Cost of Living in France
The cost of living in France is high, especially within the country’s large urban centres like Paris, Lyon and Marseille. However, expenses decrease as you move into the more rural areas, both due to lower prices and the typically less extravagant lifestyle of the inhabitants.
Furthermore, expat salaries are average, and are considerably less than the lucrative financial packages given to foreigners who move to the Middle East or Asia for tax-free wealth or high-powered positions.
That said, the pull of France, as any one of the thousands of retirees who have emigrated will tell you, is that you don’t need a lot of money to enjoy a high quality of life. This fact rings especially clear and true in the storied South of France and among the provincial and endlessly charming villages.
Cost of accommodation in France
For many expats, accommodation will be the most intimidating expense, gobbling up nearly a third to a half of a monthly salary if you live in a posh urban centre. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment within Paris city proper goes for no less than 800 EUR, and can easily climb to 3,000 EUR if you fancy something stylish within the sought-after first, second or third arrondissements.
On the contrary, if you’re a member of the impressive contingency of retirees that has flocked to France in search of sunnier shores and have purchased property, you might not even have a monthly mortgage to worry about. As it happens, property taxes are lower than in the UK, which means that a sale of property in the UK can provide funds both for a new home in France, as well as cash with which to renovate that property.
If that’s the case, then you’ll only need to be concerned about the rising cost of utilities.
Utilitity bills are comparable to those in the rest of Europe, but because of the monopoly held by the national telecoms provider, calls and broadband costs in France remain high. Electricity and gas are fairly average, but air conditioning can be a very expensive proposition, especially in the South where even the most fastidious household accountants will be tempted by the heat.
Expats should budget 200 to 300 EUR per month for utility costs associated with a two-bedroom, fully-kitted out spacious piece of accommodation (includes electricity, water, Internet and landline).
Cost of healthcare in France
Thanks to France’s much lauded public health insurance, expats who qualify to take advantage of the system (you’ll need to contribute to social security or be of legal retirement age in your home country) can access exemplary care for a reasonable price.
At least 70 percent of all medical bills are covered by public health insurance, which is financed by tax deductions.
That said, both locals and foreigners often opt to take out private insurance to cover the remaining 30 percent, and to cover costs of certain creature comforts (i.e. private hospital rooms). If this appeals to you, expect to budget around 130 EUR per month, though plans vary depending on the service provider and the features included.
Cost of clothing in France
Clothes are notoriously expensive in France. There are very few instances of high-quality mass produced clothing. This means that the choice is often between boutiques, specialty stores or upscale department stores - which fetch high prices, and low-priced, poor quality goods. A plain T-shirt can cost as much as 40 EUR.
There is a 20 percent sales tax in France, which makes everything slightly more expensive than many other countries in Europe.
Cost of getting around in France
France boasts an impressive public transportation system, and expats living in the big cities will find that life without a car is an easily realised reality. Furthermore, many employers in Paris will even subsidise a portion of your transport costs – so don’t be afraid to ask.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, as rural infrastructure is not as comprehensive as that found in the larger metropolis, it may be necessary to buy a car – which can make village life slightly more expensive than anticipated.
Cost of Living Chart for France (2012)
|Food and drink|
|Loaf of bread||€ 0.85 to 1.40|
|Minced beef (350g)||€3.30|
|Whole chicken||€3.5 to €7|
|Cheese (250g of camembert)||€1.7|
|Mineral water (1.5L)||€0.8|
|Bottle of wine (mid-range)||€5|
|Orange Juice (1.5L)||€0.85|
|Beer (domestic 0.5L)||€5|
|Meal at inexpensive restaurant||€12|
|Fast food take away||€7|
|Basic utilities per month (including electricity, water, gas)||€100|
|One-minute call (mobile phone)||€0.3|
|Internet (6 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)||€30|
|Entertainment and fitness|