Well, it’s safe to say that this whole process of how to find an apartment in France was a whole heck of a lot harder than I thought it would be. Jake and I have been living out of Airbnb’s for 2.5 years and finally decided that we wanted to find something a little more permanent (you can read about why we decided to move to France here!).
We got our 1-year long-stay visa, which was basically a ton of documents, but not too hard and it was a relatively quick process. I can’t say the same about the process of finding an apartment in France.
Also, I want to mention that even though this process literally made me bang my head against the wall many times…living abroad is something that I think everyone should experience!
Even with the difficulties, you can learn SO much about yourself and your own country by just seeing how another country does things. Anyway, on to the nightmare of finding an apartment in France!
Some things to know about renting in France:
- a furnished apartment and an unfurnished apartment have different lease lengths
- a furnished apartment is considered “short-term” and has a lease length of 1 year
- unfurnished apartments are considered “long term rentals” and have a lease length of 3 years
- number of bedrooms is not the same as the number of rooms (1 pièce is 1 room)
- if you don’t have a French work contract (CDI – contrat à durée indéterminée) you’ll probably need a French guarantor (garant)
- you need a French RIB to rent and pay utilities in France (this requires a French bank account)
- you may be asked to put a few months to a year of rent into a “caution bancaire” which the bank holds in case you don’t pay your rent
- you need 3 months of pay slips for your apartment dossier (important if you plan to take off work to search)
- your salary needs to be 3x your rent
- renting “particulier a particulier” or “PAP” means you are renting directly from a landlord and avoiding agency fees
- you can rent PAP through sites like Craigslist and Leboncoin
- booking through real estate agents may be more expensive but safer in some cases
January 15th: First day in nice
Check into Airbnb in Vieux Nice
We booked the cheapest Airbnb that we could find for the month, which was $725 per month for a loft room that had slanted ceilings (if you want to know how we find great deals on Airbnb, check out this post!)
It was on the top floor with no elevator, but it was directly in the center of Old Nice and literally a 1-minute walk from the beach. It had incredible views from the top floor, although we couldn’t see the beach.
Got a Sim Card
The first step was to take our *unlocked* phone (if you’re moving abroad, make sure your phone is unlocked!) and get a French SIM card ASAP. We headed to Orange and paid for a month-long Holiday SIM card.
Apply for HSBC Bank
After having a phone number, we applied for a bank account online with HSBC. The application was pretty difficult because they wanted information like past leases and our current lease in France.
Since we have been long-term traveling for so long, we actually haven’t had an actual lease since we left America in 2016, so we just put our parents’ information in and hoped for the best.
January 16th-17th: Bank Rejection & Getting a Guarantor
Got rejected from HSBC Bank
I received a call from HSBC (this was in English) and they asked a few more questions about my application. We got a rejection letter from them by email a few hours later.
I decided to put off applying for more banks (I had read how difficult it was going to be) and decided to put all our effort into finding an apartment first.
Speaking from the future for a second: now that we’ve figured everything out and have lived in France for over 6 months now, here is my list of Pros and Cons of living in France!
Visiting Orpi & asking what we would need (dossier)
ORPI and Century 21 are two of the biggest names here in France for finding an apartment. Jake and I had been researching before we came here by using SeLoger.
We used that site to make sure that we knew what the correct budget for what we wanted would be, and most of the places that we liked were listed under Orpi so we went there first.
The woman at the front desk let us know that we would need a guarantor in order to rent an apartment. A guarantor is basically someone who vouches that you will pay your rent and if you don’t, they have to pay it.
However, this person can’t just be anyone who is living in France, they have to be someone who has a CDI (a French job contract that isn’t limited to a certain amount of time).
We tried asking everyone that we knew, including a few random people on Instagram lol (sorry about that, we were desperate!). We were even willing to pay them since they would be taking a huge risk on us.
But since it was such a risk, no one was willing to do it. While applying for HSBC, Jake had heard of a service that would be your guarantor for you, so we started looking into that.
Apply for Unkle Guarantor
It seemed like this was the answer! It was absolutely perfect. This company would get a percentage of your rent payment each month in return for being your guarantor (meaning they would pay our rent to the landlord if we didn’t…which we would never do!)
It was pretty straightforward to apply and they gave us the certificate right away but said that they still needed to look more into our application.
