If you’ve recently settled in France as an immigrant, chances are you’ll have a lot going on right now. There’ll be fun things, like soaking up French culture and making new friends. And there’ll be more practical challenges, like getting to grips with your job, or learning about how taxes work.
There’s also the matter of budget management. This can be particularly important if France has a generally higher cost of living compared to your home country. That’s why we’ve put together these 7 money saving tips in France for keeping spending as low as possible while living here.
1. Use Public Transport
You may instinctively feel like you want to own your own car in France. But this may not be the most prudent choice if you’re watching your budget. Not only can a vehicle come with a large price tag, but there are associated costs like fuel and insurance.
France has excellent public transport facilities, so you may not need to cover the costs of your own vehicle. Let’s take the example of Paris. The iconic French capital boasts a wide-reaching network of transport options, including the Métro, trams, and buses.
You can travel an unlimited number of times using a weekly, monthly, or annual Navigo pass. The advantage of using the annual pass is that you get a whole month’s worth of travel free. What’s more, if you’re in the Île-de-France region – where Paris is situated – your employer must reimburse at least 50% of your travel pass.
Getting around major French cities like Paris, Lyon, and Marseille is made even easier by the Citymapper app. This provides instant guidance on the best routes when you’re getting from A to B, using live data. Find out more about Citymapper and other great apps for migrants to France here.
2. Look Out for Discounts
It’s always worth keeping your eye out for discounts you might be eligible for. For example, passengers over 62 years of age may get a 50% reduction on monthly Navigo passes in Paris. Students under the age of 26 are also eligible for similar discounts.
You may also get money off the cost of many popular attractions in France. Some may even be free, depending on your circumstances. Take the Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa and arguably the most famous museum in the world. Visitors under the age of 26, as well as jobseekers and disabled people, won’t have to pay a cent to enter.
As a general rule of thumb, we always recommend checking online for discounts before going to an attraction in France.
3. Use Money-Saving Apps
Some apps, like Citymapper, make day-to-day life easier in France. Some can even help save you money. Take iGraal Market, which can be downloaded from Google Play and the App Store. Using the app while shopping in major supermarkets like Monoprix and Carrefour can earn you cashback on products purchased. The app also presents regular discount offers and awards more cashback if you play quizzes or watch promo videos.
Another money saving tip while living in France is to use the interesting money-saving app Mon Avis Le Rend Gratuit. This translates as ‘My Opinion Makes it Free’. As the name suggests, the app allows you to get free products in exchange for providing feedback through questionnaires. You can select items on the app to claim, and these can range from chocolates to beer to toiletries.
Enjoy dining out? France is famed for its food scene, and using The Fork reservation app can get you discounts on restaurant visits. In fact, you may get as much as 50% off your bill when you book a table through the app.
4. Use Loyalty Schemes
Making use of loyalty schemes is another great money saving tip in France to cut your day-to-day expenses. Some of the biggest retailers in France run such incentives, and one example is Monoprix. Its La Carte scheme gives you money off Monoprix-branded food and household products. It also provides more than 150 exclusive offers every single month. Look out for other, similar schemes from chains like Intermarché and Carrefour.
You can also consider purchasing city cards or passes. These aren’t precisely loyalty schemes, but they do provide unlimited access to museums, river cruises, and other attractions over a time period. They make it far cheaper to explore a huge range of cities, from Bordeaux to Nantes.
5. Visit Free Attractions
France is known for its natural beauty and eye-catching architecture, and you don’t have to spend money to enjoy yourself. Take the Eiffel Tower. While riding to the top can be pretty pricey, you can enjoy this world-famous landmark from the ground at Parc du Champ-de-Mars. In fact, locals and visitors alike love to picnic in this historic park while admiring the Eiffel Tower.
Many cultural attractions, such as the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, are free of charge. Nature lovers will want to see the Gorges du Verdon in Provence, which is the deepest gorge in the country. Or, take a relaxing stroll along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, the playground of celebrities and royals for generations.
6. Open a French Savings Account
There are numerous banks available in France, and we look at some of the best options for immigrants here. Opening a local bank account may be essential for some transactions, like paying rent or receiving a salary. It’s also an easy way to avoid any international fees your current bank may charge.
You should also look into savings accounts offered by French banks like Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas. Compare how the savings accounts work and what interest rates are offered. Placing some of your earnings into a good savings account can really help you build your financial future in France.
7. Don’t Pay Too Much for International Money Transfers
One of your priorities, while living in France, maybe to send money to loved ones back home. This may be a once-in-a-while thing, to mark birthdays or new year’s celebrations. Or, you may need to provide regular and vital financial support. In either case, you’ll want as much of your money as possible to translate into your home currency.
It can pay to compare your options when it comes to remittances, since some routes may be more cost-effective than others. Money transfer companies based online, like Remitly, can be a great alternative to banks and high street outlets. They don’t run expensive physical premises, and can therefore afford to offer low fees and very competitive exchange rates.