As soon as you are accepted by a university in Lyon, you should immediately begin searching for student accommodation in Lyon. As such a popular city, it can make finding a room or an apartment quite difficult. In fact, it can be one of the most difficult places to locate a good place to rent, especially if you’re on a strict budget.
There are certain documents that you will need to rent an apartment in France as an incoming international student:
A letter from a guarantor, written in French
Your guarantor’s information, including a copy of their ID
A copy of their employment contract
Your guarantor’s last three payslips
ID or passport
Bank reference from your French bank account
Additionally, your landlord will request a proof of housing insurances. The student insurances (SMERRA and LMDE), along with the banks, offer this form of insurance. It is typically priced between €30 and €60.
All students coming from any location can apply for housing benefits at the Social Security office (CAF, Caisse d’allocations familiale). You must, of course, meet particular conditions. A certain amount will then be deposited each month into your account, as long as your application is accepted, to assist you with paying your rental costs. This amount can vary, depending on the applicant’s personal finances and the expenses that will be accrued during their time in Lyon.
Pricing can vary greatly by the type and location of accommodation.
Flat sharing, individual rooms and studios
These rooms and studios are rented directly from the landlord, or a real estate agency can often be used. You can expect to pay between €350 and €600.
The rooms and studios in the private university residences
Rooms and studios are available in several private university residences in Lyon. The rent is typically priced between €400 and €650 monthly, along with administrative fees.
Host family accommodations
This is a room that you rent from a landlord (a person or a family) living in an apartment or a house. You must agree to the conditions set forth by the landlord, and they may even include meals in the monthly rental price, which can range between €350 and €550.
This area is extremely diverse, making it ideal for international students. The 3rd and 7th arrondissements seem to be somewhat underrated, but these neighbourhoods are perfect for those living in Lyon on a budget, but still want to be close to the City Centre. Guillotière hosts three universities: Université Lyon 2, Université Lyon 3 and the Sciences Po campus. You can also expect a plethora of alternative bars and cafes with vegetarian menu items. This area is slowly catching on, so the prices are beginning to rise, but you’ll still find some of the best prices in Lyon.
Arrondissements 1, 2 and 4 are the epitome of elegance. This area boasts plenty of museums and galleries, along with shopping, delicious restaurants and a vibrant life. Situated in the midst of the Rhône and Saône rivers, the Presqu’île offers a lot of action. This is the new home for you can appreciate a bustling nightlife scene, upscale shopping and trendy restaurants. For foodies, check out the area of Rue Mercière, where you’ll find delicacies from all over the world. One of the best is l’Epicérie – a French restaurant famous for its pastries.
The 5th Arrondissement is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site, as well as one of the world's biggest Renaissance neighbourhoods. Its historic cobbled streets work along the river, offering access to the water. While it has lovely old buildings, it also boasts most of Lyon’s Irish pubs, with many staying open until early morning. Here you will also find Bouchons Lyonnais– home to many of the restaurants that have made Lyon the gastronomic capital of the country.
The 1st and 4th Arrondissements are very unique. Sometimes referred to as the "hill that works," Croix Rousse was once home to the beneficial silk trade. It is also known as a full-working, thriving village in itself. After its gentrification, it is now especially trendy and artsy, with plenty of markets, green spaces, hip bars and tasty eateries.
The 5th Arrondissement can best be described as peaceful. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière draws thousands of visitors each year, and it can be seen from most areas of the city, and you can even see Mont Blanc from its viewpoints on a clear day. There are also several parks – with Parc des Hauteurs and Parc de la Visitation offering lovely skyline views.
The 6th Arrondissement is luxurious, and home to the famous Parc de la Tête d’Or. There is a variety of other activities as well, such as visiting the free zoo or riding a paddleboat in the lake. If tranquility is what you’re after, this is the right neighborhood for you.
Living in Lyon will be one of the high points of your academic career, so a good listing for a room or an apartment in Lyon can often be snatched up within mere hours, so you have to be sure to stay connected and continuously search for advertisements. Always visit immediately, as that many are rented on a first-come first-served basis. You can also try a trusted rental platform like Housing Anywhere, where you can always search for your preferences and be alerted when a property matching them is listed.
Agencies can be very expensive, and they typically require a couple of months worth of rent as a deposit. They do not always offer very personable customer service, and they may miss some of the listings that you would be interested in.
The French seem to be pretty big on stacks of paperwork, so don’t expect to visit many apartments without having the following:
If you aren’t European, a copy of your passport and visa
Your last three payslips or a job contract that shows your salary
A signed letter from a guarantor, plus one of their payslips
Speaking of guarantors, French landlords generally want you to have one who lives in France. This person will agree to pay your rent if you can't. You can ask friends that you know who may live in France, or if you have employment in the country, your company may be willing to sign for you. Some banks also offer a "garant" service. On Housing Anywhere, you’ll find that the landlords are very friendly, and they are used to working with foreigners and will help them out in any way possible.