Dear future TAPIF-ers, finding a place to stay in France while you’re still in your home country is very difficult. Mostly because everyone asks for your phone number, and none of the online applications will accept yours. (At least, mine didn’t work–but that’s because it’s an American phone number). Sometimes, the school will have something for you. Or, you can look on CAF, which can help low-income folks. Other times, you can stay at an Airbnb and look for apartments whilst you’re there. That’s what I did.
Even though my Airbnb hosts were kind enough to let me stay with them for a small price until I found a place (I initially only paid for 3 nights), I didn’t want to impose on them–especially if they were having other guests and had to make sure their door was open all the time. So, once I settled in, I started looking for apartments. HARD. Luckily, there were two apartment agencies in La Ferté, so I at least knew where to begin.
The first agency I went to was solely because I was walking around, and I saw that the doors were open. I figured, hey, might as well try to do this, especially since October is just around the corner. After explaining my situation in what was probably hard to understand French, they asked me how much I made each month, to which I replied, after taxes, around 650 euros, but I have a lot of money in my bank accounts!! No cigar. I’d need at least 3x the amount of rent that I’d pay, and the cheapest apartment was about half my paycheck. Like, bro, I’m only gonna be here like 7 months, and I can literally show you how much money is in my bank. You will not be shorted whatsoever. But, it was still a no go. The assistant gave me an address to try for low-income folks like me, so I was bummed, but I said thanks anyways, because being polite is the good thing to do.
I went home, and looked this place up. It couldn’t hurt, right? Turns out, it was a shelter put up by a Catholic mission. It seemed pretty nice. Hot meals, a private room, maybe, but the thing was…..was that it was literally way more costly than an apartment. Like. I know you were trying to be helpful, but that was the opposite of helpful.
Dismayed, I emailed the teacher I’d be working with, and she responded saying that she’ll explain my situation if I could just give her the phone number of the agency I went to. Which reminds me that I need to respond to her now that I’ve found a place. …Okay, that’s done, so moving on! From there, I was becoming more desperate. After taking a well-needed nap, I found the address of the other agency, though I wouldn’t be able to go in until the next day, as it had just closed. But, I did find a sort of airbnb but for roommates. However, there was only one person looking for roommates in my town. I sent them a message, explaining my situation, and basically begging them to let me stay with them. I eagerly awaited their response.
After five minutes of waiting, I figured it was a lost cause and that I would be homeless and I’d probably have to do some unsavory things just to get by but at least I would have a lot of money but the winters would be harsh, probably.
Little did I know that I had an email coming my way! The next day, I received an email from my school, letting me know that somebody had offered me a room. The name and street given matched the name and street on WeRoom (the Airbnb for roommates), so I figured that this person had gotten my message.
I was correct.
We met up at 10AM the next day, which, based on when I’m posting this, makes it yesterday, 9/30. She showed me the apartment, showed me which floor I’d be on (I have a floor basically to myself, but the floor just consists of my room and a shared bathroom), shared a cup of coffee, and then went to get a copy of her key made. Obviously, I loved the apartment, AND all of its amenities. Not only did I win the roommate lottery, but the apartment came with wifi, furniture, heat, and cooking tools (such as pots, pans, and silverware). It’s 10 minutes away from my school, 15 minutes away from the train station, and a short walk from any shopping I’d ever need to do. And it’s only 350 euros a month. Not bad, if I do say so myself.
Now, on the terms of winning the roommate lottery. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve won the roommate lottery multiple times in the past, but for not knowing anybody in this town? Well, I got the grand prize. They’re super cool, so I have to rave about them a little bit.
The owner of the place is Valerie, who has 3 jobs. She works with blind folks 4 days a week, is a translator, and is a sound editor. She can speak English, and she’s helping me out with my French. She used to live in England and the states, and she knows a bunch of artists in Paris who let her stay in their apartments when they’re gone so that she doesn’t have to go back and forth between the city and the town all the time. I love her.
And then Romain, dear, dear, Romain. When I first met him, we did the cheek-cultural-French kiss–the one where you kiss both cheeks. He smokes (not only cigarettes), has a parakeet named Nibbles, and his boyfriend and boyfriend’s dog visit often. He used to work under a French fashion designer, but now works as a gardener 15 minutes away from the apartment, as plants are his passion. I love him.
All of the worrying was worth it. They return tomorrow, Sunday, and I’m very excited to be together with them. Future TAPIF-ers, the wait and worrying will pass. It’ll be okay. I promise.