January 19th-20th: Rejection from Guarantor
Get a call from Unkle with bad news
Jake saw how upset I was getting about this whole process and dragged me out of the house to go grocery shopping at Carrefour.
Just thinking about how we would have an oven and all the things we could cook got us both feeling a lot better (we’re such budget nerds we loved calculating how much meals would cost and comparing prices of different foods lol).
But while we were looking through the produce, I got a phone call from Unkle saying that they can’t be our guarantor since we haven’t made money recently.
We had been living with family and didn’t work very much when we were in the States. I was working on the blog and Jake would work most days, but it was nothing close to what we would normally be making.
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Trying to Get an Apartment in France: Take One 🎥 Ahhhh it’s been a rough day today tbh. We woke up this morning super early to organize everything and get ready to go out and search for apartments… then we got a call from our guarantor (a service that basically helps you look for apartments and promises that you’ll pay your rent) and they said that they couldn’t cover us 😔 without a guarantor, in our situation it would be nearly impossible to get an apartment. So we went home, very defeated, and applied for another guarantor. So far, it’s the Brockbanks: 1 (the visa) and France: 2 (bank account & apartment). We’re praying that we get accepted for this guarantor service we applied for now! Swipe for a pic of an emotionally drained Dayna who may have also started her period 🥳 lol I don’t want to be a downer, just real about how hard it can be to move to a new country! Don’t worry, we know we’ve got this and will keep trying until France gives up lol 🇫🇷. . . #movingtofrance #expatproblems #happilyevertravels #vieuxnice #nicefrance
We needed to show proof that we made 3x the rent and we just couldn’t do that.
It kind of seemed ridiculous since we had so much money in savings it didn’t seem like it should matter, but if there’s anything you should learn from this tale it’s that stable income is WAY more important in France than what you have in savings.
Frantically apply for GarantMe using our parents’ incomes & information as well as our savings account
We went home and started researching other Guarantor services and found Garantme. With Garantme, there was an option to have a “guarantor” from the US in order to get your “guarantor” in France. It was kind of hilarious, but it worked!
We got Jake’s dad’s paystubs and his passport and sent it all in as proof that we could somehow be trusted! We got accepted the next morning and head out with our new “Guarantor Certificate” that guaranteed our rent up to about 3,000 euros per month.
Visiting Century 21 & Beaumont Immobilier & Realize that some people won’t help us at all
I don’t know how we remained so hopeful every single day, but we ran into Century21 like we had never been rejected before. We were excited and hoping that this guarantor was the answer.
Well, it wasn’t. They said they didn’t accept guarantors and that it would be impossible to rent to us. They were actually quite kind about it, but it was still a huge letdown.
Then we went to a place called “Beaumont Immobiler” that had a couple of listings that we were really interested in. The two men there were extremely rude from the very start and seemed to be laughing at us.
They told us that all the apartments we were looking for were already rented and that there wouldn’t be any other apartments to rent until next month. Which was obviously a lie just to get us to leave.
Reapply with Unkle Guarantor with the same info we sent to Garantme
Remember how we were rejected by Unkle Guarantor? Well, since our day had gone so badly with Garantme, we reapplied to Unkle with the same information as we used for Garantme and just hoped that if we walked around with both, we could find someone who would be willing to rent to us.
We got accepted a little while later.
UPDATE: Although we didn’t use Garantme to get our first French apartment, we had to use it on our second one (the one we currently live in). Once the agent found out we were willing to use them, they were willing to rent to us.
I highly recommend applying to Garantme and bringing the certificate to your apartment viewings since that played a huge role in getting my dream apartment in Nice. It costs around 350 euros per year, and you have to renew it every year that you stay in the apartment, but it’s definitely worth it.
I never ended up paying for Unkle, but Garantme is more well-known in France so it will probably be more recognized by your rental agency.
January 21st-23rd: with two guarantors we find Two apartments
Found AA Gestion Immobiliere that Works with Unkle Guarantor
We had emailed Unkle and asked for a list of the agencies that they worked with in Nice. There were only 3, and after going through all the listings we only found one that could work for us at AA Gestion.
We went straight there and showed them our certificate with Unkle and heard the first good news in a while: They had worked with Unkle and would rent to us!
