The Cost of Living in France

The Cost of Living in France

Written by Owain Banfield
Written by Owain Banfield
4th May 2018

One of the main questions you have to ask before planning your move to France is the costs of living abroad. We can help you save money on your removals to France, but what about your day-to-day costs of living?

In this article we will walk you through some of the various areas that should be considered when working out your general living costs should you choose to move to France.

How Much Does it Cost to Live in France?

If you are renting a one bedroom flat the average cost of living in France including rent, bills and living expenses is around €1,300 per month. However, this widely varies on the area you live in, whether that is an expensive city like Paris or one of the cheaper alternatives away from the capital.

This also varies widely on the type of property you look to rent and the lifestyle you choose to live once in the country. If you decide to buy the property you will be living in then your living expenses might be much more expensive if you are paying off a large mortgage or much cheaper if you are able to not take out a mortgage or only a very small one.

Cost of Living in France vs UK

In many ways living in France is comparative to living in the UK with regards to overall living costs. Although some elements such as fuel and alcohol as a general rule are cheaper in France, other daily items such as milk and other essentials can be found cheaper across the UK. 

Property Prices In France

In terms of rent or purchasing a property you will likely spend more on average in rent of a one bedroom property the UK (€840) than in France (€670). However, on average you would likely spend more on purchasing a property in France with average city centre house price costing €4,650 per square foot compared to €4,200 for a comparative space in the UK.

French Cities are Expensive

We can see these similarities when it comes to the difference in the cost of living in the capital cities. Those that live in Paris and London have much more expensive lifestyles in everything from food to rent and bills. Living outside the capitals and other expensive city centres is generally much cheaper in both countries, people that live in these areas also benefit from greater access to living space.

France is Cheaper than the UK

Compare My Move have analysed data from Expatistan.com and discovered that as a whole living in France is 3.37% cheaper than living in the UK. This might seem like a small percentage, yet when you consider this in terms of yearly expenditure it adds up to a fair chunk of additional money that could be left in in your pocket. This of course needs to be taken into consideration in line with your earning potential in the country and average wages, which we will cover in more detail later in this article.

Taxes in France

The taxes you pay in France are different to those that you pay in the UK. It is difficult to say whether these are better or worse than those in UK as this varies depending on how much you are earning. Although tax is applied at a much lower level of income in France, starting at the equivalent of about £8,670 in contrast to £11,500 in the UK the rates are lower at the basic level of 14% in France compared to the 20% that basic rate tax is paid in the UK.   

Cost of Everyday Items in France

The burning question in this article is ‘how much will everyday living cost me in France?’. Answering this will include looking at various expenditures including rent or mortgage payments and the overall cost of everyday living.

The cost of everyday items is often over looked when analysing the overall funds required to live in an area. All too often people will simply seek to understand how much they will have to pay on rent and bills without considering the everyday items that they will need to pay for throughout the month such as food and drink, clothing and other essentials.

Average Costs in France

In terms of the cost of these items averages do vary depending on location and lifestyle, however to give an idea of general costs you might expect to pay in France we have highlighted the average cost of 15 of the most commonly purchased items and dining out expenses below, according to Numebo:

ItemAverage Cost

Milk 1ltr

€0.94

Loaf of Bread

€1.35

12 Eggs

€2.59

Cheese 1kg

€14.50

Chicken Breasts 1kg

€9.77

Apples 1kg

€2.31

Bananas 1kg

€1.83

Water 1.5ltr bottle

€0.62

Bottle of Mid-Range Wine

€6.00

French Beer 0.5ltr

€1.67

Dining Out: Inexpensive Restaurant Meal

€12.00

Dining Out: McDonalds Meal

€8.00

Dining Out: Regular Cappuccino

€2.64

Dining Out: French Beer 0.5ltr

€5.00

Dining Out: Coke/Pepsi 0.33ltr

€2.35

Of course how many items you purchase depends on your personal consumption and the number of people that depend on you for living costs. As an average you would want to budget €200+ per head per month for the average person.

Cost of Transport in France

It is also important to understand how much it might cost you to get around. To give an idea of average transportation costs we have listed four of the most common options below:

ItemAverage Cost

Local One-Way Transport Ticket

€1.60

Monthly Local Transport Pass

€56

Petrol (Litre)

€1.30

Taxi 1km

€1.80 + €4.50 entry rate

Your travel costs will widely depend on your location and the proximity to various frequently visited locations such as work, shops and friends.

