Cost of living in France: Your guide

19.07.17
4 minute read
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The French capital, Paris, is among the top ten most expensive cities in the world. Living here offers up a huge amount of opportunity for great culture and cuisine - but it comes at a cost. However, if you look beyond the capital, prices start to fall dramatically.

Choose to live in Nantes, for example, and you’ll find that rents - a huge driver of your overall cost of living - are under half the price of those in Paris. Similarly, Marseille is one France’s cheaper cities but still has a huge amount to offer. Or get off the beaten track and leave the cities behind entirely for an even lower cost of living.

Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving to France for good, it’s helpful to have a picture of what life there will cost as an expat.

How expensive is France in comparison to the UK, the EU, the USA and Australia?

The official currency in France is the Euro, written as EUR or € at currency exchanges.

You can find out the exact current value of your money in EUR, using an online currency converter - but here’s a rough guide to what it is at the moment:

  • $1000 = €900
  • £1000 = €1140
  • A$1000 = €680
Comparing basic cost of living 1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent) Lunch for 2 (3 courses, mid-range restaurant) Transportation (monthly pass)
Paris, France €1,085 €50 €73
Nantes, France €502 €45 €63
London, UK €1,919 €62 €149
New York City, USA €2,675 €67 €105
Berlin, Germany €739 €40 €81
Sydney, Australia €1,757 €54 €109

One major factor that adds expense for expats in France, is the cost of converting cash to euros from your home currency. Even if your bank says it offers fee-free money exchange, you can be sure that its cut is rolled up in the exchange rate it uses.

To get the best deal, you should use an exchange service like TransferWise which gives you the same rate you find on Google. With a quick service, and low transparent fees to transfer your money, this can be a much better deal than relying on your bank.

What are the general living expenses for France? How much can you get by on?

If you're moving to France, than rental costs will be a large slice of your monthly outgoings. There's a huge difference in the costs of rental homes, so choosing your house or flat carefully will help you stick within your budget.

Living expenses in France excluding rent Paris average cost Nantes average cost
Single person, per month €860 €704
Single person, per year €10,320 €8,448
University student, per month €658 €530
4 person family, per month €3,106 €2,543
4 person family, per year €37,272 €30,516

What are the average salaries for France?

In general, the salaries in France are above average, including well-paid professional roles. In-demand jobs, particularly in Paris, are also comparatively well-rewarded. For example, Paris is the place with the sixth best paid waiters in the world.

Check out what you could earn in France here:

Salary averages for France Average annual salary
Cashier €11,632
Copywriter €29,598
Financial analyst €38,286
Graphic designer €22,581
Mobile developer €36,946
Product manager €41,576
Receptionist €23,657
Software engineer €35,081
Teacher €19,039
Web developer €34,339

How expensive is housing and accommodation in France?

Renting in Paris is notoriously difficult with high prices, small apartments and low availability. However, you can still find your dream home if you're flexible. The costs of renting in Nantes, shown for comparison, are significantly lower than in the capital. Naturally, if you move outside of the big cities you can rent in France for even less.

See what it might cost you here:

Renting in France Average monthly cost - Paris Average monthly cost - Nantes
One bedroom apartment, city centre €1,085 €502
One bedroom apartment, outside of city centre €807 €391
Three bedroom family home, city centre €2,245 €968
Three bedroom family home, outside of city centre €1,490 €830
Internet €26 €26
Utilities - gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment €155 €116

What about healthcare and dental costs in France?

All French residents need to have medical insurance, which can either be provided through the state or privately. The state insurance system is known as PUMA. However, if you’re an expat, it can be better to have private medical insurance to make sure you access treatment as quickly as possible.

Healthcare service Average cost to you
Family doctor check-up, no insurance €24
Cold medicine for 6 days €4.26
Antibiotic prescription, no insurance €5.92

How much is travel and transportation in France?

Public transport is very reasonably priced in most of France, with prices below that of other major European cities. Here's what you'll have to budget to get around:

Transportation and vehicle prices for France Average cost
Gasoline, 1 litre / 0.25 gallon €1.40
Monthly bus/transport pass €73
Bus ticket, single use €1.90
Taxi tariff, 8km/5mile journey €15
Toyota Corolla, new €19,167
VW Golf, new €20,000

How much does education cost?

University level education in France is provided by either public or private institutions. Public universities charge based on the degree, with fees of under €200 a year for most courses. Specialist subjects may charge more, but fees are still extremely low compared to other countries. Private universities levy higher fees, up to several thousand euros a year.

School Average cost
Preschool/kindergarten, monthly fee €610
Private school for lower grades, annual €22,667
University tuition, public university €189.10

France is a great expat destination, whether you’re considering a permanent move, or just looking to spend a year or two exploring somewhere new. There’s something for everyone - whether you want life in a vibrant city, or a sleepy rural retreat. And with very reasonable costs of living in much of France, there’s really nothing stopping you.

Good luck with your new life in France!

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