The bad news was that they only had one apartment for us to see (which we already knew from researching online) and that it was going to need a lot of work. We didn’t care, we were just so excited to finally see our first apartment in France!
We went in and it was quite a bit different than we expected. The wood flooring was absolutely gorgeous, but it was only 37 meters squared.
The kitchen was very narrow and would need to be completely renovated. The bathroom was tiny and the shower was only a foot wide.
The front of the building was under construction as well, which he said should be done soon. He told us that they were looking for a handyman to rent out the place so that they could give him a month of rent-free in exchange for renovating the apartment.
We told him that we would do it. The rent was around 650 euros per month, which was right on budget for us. But the second I saw it, I just wasn’t as sure as I was before.
Got accepted & they sent us the lease but I wasn’t convinced
Jake was super happy, but I wasn’t sure. I posted about it on Instagram to see if anyone else thought it wasn’t worth it. But it was the first place we had even gotten to see! Could we afford to be picky?
He spoke with Unkle and had the lease ready to be signed, but I told him we would need the weekend to think about it.
Used the Garantme site to find other apartments that would accept us using a guarantor
Garantme had a map on their website that showed all of the real estate agencies that they had worked with in the past.
For some reason, this map didn’t work for the first few days so I was emailing back and forth trying to figure out where else we could go that might accept us with a guarantor from Garantme.
Finally, the woman I had been emailing sent me the fixed map and we started looking for anything else. We decided that if we found something else, we wouldn’t accept the renovation apartment.
However, if we didn’t find anything, then we would take it.
We were told that we had until the next Wednesday to finalize our decision about the lease. We ran home (and up 6 flights of stairs, like always at the Airbnb we were staying at) and split the map in two so that we could go through them quicker.
Found Foncia & our dream apartment listing
After Jake and I had gone through all the websites, there were only two agencies (out of 30 or so) that had anything listed in our price range/area we wanted to live in. However, one stood out and had at least 10 listings that would be perfect for us: Foncia.
Showed up to Foncia and asked to see the apartment
We had an hour and a half before Foncia closed, so we ran over with a specific apartment in mind and asked if we could see it.
This apartment was literally our dream apartment. It had a bathtub, 55 square meters, two balconies, AND a view of the ocean and the promenade.
Showed them our GarantMe and they said they would accept it.
To our surprise (we had been turned down a lot by this point) the woman told us that she could show us the apartment right away. I made sure to show her our Garantme certificate ahead of time and she went off to ask her boss if it would be okay.
She came back quickly with a “yes!” and sent us off with her assistant to go view the apartment. We fell in love with it right away, even though most of the lights didn’t work and the kitchen needed some help.
It was only 750 euros a month and right on the beach!
Plus, we had only been allowed to see one other apartment before this one (the renovation apartment) and we had gotten it. So according to what we understood, getting to see an apartment at all was a huge accomplishment and a pretty good sign that we would be able to rent it out!
Get back to Foncia and ask what she needs for our dossier to be accepted
After viewing the apartment, we went straight back to Foncia and asked what we would need in order to rent this apartment. She listed only a few documents (much less than other apartment agencies had asked for) and asked us to email it to her.
For some reason, the email wouldn’t go through. She told us to just print it out and bring it in the next morning. She was super kind and even winked at me when I told her how much I wanted this apartment. Everything seemed to be going great (except for the email not working!!).
Jake and I did not want to give them an extra day of time to just sit on our dossier, so instead, we booked it to the nearest printing shop and printed out all the documents she needed for the dossier.
Then we RAN back to Foncia and made it back just in time to catch her leaving. It felt so perfect.
Before we saw her leaving the building, we (by that I mean, me) had only spoken to her in broken French (just good enough to get my point across!)
But now she was asking us questions about where we were from and telling us about her travels in the USA ALL. IN. ENGLISH. It was like we had passed the test or something and now she trusted us.
P.S. This is something that I absolutely adore about living in France. When French people see you struggling with the language, they get a kick out of it and don’t switch to English. They like to challenge you, which is absolutely WONDERFUL for language learning and I love living here. That’s all lol.
She said she would call us tomorrow, on Friday and walked the other direction. Meanwhile, Jake and I could NOT believe our luck!! How in the world had everything changed so quickly?!
From seeing no apartments at all and getting rejected every day to seeing two apartments in one day, one of which is our dream apartment!
