Your monthly living expenses in France will be determined by your lifestyle and where you intend to live. Choosing the highlife in Paris is likely to burn a bigger hole in any budget than choosing modest tranquility in a quiet corner of France, such as the Charentes or the Auvergne.

How Much Would It Cost You To Live In France? 

The cost of living in France is significantly higher than in neighboring Western European countries, but one of the primary reasons is Paris. Compared to Paris, the cost of living is lower in the rest of the country, particularly in the countryside and the south of France.

This guide will provide a basic overview of the cost of living in France. It includes food, shelter, healthcare, education, transportation, and other necessities.

Sample Monthly Budget

Let us give you an estimate of how much you might spend in a month; here are the costs of running an apartment for two people:

EXPENSESFrench Euro
Rent€818 to €1227
Electricity€49
Groceries (incl. wine)€613
Landline rental fee (excluding call costs)€21
Gas for heating/stove€60
Internet€32
Transportation (car maintenance plus diesel/petrol)€178
Cell Phone plan (excl. phone handset itself)€20
Regular purchases of coffee/croissants/baguettes€81
Ticket for the movies€19
Health insurance top up (hospital-only plan)€29
Lunch for two with wine five times a month€204
Monthly Total:€2130 to €2539

General Cost And Standard Of Living In France

If you consider the high costs of living in France, particularly in major cities, are too much to bear for you, remember that France also has one of the highest living standards in the world. Many OECD Better Life indicators place it high.

There is a strong sense of community; 90% of people believe they can rely on others in times of need. French people are more civically engaged, which means they care deeply about what happens in their country.

According to Numbeo, a family of four requires approximately €3,000 per month, excluding rent, while a single person’s average monthly costs are approximately €800 before rent.

It is estimated that 21% of French people live in poverty financially or in terms of material and social deprivation. Single-parent families are especially vulnerable to poverty; 42% of these households report being in monetary, material, and social poverty, or both.

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Cost Of Living In Paris

Paris attracts expats for various reasons, including the romanticized ideal of Paris and a greater variety of jobs, as it is home to many international corporations.

According to Mercer’s cost of living report for 2021, Paris (33rd) is more expensive than Amsterdam, Munich, and Brussels but less expensive than London, New York, and Zurich.

Paris’s estimated cost of living is:

  • 30% cheaper than New York
  • 50% more expensive than Madrid
  • 25% more expensive than Brussels
  • 10% cheaper than Los Angeles
  • 14% cheaper than London

Cost Of Living In Lyon

Lyon is France’s third-largest city and a gourmet haven. It is a fantastic area to live and work because it is a banking, pharmaceutical, software, and industrial hub.

Lyon is the only French city to appear on Mercer’s cost of living index, ranking 100th in the world in 2021.

Lyon’s cost of living is:

  • 44% cheaper than New York
  • 20% more expensive than Madrid
  • About the same as Brussels
  • 28% cheaper than Los Angeles
  • 31% cheaper than London

Cost Of Living In Marseille

Marseille is one of France’s most international cities, with 21% of the population born outside the country. As a port city, it is ideal for international business while also enjoying the laid-back lifestyle of a coastal resort city.

Many expats are drawn to the sandy beaches. Compared to Paris, the cost of living in Marseille is less expensive.

Marseille’s cost of living is:

  • 48% cheaper than New York
  • 12% more expensive than Madrid
  • 7% cheaper than Brussels
  • 33% cheaper than Los Angeles
  • 36% cheaper than London

Wages And Salary In France

Your salary is usually paid in 12 monthly installments when working in France. The average wage in the French private sector is €2,370, while the average in the public sector is €2,300. On the other hand, traditional self-employed workers earned an average of €3,820.

In France, the minimum wage is €10.48 per hour or €1,589.47 for a 35-hour work week. French Labor Code: the minimum wage must be increased at the start of each year and again if inflation exceeds 2%.

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Housing Costs In France

The cost of living in France will most likely vary depending on whether you buy a home or rent. Prices for both can vary significantly from city to city.

Rental Costs In France

If you want a typical metropolitan apartment, French housing is notoriously expensive. Prices skyrocket when you move from a one-bedroom apartment to one with multiple bedrooms. Residents can lower their cost of living in Paris by moving to a less densely populated area or living in the Parisian suburbs.

