France has much to recommend it, from iconic cultural sights to world-famous cuisine to a vibrant multicultural society. But how much will it all cost? We’ll take you through the numbers for every aspect of life in the country and the cost of living in France, so you can plan your budget before relocating to France.
Housing in France
One of your priorities is likely to be finding an affordable place to rent in France. The price will come down to the size of the property and where exactly it’s located. Paris, being not just the country’s capital but one of the most sought-after cities in the world comes with a price tag to match its reputation. A Statista study has shown that, in 2022, the average rental price per square metre is almost double what’s available in the second-largest city, Marseille.
In Paris, you can typically expect to pay from €850 all the way to €1500 per month for a studio or one-bedroom apartment. Cheaper alternatives regarding the cost of living in France are available if you’re willing to compromise on the neighbourhood and size of the property. By contrast, in Marseille, you’ll find a wealth of similar apartments for between €400 and €600 per month.
Transport in France
France boasts a sophisticated public transport network, making it straightforward to get around the various towns and cities. The cost will depend on where you are and how much you intend to travel. In Paris, a single, one-way ticket to travel on a bus, tram, or metro train will cost €1.90. If you’re living in the capital, you may want to get a Navigo pass which lets you use the transport network as much as you want for €75.20 per month.
Public transport is often cheaper outside of Paris. For example, if you’re in Marseille you’ll pay €1.70 for a one-way ticket to ride a bus, tram, or metro train. Meanwhile, a monthly pass for unlimited travel is just €40 per month. Bear in mind that you may also be entitled to discounts – for example, lower-priced travel passes for students or those working in certain fields. If you intend to drive in France, you’ll find that gasoline is generally priced at around €1.80 per litre.
French lifestyle costs
There are certain costs that vary dramatically depending on your lifestyle and preferences. The cost of your weekly groceries is an example. You’ll tend to find the lowest prices by sticking to large supermarket chains like Carrefour, rather than more exclusive speciality shops. A carton of six eggs could usually cost around €1.50, a 400g bread loaf around €1.10, and a kilogram of chicken breast fillets around €6.50. You’ll probably want to set aside between €100 and €300 for your monthly groceries, depending on your tastes and budget.
The amount you’ll spend on clothes every month is, of course, down to your own particular habits and requirements (the same works for your overall cost of living in France). As a general indicator, a pair of quality jeans could cost around €80, while a dress for everyday casual wear may come in around €35.
If you’re considering joining a gym in France, be sure to shop around and pay particular attention to membership levels and welcome offers. At the time of writing, the popular chain Neoness has a €15-per-month package that lets you use the facilities at off-peak hours only. You may also choose a more expensive package, paying €40 for all-hours access with some group lessons included.
As of February 2022, another top gym chain, KeepCool, lets you try an initial month for €9.90, with the rate rising to €29.99 per month after that.
Medical costs in France
Anyone who makes social security contributions, or has been living in France for three months or more, will be eligible for the public healthcare system. This covers some or all of the costs of everything from GP appointments to hospital care. It’s tricky to estimate healthcare costs per month, as it comes down to which treatments you might need and the prices charged by individual doctors, dentists, opticians, and so on.
It is, however, important to note that you’ll usually have to pay upfront for the treatment you receive. You must then wait several days for the public healthcare system to reimburse you whatever percentage it can cover. Say you have an appointment with your doctor. This could usually cost around €25, of which 70% is covered by the public system.
The majority of people in France have a private, top-up policy called a mutuelle. This will pay for some fees not covered by the public healthcare system. Private employees must provide some form of mutuelle and subsidise at least 50% of the cost. Those who are students, work for themselves, or employed by the public sector can shop around for their own top-up policies. The cost will depend on your circumstances and the level of coverage you’re after. You can use price comparison portals like Assurland and Empruntis to a policy that matches your budget.
EDF and Engie are the biggest suppliers of gas and electricity in France, although there are plenty of smaller companies to choose from as well. Both electricity and gas will incur two costs. One is the fixed, monthly “subscription” rate you pay to be with a particular provider. The other is the rate based on how much electricity and gas you actually consume, measured in kWh.
A number of factors will influence the price. For example, whether you opt for a fixed electricity rate, or one which fluctuates based on peak/off-peak hours and the seasons of the year. Based on 2022 prices offered by leading supplier EDF, someone living in a small apartment or studio with a fixed electricity rate can expect to pay around €120 per month for both gas and electricity.
Broadband, TV, and landline packages come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, with monthly costs ranging from €20 or less per month to €70 or more per month. Price comparison sites such as JeChange and Que Choisir can make it easier to navigate options when it comes to household energy and technology bills.
France is known throughout the world for its food scene, with many of history’s most influential chefs hailing from the country. But how much will it add to the cost of living in France? The good news is that experiencing traditional French cuisine doesn’t require you to spend eye-watering amounts of money at Michelin-starred palaces of gastronomy. Many casual bistros offer set, three-course lunch menus for around €25. Dinner at bistros and mid-range restaurants will tend to cost more – around £50 per head for three courses. You can also seek out pizzas, burgers, and kebabs for far less.
A coffee in a café will typically cost between €2 and €3, while a beer or a glass of wine in a bar will tend to cost between €5 and €8. Of course, it all depends on what you order and where you are. Going out to see a movie in France will typically set you back between €8 and €14 for a cinema ticket.
Salaries in France
The minimum hourly wage in France is €10.57. According to the latest published data by Insee, the national statistics bureau of France, the median salary after tax for French workers in the private sector is €1,940 per month. This means that 50% of people in the private sector earn below this threshold, and 50% earn above it.
Sending money home
If you intend to provide financial support for loved ones back in your home country, you’ll need to consider the cost of international money transfers. Transfer fees can vary significantly between banks and remittance companies, and some will offer more beneficial exchange rates than others.
Using Remitly, you can take advantage of a highly competitive exchange rate and a low transfer fee with every transaction. For example, as of this writing, you’ll pay only €1.99 in transfer fees for sending money from France to India through Remitly’s Economy option.
Further reading: 5 Iconic City Skylines Shaped by Foreign Architecture