But if things are too good to be true…
Friday comes around with no call from Foncia
No call. So we asked GarantMe to call. They said she would call after the weekend. We told the RENO apartment that we would give them an answer after the weekend.
Worst weekend ever, prayed the whole time. Monday comes around with no answer. We go see another apartment in Gambetta in the meantime from Century 21 (which was just luck) and they said we could have the place if we paid a year in advance, no guarantor needed but it would only be a 1-year renewable lease.
So we decide to go into Foncia ourselves
We walk in as she is leaving for an appointment. She brushes us aside and says we can’t have the apartment and shows us a colleague that speaks English (even though I only spoke to her in English when she did, I always used French).
Everything is so different than it was before. She wasn’t smiling or happy at all, just annoyed and wanting to get rid of us. She ran out the door with another client and I couldn’t get her to tell us anything else.
So we go to her colleague and ask what the frick is going on. And then we learn about something terrible…
GLI Insurance is an expat’s worst nightmare
We thought we had covered all our bases, but in France, there is always something behind the door you just opened.
First, the problem was that we didn’t have a Guarantor. We need a guarantor so that we can make sure that we pay our rent (or that the landlord feels safe). So we get that…then they tell us…
We don’t want a guarantor, YOU need to be a French person with a CDI (unlimited French job contract). It doesn’t matter if you find someone who will be your guarantor, THEY need to rent the apartment.
Why?!? We have $30,000 in our savings account, how is that not good enough? But it isn’t good enough, thanks to French rental laws and GLI insurance.
What is GLI Insurance?
I’ll explain this a lot further in my how-to post, but basically this insurance was created because of the French laws about paying rent. French landlords are terrified to give out leases since the tenant can decide to stop paying rent and there isn’t much that the landlord can do.
It can take months or even years to get someone out of your apartment, meanwhile you are paying for their utilities and rent. So in order to protect themselves, they buy GLI insurance.
GLI insurance covers the rent if the tenant doesn’t pay, but it is very specific and very picky about which tenants it will cover. And obviously, Jake and I are not going to be the perfect candidates that this insurance will feel comfortable covering.
This is important. EXTREMELY important to know if you plan to rent in France. In fact, it would be the first question I asked before even seeing an apartment.
Because if the owner has decided to get GLI Insurance for that apartment, there is NO WAY you could rent it. C’est impossible.
jake & I are super fed up
We tell the RENO apartment that we don’t want the apartment anymore. After seeing the Promenade apartment, we know we can do better and frankly, couldn’t stand to be in a place that ugly after seeing a place so beautiful and just within our grasp.
We buy a lot of French treats and slink back to our Airbnb to regroup.
January 24th-26th: Try Leboncoin & Consider leaving Nice
Getting no replies or rejection emails from almost every immobiliere in the city. We start trying with Particuliars (person to person) on Leboncoin.
Find Damon Dominique and it helps me feel better
My friend, Kim @kimcrossesborders, messaged me while I was whining about how hard it was to find an apartment in France and told me to look up Damon Dominique on Youtube since he had recently made a video about finding an apartment in Paris.
I seriously never related to anything so much in my life lol. He is way more positive about the whole situation than I was, but I felt like this was exactly what I needed to hear to feel like we weren’t in this all alone.
I mean, France gave us the visas to move here, why is finding an apartment so much harder?! Anyway, I’m now obsessed with Damon Dominique and everything he does, so go check him out on Youtube!
January 27th: We’re Desperate & Start Researching Adrian Leeds Group
Have you ever seen House Hunters International? If you have, you would probably recognize Adrian Leeds, the woman who helps expats in France to find the perfect apartment.
I have seen almost every single episode and Jake even emailed them asking if we could be on the show.
However, before even coming to France I had researched Adran Leeds and found out that she provided services for expats moving to France.
It was way out of our price range and I still thought that we could do it on our own, so I forgot about it…until now.
All of a sudden our situation seemed a lot worse than I had thought. I wasn’t sure that we could do this on our own anymore.
Facebook Groups to the rescue
Facebook is such a blessing in my life. I seriously don’t know what I would do without Facebook Groups! Every time we move somewhere new, I join every Facebook group I can find and they are SO helpful!
