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Cost of living in France: how much will you spend?

Updated: Sep 8, 2022


How much money does it need to support oneself in France? You and your family should do the math to see whether or not the expense of living in France is within your financial means.


The cost of living in France is greater than in the nations adjoining France in western Europe; nevertheless, one of the primary reasons for this is Paris. A poorer standard of living may be found across the remainder of the nation, notably in rural areas and the southern region of France.


This book will introduce you to the typical expenses associated with living in France. It encompasses transportation, healthcare, housing, education, and food, among other things.


Standard of living and average costs associated with living in France


If you think that the high cost of living in France, particularly in the major cities, is too much for you to handle, keep in mind that France also has one of the highest standards of living in the world. If you think that the high cost of living in France is too much for you to handle, consider that France also has one of the highest standards. It achieves good marks across a wide range of OECD Better Life metrics.


There is also a strong feeling of community; 90% of individuals think they have someone they can depend on in times of need. The French people have a reputation for having a higher level of civic engagement, which simply means they are concerned about the state of their nation.


According to estimates provided by Numbeo, the monthly expenditures for a family of four come to roughly €3,000, excluding rent, while the average monthly costs for a single individual come to about €800, excluding rent.


It is estimated that 21% of individuals living in France live in conditions that qualify them as either financially poor or materially and socially impoverished. A family with just one parent would likely live in poverty; in fact, 42% of households headed by a single parent report living in a condition characterised by monetary poverty, material and social hardship, or both.


Cost of living in Paris


Expats are drawn to Paris for various reasons: some desire to live the idealised version of Paris, while others go there for the greater choice of employment that can be found there because of the large number of multinational firms situated there.


Comparatively speaking to other regions of France, the cost of living in Paris is much greater.


According to Mercer's assessment of the cost of living in cities across the world in 2021, Paris (ranked 33rd) was more costly than Amsterdam, Munich, and Brussels, but it was less expensive than London, New York City, and Zürich.


The following is a rough estimate of the cost of living in Paris:


30% less expensive than New York City


50% more costly than in Madrid


25% more costly than the prices in Brussels


10% less expensive than the price in Los Angeles


14% less expensive than in London


Cost of living in Lyon


Lyon is the third biggest city in France and is renowned worldwide as a culinary mecca. Because of its prominence as a centre for not just banking but also the pharmaceutical and software sectors as well as others, this city is a fantastic location for living and working.


Lyon is the only other city in France to appear on Mercer's cost of living report. In 2021, Lyon was classified as the 100th most expensive city in the world.


The following is a list of the expenses associated with living in Lyon:


44% less expensive than New York City


The cost is 20% more than in Madrid.


Roughly equivalent to that of Brussels


28% less expensive than the city of Los Angeles


31% less expensive than in London


The average monthly expenses in Marseille


A whopping 21% of the population of Marseille was born in a country other than France, making it one of the most internationally diverse cities in all of France. Because it is a port city, it is an ideal location for doing international business and an excellent place to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of a seaside resort.


The sandy beaches are a draw for a lot of foreign residents. Marseille's cost of living is far lower than Paris's, making it a more attractive option for those looking to relocate.


The following represents the cost of living in Marseille:


48% less expensive than New York City


12% more costly Madrid


7% less expensive than in Brussels


33% less expensive than the city of Los Angeles


36% less expensive than in London



The French minimum and average wage and pay


When employed in France, you will typically get your compensation in the form of 12 monthly instalments subject to evaluation once each year. The average income for employees in the private sector is 2,370 euros, while the average wage for workers in the public sector is somewhat less, at 2,300 euros. In sharp contrast, the typical earnings of those self-employed via their businesses came in at €3,820.


In France, the hourly minimum wage is €10.48, which comes out to €1,589.47 for a standard workweek of 35 hours. The French Labor Code requires that the minimum salary be raised at the beginning of each new year and again if inflation surpasses 2%. In addition, the minimum payment must increase whenever the unemployment rate falls below 5%.



Housing costs in France


Whether you rent an apartment or purchase a house in France will almost certainly affect how much it will cost you to maintain your standard of living there. Prices for either one might vary substantially from one city to the next.


Rental costs in France


If you are looking for a normal apartment in a metropolitan area, the cost of housing in France is infamously high. When moving from a location with one bedroom to one with many bedrooms, you will see that the rent significantly increases. Despite this, Parisians can lower their monthly expenses by relocating to a less densely populated region or residence in one of the city's many suburbs.


For instance, if you want to live in the heart of Paris, you should be prepared to spend up to €1,800 a month for an apartment with one bedroom. If you want two or three bedrooms, the price will double. When compared to Paris, the cost of lodging in Lyon ranges from around €600 to €1,250 per month for a centrally located apartment with one bedroom and approximately €1,250 to €3,000 for an apartment with three bedrooms. In Marseille, apartments with one bedroom may be for as little as €600 a month, while houses with three bedrooms can be for as little as €1,125 a month.


