How much does it cost to live in France? Add up the numbers to see if France’s cost of living is affordable for you and your family.
The cost of living in France is higher than in neighboring western European countries; however, Paris is one of the main reasons for this. The rest of the country, particularly the countryside and the south of France, has a lower cost of living.
Whether it’s food, housing, healthcare, education, or transportation, this article covers how much you can expect to spend in your everyday life in France. Read on for more information on the following:
- General cost of living and standard of living in France
- French wages and salary
- Housing costs in France
- Cost of domestic bills in France
- Healthcare costs in France
- Cost of childcare in France
- Study costs in France
- Cost of food and drink in France
- Transport costs in France
- Clothing in France
- Leisure activities in France
- Taxation and social security in France
- Assistance with living costs in France
- Useful resources
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General cost of living and standard of living in France
If you think the high costs of living in France, particularly in major cities, is too much to handle, keep in mind that France also boasts one of the highest standards of living in the world. It ranks highly in many OECD Better Life indicators.
The country also has a strong sense of community. 94% of people believe they have someone they can rely on in a time of need. French people tend to be more civically engaged, meaning they are more involved in what happens in their country.
Numbeo estimates that a family of four needs around €3,100 per month excluding rent, while a single person’s average monthly costs are about €870 before rent.
Almost 20% of people in France are estimated to be in a situation of either monetary poverty or material and social deprivation. As of 2023, there are 330,000 homeless people, which is an increase of 130% compared to 2012.
Cost of living in Paris
Paris attracts expats for several reasons. Some want to live the romanticized Parisian lifestyle, while others head there for a better variety of jobs, where many international companies are located.
In Mercer’s 2022 cost of living report, Paris (35th) ranked more expensive than Brussels, Berlin, and Milan, but cheaper than Amsterdam, Munich, and Singapore.
The estimated cost of living in Paris (without rent) is:
- Around the same as London
- 195% more expensive than Mumbai
- 30% cheaper than New York
- 12% cheaper than Sydney
- 50% more expensive than Lagos
Cost of living in Lyon
Lyon is the third-largest city in France and it’s a gourmet haven. It is also an excellent city for living and working, as it’s a hub for banking as well as pharmaceuticals, software, and other industries.
Lyon is also on Mercer’s cost of living report and ranked 96th in 2022.
The cost of living in Lyon (without rent) is:
- Around the same as London
- 186% more expensive than Mumbai
- 34% cheaper than New York
- 13% cheaper than Sydney
- 96% more expensive than Lagos
Cost of living in Marseille
Marseille is an international, port city in France. Given its location, it is perfect for international business as well as enjoying the relaxed lifestyle of a coastal resort city.
Needless to say, the sandy beaches are an attraction for many expats. Compared to Paris’s living costs, the cost of living in Marseille is also more affordable.
The cost of living in Marseille (without rent) is:
- 9% cheaper than London
- 31% cheaper than New York
- 163% more expensive than Mumbai
- 20% cheaper than Sydney
- 80% more expensive than Lagos
French wages and salary
When working in France, you will usually receive your salary in 12 monthly payments, which are reviewed annually. The average wage for private sector workers is €2,375, while the public sector pays slightly less: an average of €2,238.
The minimum wage in France is €11.27 per hour, or €1,709.28 for a 35-hour working week. According to the French Labor Code, the minimum wage must go up at the beginning of each year and rise when inflation exceeds 2%.
Housing costs in France
Your cost of living will likely vary depending on whether you buy your home or rent in France. Prices for both can differ widely from city to city.
Rental costs in France
French housing is notoriously expensive if you go for the typical metropolitan apartment. When you go from a one-bedroom apartment to a place with multiple bedrooms, the prices rise even more. Residents can reduce their cost of living in Paris, however, by moving to a less metropolitan area or living in the Parisian suburbs.
For a one-bedroom apartment in central Paris, get ready to pay up to €1,750 a month, or more than double that if you want a three-bedroom apartment.
Lyon is much cheaper in terms of accommodation, with prices at around €600–€1,200 per month for a central one-bedroom apartment, or €1,100–€2,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. Marseille is roughly the same as Lyon, with one-bedroom apartments starting at around €600 a month and three-bedroom properties starting at €1,200.
