Moving to Montpellier – a small guide for Internationals Part I
As internationals in a city, it can take long to know where to look for what. Here some ideas to get along fast in Montpellier and in your French life: Starting from searching for an apartment, to finding 2nd hand material and meeting neighbours through a self-help site.
Do you know this situation? You are totally excited moving to a new country, a new city, new adventures are waiting and then suddenly you face a whole lot of challenges that you didn’t realize before. All informations that are in a hand reach in your home country need to be searched for again from scratch. You start an empty page and sometimes it takes ages to fill it up with knowledge of where to find what you need. For example: Where can I search for an apartment? Where can I buy a second hand bicycle, clothes or even furniture? Where do I get information about events and concerts?
I myself moved several times countries and was always glad when locals gave me tips, even if the information was in the local language. (Google translate helps!) Hopefully the upcoming links will make you, internationals of Montpellier, find yourself around quickly and enjoy the city.
Practical French sites for finding an apartment
Whether you are an Erasmus student, working or just decided to live in France… as internationals, the first thing you will be searching for is an apartment.
Here are some useful French websites to search:
— La Carte des Colocs (@CartedesColocs) 8 juin 2017
Entirely free, easy to use and great to find French flatmates. It can take time until you have answers, so better send several requests to enlarge the probability of finding a place.
A list of shared flats all across France, but some services are costly
A site for everything, where many houses, studios, apartments are published as well : from private people and state agencies too.
I had a though time finding a place. I lived maybe in 5 apartments in 1 year and 2 months. I went through everything: couchsurfing, subletting, I lived in a house without keys…
Danielle, 27, German, student in social work and sport education moved to Montpellier for six months in Springtime: “I looked in La Carte des Colocs, wrote to several people and got many feedback ! For one room we arranged a skype meeting, talked 20 minutes and the girl confirmed me straight away.”
The list of necessary documents to rent an apartment can be difficult to get for internationals, mostly concerning the ‘garant‘ : a French person who has confidence in you and signs as a guarantee in case you should not be able to pay.
Nir, 41, from Israel, architect in freelance : « I thought if I bring enough documents that prove my income someone will accept it and lend me an apartment, but both agencies and private people didn’t accept. Either I should have a French salary or bring a person to sign. To find this person was pure luck! »
Nastassja, 27, German, student in Cultural Managment : “I had a tough time finding a place. I lived maybe in 5 apartments in 1 year and 2 months. I went through everything: couchsurfing, subletting, I lived in a house without keys… »
“The place I live now I found through contacts. This worked the best for me – just telling anyone I met that I am searching for an apartment.”
Should you have troubles with the owner of your apartment there exists an agency called ADIL which checks on your rights and on those of your owner or estate agency. Do not hesitate to go by if you have problems or questions.
All you need from 2nd Hand
Le bon coin is the reference site if you search something 2nd hand. Should it be furniture, a bicycle, books or gardening material… Here you can find it usually very cheap.
Chaque mois sur #leboncoin, vous êtes plus de 🔥 28 MILLIONS 🔥 à venir chiner des meubles, trouver un travail, repérer une maison, regarder les voitures… Un GRAND merci à tous 🙏 pic.twitter.com/yUwWrzoqCB
— leboncoin (@leboncoin) 15 juin 2018
The persons can be contacted by phone or by message, but be prepared to speak French.
The bad side of ‘Le bon coin’ is that anybody can sell there. Take care on whom you contact, if the person is trustworthy and be sure to check well the object before giving the money.
Looking back I was a bit naive. I found a bicycle on le bon coin that costs 70 Euros. First it was fine, but then I had to fix the chain several times. I could have handled down the price.
Danielle recalls her arrival in Montpellier : “Looking back I was a bit naive. I found a bicycle on le bon coin that costs 70 Euros. First it was fine, but then I had to fix the chain several times. I could have handled down the price.”
If you prefer strolling around outdoors for finding stuff, there is a big market at the end of the Tram line 1 and 3 at the stop called ‘Mosson’. The market is happening every Sunday from 6am to 1pm. Going there is like a trip, it makes you wonder if you are still in France. Quite big, with lots of different things for good prices and the atmosphere is great – eat a spring roll or a hot dog and take your time to walk around. Maybe you’ll find treasures, like an old road sign for your apartment.
A list of more markets for food or other can be found here on the site of Montpellier city.
If you are fond of nice 2nd hand clothes, keep an eye on the Facebook events in Montpellier called ‘Vide dressing‘ (emptying the wardrobe). They happen regularly and are quite fun too. When taking place outside, they are often accompanied by drink stands – a good occasion to hang out among girls.
Should you like ordering 2nd hand clothes online there is a well-appreciated French site called Vinted. You can even choose your region for avoiding long transportations.
Get to know your neighbours and help each other out
‘Allovoisin’ – Ever heard of? If not, it is time. All in French once again (think of it as a practice!), this is a site of service exchange. You need someone to set up a cupboard with you? A person to lend you a screwdriver? Someone to fix your bath-tap? To walk your dog?
Post a message telling what you need and propose the sum of money you can offer for the service.
The answers can come very fast. You might have already a solution for the next day. It is a good way to earn a bit of pocket money too – by helping out others. On top of all, one meets nice people.
This article is to give a first briefing on the city. There is always more to be mentioned : Don’t hesitate to leave comments if you have further ideas or discovered something else that you liked or that was helpful.
A second part of this guide for internationals, with focus on the cultural life in Montpellier is to follow…