Cost of living in France

Around the European average - but skewed by high-cost Paris

Cost of living in French cities

CityMonthly rental (1 bed central apartment)3 course meal for 2 at mid-range restaurantMonthly cost for 4 person family, before rent
ParisEUR 1,102EUR 50EUR 3,120.78
MarseilleEUR 572EUR 40EUR 2,269.49
ToulouseEUR 585EUR 50EUR 2,693.63
NiceEUR 767EUR 60EUR 2806.74
LimogesEUR 500EUR 40n/a
LilleEUR 605EUR 35EUR 2417.89

Source: Numbeo

What is the average cost of living in France and what does it include?

France is a reasonably wealthy country; OECD statistics show average household disposable income running at USD 31,137 a year, slightly above the OECD average. The cost of living in France is therefore fairly high - Numbeo puts it 15% higher than the cost of living in the US - though that figure is somewhat distorted by the high cost of living in Paris. The French capital comes 62nd on human resources consultant Mercer's city cost of living ranking, behind London, but ahead of Brussels, Amsterdam, Rome, Munich or Madrid. Looking at Numbeo's stats shows that renting a flat in Paris, for instance, runs about double the cost in most other French cities, while a restaurant meal in Paris will set you back 15 euros more than if you eat out in Limoges or Lille. Even groceries in Paris are 10-20% more expensive than in other cities.

If we speak about monthly expenses in France in more detail, you will see that they can slightly differ from case to case due to different environment you are looking for. Utilities will set you back EUR 90-150 a month for a mid-sized property, and you can add another EUR 30 or so for internet and phone (from now on, Orange won't provide landlines separately) and EUR 137 a year for a TV licence. If you're resident in France you'll also need health cover; you'll get that through your taxes if you're employed or self-employed. In this case you may decide which mutuelle can be right for you and pay EUR 100-150 monthly. British pensioners can get an S1 form, or you'll pay for PUMA universal insurance at a rate of 8% of qualifying income (warning: there's no upper limit). It appears probable that for the beginning you won't get the residency, this way you either will have EHIC or pay for private insurance (this may differ a lot).

Private school1700-2000
Monthly transport75
Grocery shopping200-300

For families, there's good news on childcare - nursery school is free from age two, state education is free, and child benefits are paid at EUR 120 a month if you have two children, EUR 275 if you have three. But if a private school or nursery is required, it might be costly. Commuters will be glad to know that transport costs are reasonable. Paris metro tickets cost EUR 1.90, and central zone monthly tickets come in at EUR 75. The rest of your spend is up to you. Your food bill will vary depending on your shopping habits and tastes - allow 200-300 euros a month. It's not as cheap as in some other countries but you'll eat better. Wine can cost as little as EUR 3 a bottle. So what does it cost all-in? Blog Chez Loulou gives some idea - for two people, Paris cost EUR 2,595 a month, but the same couple managed to live happily in other areas of France spending only around EUR 1,000 a month.

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Meal for 2 people, mid-range restaurant355052
Bottle of mid-range wine5,006,008,04
Monthly utilities for 85m2 apartment112,73134,01161,58
3 bed city centre apartment, monthly rent590,251 249,511 364,68

Source: Numbeo

Cost of living comparison in different European countries

In fact when you look at the European perspective, Eurostat's numbers show France comes well below the highest priced countries (Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries) in regard to the general cost of living, though above Spain, Portugal and the former COMECON countries. It's also slightly cheaper than the UK and Ireland. Given the country's high quality of life, and good public services, that seems a fairy reasonable bargain.

If we review the cost of living in France compared to UK and Spain we can see that France sits fairly squarely in the middle of the two. For instance, you'll pay a euro more for your cappuccino in France than you do in Spain, and another thirty cents in the UK; a monthly local transport ticket costs thirteen euros more in France than in Spain, and another thirteen euros (bar a few cents) in the UK. (Bear in mind, though, that if you move to a smaller, cheaper city in France, you'll end up with lower living costs than you would in Barcelona). When you look at international comparisons considering Paris, the cost of living in France will be slightly higher than in the UK or US. That's the fact - Paris is one of Europe's most expensive capitals; elsewhere, costs are lower.

Property prices in France

Housing prices in France follow the same pattern as the overall cost of living, with Paris by far the most expensive place to buy at over EUR 9,160 per square metre. As soon as you leave the city proper and move into the Ile de France, prices halve. Major cities with thriving economies, such as Lyon, Nice, Toulouse and Montpellier, come a little way further down the list, while in mainly rural departments such as Cotes d'Armor, Dordogne and Correze, properties sell at as little as EUR 1,030 per square metre.

The average cost of owning a house in France

Once you have your home (whether you've rented a studio for EUR 1,150 a month in the Marais, or bought an entire farm in Limousin for EUR 30,000) there are some costs that are compulsory. Home insurance is obligatory in France, and that will set you back EUR 400-600 a year. Local taxes will depend on where you live, and the size of the property; here, Parisians actually pay the least, an average EUR 1,137 in 2017, and inhabitants of Montpellier pay the most with an average EUR 2,632. Rural dwellers will generally pay less, sometimes a great deal less, and there are special allowances for lower income families and pensioners.

RegionPrice / m2, EURRegionPrice / m2, EUR
Average for France2,010Marseille2,430
Paris9,160Vaucluse, Provence2,080
Ile de France4,010Cotes d'Armor, Brittany1,260
Lyon and Nice3,650Dordogne1,190

Source: Notaires de France, Q4 2017 - resale properties only

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