France arguably offers the world’s most sought-after lifestyle. From the romance of Paris to the rustic lifestyle of living in the French countryside, this country has a lot to offer the expat. Boasting great food and wine, the world’s best health care, plus culture and history… a retirement in France appeals to many.
France would never feature on a list of the world’s bargain destinations; still, outside Paris, this country can be much more affordable than you might imagine… and even Paris doesn’t have to be hyper-expensive. Plus, you have to remember what you’re buying. Paris is, in our opinion, the most beautiful and romantic place on earth. And Paris is only the beginning of this story. There’s a reason, after all, why more tourists seek out France each year than any other country on earth.
Furthermore, Paris is also a lifestyle play that can double as a solid investment, as apartment values in some arrondissements continue steadily up. A piece of Paris real estate is a hard asset worth holding.
In addition, beyond Paris, it can be possible still to indulge your French farmhouse renovation fantasies for well under US$100,000.
France is the good life defined. The food, the wine, the art, the shopping, the history… This country boasts the most beautiful and romantic city on earth plus the best of country living and dramatic Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. On top of all this, France is home to the world’s best health care, the world’s best infrastructure, top international schools, and, in some regions, zero crime and a wonderfully relaxed way of life… And, in some parts of the country, the very good life can be very affordable, as well.
Cost Of Living In France
Live and Invest Overseas offers monthly cost of living budgets (for a couple) for our favorite destinations in France:
Infrastructure In France
France boasts perhaps the world’s best infrastructure, and it’s a bargain. Cable TV, Internet, and telephone, as well as the Metro, the bus, and the RER train system… all are likely less costly than comparable services where you’re living now.
In Paris, you can live happily car-free, walking nearly anywhere you’d want to go. The butcher, the baker, the grocer, the wine shop, a half-dozen busy cafes, and as many lovely parks and gardens are all less than 15 minutes’ walk from almost any point in central Paris. And, when you want to venture beyond your quartier, the Metro will transport you from restaurant to nightclub, from museum to cafe for around US$2. All in a setting of architectural delights, historic landmarks, manicured gardens, and well-tended parks.
Climate In France
Three types of climate can be found in France: oceanic, continental, and Mediterranean.
The oceanic climate, prevailing in the western parts of the country, is one of small temperature range, ample rainfall, cool summers, and cool but seldom very cold winters.
The continental (transition) type of climate, found over much of eastern and central France, adjoining its long common boundary with west-central Europe, is characterized by warmer summers and colder winters than areas farther west, ample rainfall, and winters tend to be snowy, especially in the higher areas.
The Mediterranean climate, widespread throughout the south of France (except in the mountainous southwest), is one of cool winters, hot summers, and limited rainfall. The mean temperature is about 53°F in Paris and 59°F in Nice. In central and southern France, annual rainfall is light to moderate, ranging from about 68 cm (27 in) in Paris to 100 cm (39 in) in Bordeaux. Rainfall is heavy in Brittany, the northern coastal areas, and the mountainous areas, where it reaches more than 112 cm (44 inches).
As in any country, weather depends on your region, but generally France enjoys a temperate climate with four regular seasons, little rain, and low humidity.
French Winter: December to February
French Summer: May to September
Residency In France
U.S. citizens may enter France without a visa and remain in the country as a tourist for a maximum of 90 days per trip. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you need a “long-stay visa” in your passport before you leave the United States.
It can be easier to gain permanent residency in France than you might imagine. Like many countries in Europe, France grants residency to foreigners who can prove they can take care of themselves (that is, pay their own bills and not be a burden on the state).
The truth is, becoming a resident of this country isn’t necessarily the challenge. The challenge is facing the tax liabilities that can ensue. However, you can plan for and mitigate your tax burden as a full-time foreign resident in France if you get the right help from the start.
Residency in France can lead to a second passport and dual citizenship in this country.
Health Care In France
The health care in France is arguably the best in the world. For years, the World Health Organization (WHO) published an index rating and ranking the quality of health care in every country in the world. Year after year France came out on top.
And, if you’re a member of French Social Security (that is, you’re paying into the system), most of the cost of this extraordinary health care is covered.
The remaining cost for your treatment or medicines (including fees for doctors who are non-conventionnés, dental, and optical care) can be covered by joining a top-up health insurance, called complémentaire santé. In this category you have the choice between an assurance and a mutuelle. This type of additional insurance will pay most, but not all of the residual costs, depending on your policy, circumstances, and treatment.
Generally, non-EU residents will not be able to access the public health care system and will need to seek private care.
Real Estate In France
France has no restriction on foreigners owning property.
France is the most visited country on earth. As a result, it’s one of the safest real estate investments markets in the world. You can buy and collect guaranteed returns every year or live in France part time and cash the rent checks while you’re away.
Paris in particular is perhaps the world’s most proven rental market. If you’re considering a real estate purchase in the French capital, think about a place you could use yourself from time to time… and then rent out when you’re elsewhere.
Paris, obviously, is the highest-priced property market in France (and one of the highest-priced in the world). The good news is that not all France is nearly as costly a place to call home. Outside of Paris, property prices drop dramatically, sometimes to bargain-levels.
And, of course, not all neighborhoods in Paris are as costly as one another. Paris is divided into 20 districts, or arrondissements, numbered in an outward spiral starting in the center of the city on the right (or northern) bank of the River Seine. The most sought-after of these, the best in terms of typical Parisian experience, are the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th, all near the river in the heart of the city… and all at the top of the property pricing scale. The lowest property prices in Paris right now are in the 18th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements, followed by the 10th and the 13th.
Every arrondissement is distinct, a village or small town unto itself, with its own character.