I have a home. In France. Things are getting (sur)real. I was not expecting to find something before I got to France. This is how it happened:
I’d been in touch with last year’s assistant at my school, lycée Ernest Hemingway. I asked how she found her housing and she told me she’d lived in a résidence universitaire, but she didn’t like it and during the first month, moved into a room in an apartment rented by two other TAPIFers. The apartment was owned by an old lady in her 90’s who sounds a lot like my grandma and she rents it to assistants every year. The view from the kitchen in the apartment overlooks the crocodile fountain (which, if you get really excited you’re going to be in Nîmes, you might see when you google image search. Just saying) located in the centre ville. The former assistant loved the apartment. The only thing was the old lady didn’t have email, so she recently located her phone number for me. I was going to ask my coordinating teacher to call, BUT- Cathie, the assistant I met in NY, told me she got a room in an apartment in the centre ville and there were still open rooms there if I was interested. She gave me the email, which she had received from the coordinating person for all primary assistants in the region pre-arrival. The email was for the son of the owner of the apartment since his mother didn’t use email. He sent me back pictures and I recognized the place immediately from the picture of the kitchen. It was the apartment the assistant at my school had rented last year! What were the chances?? And what are the chances that it would just happen to be the place that Cathie, the only assistant I’d met, would be moving into and she just happened to give me the email? Fate?? So, the short of it is, I will be moving into the apartment sometime soon. It does look a little old, but hey, it just adds to the personality of the place and makes it unique, no? Ideally I’d wanted to live with people from other countries or French people. I’m kinda sorta doing that as an Irish guy who’s an assistant will be in the second room. My worst case scenario was that I’d live alone, which I didn’t really want to do. I’ll just have to make lots of French friends and meet some Italians so I can keep up with that language too. And then meet some other people from other places so I can learn their languages and practice with them too… Ok, ok, we get it, you’re a language geek, Lauren.
I’m lucky this kind of just worked out, but here are some tips-
1.) If you can network with any former assistants at your school or in your region, do so! Find out where they lived and how they got it. Ask your school for the emails of former assistants or look for blogs or to see if they post on the facebook groups.
2.) Network with other assistants that will be in your area. You don’t have to live together, just help each other search.
3.) Reach out to groups or organizations you may join. The priest at the aumônerie I hope to go to put an ad in the newsletter for me. I didn’t get any responses from it, but it was out there and had potential.
4.) CROUS is an option for assistants even though we’re not exactly students, but you have to start a dossier on the CROUS website and then they have to mail you forms, so you’ll want to fill it out early enough to get the forms in the US. You can email the CROUS person for your region if you have questions about your options.
5.) As an alternative to CROUS, there may be housing for young workers in your area- http://www.unhaj.org/
6.) Housing websites: leboncoin.fr, lokaviz.fr, appartager.fr, topannonces.fr, seloger.fr, pap.fr, mapiaule.fr, paruvendu.fr, annoncesjaunes.fr, avendrealouer.fr, vivastreet.fr, logic-immo.com, immobilier.mitula.fr
The first three seemed most useful to me. From what I hear, you have a lot more luck calling than with emailing through leboncoin.
7.) You can usually find dispensers with books showing apartments for rent around town.