Expect to pay up to €1,800 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in central Paris. If you want two or three bedrooms or more, you’ll have to pay double. Lyon has much cheaper accommodation, with prices ranging from €600 to €1,250 per month for a central one-bedroom apartment or from €1,250 to €3,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. Marseille is even cheaper, with one-bedroom apartments starting at around €600 per month and three-bedroom properties starting at around €1,125.

Property Prices In France

There are several fees and taxes linked with buying a home in France, which you can learn about in our guide to buying property in France. Prices vary across the country, just like they do for rent. For example, on average, real estate property in the center of Paris costs €13,000 per square meter, whereas property outside the center costs around €9,000. This is €5,100 in Lyon, compared to €3400 per square meter elsewhere. In Marseille, a city-center apartment costs, on average €3,200 per square meter, while one in the suburbs costs around €1,000.

Cost Of Domestic Bills In France

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Utility Bills In France

Basic utility costs in Paris are comparable to the rest of Europe, totaling around €180 per month for an 85-square-meter apartment. Water, heating, electricity, and garbage collection are essential utilities.

Utility bills in smaller cities in the south of France can be significantly lower. This is due to the mild weather throughout the year. 

In France, hydroelectric power is a significant renewable energy source.

Compared to EU standards, the cost of electricity in France is not prohibitively expensive. The average electricity cost in France is around €0.13 per KWh, which is lower than the EU average of €0.22.

Telecommunications In France

Internet costs in France are also relative, with basic packages starting at around €20-€30 per month. If you own a television, you must also factor in the cost of an annual television license (€138). 

Healthcare Costs In France

Subsidized healthcare is one advantage of the high cost of living in France. Everyone, including foreigners, who has lived in France for more than three months is eligible for state health insurance. This insurance, called Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMa), is funded by the French social security system. It accounts for about 8% of most employees’ pay, with the remaining 13% paid by employers.

So, everyone must first register with a French health insurance company and a doctor in France, and most medical treatments must be obtained through that doctor. The insurance covers around 70% of medical costs. In some scenarios, such as diabetes, cancer, or having a baby in France, the French healthcare system covers 100% of the costs. Those who want complete coverage can purchase private health insurance to cover the remaining costs.

Cost Of Childcare In France

Crèches are often the first port of call for people looking for childcare in France. Your income determines the cost of a public crèche.

Private daycare centers are also available, though they will raise your cost of living in France. After two, a child is eligible for free nursery schooling until six. More information on child benefits can be found further down the guide.

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Study Costs In France

Public education is something that France excels at. Every child between six and sixteen must attend school, and the state pays for everything except school field trips and supplies. The French education system is strict and rigorous, but for many children, this works well.

However, in France, public schools are not usually bilingual. Therefore, parents looking for international schools in France must factor in a higher cost of living in France, though some employers cover education costs as part of expat relocation packages.

If parents choose an international school in France, their children will be taught in their native language and follow a curriculum similar to that of their home country. Private schools in France are sometimes partially subsidized by the state and thus follow the French curriculum. So, schools that are not subsidized are free to follow their curricula.

Annual school fees vary greatly but start around €5,000 per year. Learn more about education in France, including the differences between public, private, bilingual, and international schools.

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Tuition Fees In France

If they are state universities, universities in France are very affordable, especially compared to tuition in the United States or the United Kingdom. Students from France, the European Union, the European Economic Area, Andorra, and Switzerland pay the following fees at public universities:

  • €601 per year for an engineering degree
  • €170 per year for a bachelor’s (license) degree
  • €243 per year for a master’s degree
  • €380 per year for a doctorate

Furthermore, even if you are not a European student, you may be required to pay these fees in certain circumstances. For example, if you are a Quebec resident or a long-term French resident, you may be eligible for reduced tuition. Those outside the EU/EEA must pay €2,770 for a license and €3,770 for a master’s degree. Private universities charge between €3,000 and €10,000 per year.

Cost Of Food And Drink

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Groceries In France

Numerous factors influence grocery spending. Purchasing from specialty stores rather than larger chains or French supermarkets will raise the cost of living in France.

French households spend an average of €385 per month on food, including groceries and eating out. Below are some examples of how much food can cost in Paris:

  • 1 liter of milk: €1.10
  • 500g loaf of fresh white bread: €2
  • 1kg rice: €2
  • 12 eggs: €3.80
  • 1kg cheese: €17.30
  • 1kg apples: €2.80

Don’t forget that outdoor markets are a great place to find bargains and delicious local food.

