” or “internet Paris pas cher”. It’ll come up, top choices being lemon, selector or lameilleurebox

Here are the keywords to look out for:

  1. “Sans engagement” – meaning you can cancel at any time
  2. “Frais de location” rental fees, you want to avoid this, having “Incluse dans le prix de la box” is better
  3. “Prix fixe” – fixed price. A lot of offers increase after 12/24 months, look out for this!

Once you find your perfect provider, remember, booking an appointment to install the box is mandatory and you need to be home. These appointments are given out at random so make sure you can be flexible (a lot of employers understand if you explain the situation).

How is the internet in France?​

Pretty decent! Most places have fiber, you can check your (future) address here or here.

Tips and tricks

  • When installing the internet in your home, you want to check what internet you are eligible for (ADSL or Fiber – Fiber is faster, but your building has to be equipped with a fiber connection) and also what your budget looks like. You can find out with a quick address search if your building has fibre access by clicking here or here.
  • Traditional providers offer full contracts, usually including television and a personal customer service, but the savvy user will probably want to go with a subsidiary as it’s much cheaper and the only downside is that you’ll need to chat with an advisor rather than to speak with one.
  • If you are installing Fiber internet, remember to have access to the basement, there often is a key involved, and without it the technician cannot finish the installation. You’ll have to book another appointment to finalise, and that can take another couple of weeks.
  • If you ever move or change provider, you will need to return your internet router box, so make sure to hold on to the packaging and not damage it – not returning these items usually comes with a steep fee – make sure to read the fine print of your contract!​

Housing Settling

House insurance

What is it ?

The house insurance I will speak about here is your bog-standard house insurance, to protect the property from things like a leak, an earthquake, electricity damage, drunk friends – the basics. You will be requested to insure your rental property before moving in, and if you are the homeowner, well, you’ll want to do it to cut down on potential later costs. 

What does it cover ?

  • Your basic house insurance will cover for disasters such as fire, water damage, frozen pipes, natural disaster and storm, burglary and vandalism, broken windows, drunk friends. It will also cover your furnitures.
  • Your cash or your car will need to be covered by a specific insurance.

Is it mandatory to get a house insurance ?

Let’s make it simple, it’s not mandatory in every case BUT to avoid great costs if anything happens and sleep quietly it’s better to get one. Most people will ask you for one 

House insurance as a tenant

As a tenant, most of the time, your tenant will ask you to subscribe to insurance. 

House insurance as homeowner

As a homeowner, you’ll have to get insurance when you buy your place. That’s mandatory when you buy property.

If you rent your place out, you’ll have to subscribe to a Propriétaire non-occupant insurance. In France, some damages are the responsibility of the tenant and some of the owner. This means that even if you’re not in the place, you could have to pay for some sinisters. 

When you rent your place out, you’ll have two options. Either your tenants take their own insurance, or you can subscribe one for them and have them pay the cost back to you every month.

Why is there a civil liability (responsabilité civile)

attached ?

The civil liability helps to avoid greater cost on your own finance if you cause any damage.

French law dictates that you’re responsible if any harm comes to other due to your actions or because of things you own. Meaning that even if you’re on holiday and an unexpected leak happens and floods the downstairs neighbour, you’re responsible and have to make up for the harm done or the damaged goods.

What to do in case of a disaster ?

  1. Alert your insurer as soon as you can, even if the disaster is still ongoing.
  2. In the case of a burglary, go to the police station to complain and send a copy of the complaint to your insurer.
  3. Take pictures of the damages.

In every contract, there is a “franchise”, a minimum amount to pay. If the amount to cover is over that franchise, that’s the only thing you’ll pay, usually it’s around 200€. 

How to get a house insurance ?

How does it work ?

Get on the website or on your phone and just fill the documents out.

It’s quite easy to contract to get insurance, but a bit less to cancel it. Make sure you check the conditions to get out.

What do you need ?

