Host family accommodation: the new El Dorado?
Chambrealouer.com turns five this year. Largely geared towards young people, the site was originally created to increase the range of accommodation on offer and promote the concept behind host family accommodation, a relatively unknown phenomenon in France. An IFOP survey revealed that host family accommodation is most popular amongst students, with holidaymakers coming in second. For short and long-term lets, it can be an attractive solution in the midst of economic chaos: the host family gets a boost to their monthly income and students pay lower rent - sometimes even paying nothing at all, instead completing household tasks in exchange for a room. For many families, when their children leave for university it gives them the chance to make use of otherwise empty space.
Then there's the social aspect. Renting out a room can mean being a part of a community. People share their experiences on the website. Renting a room can essentially become a way to meet new people: "an Egyptian doctural student, a Chinese town-planner, various globetrotters", amongst others.
Chambrealouer's key phrase is "collaborative consumption", a term that, according to the IFOP survey, few people are currently familiar with. Also known as the "sharing economy", this alternative mode of consumption has become increasingly popular in recent times. It can be defined as the exchange and sharing of goods or services amongst private individuals. In the age of the internet and financial crisis, collaborative consumption thrives, bearing witness to a renewed interest in community and resourcefulness. It hasn't taken people long to realise that the objects they own, such as their cars, can be used to create an extra source of income. Boom! Whilst in the past these goods might have been exchanged between family members, they can now be traded with complete strangers.
Something else for students to consider? A 2011 IPSOS survey showed that accommodation was the number one concern for students, ranking higher than access to international mobility and culture. It also showed that 39% of students had encountered problems during their search: from high rents, to impossible demands on guarantors and a general shortfall in accommodation available. Over a third of students avoid these pitfalls by choosing to live with their parents. At cafébabel we're asking you to share your horror stories of looking for accommodation in Paris; the capital is known for being one of the most difficult places to find somewhere to live. From exorbitant rents - 550-880 euros for a 15 to 20 m² studio - to struggles between potential tenants to see who can fill out the most extensive bundle of paperwork. Get writing - we want to hear from you!