So on the Americans in France Facebook group (which can be harsh, so make sure you really do your research and properly ask the question or you’ll be eaten alive) I posted an extremely detailed question about our situation. What had others done since this was seemingly impossible?
I heard a lot of suggestions that we had already considered but I really was starting to think if hiring Adrian Leeds Group was the right thing for us. I asked in the comments if anyone had used ALG before, and I got two names.
One of them was someone that had been on International House Hunters and another one had just recently used ALG to find an apartment for the fall.
I asked them all the questions I could think of, but at this point, I was really just looking for any excuse to just cough up the money.
I was exhausted, mentally and physically, from the search. We hadn’t been able to work or do anything else since we had moved to France and I was ready to give up.
January 28th: We hire Adrian Leeds Group for $1600 & apply for HSBC again
I sent an email to Adrian Leeds Group and was contacted almost immediately. All of a sudden things seemed to be moving quicker. Adrian Leeds herself called me just a few hours later and answered all my questions.
I was so excited that I actually got to speak to the famous Adrian Leeds on the phone. The whole situation turned around pretty quickly and I felt like I was able to be hopeful about our search again.
We stopped spending our time looking for apartments and just let them take over the process for us.
If you decide to book with Adrian Leeds (we’ve hired her company twice and it was worth the money BOTH times) tell her Dayna sent you her way and I’ll make a little commission! (:
Reapply for HSBC Bank in Jake’s name this time
The first thing that ALG told us that we were going to need was a French bank account. They told us to try HSBC again and that in the meantime Adrian had a contact that might be able to get a bank account for us.
However, we might need to fly to Paris to get it. (What a problem to have lol).
We got denied again very quickly.
January 29th: Put together another dossier & More rejection
Now that we had hired Adrian Leeds Group, we worked one-on-one with a woman named Ella. She was the “Nice” area person and had contacts in the city that could help us.
The main problem though was that she was in the USA and wasn’t going to be returning to Nice for a while.
I knew that before we paid though, but I still felt like even though she was going to be doing all the work over email and the phone that it would be better than what we had been able to do up to that point.
So she gave us a list of documents to put together on Google Drive and then share with her so that she could start emailing our dossier to people she had worked with in the past.
January 31st: Get word from Adrian about our Bank account
We heard back from Adrian and she set up an appointment for us with a bank here in Nice! Although I wouldn’t have totally minded about a trip to Paris, it was nice to keep everything local.
We emailed back and forth with a woman at Banque Populaire Mediteranee with documents that she would need to see if she would be able to open the account for us.
Since we had been living with Jake’s parents (and hadn’t rented an actual apartment in years) we had to get a letter signed from them stating that we did actually live with them along with pictures of their passports and ours.
We also sent our Marriage Certificate and stated how much we would be sending from our American bank account.
Then we booked an appointment to meet with her in person the following week!
February 4th: Our first apartment viewings with Adrian Leeds Group
Ella started sending us listings of apartments that we could go view. One of them was absolutely perfect for us (size, location, plus it had a bathtub) and just a 10-minute walk to the Promenade.
We even ran there the day before the viewing so that we could check the area out ahead of time. Everything looked great!
We Visit Some Fancy Apartments
Our first apartment viewings since hiring ALG were brand new, slightly more expensive, renovated apartments. They were a bit smaller than we wanted, but the views were absolutely gorgeous and the apartment looked great.
We went to the appointment pretty sure that we weren’t interested, but after seeing it we decided that if they said yes that we would take it.
The Meanest Lady from Orpi
After viewing the fancy apartments, we headed to our next appointment which was the apartment we really wanted. We were both super excited and just knew that this apartment would be perfect for us.
We were outside waiting in front of the building when another woman comes up and stands right next to us. She asks me “Are you here for the apartment viewing too?” in French, and my heart just sank.
If another French person was at all interested in this apartment then there was no way that we could get it. I thought that was the worst thing that would happen… but then it got worse.
Another woman comes up to us, and I recognize her immediately. Remember when I said that when we started this process we spent days going around to different agencies trying to figure out how we could get an apartment?
Well, this woman was the worst. I had visited Orpi and spoke with her for quite a while trying to figure out what to do.
I presented her with my situation and told her how I didn’t understand why it would be impossible to rent to us.
Unlike basically everyone else we had talked to, she did not care at all. She actually seemed to think it was pretty funny.