  1. A bank account to take your monthly payments from. This means a RIB (relevé d’information bancaire)
  2. Some information about the place (size, date of build, address etc.)
  3. Details about the furnitures

Which one to choose ?

The most classic option is to get home insurance via your bank – they usually offer it when you open your account and the options are cheap and efficient.

You can also get in touch with the usual suspects like AXA, Allianz etc.

However you can also shop around, as most services in France, there will always be a new startup that will offer you a service you can control via an app – here are a couple:

Finally, you can compare the price of insurers by clicking there : 

Tips and tricks 

  • Make sure to check what is covered before you call any experts like a plumber. With Juliette, we had this problem, a leak appeared in our toilet. We called a plumber that totally misdiagnosed our issue. It wasn’t covered by our insurance and cost us over 4k.
  • Never call a plumber from the little magnet list that you may find in your mailbox. It’s over charged and some of them are just frauds. It’s better to look for qualified craftsmen on the internet or have your insurance recommend one.
  • TAKE PICTURES of any damages that happen in your home, whether it’s your fault or not.
  • Check the cancellation conditions before signing.
Housing Renting

Renting dossier

During the process of applying to be a landlord’s next tenant, you will be asked for a renting dossier. The renting dossier is designed to give all the information about you in a select few documents that will confirm if you are legally able to become a tenant and in the position to finance your tenancy.

What is a renting dossier ?

A dossier is a collection of documents about yourself and your personal situation. It covers everything from your finances to your employment and rental history, and any contingencies your landlord must know about you.

What do you need for a renting dossier?

The most commonly requested documents are the following :

  1. ID / Passport
  2. Job Contract
  3. Last 3 payslips
  4. Last year’s tax return
  5. Bank Account number
  6. Guarantor(s)
  7. Last 3 rent receipts

Good to have for a Dossier:

  1. CDI
  2. Earn 3x the rent

Good to know : Normally, once successfully catching a landlord’s attention and maybe even after the viewing, these documents will be requested, however in highly competitive areas such as metropolitan Paris it is a good idea to send the documents directly with the first application – apartments can be rented in the space of 30 minutes if you are too slow. 

Let’s break it down:

DocumentPurposeGood to Know💡
ID / PassportTo verify your identityMake sure it’s valid!
Job ContractTo prove you are employed, what type of contract you have and your incomeLandlords prefer having tenants with a CDI and that you have passed your probation period. They also prefer if you earn 3x the rental amount.
Last 3 PayslipsTo prove you have an active incomeYour payslips should be consecutive and consistent.
Last year’s tax returnTo prove you are following the law and paying your taxesIf you have not paid your taxes yet, proof of having a tax ID number should be enough (link to tax piece)
Bank Account Number (RIB)To prove you have a bank account and the means to transfer the rentSome landlords verify with the bank if you are a reliable customer
Guarantor(s)Some landlords request that the guarantor has a French bank account. Also be aware that your guarantors will need to provide all these documents to the landlord. If you don’t have a guarantor you can explore options such as the Visale (scroll down) or paid services such as
Last 3 rent receiptsProof that you are a paying tenant.This is not a common request, you can negotiate this.

How do I create a Dossier?

My preferred method of sending a dossier is using Dossier Facile – they not only check that I have the correct documents, but also watermark them. So, potentially rogue landlords or criminals who just want access to your private information cannot steal it. It’s also completely free to use.

The alternative is to submit a file with paper copies of all your documents directly to the landlord, or in digital form as email attachment or with a WeTransfer file.

I don’t have a Guarantor

This is a big topic, especially for foreigners moving to France. You have several options, the most sought after Guarantor is a French citizen who earns 4x the amount of your rent, with a bank account in France, preferably related to you. 

Another option is using a company such as Garantme to pay them to act as your Guarantor. It’s easy to sign up and depending on your rent, you’re looking at 200€ – 500€ a year for their services.

