TAPIF: Should You Rent an Apartment or Live at School?
One of the most important (and sometimes, stressful) things to think about before teaching abroad is HOUSING. Where to get it, how to get it, etc. It can all be a big case of "WTF do I do?!"
Below, you'll find the pros and cons of two of the most common housing options for those who teach English in France: Renting an apartmentand Living at school in the student residences.
A couple weeks ago, I posted about how I personally chose the option of working as an au pair and living with a host family, and you can check out that post by following the link below:
How I'm Saving More Money Than Ever With TAPIF
Let's dive in!
Renting an Apartment in France
- Independence - Having your own apartment allows you to call the shots on how you live. It gives you some private space, and there aren't as many rules and regulations (unless your landlord is super strict!)
- Live Like a Local - This means that you'd be able to do everything that a French person would do. For example, you'd have a little kitchen to practice your French cooking. Having French roommates is also a plus, so be on the lookout for any university students or young professionals who are also on the hunt for an apartment!
- Improve your French Communication - If having to communicate with your French landlord (in French!) doesn't improve your conversation skills, I don't know what will!
- Parties, Apéros + Soirées - Having your own apartment means you're free to have little get-togethers with your friends. That, and having drinks before hitting the bars! Just make sure to be respectful of your neighbors!
- Freedom of Location: You get to choose where you live. For example, if you are assigned to work out in a rural suburb, you can opt to live in the nearest big city and commute if it's within reason (a resounding GOOD IDEA!)
- More expensive - With all that space and independence inevitably comes a higher price tag! But don't let that scare you - depending on your location, you can find some well-priced and inexpensive apartments.
- Scams - This is a tough one for those who've just moved to France and are looking for housing. Be aware of scams - they're out there! Basically, don't sign anything or give any information until you've actually met with the landlord and have physically set foot in the apartment!
- Apartment Hunt - Especially in the beginning, apartments can seem few and far between. And the laundry list of prerequisites can seem daunting: an already-established bank account, a guarantor (like a co-payer) in case you don't follow through with your rent payments, among other things.
- Potential Commute - If you've opted to live in the nearest bigger city to where you teach, it can sometimes mean a longer commute. Don't stress though, this is where you have time to read all the books you've been wanting to read or to plan next week's lessons!
Living at School (in the Student Residences)
- Free or Cheap - So not all student residence options are free; however, they're usually a lot less expensive than an apartment! The least expensive I've seen is 0€ per month and the most expensive was 300€ per month. So it all depends.
- No Commute - Meaning, you can sleep in until literally ten minutes before your first class starts (as long as you're prepared and can adequately get ready in ten minutes! Otherwise, maybe go for a half hour - at least - before your first class!
- Possible to go back home between your classes - Catch up on your latest Netflix binge, take a cozy nap to rejuvenate, do whatever!
- No Stress Upon Arrival - Typically, your contact teacher can get you all set up. However, this is another point that varies, as it all depends on how involved your contact teacher is. Sometimes assistants find out about the possibility of living at the school way, way in advance, other times they don't know about it until they arrive at the school. Be flexible!
- Location - If you've been assigned to work at a school in a middle-of-nowhere town or suburb, sometimes it's difficult to find super stimulating things to do around town. Also, public transportation can be few and far between after sundown and on the weekends.
- Public Transportation - Speaking of transport, there won't be as many options living in a remote area as there would be in a bigger city.
- Loneliness - Sometimes living in the student residences can feel a bit isolated, especially if there aren't any or many other teaching assistants living there as well. More often than not, you will be the only English assistant at a certain school.
- Work/Life Balance - Classifying your school as your work AND your home can feel like you never have any time to yourself. If this is the case, make sure to get out and explore on the weekends and during vacation periods!
Here's the thing, guys. If you get offered housing at your school before even setting foot in France, I say take it! You can always, always, always move if and when you find a better option!
It would be absolutely WORTH IT to arrive in France already having a place to live while getting your bearings and navigating the beginnings of your French life.
And if your school doesn't offer housing and you're not sure if you want to spend a huge chunk of your paycheck on rent each month, there are a multitude of other options including host families in exchange for babysitting or tutoring and foyers des jeunes for young working professionals.
THANKS FOR READING, FRIENDS!
I HOPE THIS POST HELPED YOU IN YOUR ASPIRATIONS + PREPARATIONS
FOR TEACHING AND LIVING ABROAD!