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Ask Karen: Rent a Furnished Apartment or Ship Furniture?
You have many options and yet, there may be too many. If you knew you were DEFINITELY coming to Paris for ONLY one year, I'd advise you to go the furnished route. Shipping furnisher rarely does any good for its condition.
If you were able to get your employer to let you buy furniture for the amount of the shipping costs (to and from France), I'd rent an unfurnished apartment with the three year lease. Be sure it's an apartment with an equipped kitchen. Outfitting appliances gets expensive.
Then, I'd head to IKEA and outfit the apartment. The chain has some very good-looking furniture (make sure you use their delivery and assembly team -- it's worth the extra money), and you can have almost an instant apartment.
The reason for this advice is that a landlord has the right to evict a tenant after a year if the apartment is furnished. If you have a three-year lease, it's automatically renewable UNLESS the landlord wants the apartment for himself and/or his immediate family. The other out is if he wants to put the apartment on the sales market.
However, as France is very tenant oriented, you can break the lease with three months notice and/or if you are transferred for your work, with only a month's notice.
There's a definite secondhand market for furniture. The best place to advertise is www.fusac.fr. Just be sure that the purchasers know that it's cash and carry.
Hope this helps you in your decision making process!