The cost of living in France can be much lower than you might expect. I don’t mean that France is a “budget” destination (although there are certainly some very attractive real estate bargains to be found here), but rather that, depending on where and how you live here, you can find it to be surprisingly affordable.
Much of the cost of living in Paris has to do with how you live. Paris can be expensive for the tourist. A Coke on the Champs Elysee can cost more than lunch for two in a nice bistro on a side street in a far less recognizable corner of this city. Paris is an expensive, and the Marais is one of its most expensive neighborhoods. But for access to the heart of Paris, there is no better location. The cost of living for this prime location amounts to 2,860 euros per month.
The Marais district in the center of Paris has perhaps the highest cost of living in France. The average selling price for property is over 1,020 euros per square foot, and rentals are averaging close to 1,700 euros per month. (Apartments in Paris are typically small. Most single people and many couples live in one-bedroom apartments of about 500 to 750 square feet.)
On the other hand, in the 16th arrondissement, a less central but still very appealing district for expat living, the average price per square foot is around 915 euros, and in the smaller towns and villages prices drop even further.
As for utilities, water and gas are relatively cheap. Electricity, however, can be more expensive, especially for cooking and heating. Look for locations with gas heaters and stoves to save on your cost of living. France also boasts world-class infrastructure, with internet, cable, and television (generally bundled) at very affordable rates.
Health care in France is among the best in the world, 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 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.
France in general is not a top choice if you are hoping to make a massive cut to your cost of living. That said, regions like Carcassone, the area often labelled as the “Other South of France” is far more affordable than its flashier counterparts, while offering the best of French country living. The cost of living can be less than 1,351 euros a month in the town of Carcassonne.
Given the attraction of the Cité, the Bastide, and the surrounding area, property prices are very reasonable in Carcassone and other regions like Languedoc and Pau. Fully renovated apartments can range from about 80,000 euros for a studio to 200,000 euros for a six-bedroom property. Houses in Carcassonne center are harder to find but are available from about 200,000 euros. If you extend your search to 5 kilometers out from the center, there’s a far greater choice, everything from new-build villas to renovation projects. Rents start at about 350 euros per month for apartments and from 600 euros per month for houses, making some of them even cheaper than renting in Third-world markets like Panama.
|Rent||€ 600-1700|| Unfurnished, two-bedroom apartment.
|Gas||€ 15-50|| For cooking if applies.
|Transportation||€ 35|| Monthly metro/bus pass for two.
|Electricity||€ 40-100|| A/C usage.
|Internet||N/A|| Bundled with phone.
|Groceries||€ 400-580|| Basic items for couple.
|Entertainment||€ 300-385|| Social outing, 25-75 euros p/person
|Total||€ 1,401-2871|| US$ 3,198