Well, that woman was in front of me again, and this time she was even ruder than the last time I saw her.
She started asking me what my number was and when I told her, she said she didn’t have us marked for a rendezvous. I told her, you probably have Ella’s number there, not ours. Instead of responding, she just turned abruptly and started speaking with the French woman.
Finally, she came back to me and I explained again the problem and she understood and then let us into the building. From there, she told us she was going to take the elevator with the other woman and that we could meet them up there.
I don’t know if you’ve felt before the coldness that some people give off when they don’t like or care about you. Well, that’s all we felt from then on out. She showed the other woman the apartment while we just stood there.
Then she made fun of my French (which completely freezes up when I know people are being rude to me, happens in English too) and left.
So we were definitely not getting that apartment. We emailed the fancy apartments and got a rejection email as well saying they would rather rent to French tenants.
February 6th: Bank account appointment & 3rd Apartment Viewing with ALG
We were super nervous about our bank account appointment with BMP. We had gone into so many different appointments in the last month and were mostly rejected so we didn’t really know if this was a for sure deal or not…
So the first thing I asked when we sat down with our fluent English-speaking banker, was, is this a for sure thing or still part of the application process? And…
We Had Our First win in France!
Turns out, this was the real deal! We were just completing a few logistical things, but the bank account was definitely ours! We signed a bunch of paperwork and left the appointment feeling like we were finally on to something!
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Celebrating a win today: we opened our French bank account!! 🏦 🇫🇷 🥳 It’s a miracle! Jake’s smile in this photo is extremely fake since France bureaucracy has turned him into a bit of a cynic 😂 . . he says he’ll believe it when we actually have our debit cards in hand! Lol but really we couldn’t have done this without Adrian Leeds (the international house hunter lady) and her company. . I honestly think it might have taken most of the year to get this done (and btw, you can’t have hot water or electricity in your apartment without a FRENCH bank account!!) so yeah, I think it’s been worth the extra money we paid for that ($1,600 😬) let’s pray we can keep this going and actually sign a lease soon!!! 🙏🤞. . . #movingtofrance #lifeabroad #expatfamily #nicefrance #lifeinfra nice #travelbloggerlife #happilyevertravels #digitalnomads #americansinfrance #frenchlife
Getting a bank account in France is a huge deal and probably would have taken us months if we had done it by ourselves.
The Apartment in Riquier
A few hours later we had our first appointment with an actual friend of Ella’s. The other appointments had been with agencies that agreed to let us see the apartment, but the chances of us actually renting one of those were very low.
We met a man named Bruno and got to see an apartment in the Riquier quarter of Nice. We had looked at pictures of the listing before showing up and it looked great!
Plus, Bruno was a good friend of Ella’s so it seemed like we might actually have a chance this time!
The apartment needed a bit of work but we fell in love with it (I know I say that a lot, but I really want you to understand that every time we saw an apartment that fit our criteria at all, we started imagining our lives there and it was impossible not to get our hopes up).
Bruno gets all our information ready and says that he is going to talk to his boss to ask if it is okay to rent to us. He tells us he will call soon to let us know what she said.
We Get Our First Follow-up Appointment
Bruno calls and lets us know that his boss said it would be okay to rent to us! Now we needed to go into his office with all our original documents.
We also needed to start a money transfer to our French bank account so that we could be prepared to pay a year of rent in advance.
Start TransferWise Transfer which was only supposed to take 2 days… takes longer
We went home and started the transfer right away, which was only supposed to take 2 days but somehow that also went wrong. After we put all of our information in and started the transfer it updated from 2 days to 8 days.
We were pretty worried and did not want to scare away the one person who was willing to rent to us!
February 10th: Meeting with Bruno to turn in our dossier for Riquier Apartment
For our follow-up appointment at Bruno’s office, we brought our original documents for him to make copies. After that was done, we started to discuss rent prices and he tells us that as soon as the money hits our French bank account, we have the apartment.
We tell him that the transfer is taking a bit longer than expected, but we agreed to set the first date of the lease on the following Tuesday and just to pray that the money would hit by then.
As we walk out the door, he mentions that he hasn’t spoken with the owners yet (something he had not mentioned before). All of a sudden this “for sure” deal isn’t for sure anymore. We’re worried again.
