Feb 16th, 2017, 03:05 PM

Making the Choice: Suburbs or Studio?

By Michelle Lynch
Image credit: Flickr/Shari Blaukopf
When prices line up for two very different situations, what factors can help make the decision?

At some point in every student’s life, it comes time to branch out from roommates and find a single apartment. For many AUP students, this comes when the Comforts of Home glory days are up. Suddenly having to decide a living situation for yourself can be stressful, especially if you’re looking to get the most out of your money. Living in Paris can be extremely expensive, so if you’re looking to live on your own, you’ve probably reached a serious question: do you spend a moderate amount of money to live in a tiny studio to be closer to city life, or do you spend the same amount of money to rent out a house in the suburbs? This question quickly becomes about more than just money.


Living in the city (or next to school, if you’re lucky) can be extremely comforting when you have a dreaded 9AM class. Being able to roll out of bed and get to school in a few minutes is much more convenient than having to get to the gare and take multiple connecting trains to get to class. And if you’re someone who is involved on campus, it’s much easier to attend events in the evenings if you don’t have to worry about catching the last train to your town to avoid insane Uber prices.

That being said, the experience of living in a studio can be an inconvenient one. Most studios have shared bathrooms and no washing machine, which means days spent lugging laundry through the streets, and nights spent waiting for your floormates to be done with the shower or toilet. Also, the ease of travel which may come from being in the city rather than the suburbs may not apply to you if your flat is in a distant arrondissement, or if the transport does not connect well to school. Sometimes it can be so nightmarishly complicated that you could spend more time getting to school than you would if you were in the suburbs.

For example, I used to live in a studio by Ternes, and getting to campus from there took forty minutes on most days because of poor transport options. This meant I often had to get up at 7AM to make my 9AM class. It actually took longer for me to get to school than it did for my boyfriend to get there all the way from Houilles. Before signing any lease, I cannot stress enough how important it is to look at the transport situation in the area.

Peace and Quiet

These are two things you don’t often find in Paris, which I find myself often missing. In every apartment I have ever rented in Paris, the sound of neighbors moving furniture or chasing children or arguing has woken me up at all hours of the night. I didn’t think this could possibly get worse, until I moved into a studio. I don’t know if the walls are thinner, but there is definitely less space to escape sound, so I hear every motion that my neighbors make, and am often woken up from construction noises, or grandmothers doing their spring cleaning in the middle of December, or some poor fellow regretting the night’s indulgences into the toilet bowl. Not to mention motorcycles and ambulances speeding by in a constant stream.
The first thing I notice each time I’m out in the suburbs is that there is actual silence. The air is cleaner, people have their own space, and things move at a much more lethargic space. I find myself getting actual sleep. Still, if you are a person who loves city life, this might bore you. There are no crazy nights out in the suburbs, unless you count the occasional political rally.


If you don't mind the commute, a house like Émile Zola's could easily be shared between a few friends. Image credit: Wikimedia/Spedona


In the same vein as peace and quiet comes the issue of solitude. As a person who has a hard enough time getting together with friends while living in the city with them, I know that this would become infinitely harder if I were to move out of the city. With increasingly adult schedules keeping everyone so busy, hangouts often become late-night study sessions or spur-of-the-moment coffee dates. This kind of spontaneity is harder when you live outside of the city, especially because the trains can be so unpredictable. I cannot tell you how many times I have been heading from Houilles to meet up with someone when suddenly the trains just stop coming. This happens often in the suburbs, and many trains are direct to other places and may skip your town. So if you miss one train, it could be thirty five minutes to an hour before you catch the next one.

This happens extremely frequently, and so your much-anticipated peace and quiet could easily transform into a state of solitude. If you’re a person who needs friends around, then maybe the suburbs are not for you. Still, there are plenty of larger houses for groups to rent, and this could give you and some roommates a fun little world of your own.