Looking for a Property in Paris: the Story of Robert, Helen, and Carl


[Sponsored article] Americans are often drawn to buying or renting a property in Paris, for a variety of reasons. In this article, Virginie Lejosne of French Livin talks about the journeys of three different buyers.

The Different Buyers and Their History

Robert’s Parisian retirement

After a career as an asset manager in NYC, Robert decided to retire in France. “I wanted a change in my life, a different culture,” said Robert. “Paris is a big city like New York, but more cultural.” For him, Paris’s central location in Europe was a significant factor, making it convenient to travel to other countries.

Helen’s dream pied-à-terre

Helen and her husband, who live in Boston, dreamt of owning a pied-à-terre in Paris. They were eager to travel to Europe and explore France. “We love French food and wine, and we want to experience the Parisian way of life,” Helen shared.

Carl’s cultural move

Carl moved from Los Angeles with his family, to immerse themselves in Parisian culture. “We needed a change, and Paris was a good choice, with its cultural life and good schools,” he explained.

What draws foreigners to Paris?

Several factors attract foreigners to Paris:

  • Cultural appeal. Paris is renowned for its cultural heritage, art, history, and lifestyle. The opportunity to immerse oneself in the French way of life, enjoy Parisian cuisine, and participate in cultural events appeals to many Americans.
  • Lifestyle: Many are drawn to the slower, more relaxed pace of life in Paris. The city’s emphasis on work-life balance, social activities, and leisure is very appealing.
  • Real estate investment: Parisian real estate is seen as a stable and potentially profitable investment. Property values in Paris have shown resilience and growth, making it an attractive market for investors. The steady demand for rental properties makes it a good choice for those looking to generate rental income.
  • Retirement destination: France offers a desirable destination to retire, with its excellent healthcare system and high quality of life.
  • Transport links: With numerous international transport links, living in Paris offers easy access to other European cities and countries. 

Is it Better to Rent or Buy a Property?

Renting: Flexibility and Convenience

For Robert, renting was the best option. “Property purchase requires you to invest some cash, and I wanted to keep cash on hand to spend on my travels,” he said. Renting provided him with the flexibility to also rent another place in the south of France.

Buying: A Dream Come True

For Helen, the decision was clear: purchase. She and her husband wanted their own place. They wanted to decorate as they wished, and the option to rent it out if they could not come to Europe for a few months. “Owning a property in Paris was a dream, so let’s make it come true,” said Helen.

Renting First: A Strategic Approach

Carl and his family decided to rent first. “We wanted to get to know the different Parisian neighborhoods before purchasing. We moved to the 16th arrondissement, as it is a safe and international neighborhood with good schools. After a year, we decided to stay in the same neighborhood and looked for an apartment to buy,” Carl explained.

Pros and Cons of Renting and Buying


  • Pros: Flexibility, easier to move in and out, more economical in the short term, no need for a large upfront cash transfer, furnished rentals available.
  • Cons: Landlord may reclaim the apartment at the end of the lease, challenging to rent without a French income, money spent on rent is not invested.


  • Pros: More options to find a property that fits your requirements, easy to rent out, freedom to renovate and decorate.
  • Cons: Financial commitment, need for cash for the down payment, challenging  to get a mortgage without French income, additional costs like notary and annual property taxes, upkeep expenses.

Challenges in finding a property

Robert’s experience

Robert initially tried to find an apartment on his own, but found it challenging. “Renting is difficult because it is not about assets, it’s about paperwork. The system is complicated; without the right documents, you can’t rent from companies or individuals,” he said. With the help of Virginie, a property expert, Robert found a comfortable apartment with a view on the Eiffel Tower.

Helen’s long distance search

Helen’s challenge was searching for an apartment from a distance. “We want a view of the Seine and nearby cafés and restaurants, which is hard to find from abroad. So we hired Virginie, a property finder who can look and visit for us,” Helen said.

Carl’s buying process

Carl found the buying process very different from the U.S. “In France, you need a notary to handle the buying process. There are many technical documents to check, like the diagnostics and the co-ownership meeting reports. We were unaware of the buying fees and annual taxes. We wish we had the help of a property finder to give us all the information upfront,” Carl shared.

For more information about renting or purchasing a property in Paris, please contact Virginie at [email protected], or send her a WhatsApp message at +33768011865.

Sponsored articles do not belong to the editorial team at Frenchly. They are provided or written at the request of the advertiser, who determines the content. 

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