What Are the Actual Costs of Living in France

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The cost of living in France is higher than in most other countries in Western Europe but this is mainly due to Paris. The question is, how expensive is France really. When you take Paris out of the equation, France has a particularly low cost of living.

We are going to take a look at the cost of living in various cities, as well as the cost of health, childcare, public transport, and education, to name a few. By the end of this article, you will have a more accurate understanding of how much it costs to live in France.

The Cost of Living in France

It is easy to just look at the cost of living but when you see the standards of living, things make more sense. France has one of the highest standards of living in the world and it has a better balance between life and work than most other countries.

The Cost of Living in Paris

Paris is a favorite among expats for two reasons. It is one of the most romantic cities in the world and there is a huge variety of jobs because of the number of international countries. While Paris is more expensive than Amsterdam, Munich, and Brussels (by 29%), it is cheaper than London (by 17%), New York (by 23%) and Zurich.

The Cost of Living in Lyon:

The cost of living in Lyon is increasing due to the attractive jobs offered by banks, pharmaceutical companies, and software developers. France’s third-largest city was ranked the 105th most expensive city to live in, in 2018. Compared with other cities it is cheaper than New York (by 33%), Los Angeles and London (by 28%). It is more expensive than Madrid (by 18%) and Brussels (by 12%).

The Cost of Living in Marseille

Marseille enjoys a coastal lifestyle, bringing in a lot of international business through its port. Expats love the international atmosphere and sandy beaches. It is cheaper than New York (by 42%), Los Angeles (by 33%) and London (by 38% and Brussels. The cost of living in Marseille is about the same as in Madrid and Brussels.

Housing expenses in France

The cost of housing in France is expensive. It is likely to cost around 50% of your monthly salary to rent in places like Paris and Lyon. If you want to lower this cost, you can move slightly further out of the city. To rent a one-bedroom flat in Paris you could pay up to 1400€, two or three-bedroom flats will be around double that. Lyon is more attractive because rent for a one-bedroom flat can be between 600€ and 800€, up to 1100€ for a three-bedroomed flat.

If you want to buy a house, you are in luck. Property taxes are lower than in many countries, particularly the UK. You can take advantage of selling your house, buying one in France and still have money to live off.

The Cost of Utilities in France

When talking about the cost of utilities, we refer to water, heating, electric and rubbish collection. The average cost of utilities for an 85m2 flat will be around 160€ per month. This will vary depending on the climate and the heating you use. Electricity only costs about 0.15€/KWh, about 5cents less than the European average.

The Internet is also quite cheap, 20€-30€ will get you a basic package. If you want a TV you will need to pay for an annual TV license at around 139€.

The Cost Of Getting Around In France

Expats rarely need a car in French cities due to the impressive public transport system. A single ticket in Paris is around 1.90€ and you can get a monthly pass for 75€. You will also be able to find many special offers. Some companies pay their staff a subsidy for their employee’s transport costs.

If you have chosen to live in rural areas of France, and prefer a car, fuel costs approximately 1.60€ a liter. Taxi costs vary a lot. Most start at 2.50€ and go up by 1.80€ per kilometer. In Marseille it starts at 5€, increasing at 1.30€ per kilometer.

The Cost Of Food Shopping In France

Obviously, this is going to depend very much on the person and where you choose to shop. There are many independent grocery stores as well as large supermarket chains. Add about 220-290€ to your budget, per person, per month.

The Cost Of Education In France

Education in France is compulsory for children aged 6 to 16. It is paid for by the government. It is an excellent educational system and quite strict.

Public schools in France are not bilingual. For this, you would need a private bilingual school or an international school. Fees for these private schools start at about 2500€ per year but children can enjoy a curriculum similar to that of their own country.

Public universities are by far cheaper than the UK and US. A bachelor’s degree can cost less than 200€ per year. Even private universities are as little as 3000€ up to 10,000€ per year.

The Cost Of Healthcare in France

Everyone living in France for more than 3 months is eligible for health insurance through the French Social Security System. 8% comes from the employees’ pay and another 13% from the employer.

After registering with a health insurance company and a doctor you can benefit from 70% of medical costs being covered. In cases like cancer, diabetes, and pregnancy, 100% is covered. There is also the option to have private health insurance.

The Cost Of Childcare In France

Before the age of 2, children can go to a crèche. About 80% of the cost is covered by the state. Nursery from 2 years old to 6 years old is free. There are child benefits for families with more than one child. For two children you can receive 120€, three children 175€ and then more 155€ per child.

The Cost Of Eating Out In France

If you want to dine at the elite restaurants it is going to set you back but France is famous for its cuisine and amazing meals can be found at sensible prices. A 3-course dinner for two in a nice restaurant costs about 50€. A sandwich in a café might be between 6€ and 8€. A cappuccino in Paris is around 3.50€ and a nice ½ liter of imported beer around 6€.

The Cost Of Taxes In France

One of the main taxes is income tax. You must complete your tax returns and have the money available to pay, regardless. This is because income tax is not taken out of the employees’ salaries. Residents are liable for the following amount of taxes:

  • Up to €9,964: 0%
  • €9,964–€27,519: 14%
  • €27,519–€73,779: 30%
  • €73,779–€156,244: 41%
  • €156,244+: 45%

Non-residents must pay 20% but there are some rules regarding dual taxation.

The Cost Of Social Security And Pensions In France

Approximately 1% of your salary is taken for the social security system. Another 13% is paid by the employer. These rates will depend on the type of employment. It will vary for self-employment, civil servants and agricultural workers.

If you have paid into the social security system, you are entitled to a pension. The minimum legal retirement age is 62 but most people retire at 65, How much you receive for a pension will depend on your 25 highest earnings years throughout your working life.