What’s It Like to Be a 30 Year Old Homeowner in Paris?

Mission Impossible? For young Parisian workers, the road to home ownership is long and paved with pitfalls.

Finding long-term accommodation is growing increasingly difficult, but becoming a home owner is an even more complex task. The increasing scarcity of long-term accommodation is a corollary of the growing popularity of short-term rental solutions, such as AirBnB. Not to mention that job insecurity, including internships and term-contracts that are not always renewed, make it almost impossible to become a homeowner by the age of 30.

And even then, you need to brace yourself to pay the exorbitant squaremeter prices in Paris.
Baptiste, Laetitia, Anne, Pascal and Antoine share their insights based on their own experience as young homeowners in Paris.

Laetitia, 39 years old, Paris 12e arrondissement

In some neighborhoods, buying a property is more advantageous than being a tenant

When and why did you decide to become a homeowner?

Ten years ago, the landlord of the apartment I was renting decided to sell his property. I was not able to buy it because the price was too high for me. However, it made me realize that in some neighborhoods, it is more advantageous to buy a property than to be a tenant. The rent can be equivalent to the monthly credit refund!

How did you fund this project?

I was lucky enough to benefit from my family’s financial support, which amounted to 35% of the total amount. And for the rest, I took out a bank loan, PTZ which is a zero-interest loan, as well as PPL.

What compromises did you have to make (distance from the centre, smaller apartment)?

I was lucky enough not to have to make any compromises. It was out of the question for me to make a long-term investment to become the owner of a property that had a less attractive layout or location than those I had rented.

How do you feel about it? What about other people’s reactions? Do you have any regrets?

I am certainly happy about it. I am keenly aware that it is hard to become a homeowner in Paris these days. It has now become a luxury.

Have you ever felt any pressure from earlier generations – your parents or your grandparents, for whom home ownership was a major goal in life?

It was a positive kind of pressure: they gave me their financial support and encouragement.

Baptiste, 30 years old, Paris 10e arrondissement

I had two choices: a more spacious apartment with a balcony; or a smaller one, but much closer to my workplace

When and why did you decide to become a homeowner?

In 2014, I got tired of having to fork out rent every month. I wanted a flat that would suit my tastes better than any of the flats I had rented, and where I could have work done as I liked without asking for anyone’s permission.

How did you fund this project?

I paid 25% of the total sum as a down payment. For the remaining amount, I diversified the funding sources as much as possible: a long-term fixed-rate loan, a 10-year adjustable rate loan, a Prêt Paris logement loan (PPL 0%) which is a zero-interest loan that can be granted by any bank that has entered into an agreement with the City of Paris to Parisians wanting to purchase their home, as well as 1% logement, which is an employer’s contribution scheme aimed at facilitating access to housing.

What compromises did you have to make (distance from the centre, smaller apartment)?

When it comes to compromises, I had two choices: I could either have a more spacious flat, with a balcony; or a smaller one, closer to my workplace. I plumped for the second option, as I thought that the balcony would be for next time.

How do you feel about it? What about other people’s reactions? Do you have any regrets?

I feel pretty good about it, actually! However, once the initial excitement about the purchase was over, I stopped shouting from the rooftops that I was a homeowner. In Paris, being a homeowner is synonymous with NFA, which in this case does not stand for “no fixed abode”, but rather for “no financial adversities”.

My only regret is that I did not take this step towards home ownership earlier, I wish somebody has told me about these possibilities before the idea of purchasing my own home began to take shape.

Have you ever felt any pressure from earlier generations – your parents or your grandparents, for whom home ownership was a major goal in life?

They did not put any pressure on me. On the contrary, I think my decision caught them unawares. They helped me a lot with this project.

Anne, 34 years old, Paris 12e arrondissement

I have been used to living in tiny apartments ever since I have been in Paris

When and why did you decide to become a homeowner?

I made my decision in 2016, after reading over and over again that interest rates were at a historic low and that it was the right time to buy a property.

How did you fund this project?

I paid 30% of the total price as a down payment, which was made up of my personal savings, my company’s employees’ savings plan and my family’s financial contribution; for the remainder, I’ve taken out a 25-year loan.

What compromises did you have to make (distance from the centre, smaller apartment)?

I had to sacrifice a few square meters…

How do you feel about it? What about other people’s reactions? Do you have any regrets?

I’m actually quite happy; I don’t see myself living in the suburbs or the provinces. I’ve been used to small flats anyway ever since I came to live in Paris.

Have you ever felt any pressure from earlier generations – your parents or your grandparents, for whom home ownership was a major goal in life?

Yes, my parents and grandparents put pressure on me to do so, but on the other hand, they also gave me their financial support and provided me with valuable input and guidance.

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Pascal, 34 years old, 11e arrondissement of Paris

I preferred to buy my own flat so that someday I would get back the monthly amounts that I pay

When and why did you decide to become a homeowner?

I decided to take the plunge in 2010, as a result of the accumulated exhaustion of five years of daily commuting from the Oise department to Paris for work. I preferred to buy my own flat so that someday I would get back the monthly amounts that I pay.”

How did you fund this project?

I funded my project through credit (PTZ and PPL). Fortunately, I was living at my mother’s place until then, which enabled me to set aside the amounts needed to pay the estate agents and registration fees.

What compromises did you have to make (distance from the centre, smaller apartment)?

I bought an apartment that required a great deal of interior work as I couldn’t have afforded to buy a home of my own otherwise. However, I had such a good time pulling it apart and rebuilding it all over again.

How do you feel about it? What about other people’s reactions? Do you have any regrets?

It’s really great. I live in one of the nicest neighborhoods of Paris, but still, I feel like I’m living in a small village: everything is at a walking distance from home and I even hear the birds sing in the morning!

Have you ever felt any pressure from earlier generations – your parents or your grandparents, for whom home ownership was a major goal in life?

No, absolutely not. They left me alone; it was me who put pressure on myself to stop renting and become a homeowner instead.

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Antoine, 30 years old, Paris 17e arrondissement

For my parents’ bank, my precarious job was less of a problem

When and why did you decide to become a homeowner?

In 2011, my grandparents proposed making two contiguous small attic rooms, or chambres de bonne, available to me. Both rooms were in quite a poor state. It would not have been possible for anyone to live there without doing a great deal of interior work first. They told me: take care of the renovation, and the apartment will be yours for free.

How did you fund this project?

My bank refused to grant me a loan as I was on a fixed-term contract, so I contacted my parents’ bank. Strangely enough, my precarious job was less of a problem there, and I got my loan.

What compromises did you have to make (distance from the centre, smaller apartment)?

Honestly, I have made no compromises. On the contrary, I am closer to the city centre and I live in a completely refurbished apartment that suits my taste perfectly! However, I am not a homeowner, it’s just that I live in an apartment which I paid to have refurbished. The repayment of the loan I took out costs much less than the monthly rent for such an apartment.

How do you feel about it? What about other people’s reactions? Do you have any regrets?

Everything is OK, thanks! But I’m aware that this is a privilege, I was really lucky.

Have you ever felt any pressure from earlier generations – your parents or your grandparents, for whom home ownership was a major goal in life?

Yes, this is certain; however, I did not perceive it as pressure. On the contrary, they did everything they could so that I can have a place of my own, under the best possible conditions.

Photos courtesy of Frederic Dith

Julien Giacalone As far as Julien can remember he always wanted to be a gangster. Unlike Henry Hill, he mostly became a writer. But a strong part of him is still anti-establishment. Which part? Only the good half.
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