It’s hard to describe, but moving here and having our own apartment is such a dream. Every time we had a slimmer of hope that we could move in somewhere, we started imagining our life there.
It’s so hard not to get your hopes up. I think it’s basically impossible. Even when I told myself, you’re not getting this apartment…there’s no way, I knew a part of me was still so excited that this one would be the one.
It might seem like something small, but doing this for over a month straight was extremely exhausting emotionally.
Keep in mind that this is ALL WE DID for a month. We ran from appointment to appointment, immobiliere to immobiliere, praying and hoping.
I had some extra time on some days after we hired ALG to work on the blog and we even worked VIPKID for a few days, however, we were so exhausted from this process that not much was done.
I only wrote one blog post during this whole period and Jake only worked 3 days.
February 11th: we didn’t get the apartment…again & maybe a new lead
We were so nervous, but deep down we both believed that this was the one. Yet at 10:27 am we got a text from Bruno saying that we were rejected.
Why? Because of that GLI insurance I mentioned earlier. Since he hadn’t actually spoken to the owners, he didn’t know that they had it.
Our dossier was rejected by their GLI insurance company (since they only accept students or people with CDIs). This time I wasn’t sad, I was pissed. Livid.
This time, this emotional rollercoaster could have been avoided. I felt like nobody understood how terrible this was and I started to lose hope that ALG was the answer.
There’s Another Apartment for Us to See!!
In the next text, Bruno told us that there was one more apartment that his boss wanted to show us. I told him that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES would I see the apartment if it had a GLI.
He assured me that it didn’t, so while I waited for a call from his boss, I started researching on their website what apartment it could be.
The only one that fit our requirements and budget was actually beautiful and in the Le Port area of Nice. As soon as I saw it, I felt better. I just wasn’t as upset.
I texted Bruno asking if that was the apartment we were going to see, but he told me to wait until his boss called that afternoon.
So Jake and I got more treats and put on a movie to distract ourselves until then. Since we paid ALG, we were no longer looking for apartments ourselves and just had to wait.
We Actually Get a Phone Call When They Said They Would Call!!
About 30 minutes into the movie, we got a phone call. It was Bruno’s boss, Clement. She said she had a place to show us and that she wanted us to see it that same day. She sent us the address and it was the one that I had found online earlier!!
We got ready right away and ran over to the apartment an hour early to see the area. The location was great and the outside was pretty! I loved the look of the Italian shutters.
Once she got there, we went up and saw the apartment. It was 47 meters squared and newly renovated.
It looked great, but there was a huge downside. Next door, they had torn down a building and would be building a new apartment complex there.
The noise could be a huge factor, so she offered to lower the rent for 6 months. I asked if she would consider 8 months and she agreed.
That made me worried that maybe the noise would really be terrible. The place was everything I had wanted, except for the bathtub. BUT there was the construction outside.
Jake didn’t like it. He was really sold on the last apartment and we were viewing this place just a few hours after getting rejected and he hadn’t bounced back yet.
But I told her we wanted it. I had learned that from now on, we were going to tell every single apartment that we wanted it and if they actually said that our dossier was accepted, then we would worry about if we actually wanted it.
She told us that the apartment was actually her brother’s and that she would let us know what he said the next morning.
Weighing the Pros & Cons of Le Port Apartment
Ahhhh! I wasn’t sure that we’d get the place, but if we did, did we even want it? What if the construction was so loud that Jake couldn’t do VIPKID or I would be annoyed all the time?
I posted about it on Instagram and asked if people could share their stories of living near construction.
I got so many different responses. People said it was the worst thing they’d experienced and that they couldn’t wait to move.
People saying they just got used to it and it didn’t really affect them. People told me I was lucky my landlord even warned me since they had moved in without even knowing how loud it was going to be.
But in the back of my mind, I knew that the only way we were going to get an apartment in France was if something was wrong with it.
It would never be exactly perfect, or a perfect person with an immaculate dossier and a French job with a CDI would have it already.
February 12th: we get a Call about the apartment
Clement told us that she would call us in the morning…but the hours passed by with no word from her. Jake had been so upset about losing the Riquier apartment that he couldn’t really see why I really wanted this new apartment.
But I told him that we were going to say “yes” no matter what and if we felt like it wasn’t right for us, we had until we sent them the money and actually signed the lease to decide.