Places to find housing and temporary accommodation online include:
Property prices in France
There are several fees and taxes that apply to purchasing a home. Just as with renting, prices vary across the country.
For example, property in the center of Paris costs on average €12,562 per square meter, while outside the center, you can expect to spend about €8,809. In Lyon, this is €5,525 in the city center compared to €4,187 per square meter outside the center. Meanwhile, in Marseille, a city-center apartment will set you back on average €5,687 per square meter, and one in the suburbs around €3,757.
Cost of domestic bills in France
Paris has basic utility costs similar to the rest of Europe, totaling an average of around €162 a month for an apartment of 85 square meters. Basic utilities in this case refer to water, heating, electricity, and garbage collection.
In smaller cities in the south of France, utility bills can be much cheaper thanks to the mild weather all year round. For more information, read about utilities in France.
The cost of electricity in France is not high in comparison to EU standards. The average cost of electricity in France is around €0.2086 per KWh, lower than the EU average of €0.2525.
The cost of internet in France is also relative, with basic packages starting from around €20–40 per month. As of 2022, taxpayers do not need to pay for an annual television license to access public broadcasting.
Healthcare costs in France
One positive aspect of the cost of living in France is subsidized healthcare. Everyone living in France for longer than three months is eligible for state health insurance, including internationals. This insurance, Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMa), is funded by the French social security system, meaning about 8% of most employees’ pay packets go towards it, with another 13% paid by employers.
Everyone must first register with a French health insurance company and a doctor in France, and go through that doctor for most medical treatments. Around 70% of medical costs are covered, but in some cases, such as cancer, diabetes, or having a baby in France, 100% of costs are covered by the French healthcare system. Those who want 100% coverage can sign up for private health insurance to cover the remainder.
Cost of childcare in France
Crèches are typically the first point for people looking for childcare in France. How much you pay for a public crèche depends on your income and your family situation.
You can also find private daycare centers, although they will push up your cost of living in France. Once a child is two years old, they are eligible for free nursery schooling up to the age of six.
Study costs in France
Something that France does extremely well is public education. Every child from the ages of three to 16 must go to school, and the state pays for everything except some school supplies and field trips. The French education system is rigorous, but that can work well for many children.
However, public schools in France are not typically bilingual. Parents looking for international schools in France will thus have to calculate a higher cost of living in France, although some employers cover education costs in expat relocation packages.
If parents opt for an international school in France, their children can be taught in a familiar language and follow a curriculum similar to their home country. French private schools are sometimes partially funded by the state, and thus may follow the French curriculum. Schools that are not subsidized, on the other hand, are free to follow their own curricula.
The cost of annual private school fees varies considerably but starts at around €5,000 per year.
French tuition fees
Universities in France, if they are state universities, are very reasonably priced, especially compared to the tuition you would pay in the United States or the United Kingdom. French, European Union, European Economic Area, Andorran, and Swiss students pay the following at state universities:
- €170 per year for a bachelor’s (licence) degree
- €243 per year for a master’s degree
- €601 per year in a school of engineering
- €380 per year for a doctorate
In addition, there are several cases in which you may pay these fees even if you are not a European student. For example, if you are a resident of Quebec or a long-term French resident, you might be entitled to lower tuition fees. Those from outside the EU/EEA must pay €2,770 for licence and €3,770 for a master’s degree. Private universities charge €3,000 to €10,000 per year.
Cost of food and drink in France
Groceries in France
There are many factors affecting grocery spending. Buying from specialty shops instead of French supermarkets such as Auchan will increase the cost of living in France.
French households spend on average, around €300 on food a month including groceries and eating out, however, this varies depending on the city. Here are some examples of how much food items might cost you in Paris:
- 1 liter of milk: €1.15
- 500g loaf of fresh white bread: €1.99
- 1kg rice: €2.18
- 12 eggs: €3.53
- 1kg local cheese: €16.39
- 1kg apples: €3.04
Don’t forget, you could also snag some bargains and discover delicious local food at outdoor markets.
