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Living the Dream: A Comprehensive Guide to the Cost of Living in France for New Expats

Moving to France is a dream come true for many, but to make that dream a reality you have to understand the cost of living. This guide will help you understand what you need to know about the cost of living in France, helping you plan and budget for your new adventure. So, let us dive in and see why moving to France is not only a dream but one that you can reach.

Housing: Finding Your Perfect French Home

Renting a Home: Renting is a popular option for new expats as it offers flexibility. The cost of rent varies significantly depending on the location.

  • Paris: Expect to pay around €1,200 to €2,500 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.
  • Provence and the French Riviera: Prices range from €700 to €1,500 per month.
  • Countryside Villages: More affordable options can be found, with rents as low as €500 per month.

Buying a Home: If you’re considering buying property, prices can vary just as much.

  • Paris: Property prices are high, averaging around €10,000 per square meter.
  • Bordeaux: Expect to pay about €4,500 per square meter.
  • Rural Areas: Prices can be as low as €1,500 per square meter.

Pro Tip: For purchasing or renting housing, online portals like SeLoger and Leboncoin are great resources.

Utilities and Household Costs

Monthly Utilities: Utilities in France are reasonably priced but can add up.

  • Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, and Garbage: Around €150 per month for an 85 m² apartment.
  • Internet and Mobile Phone: High-speed internet costs about €30 per month, and a mobile phone plan is approximately €20 per month.

Home Insurance

  • Home Insurance: Required for both renters and homeowners, costing around €20 to €50 per month. Home insurance covers a wide range of potential damages, including theft, fire, and water damage, providing peace of mind and financial protection for your home and belongings.

Groceries: Shopping Like a Local

Supermarkets vs. Markets: Shopping at local markets not only provides fresh produce but can also be more cost-effective.

  • Supermarkets: Expect to spend around €200 to €300 per month on groceries for one person.
  • Local Markets: Fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and meats often offer better value and quality.

Eating Out

  • Cafés and Bistros: A meal at a mid-range restaurant costs around €15 to €25.
  • Fine Dining: A three-course meal at a top restaurant can cost €50 to €100.
  • Wine: France offers fantastic wine at every price point. A good bottle of wine in a store can be found for as little as €5.

Fun Fact: France is known for its excellent wine, so it’s quite find high-quality local wines at very affordable prices.

Transportation: Getting Around

Public Transport: France has a great public transportation system that makes getting around easy and convenient.

  • Monthly Pass: In cities like Paris, a monthly pass for public transportation costs around €75.
  • Single Tickets: Cost about €1.90 for a metro or bus ride.

Driving: If you prefer driving, keep in mind the following costs:

  • Fuel: Petrol costs around €1.85 per liter.
  • Tolls: Highways often have tolls, some more expensive than others, which can add to your travel costs.
  • Car Insurance: Costs vary but expect to pay around €600 to €1,200 per year. Check out car insurance rates here for fair and competitive prices.

Pro Tip: Consider using public transport in cities to avoid traffic and parking hassles. For rural areas, having a car is more practical.

Healthcare: Staying Healthy

Public Healthcare: France’s public healthcare system is one of the best in the world, funded by mandatory health insurance contributions.

  • Doctor Visits: A visit to a general practitioner costs about €25, with a portion reimbursed by the healthcare system.
  • Hospital Stays: Costs are generally covered by the state, with additional private insurance covering any extra expenses.

Supplementary Health Insurance: Many expats opt for supplementary health insurance, known as “mutuelle”, to cover extra costs, such as private rooms or additional treatments. For assistance, Fab French Insurance, a dedicated broker with English speaking agents, or LesFurets offer dedicated agents to help you find the best options. Costs can range from €50 to €150 per month, depending on the coverage.

Education: Learning for All Ages

If you’re moving with family or interested in lifelong learning, France offers excellent educational opportunities.

  • Public Schools: Public education is free and of high quality, available from primary school through university.
  • Private and International Schools: Private and international schools can be costly, with fees ranging from €5,000 to €30,000 per year.
  • Adult Education: There are many opportunities for adult education, from French classes to cooking schools. Costs vary but are generally affordable, with many community centres offering courses.

Entertainment and Leisure: Enjoying the French Lifestyle

Cultural Activities: France is rich in cultural activities, many of which are free or low-cost.

  • Museums and Galleries: Entry fees range from €10 to €20, with many offering free days each month.
  • Theaters and Cinemas: Tickets for movies and theater productions range from €10 to €15.

Pro Tip: Consider getting a cultural pass or membership for even more savings and exclusive access to special events.

Outdoor Activities: Enjoying the great outdoors is a big part of French life.

  • Hiking and Cycling: Enjoy the free stunning trails in regions like the Alps and Pyrenees.
  • Beach Days: There are many beautiful beaches that are free to access.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of France’s natural beauty by exploring its many parks, trails, and coastal areas.

Taxes and Financial Considerations

Understanding the tax system is essential for expats.

  • Income Tax: France has a progressive income tax system. Tax rates range from 0% to 45% based on income levels.
  • Property Tax: Owners of real estate must pay property tax, which varies depending on the location and size of the property.
  • Social Charges: In addition to income tax, social charges apply to income, funding healthcare and social security. These charges can range from 7.5% to 17.2%.


France is a country characterized by cultural opulence, beautiful sceneries and quality of life that will give your soul enough balance to overcome the obstacles come way. Of course living expenses will vary with your lifestyle and where you are in France, but good planning can make France an affordable option. In France, it seems like every day is a vacation; from enjoying world-class meals to exploring incredible history. So, why wait? Embrace the charm, elegance, and joie de vivre that comes with living in France. Your French adventure awaits!

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