The cost of real estate in France


You may learn more about the various costs and levies associated with acquiring a house by reading the section in our guide dedicated to buying property in France. As with renting, rates differ from one nation region to another. For instance, the cost of real estate in the heart of Paris is around €13,000 per square metre, but in the city's outskirts, you may anticipate spending approximately €9,000. This is €5,100 in Lyon, compared to €3400 per square metre elsewhere in France. On the other hand, the average cost of a city-centre apartment in Marseille is €3,200 per square metre, while the cost of an apartment in the suburbs is around €1,000.


France's average monthly rent and utility costs


Utility bills in France


An apartment that is 85 square metres in size will have utility expenses comparable to those seen in the rest of Europe, with a monthly average cost of around €180. In this context, the terms "basic utilities" relate to water, heating, power, and trash collection.


Because of the pleasant climate throughout the year, monthly power expenditures in some less populated cities in the south of France may be much lower.


Hydroelectricity is a significant contributor to France's use of renewable energy sources.


Regarding the norms of the EU, the energy price in France is not very high. The average price of electricity in France is around €0.13 per KWh, which is much less than the average price of €0.22 throughout the EU.


Telecommunications in France


Also variable is the price of internet service in France, with entry-level packages often costing between 20 and 30 euros per month. If you own a television, you are also responsible for paying the yearly fee of €138 for a television licence. This fee is required by law. Reading our guide, you may learn more about France's telephone, internet, and television systems.


The expense of medical care in France


One of the advantages of living in France is that medical care is provided at a reduced cost. Anyone who has lived in France for more than three months and is a country resident is entitled to enrol in the national health insurance programme. This health insurance, known as Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMa), is paid for by the French government via the social security system. As a result, around 8% of the wages of most workers go toward paying for this insurance, and employers contribute an additional 13%.


Everyone in France must sign up with a French health insurance company and a French doctor, and most medical treatments must be coordinated via the patient's primary care physician. In general, the French healthcare system will pay about 70% of a patient's medical expenses; however, there are some conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, or having a baby in France, for which the system will cover 100% of medical expenses. Individuals who are interested in having their medical expenses covered in full have the option of purchasing private health insurance.


Cost of childcare in France


When searching for a place to leave their children in France, most parents start their search at a crèche. Your income will determine the fee that you must pay to use a public crèche.


You may also look for private childcare establishments, but keep in mind that doing so will drive up the expense of your whole lifestyle in France. A kid is entitled toto free nursery education beginning when they are two years old and continuing until they turn six. You will find further information on child benefits lower down in this article.


The expenses of studies in France


Public education in France is of very high quality. This is one area in which France excels. Every kid between the ages of six and sixteen must attend school, and the state pays for everything associated with this obligation, except some supplies and field excursions. The French educational system is tough and demanding, yet this style of instruction may be effective for many students.


However, most public schools in France do not teach both languages. Parents who are interested in international schools in France will thus need to factor in a higher cost of living in France; nevertheless, some businesses provide funding for educational expenses as part of relocation packages for expat employees.


When parents enrol their children in an international school in France, it enables them to receive instruction in a language that is already comfortable to them and follow a curriculum comparable to that of their home country. Private schools in France may get some funding from the state, and as a result, they may adhere to the French educational system. On the other hand, schools that do not receive official funding are free to develop their educational systems.


The price of yearly school fees might vary quite a little, although they often begin around about €5,000. Learn more about the French educational system and the distinctions between public, private, bilingual, and international schools in our comprehensive guide to the French educational system.


Cost of instruction in France


Compared to the cost of attending university in the United States or the United Kingdom, the tuition at state-run institutions in France is far more affordable than at private colleges in those countries. At public universities in France, the European Union, the European Economic Area, Andorra, and Switzerland, students pay the following tuition rates:


A bachelor's degree costs €170 per year (equivalent to a licence).


The annual cost of a master's degree is €243.


The annual tuition at an engineering school is €601


The annual fee for a PhD is €380.


In addition, there are a few scenarios in which you can be required to pay these fees even though you are not a student in Europe. You could be eligible for reduced tuition costs, for instance, if you are a long-term resident of France or a resident of the Canadian province of Quebec. Those not citizens of the EU or the EEA are required to pay a fee of €2,770 for a licence and €3,770 for a master's degree. The annual tuition at a private university might be anywhere from €3,000 to €10,000.


The prices of various foods and beverages in France


Provisions de cuisine en France


Several different variables determine the amount spent on groceries. The cost of living in France will be higher for those who want to buy at independent boutiques rather than national chains or French supermarkets.


When shopping and dining out are included, the typical monthly expenditure for food in French families is close to €385. The following are some examples of culinary products that may cost you different amounts in Paris:


1 litre of milk: €1.10


Two Euros for a loaf of fresh white bread weighing 500 grammes.


1kg rice: €2


12 eggs: €3.80


1kg cheese: €17.30


1kg apples: €2.80


Don't forget that outdoor markets are great places to get great deals and sample some of the region's most delectable cuisine.


