One of my biggest grievances with TAPIF is that it doesn’t include housing. Worse still, the amount of support each assistant receives in finding housing varies widely. If you’re lucky, you’ll be offered a cheap, fully-furnished apartment. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll be left to fend for yourself. Nobody says it out loud, but an inability to find housing will affect your ability to fully settle in France. Without a proof of address, you can’t open a bank account. Hence, you can’t get paid. I’ve watched enough assistants drain their savings from living in hotels and AirBnBs, whilst waiting months to see a paycheck.

The Jamaican Francophile is all about providing information, and offering solutions. So in this post, I’ve compiled a few options you can look into for housing as a language assistant. Most of this information is a compilation of mine and my friends’ experiences. I owe much of this post to their willingness to share their stories. And their willingness to let me crash when I wanted a night out.


Let’s be honest. The first time you heard about TAPIF and imagined yourself living in France, this was your fantasy. Unfortunately, given the current language assistant salary against the cost of living, this fantasy is becoming less and less attainable. Depending on the city you’re placed in, renting your own apartment may not be in your budget. And if it is, it may not live up to your expectations. Unless your dream apartment was 10m2, in someone’s basement and far away from everything.

If you manage to circumnavigate the money issue, then don’t let me rob you of your TAPIF housing fantasy. Instead, heed some of my advice:

  • Be wary of scams on housing websites like leboncoin and Se Loger;
  • Start saving towards your security deposit before you go;
  • Find a guarantor, even a virtual one like Visale or GarantMe.

Otherwise, detach yourself from the fantasy of living in your own apartment. It’s not worth living hand to mouth for 7-8 months, and scrapping every other luxury.


If living in your own apartment was the dream, then flat sharing or colocation is the ultimate corruption of that dream. But it may be a necessary evil, so hear me out. When house sharing, you and your other roommates (or colocs) are renting a room in someone else’s apartment or house. There are separate bedrooms (which may or may not have their own locks). And you’ll be sharing common areas such as the kitchen, livingroom and bathroom. Rules around cleaning, storing food, having people over and other aspects of communal living will vary.

Before TAPIF, I had never lived by myself nor with anyone who wasn’t a family member. So I understand if any of you reading this find the idea of a colocation to be daunting. You’ll be living with different people who have different habits, and that takes time to get used to. I can’t guarantee that your colocation will be perfect, especially when I’ve heard of times when it wasn’t. However I’ve also seen examples of it working out fine. And it may be the solution that keeps you housed in France, with enough money to enjoy the experience.


A TAPIF housing option that I haven’t heard many people talk about is a Foyer de Jeunes Travailleurs (FJT). Which is a shame since I think it could be the ideal living situation for a language assistant on a tight budget.

FJTs are government-regulated housing for students and young professionals. Some FJTs are similar to colocations in that there are separate bedrooms, but shared facilities such as the kitchen. However some offer enclosed studio apartments. Because this is housing specifically designed for young people, there are facilities for social and administrative assistance. This type of housing is also linked to CAF, so they can help you apply for housing aid and ensure you receive benefits from the first month (which normally doesn’t happen).

One of the challenges to applying for an FJT is the “jeunes” element. Many FJTs cater to young people below the age of 25. Although there are some which target up to age 30, they are few and far in between in my experience. Feel free to explore this option further if you’re under 25. However if you’re a little older, you may struggle to find an FJT that meets your age range.

FJTs also require that you pay one month’s security deposit. Again, please start saving for this as soon as possible. While it is possible to do a demande FSL (Fonds de solidarité) through the foyer, I’m not sure how applicable this is given how temporary your stay would be.


Of all the options listed in this post, this is the one with which I am most familiar. If you’re “lucky”, your school or a school in the same city will offer accommodation to language assistants. From my two years of experience in school accommodation, I can say that this option can be a double-edged sword. It tends to be relatively cheap (if not free), and may house other assistants. But this TAPIF housing option tends to have a “catch”. And you have to determine what you’re willing to live with.

During my first contract, my roommate (who was the Spanish assistant) and I rented an apartment from our school. On paper, it was perfect – spacious living room and kitchen, with our own rooms. It was a 2-minute walk to work (being right next to the school) and a 5-minute walk to the beach. But for two language assistants earning 785 euros, the rent was pretty steep. We each paid about 347€ in rent and utilities. On top of that, the apartment was unfurnished. So imagine spending nearly half of your salary on an apartment with no furniture. To this day, I am forever grateful to all of the staff members who donated furniture and appliances to us. Without their generosity, there is no way that situation would’ve worked out.

During my second contract, I lived in an internat or boarding school. Again, the rent was cheap (although not CAF-eligible). The catch was a communal bathroom, no kitchen and the added expense of going to a laundromat. Additionally, there were restrictions on bringing food into the building and having visitors.

Depending on the school and their policies, you may have to consider any number of restrictions or disadvantages in exchange for a roof over your head and cheap rent.


You may be asking what’s the difference between “school accommodation” and “student housing”. You may also be asking whether I’ve gone mad for including two headings that basically say the same thing. In the previous suggestion, school accommodation referred to living in the school. Or in a building owned by the school that is either on or adjacent to the school grounds. Student housing refers to university halls of residence operated by the French organization CROUS.

I hesitate to add this option because I’m not sure how widely available it is. In recent years, the Académie de Paris and CROUS have started offering places in student housing for language assistants. Although it’s not nearly enough to accommodate every assistant assigned to Paris, it’s a TAPIF housing option nonetheless. Typically you’ll receive an email from the Académie about this offer. And you have to respond fast because it’s about 40 slots for 200 people. Don’t let the time difference discourage you, because you may be lucky enough to secure a spot.

According to a friend, you won’t immediately know whether you received a place or not. Moreover, the issues I mentioned about opening a French bank account and paying a deposit came up. She needed to pay her deposit with a French card, which she didn’t have because you need an address to open a bank account. If you live in France long enough, you’ll soon realize that the administration is full of these catch-22s. As a result, she had to pay for her entire stay up front, to the tune of 3000€. Please start saving your money now so that you can afford to take these opportunities if they arise.

This is an option that was available in Paris, but maybe it’s available or will be available in other Académies. It’s worth reaching out to your Académie or making an application to CROUS, and keeping your fingers crossed.


It’s OK if your TAPIF housing arrangements don’t live up to your dreams. Once you have a roof over your head and you feel safe, you can focus on all the adventures you’ll have while living in France. And trust me, there will be plenty. Once again, many thanks to all of my friends who knowingly and unknowingly contributed to this post. And if you’re a current or former language assistant with any housing experiences or tips you’d like to share, then sound off in the comments section or on social media.