Buying in Paris or Paris Suburbs?
The last Intimate Group Consultation I held on Zoom right before heading down to Nice was “Buying in Paris or Paris Suburbs?” As the prices in Paris have increased, and with the pandemic teaching us how urban living could be a thing of the past, the question is valid and five people on the Zoom call wanted to know what makes sense. The point is, are you willing to give up location for space or has location become more desirable outside of the city anyway where prices are lower?
Let’s first talk about what it’s like to own property and live INSIDE Paris—that is INSIDE the Périphérique—the ring road around the 20 districts of Paris that define the city limits. Anything outside the “Périph” is considered outside of Paris and the “banlieue” or suburb. This means having a zip code that starts with “75” which denotes the “département” and then followed by three numbers to indicate which district, such as 75001 for the first arrondissement, 75002 for the second arrondissement, 75003 for the third, etc.
Property inside the Périphérique, on the whole, costs a lot more than just about anywhere else in France. Paris is the center of life in the country and for the most part, the price of a property purchase reflects that. It is well known that property investment in Paris is non-risk. Prices have increased on a steady basis since 1998 and are still climbing. During the 2008 financial crisis, prices held steady then climbed substantially the year after. Even with renewed interest in moving outside of the city since the Covid-19 pandemic and confinement, my bet is on Paris holding its value—forever.
When you live in Paris, the more centrally you live, the more you will enjoy living in the city. It’s a simple equation of proximity. The more accessible you will be to everything the city has to offer, the more you will take advantage of it and the more you will enjoy this proximity. I joke that when you live in central Paris, you can stop home to change your shoes at any time. And while it’s a kind of joke, it’s not really at all—it’s the truth. There’s something simply wonderful about the ability to do that. easily go in and out of your abode for just about anything you want or need at any time with limited hassle. Even living in the outer districts (9 through 20) will add travel time to your day and limit your ability to change your shoes at any time.
The bottom line is that living inside the city is, in my opinion, the best way to enjoy Paris to its fullest. Living outside the city means giving something up—the urbanity of it—while trading it for space and perhaps what nature has to offer, such as a garden, a pool, proximity to the forest, etc.
Budget may be a big, big factor. So, where can you get more bang out of the buck without going too far outside of center? The “Petite Couronne.” Départements numbered 92, 93, and 94 denote the suburbs just outside of Paris and part of what is called “La Petite Couronne” or the Little Crown. The Métro reaches into these areas as do the buses and the RER regional trains (See the Métro map). The key to being happily ensconced in one of the suburbs is transportation—so you have easy access to the city without ever needing to own and operate a car in the interest of trading location for space or budget.
Best of all is to be in a location where you can still be on a Métro line and not have to get on the regional trains at all, which run less frequently. The Métro does go beyond the Petite Couronne, so stick close to the Périph and you’ll be as close as you can get to being virtually inside the city limits, but the minute you step across the line, your hard-earned buck will stretch further.
There are many beautiful suburbs from which to chose. Some of the wealthiest include Le Vésinet, Sceaux, Maisons-Laffitte and Neuilly-sur-Seine. Others I’m not so quick to recommend, such as Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-d’Oise, Clichy-sous-Bois, Bondy and Corbeil-Essonnes.
Wikipedia.org has a great description of the personalities of the banlieue:
“The southeast banlieues are less homogenous. Close to Paris, there are many communities that are considered “sensitive” or unsafe (Bagneux, Malakoff, Massy, Les Ulis), divided by residential zones with a better reputation (Verriéres-le-Buisson, Bourg-la-Reine, Antony, Fontenay-aux-Roses, Sceaux). The farther away from the Paris city centre, the more the banlieues of the south of Paris can be divided into two zones. On one side, there are the banks of the Seine, where working-class residents used to live (there are still pockets of disadvantaged areas) but also other areas that are especially well off. Also are large cities close to Paris, such as Chanteloup-les-Vignes, Sartrouville, Les Mureaux, Mantes-la-Jolie, Poissy, Achéres, Limay, Trappes, Aubergenville,-vry-Courcouronnes, Grigny, Corbeil-Essonnes, Saint-Michel-sur-Orge, Brétigny-sur-Orge, Sainte-Geneviéve-des-Bois, and Fleury-Mérogis. Small communities that are socially disparate can be found in the Yvelines department with Villennes-sur-Seine, Chatou, Croissy-sur-Seine, Le Pecq, Maisons-Laffitte but also in the Essonne and Seine-et-Marne departments: Etiolles, Draveil, Soisy-sur-Seine, Saint-Pierre-du-Perray or Seine-Port.”
So, if choosing to live outside of Paris, choose wisely—not only by transportation access but by the ambiance and amenities the area will provide. Appreciation on the property can also be greatly affected by choosing an undesirable location, or one that has amazing growth ahead of it. The Grand Paris Métro expansion project is already boosting prices in the suburbs.
“Grand Paris Express, as an automated transit network, is the new metro of the Capital Region. With its 68 new stations and 200 kilometers of additional tracks, Grand Paris Express consists of a ring route around Paris (line 15) and lines connecting developing neighborhoods (lines 16, 17, and 18). Additionally, Grand Paris Express also involves the extension of existing Métro lines. Its 4 new lines circle the capital and provide connections with Parisí 3 airports, business districts, and research clusters. It will service 165,000 companies and daily transport 2 million commuters.”
One of the most desirable suburbs has become Issy-les-Moulineaux which has had considerable appreciation and is expected to benefit from the new line 15 which will connect the Pont de Sévres station to the Noisy-Champs station. Even Saint-Ouen and Seine-Saint-Denis are seeing big increases. Other areas to watch closely are Les Lilas, Aubervilliers, and Montrouge.
Once you go further out into the “Grande Couronne,” départements 77, 78, 91 an 95, Paris will be less accessible without a car, and either way, you won’t be in Paris as much as you think. So, my advice is to love where you live and make Paris less of your world if you choose to live in the Grande Couronne. This is when I advise considering living just about anywhere else in France and enjoying it for what it is, rather than it’s proximity to the capital city.
This is not to say that there aren’t many wonderfully beautiful and desirable spots in the Grande Couronne. You could easily live in Versailles, Fontainebleau, Provins, St. Germain en Laye, Meaux, Pontoise, etc., and have a very idyllic life in these cities in Ile-de-France. But choose these cities because they offer something on their own, without Paris being their crutch. Otherwise, think way outside of the center and consider other cities in France.
Tough decision? Have a small budget, but still want to stay close to Paris? Yes, it is. And largely it depends on your own financial and work situation, family life, and lifestyle to help sort out the answers. We can always help you pinpoint where in France you want to hang your hat and reach your goals, fulfilling your dreams. One thing for sure—as long as you make just about anywhere in France your choice, you won’t be disappointed!
Adrian Leeds Group