The average cost of a meal out in France


Amazing food has always been associated with the country of France. There is an incredible variety of dining establishments in France, and some of the top chefs in the world either hail from France or have their training there (not to mention the array of delicious food in France).


Including all three courses, the average dinner cost for two people in a decent restaurant is close to sixty euros. Compared to prices in other countries, the cost of a lunch at McDonald's is around €9.


Beer, wine, and spirits in France


When it comes to alcoholic beverages, the country of France is perhaps most well-known for its wine. The price of a bottle of wine at the store will vary from five to fifteen euros. A bottle of domestic beer measuring 33 centilitres will set you back around seven euros, while a domestic beer measuring half a litre would cost you approximately seven euros.


The cost of a bottle of spirit may differ from one brand of wine to another, exactly as that of a bottle of wine. The following is a selection of samples of pricing for spirits that may be found at the supermarket Carrefour:


70cl vodka – €9–37


70cl gin – €10–36


70cl whisky – €10–€50


Coffee in France


A cappuccino in France will often set you back around in the neighbourhood of €2.80. It should not be surprising that the price is higher in Paris; you should budget around €3.60.


Costs of transportation in France


Although the cost of living in Paris is much greater than that of rural France, one of the advantages of residing in a highly developed urban area such as Paris is access to an enormous public transportation network. Those who move to Paris or any of France's other big cities will discover that they do not need a vehicle once settled there.


Metro systems and other forms of public transportation in French cities are very reliable and do not cost excessive money; for instance, a one-way ticket in Paris costs approximately €1.90 and a monthly pass costs approximately €75, but there are a variety of available discounts. On top of that, some firms give rebates for travel expenses if you take public transit to commute to and from work. Find out more information on France's trains, metro, buses, and taxis.


In more remote places, the infrastructure for public transportation is not as established. Since the average price of a litre of gasoline is close to €1.60, many expats who live in rural areas often possess their vehicles.


Taxi fares in France might vary greatly depending on where you are. For instance, if you hire a cab in a city like Paris or Marseille, the base fare will be 5 euros, and the rate will go up by around 1.60 euros per kilometre. Wherever you go, the beginning fee is around €2.50, much less than the subsequent €1.80 per kilometre rise. You may use a taxi price calculator on the internet to see how much the taxi ride will cost you during your trip to France.


The French fashion industry


The apparel prices in France are comparable to those in the nations located nearby in Europe. When it comes to brands sold at chain stores, you can expect to pay roughly 35 euros for a summer dress, about 80 euros for a pair of jeans of acceptable quality, and about 82 euros for a pair of running shoes that fall somewhere in the middle of the price spectrum.


Numerous well-known fashion designers have made their homes in France. If you want to purchase designer apparel, you should be prepared to spend much more money.


Leisure activities in France


There is an abundance of things to do in France. Costs associated with leisure activities should be considered, regardless of whether you like visiting castles, fairs, or scenic areas.


Learn about ten exciting activities you can do in Paris.


If you like being active, you should know that the average monthly cost of a gym membership is around €35. The average price of a movie ticket in Ireland is €10, much less than in many other European nations.


The French tax system and the country's social security system


Although France levies several other taxes, including one on inheritances and another on corporations, the income tax is the most significant. As a result of the fact that income tax is not withheld from employees' salaries in France, each individual is required to file a tax return in France.


If you are not a resident of France, you will be subject to an income tax of 20% on any money you make in the country. The following are the current tax rates that apply to inhabitants of France:


Up to €10,084: 0%


€10,085–€25,710: 11%


€25,711–€73,516: 30%


€73,517–€158,222: 41%


€158,222+: 45%


Every worker in France is required to pay into the social security system so that everyone may make use of the benefits provided by the French state. In most cases, your employer will take care of this for you. They will deduct around 1% of your income to contribute to social security and pay out approximately 13% themselves. You may find further information in our guides on the French social security system and the French pension system.


To decrease the amount of money spent on taxes by non-residents, France has a few restrictions regulating dual taxation. In addition, you will be required to pay 20% VAT (TVA) on a wide variety of products and services. You may learn more about the tax system in France by reading our guide.


A helping hand with the expenses of living in France


In France, residents are eligible for many specialised social security benefits. These include:


Allowances for families (Allocations familiales)


Allowances for both maternity and paternity


Sickness benefits


Care benefits


Disability pension


pension for the elderly


Surviving spouse pension


Income support


Unemployment


If you have a kid, you are eligible to receive a child benefit known as "La Prestation d'accueil du jeune enfant" or "Paje" for the first three years following the child's birth or for up to three more years until the child reaches the age of 20 if the child was adopted. When you have two children, you become eligible for a family allowance from the government. This begins at a monthly cost of €132.61 for two children, €302.51 for three children, and €472.42 for four children.


To qualify for the majority of benefits, you will need to have worked and made payments to the social security system in France and your primary home in France. Confirm this information with the respective benefits, and read our French social security system guide for further details.


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