How Much Does It Cost to Live in France?

Many often forget that France extends beyond Paris. Expats currently living in the country are often shocked at the amount of different cities, towns, villages, and hamlets that make up the most visited country on the globe.

The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, release their global Prosperity Index annually. The survey ranks the most prosperous countries in the world. Many assume prosperity is used in reference to the financial standing of a country and, while this is included, the Legatum Institute considers more factors in its ranking.

Ranking in 19th place in 2017 (out of 149 countries) was France. This puts Russia in the top 12%, with its rankings for Natural Environment (4th), Health (18th), Education (19th), and Business Environment (19th) helping the country secure a place in the top 20. The country’s rankings for Safety & Security (37th) and Social Capital (43rd) let it down/

With over 40% of expats in France wanting to stay there forever, how much does it cost to live there?


France has the 5th largest economy in the world and second in the Eurozone after Germany. The country’s chemical and tourist industries contribute heavily to its financial growth. Despite the recession of the late 2000s the economy has expanded since around 2015, helped largely by France being the most visited destination in the entire world.


Before January 2002, France’s currency was the French franc. As one of the 11 Member States who adopted the single European currency, Euro notes and coins were introduced as of 1st January 2002. The franc lost its legal tender status on the 17th February that same year.

Each euro is divided into 100 cents and there are 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cent coins. There are also 1 and 2 euro coins and notes are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500.

Expats may be a little confused when first moving to France as commas and full-stops are used in unconventional ways when showing numbers. Large numbers are written with full-stops and decimal places are shown with a comma. For example, ten million would be shown as 10.000.000, and 30 euros and 50 cents would be written 30, 50 EUR.

Expat Accommodation in France

The majority of expats not of retirement age in France tend to rent properties. However, the country is also very popular with retirees, who tend to purchase chateaux or country style homes in rural areas for very reasonable prices compared to the likes of the UK.

Most expats heading to France for the first time tend to seek an English-speaking estate agent to help them find a rental property. In the cities, apartments are much more expensive and homes in Paris are on-par with London rental prices. For this reason, some expats settle for studio apartments to ensure their privacy or rent a room in a shared house or flat to keep costs down.

One thing expats renting in France must remember is that there are often costs involved when it comes to connecting utility services.

Expat Healthcare in France

The World Health Organisation ranks the French healthcare system as the best in the world. Expats will notice that the sector is a mix of public and private institutions and nationals tend to rely upon the public services only.

Most expats tend to invest in international health insurance as a way of supplementing the public offering so that they can get access to the both private hospitals and not have to pay for eye care or dentistry. Public healthcare in France doesn’t always equate to free as the general motto is the sicker you are, the less you pay. Therefore, some expats that do not have health insurance end up having to pay their medical bill for minor illnesses and injuries.

Expat Education in France

Public schools in France are free to nationals and anybody that can show proof of resident using a property contract or utility bill. As school is only compulsory from the age of six all parents in France tend to send their children to a pre-school to socialise with other children and start the learning process and these tend to cost around £530 per month.

When expat children attend a state-funded school parents will only need to pay for school equipment, uniform, and any trips or activities. Whilst the level of teaching in the country is celebrated throughout the private and public sectors there are parents who would prefer their children to attend an international school. Fees for these schools fall around £20,500 per year.

Cost of Transportation

Expats working in France will be pleased to learn that most employers will cover 50% of public transport costs for their workers. However, if this does not apply to you, public transport costs are relatively affordable, even in the cities.

In Paris, a one-off Metro, bus or tram ticket costs £1.60 and you can buy up to ten at a time to reduce the price. Day tickets for zones 1 to 3 costs little over £8. In 2014 Paris introduced two monthly transport passes at a fixed price. A pass for central Paris and its nearest outskirts, covering zones one and two, costs around €67 (£60) whereas one covering five zones currently comes to €113 (£100).

Jobs in France for Expats

There are some stereotypical jobs that many expats secure when living in the country, such as teaching French or working in an expat bar or pub. Many expats who head to France without a relocation package from an employer also end up working in administrative role in offices. Whilst there is nothing wrong with any of these jobs, often it is not the career many wanted.

Below is a list of some of the strongest recruitment sectors in France for expats:

  • Engineering
  • IT
  • Banking
  • Civil service
  • Tourism
  • Caregiving
  • Retail
  • Agriculture

Comparison to UK

The world’s largest database, Numbeo, has a vast selection of user contributed data in regard to France. Compared to the UK, the cost of living is a little higher compared to the UK.

The tables below provide an over view of the differences in costs between France and the UK. Please note that all French prices have been converted into British pounds.

Groceries UK Price (£) French Price (£) Cheaper Country?
Milk (1l) £0.91 £0.84 France
White bread (500g) £0.95 £1.20 UK
Eggs (12) £2.19 £2.30 UK
Local Cheese (1kg) £6.04 £12.89 UK
Banana (1kg) £0.99 £1.62 UK
Water (0.33l) £0.92 £1.35 UK
Transport UK Price (£) French Price (in £) Cheaper Country?
Petrol (1l) £1.13 £1.16 UK
One-way ticket £2.50 £1.42 France
Monthly pass £60 £49.79 France
Taxi (1km) £1.55 £1.60 UK
Utilities (Monthly) UK Price (£) French Price (in £) Cheaper Country?
Electricity/Heating/Water for 85m2 apartment £150.49 £118.34 France
1 minute of PAYG talk time £0.16 £0.20 UK
Internet (10 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL) £24.39 £24.19 France


Clothing UK Price (£) French Price (in £) Cheaper Country?
Jeans (Levi or similar) £63.47 £75.72 UK
Dress (chain store) £29.07 £30.92 UK
Nike running shoe £64.20 £74.53 UK
Leather business shoes £76.64 £96.62 UK
Eating Out UK Price (£) French Price (in £) Cheaper Country?
Fast food meal £5.24 £7.11 UK
Inexpensive restaurant £15.00 £10.67 France
3 course, mid-range, 2 people £55.00 £44.46 France
Cappuccino £2.53 £2.35 France
Coke/Pepsi £1.14 £2.10 UK
Imported beer £3.50 £3.56 UK


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