Cost of Renting and Buying a House in France

As we have previously discussed buying and renting in France can vary widely based on the location you choose with cities like Paris being much more expensive than cheaper cities or rural locations. To give an idea of how much these vary for popular areas we have highlighted a number below:

AreaOne bed Rent (City Centre)Three Bed Rent (City Centre)House Cost per m2 (City Centre)

France (Average)

€660

€1,250

€4,600

Paris

€1,100

€2,400

€9,900

Montpellier

€580

€1000

€3,300

Nice

€770

€1,300

€4,500

Lyon

€670

€1,250

€4,500

Bordeaux

€580

€1,200

€3,900

Marseilles

€540

€1,000

€3,000

If you follow the logic of the table above then it might suggest that the cheapest city to live in France is Marseilles. However, the true cost of living widely depends on more factors than just how much it costs to rent or buy a property. Understanding all of these factors will go a long way to understanding which is the cheapest and most convenient city in France for you to live in.

You can check out our guide to what houses are like in France for more information.

Cheapest and Most Expensive Areas to Live in France

We have already covered some of the finer details of which areas in France are the most expensive and cheapest to live in terms of renting or buying a property. This is useful information as it will likely make up a large percentage of your outgoings if you decide to move to the country. However, there are some finer details of living in certain areas that are important to understand in making a clear estimate on living costs.

Most Expensive Area in France

Comparatively the capital of Paris is similar in many ways in terms of costs to that of the London. However, each city varies in other aspects these include the cost of inexpensive dining out, which is more pricey in London (€17) compared to Paris (€14), however buying a 0.5ltr beer with your meal in Paris (€6) is slightly more expensive than that in London (€5). Smaller items such as milk also see a difference in cost, with 1ltr of milk in Paris costing €1.20 compared to the cheaper price in London of €1. Petrol is also slightly more expensive in Paris (€1.40) compared to London (€1.35).

Cheapest Area in France

Other cities in France are much cheaper in general than Paris. For example, in Montpellier or Marseilles you might expect to pay only €10 for an inexpensive meal in a restaurant, with a 0.5ltr beer (€5) also costing less than in Paris. Day to day expenses in these cities are also likely to cost you less such as a pint of milk costing €0.92 and €0.90 respectively. Fuel again is slightly less expensive in both these cheaper alternatives costing €1.37 in Montpellier and €1.27 in Marseilles.

Check out our guide to retiring to France from the UK for further information on the best areas to retire.

Salary in France

It is all very well working out which areas of France are most affordable to live in and use this information to decide where to move. But understanding how much you may be able to earn will also help clarify the overall affordability of living in the country. For example, things may generally be a lot cheaper in a country but if you can’t earn enough money to pay for them then this fact is obsolete.

You May Earn Less in France

To give a general idea of how much you might expect to earn we analysed some data from Numbeo which showed that salaries in France as a whole were 6.54% lower than comparative salaries in the UK. This may be of some concern, as although we have already established that living costs on average are 3.37% lower than the UK, the lower earning potential does make France a relatively more expensive place to live.

Of course, this is all situational and widely depends on how sought after your skill set is in the country. Take for example a skill that is widely available in the UK but rarely found in France, your salary would probably then reach a premium based on the rarity of that skill set.

The Best Paid French Jobs

Some of the best paid professions in France are similar to those in the UK. For example, experienced Medical Practitioners could expect to see a salary of around €118,000 a year, equally airplane pilots may expect to earn around €88,000 per year on average. However, some professions are much better paid in France than in the UK.

These include Marketing Managers, who in France could expect an annual salary of around €72,000, a significant more than the UK average of £42,000. Equally, Police Officers in France can expect to see a much bigger pay packet than their counterparts in the UK. Members of the Police could see an average yearly salary of around €74,000, which compared to the UK average of £36,500 is quite the step up.

Where to Work in France

The jobs that Brits actually do in France vary widely on the skill set they bring to the country. Arguably many of them leverage their understanding of the English language to work within roles that benefit from this. For example, many expats work as tour guides, estate agents and import and export coordinators in France. Equally many financial professionals are able to work easily in the country, bypassing the language barrier due to the fact that they deal in the global language of numbers.

For further reading, we cover all you need to know including where to work and where to live in our ultimate guide to moving to France.


Compare My Move in France

We hope this guide has outlined the costs connected with living in France, and informed you of the financial issues you should consider ahead of your move.

Clearly there is a lot to consider when it comes to assessing the costs associated with living in France. A lot can be saved by choosing a location in France other than Paris where rental and living costs are going to be a lot lower. Although of course you will need to balance this out with the career opportunities that open themselves up in capital of the country.

When the time comes, you can use Compare My Move to save time and money on your international removal costs. Just fill in a quick and easy form, and get connected with up to 6 verified removal companies to take you safely to your new life in France.

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