I really liked the place, but I was super nervous about the construction outside.
In the late afternoon, we finally received the call we had been waiting for from Clement. Her brother had agreed and they would give us a lowered rent for the first 8 months since the construction would be pretty loud.
We tell her it would be great, but that we also needed to talk to Ella. There were some issues we needed to iron out and Ella needed to speak with Clement in order to fix them.
We also felt like we might be able to negotiate further on the price since we had gone to the site and asked them how long the construction would be there for and they said 2-3 years, not 8 months (which we never believed).
February 13th: Our wedding anniversary and signing the lease
We wake up to Ella telling us that she had figured out the problems and that we would be good to go. Also, our money had finally hit our French bank account.
Jake and I had a few things planned for our wedding anniversary (one of which was him completely surprising me with a bike!)
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JAKE GOT ME A BIKE!!! . It’s our 4 year anniversary today and we were both very worried about not being able to make this day special since we’ve been so stressed about finding an apartment… . But this morning Jake woke me up and told me to get ready since we had to be somewhere! So we walked as fast as we could while I tried to guess what the heck we were doing!?! . After about 30 minutes we come around a corner and Jake says, there’s the guy!! And I’m like, what guy?!? And then I see it… the most beautiful beach cruiser I’ve ever laid eyes on 🚲. . The poor French guys had no idea that it was a surprise and I started crying the second I saw it so Jake had to do all the talking in French 😂 #soproud. . You see, I had a beautiful beach cruiser before we started traveling but in an unfortunate moving accident, it fell off a trailer onto the freeway and broke. That day Jake promised to buy me a new one wherever we ended up “settling down.” . So happy to be living this crazy life with my incredible husband by my side!! Now I’ve got to go buy him a bike so we can ride around together!! 🚲 🚴. . . #happilyevertravels #apartmenthunting #weddinganniversary #newbikeday #promenadedesanglais #nicefrance #liveabroad #movetofrance #movingtoeurope #lifeineurope #expatlife #digitalnomads #coupletravelgoals
I broke down crying a bit because I just was stressed and I didn’t want to feel like this on our wedding anniversary, but getting the bike and Jake booking a hotel that wasn’t our loft Airbnb for the night really helped us feel okay.
Then, Clement messaged us and asked if we could come in to sign the lease. Like, right then! So we went there right away, and signed the lease which would start the following day!
All we needed to do was to pay for a year of apartment insurance and get a “Justicatif” from our bank saying that we had started the money transfer to their bank account with a year’s worth of rent. We did that all pretty quickly and everything was coming together all of a sudden!
February 14th: Apartment check & we get the keys to our new apartment
On Valentine’s Day, we met Bruno at the apartment and took pictures of anything that was wrong with it so that we wouldn’t be charged when we moved out. Then he handed us the keys to our brand-new apartment and it was ours!
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WE’RE MOVING IN!! I cannot believe this is actually happening! Today Jake and I finalized our lease and received the keys to our new apartment in Nice, France! 🤭🥳. . It’s gonna take all week to furnish and get everything set up, but we our 3-year lease in hand and everything feels so much better!! . So we decided on the apartment with the construction outside since this apartment has so many other positives: crazy low rent, great location and newly renovated! . This was one of the craziest things we’ve ever done and also one of the most difficult, but I really can’t wait to make this place our home and I’m so relieved that this process is finally over! 🏡 🎉. . . #newapartment #movingtofrance #americaninfrance #expatlifestyle #nicefrance #happilyevertravels #happyvalentinesday #coupletravelgoals #apartmenthunting
We had a week left at our Airbnb so we spent that time cleaning our new apartment and making a bunch of trips back and forth until we had everything. But that’s another crazy story!
Finding an Apartment in Nice the SECOND Time
UPDATE: We left that apartment in December 2020 and then moved back to Nice in February 2022. We followed the same process, hiring Adrian Leeds (let her know I sent you!) and got a new bank account and apartment.
This time we didn’t need to pay a year in advance, but they wanted us to use Garantme. So we have to pay Garantme every year on top of our rent, but I love our apartment and it’s worth it!
If you made it through this, you must be moving to France! lol, Congrats! I hope this story helps you manage your expectations for this crazy adventure you’re about to begin! Good luck!
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Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.