If you have no funds or connections and are under 30 years old, there is the Visale.The Visale is a free service by Action Logement for young people in France who do not have a guarantor. Simply visit their website and see if you are eligible, if you are, apply and get confirmed in sometimes less than 15 minutes – it’s very easy and can be a lifesaver.

Fun Legal Facts: 

Sometimes the listings you apply to are fake, to collect personal data such as the content of a dossier – protect yourself by using watermarks and keeping track of where you send your info.

Here are the documents a potential landlord can not ask you for by law since June 6th 1989 and January 17th 2002:

  • A copy of your Carte Vitale
  • A copy of your bank account
  • Any documentation relating to your bank account status
  • Any documentation relating to your loans
  • A direct debit authorisation
  • Your marriage contract or PACS (pacte civil de solidarité) contract
  • Your medical files
  • Your criminal background 
Essential Housing Renting

Renting in France

Renting in France can be a dirty business, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. From rogue landlords charging 800€ for a 16m2 apartment with the toilet next to your oven. Or those telling you that’s normal to submit your dossier for a place just to later find out your identity has been stolen. We’re here to make sure to teach you the ropes for a successful experience!

When should I start looking for a

place to live

I would recommend you start looking up renting in France 3 months before your move to find something nice. Option 2 is to find something, move, and then find the final apartment you want to stay at from there.

Depending on your financial situation you can look for an apartment/house on your own, research the worlds of flatshares. You can also look for “free” accommodation, mostly in exchange for small services like childcare or custodial duties.

4 Steps to your new home :

Step 1: Know what you are looking for

This ranges from knowing what type of property you are looking for (flat, studio, house) to which city (Lyon, Toulouse, Lille) all the way to which district of this city. It all helps narrow down your search and be specific. You’ll be able to set up search alerts and get a feel for what is out there, and how much it can cost you. Do you want to share or live alone, do you have pets, do you need to be close to public transport – make a list, your future self will thank you!

Step 2: Go on the Hunt

There are countless websites where you can search for renting in France, but I’ll start with the most valuable one first, as it has helped me find my dream apartment :

You sign up, plug in what you are looking for, and it will dispatch little robots to all renting websites and send you only those that match what you are looking for – priceless.

It’s probably the most classic website most people will refer to

Careful with this one, it’s the gumtree/craigslist of France, so you’re likely to run into scams.

There are countless more, but the above are “the classics” and always a safe bet.

Shared accomodations

If you are looking to join a flashare, there are several ways to do this

  • Facebook – there will be a group for the place you are looking for, find it and join it
  • Word of Mouth – someone will always know someone who is looking for a flatmate – just be sure to tell people you’re looking so you become an option. If you work in an office or go to university you’ll probably have plenty of people looking to match up.
  • Here are some websites where you can also sign up and see if you find a flatmate :


La carte des colocs


Step 3: Apply

Bear in mind that the housing market is super competitive. Speed and precision are your best friends. The best strategy is to go on the hunt with your Dossier already ready to send. Once you find a place you like, the landlord will look upon your application more favourably than someone who will first ask 20 questions. You can always ask questions later, before signing a contract. In cities like Paris it’s not unusual to have hundreds of candidates for one apartment, so if you don’t get this one, don’t take it personally, it’s completely normal. Some landlords will ask for a Guarantor which we cover in this article, and it’s better to have a bank account set up already so you can prove you can automatically pay rent. 

Step 4: Move & Set Up

If you are successful in your search, you will pay a deposit and sign your rental contract. Remember to clarify the situation about the energy bills. We advise to take these matters into your own hands (just in case). Once you have the keys, you can get started – our Moving Day Checklist is an amazing help (we think). 

The most pressing items are to get yourself set up with internet & energy, there are French startups such as Papernest who make this easy for you and help with the transition. 

Tips and tricks

  • Furnished and Unfurnished Apartments are treated differently – read more about it in our contract section (link to contract section)
  • Furnished apartments legally need to be equipped with a bed + bedding, a table and seating, storage shelves, lighting, a fridge, freezer, crockery and kitchen utensils.