Cost of Living in France



France is synonymous with the finer things in life: indulging in a glass of Bordeaux or Burgundy wine, nibbling on olives and mouth-watering cheese, wearing haute couture and having a residence with a concierge. In other words, this country is the place to be for expats who are searching for a life of luxury.

France is not just a prime tourist destination but also a top choice among expats which is why the cost of living here is high particularly in the major cities such as Paris and Lyon. However, many residents believe that high prices are reasonable considering the quality of the products and services offered to consumers. The government also gives significant subsidies for healthcare, childcare and education which result to a huge assistance on some of the most significant needs of an expat family. Overall, a comfortable life in this powerhouse country is still not farfetched especially when we compare the cost of living in the United States which is roughly 0.26% higher than France.

Rental Costs in France

Housing is undoubtedly one of the biggest expenditures of an expat living abroad. It is the second largest chunk in an individual or households monthly budget which takes about 23.3% of their income. In France, properties are always pricier in prime locations such as Paris and Lyon. The government also provides a subsidy for housing, but this only applies to French citizens so expats who need to stick on a budget should consider looking for accommodation outside the city centre. Though foreigners are allowed to buy a property in France, most expats do not consider it because they are usually under short-term assignments. Below is a brief price comparison of apartment rentals that foreign assignees can use as a benchmark:

  • One bedroom apartment (city centre) - €665
  • One bedroom apartment (outside the city centre) - €530
  • Three bedroom apartment (city centre) - €1,150
  • Three bedroom apartment (outside the city centre) - €870
  • Furnished two bedroom apartment - €1,900
  • Furnished two bedroom house - €2,500

Most housing and rentals include insurance and utilities but there are also some landlords who leave these out from the rental cost. Expats in France need to prepare around €140 to €150 to cover their monthly bill for water, heating and electricity.

Prices of Goods

Expats should know that there is a significant difference between the prices of goods in large supermarkets and in outdoor markets. Of course, products shelved in major grocers in Paris are pricier compared to those you can find in the local markets or small stores such as the neighbourhood butcher. For example, MONOPRIX is by far the largest supermarket chain in the City of Lights but is also considered as the most expensive. Newcomers can draft a budget by referring to the short list of the commonly purchased products in France and their corresponding prices below:

  • One litre of milk - €0.94
  • 500 grams or a loaf of fresh white bread - €1.30
  • A dozen eggs – €2.67
  • One kilogramme of rice - €1.68
  • One kilogramme of locally produced cheese - €13.42
  • One kilogramme of skinless chicken breasts - €10.24
  • One kilogramme of apples - €2.30
  • One kilogramme of onions - €1.74
  • One kilogramme of tomato - €2.33
  • One kilogramme of potato - €1.45

Cost of Public Transportation

The cost of a litre of gasoline in France is around €1.26 but this country boasts an impressive network of public transportation which will make expats think twice about owning a vehicle. To start with, the three primary mode of transportation in this country are the Métro, RER and buses. Expat parents will be glad to know that children below four years old can ride for free while those between the ages of four and eleven only need to pay half the ticket price.  Aside from the regular passes, France also has price reductions for those who will regularly use any of the public transport mentioned above.

  • Single ticket - €1.90
  • Carnet (book of 10 tickets) - €16
  • Navigo annual unlimited rides ticket (honoured within the Île-de-France region) – price starts at €63.30
  • Navigo monthly or weekly unlimited rides ticket (honoured within the Île-de-France region)- price starts at €19.25

Enjoying ‘La vie en rose' sums up the charm of French life, but it has nothing to do with wealth, in fact, discussing money in public is taboo. Living in France can be costly because of the local-made products that have charmed the rest of the world.


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