Lyon is an immensely popular city, so finding somewhere to live can be tricky! Whether you’re a student, traveller or young professional this guide should help you secure safe and comfortable accommodation in Lyon.
Things to keep in mind
1) The majority of apartments in Lyon are managed by agencies meaning it's difficult to escape agency fees (about €15 per m2), if you're filtering your searches for landlords you're significantly decreasing your chances of finding a place.
2) When it comes to renting, the law is very much in the tenant's favour. If you rent a flat, and suddenly decide to stop paying rent, the landlord can’t just kick you out at the end of the month (like would be the case in my other countries). It could take months and months of court proceedings to get you evicted. This means that landlords are forced to be very strict about covering their asses to ensure that you will be able to afford the rent over time and that if you can’t, someone else will pay it for you.
3) Negotiating rent doesn't exist… with supply so high, they know that if you won’t pay the price, someone else will.
4) As with everything in France, estate agents/landlords love their paperwork. This makes things difficult for foreigners, but you will have to do your best to provide everything they ask for. It may seem picky, but they have their procedures, and they are just too busy to make exceptions for you.
5) Be quick! Adverts for flats will be posted online and within an hour all the viewings are fully booked. You need to have alerts set up on all the usual websites (se loger, bien ici, leboncoin) and constantly scour agency websites to make sure you don’t get left behind. Also, get the first viewing available and make sure your diary is open to go whenever. Waiting too long for a visit or not being available means you will lose out on the flat
Beware of scammers
First things first, beware of scammers - there are many of them, especially on Facebook - so remember if it looks too good to be true then it probably is.
Where to start looking for accommodation?
Facebook is a good place to start, there are many groups where people share information about spare rooms and housing.
There are also several websites, including La Carte des Colocs - France’s most popular website for finding flatmates (or colocataires as they say in French!).
You can also check out Le Bon Coin (the French equivalent of GumTree in the UK and Craigslist in the USA) - but again beware of scammers!
What type of accommodation is available in Lyon?
As it’s a major city, it’s very unlikely that you’ll find a house to rent!
Flatshares are the most common - with many tenants looking to replace flatmates in September and January.
For those that like their own space, a studio is another option. You can expect to pay between 500 and 1000 euros per month depending on the size and location.
Homestays are a great alternative if you want some home comforts and a guaranteed place to move into when you arrive. My English Sister has a partnership with Homestay Lyon (by Expat Services France) which provide homestay accommodation from 550 euros per month. The benefit of this solution is that you can pay per day instead of committing to an entire month or year.
Agency vs Landlord
For peace of mind an agency can help you secure accommodation before you arrive - but make sure it’s a reputable one. Visit their website, speak to a customer advisor on the phone, find reviews online and ask around!
Signing a lease directly with a landlord has its obvious financial advantages - but be careful as this is where most scammers emerge.
Firstly, we don’t recommend paying to secure accommodation before you arrive in Lyon.
You can sign a lease but don’t pay your rent, deposit or other fees until you have seen the apartment.
Many landlord scammers will lead you to believe that you need to pay to reserve the apartment and then disappear off the face of the Earth when it’s time for you to move in.
The same goes for important and personal documents - do not share your ID, bank account details and personal information with someone over the internet - this can be a scam to steal your identity. One tip to see if your landlord is genuine is to ask for a copy of their identity.
Securing a place
Once you've found the perfect place to live you'll need to submit a 'dossier de location' which is essentially a selection of documents proving you are who you say you are and you have sufficient funds and income to pay your rent.