Cost Of Dining Out In France

France is synonymous with delectable cuisine. Some of the world’s best chefs are French or were trained in France, and the variety of places to eat is incredible (not to mention the array of delicious food in France).

A two-course meal at a good restaurant typically costs around €60. In terms of international comparison, a McDonald’s meal costs approximately €9.

Beer, Wine, And Spirits In France

Of course, France is best known for its wine regarding alcoholic beverages. A bottle of mid-range wine in the market will cost you between €5 and €15. Meanwhile, a half-liter of domestic beer costs about €7, and a 33cl bottle costs about €6.

Spirits, like wine, can vary dramatically in price depending on the brand. Here are some examples of Carrefour supermarket spirits prices:

  • 70cl vodka – €9–37
  • 70cl gin – €10–36
  • 70cl whisky – €10–€50

Coffee In France

In France, a cappuccino usually costs around €2.80. Unsurprisingly, the cost rises in Paris, where you can expect to pay around €3.60.

Transport Costs In France

The cost of living is higher in Paris than in rural France. So, one of the advantages of living in a well-developed metropolitan city is France’s extensive public transportation system. Expats living in most other major cities in France will discover that they do not require a car.

Public transportation and metro systems in French cities are quite good and reasonably priced; for example, a one-way ticket in Paris costs about €1.90, and a monthly pass costs about €75, but various discounts are available. Furthermore, some employers pay transportation subsidies if you use public transportation to and from work. Learn more about France’s trains, metro, buses, and taxis.

Public transportation is less developed in rural areas. Many expats living in the countryside own a car, with fuel costing around €1.60 per liter.

Taxis are priced differently throughout France. For example, taxes in Paris and Marseille start at €5 and increase by about €1.60 per kilometer. In other places, the starting tariff is around €2.50 and increases by €1.80 per kilometer. You can use an online taxi-fare calculator to calculate taxi fares for your trip to France.

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Clothing In France

Clothing prices in France are comparable to those in neighboring European countries. Regarding high street brands, a summer dress from a chain store will likely cost around €35, a pair of good quality jeans will cost around €80, and a pair of mid-range running shoes will cost around €82 on average.

France is home to several well-known fashion designers. Purchasing designer clothing will cost significantly more.

Leisure Activities In France

There is a lot to do in France. Leisure costs should be considered whether you enjoy festivals, castles, or beautiful scenery.

A gym membership will cost you around €35 per month if you enjoy working out. Cinema tickets are also slightly cheaper than in many other European countries, with an average price of €10.

Taxation And Social Security In France

France has several types of taxes (such as inheritance and corporate taxes), but the most important is income tax. Because income tax is not deducted from employees’ salaries in France, everyone must file a French tax return.

You must pay 20% income tax on any income earned in France if you are a non-resident. In France, the current tax rates for residents are:

  • Up to €10,084: 0%
  • €10,085–€25,710: 11%
  • €25,711–€73,516: 30%
  • €73,517–€158,222: 41%
  • €158,222+: 45%

Social security is mandatory for all French workers to enjoy the benefits the French state provides. Employers generally handle this for you, deducting about 1% of your salary for social security and paying out about 13%.

To reduce foreign tax costs, France has some rules regarding dual taxation. Furthermore, many goods and services will be subject to a 20% VAT (TVA). 

Assistance With Living Costs In France

In France, there are various types of social security benefits available. These are some examples:

  • Family allowances (Allocations familiales)
  • Maternity and paternity allowances
  • Sickness benefits
  • Care benefits
  • Disability pension
  • Old-age pension
  • Surviving spouse pension
  • Income support
  • Unemployment

If you have a child, you are entitled to a child benefit (La Prestation Accueil du Jeune Enfant – Paje) for the first three years after birth or up to three years until the child reaches the age of 20 if the child is adopted. When you have two children, you are eligible for a family allowance. It is €132.61 per month for two children, €302.51 for three children, and €472.42 for four children.

Most benefits require that you have worked and paid social security contributions in France and live in France. 

Useful Resources

  • INSEE – It is the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies – statistics about the French economy and social issues
  • European Commission – pages about employment, social affairs, and inclusion in France
  • Welcome to France – instructions for registering for social security