Cost of dining out in France
France is synonymous with amazing cuisine. Some of the best chefs in the world are French or were trained in France, and the diversity of places you can go to eat is amazing (not to mention the array of delicious food in France).
A meal for two at a good restaurant generally costs around €60, which includes three courses. As an international comparison, a McDonald’s meal costs about €10.
Beer, wine, and spirits in France
Of course, when it comes to alcoholic drinks, France is best known for its wine. A bottle of mid-range wine in the supermarket will cost you €5–15. Meanwhile, half a liter of domestic beer will set you back about €2, while a 33cl imported bottle costs about €2.50.
Spirits, just like wine, can vary hugely in price depending on the brand. Here are some examples of prices for spirits from Carrefour supermarket:
- 70cl vodka: €3.40–37
- 70cl gin: €10–43
- 70cl whisky: €13–60
Coffee in France
A cappuccino in France will usually cost you around €2.90. Unsurprisingly, the price goes up in Paris – you can expect to spend about €3.60.
Transport costs in France
Though the cost of living in Paris is higher than that of rural France, one of the benefits of living in a well-developed, metropolitan city is the extensive public transport system in France. Expats living in Paris, and most other major cities in France, will find they won’t need a car at all.
Metro systems and other public transportation in French cities are quite good and not particularly expensive. For example, a one-way ticket in Paris is about €2, and a monthly pass is around €84, but there are different discounts on offer. On top of that, some employers pay subsidies for transport costs if you use public transportation to get to and from work.
In rural areas, public transport is not as well developed. Many expats living in the countryside tend to have a car, with fuel costing around €1.99 a liter.
The cost of taxis varies around France. If you take a taxi in Paris or Marseille, for example, the fee will start at €5 and increase by about €1.65 per kilometer. Elsewhere the starting tariff is cheaper at around €2.50, and then increases by €1.80 per kilometer.
Clothing in France
Costs for clothing in France are in line with neighboring European countries. When it comes to high street brands, you’ll likely spend around €35 for a summer dress from a chain store, about €80 for a pair of good quality jeans, and €83 on average for a pair of mid-range running shoes
France is home to an array of famous fashion designers. If you opt to buy designer clothing, this will cost significantly more.
Leisure activities in France
There’s plenty to do in France. Whether you’re into festivals, castles, or just attractive scenery, leisure costs are something to keep in mind.
If you’re a fitness lover, a gym membership will set you back around €36 per month. A cinema ticket, on the other hand, costs €11 on average.
Taxation and social security in France
France has several kinds of taxes (such as inheritance tax and corporate tax), but income tax is generally the most important one. In France, income tax is not taken out of employees’ salaries, so everyone has to fill out a French tax return.
If you are a non-resident, you will have to pay 20% income tax on any income earned in France. For residents, tax rates in France are currently:
- Up to €10,777: 0%
- €10,778–27,478: 11%
- €27,479–78,570: 30%
- €78,571–168,994: 41%
- €168,994+: 45%
For everyone to enjoy the benefits the French state provides, social security is mandatory for all workers in France. Employers generally take care of this for you, taking out about 9.2% of your employment income to go towards social security.
France has some rules regarding dual taxation to reduce tax costs for foreigners. In addition, you will have to pay VAT (TVA) 20% on many goods and services.
Assistance with living costs in France
There are special types of social security benefits available in France. These include:
- Family allowances (Allocations familiales)
- Maternity and paternity allowances
- Sickness benefits
- Care benefits
- Disability pension
- Old-age pension
- Surviving spouse pension
- Income support
When you have a child, you are entitled to a child benefit (La Prestation d’accueil du jeune enfant – Paje) for the first three years after birth, or up to three years until the child is 20 in case of adoption. You are eligible for a family allowance when you have two children. This starts at €132.74 per month for two children, €302.81 for three children, and €472.88 for four.
The conditions for most benefits require that you have worked and paid social security contributions in France and that France is your place of residence. Check with each benefit to make sure, and read about social security in France for more details.
- INSEE (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) – statistics about the French economy and social issues
- European Commission – pages about employment, social affairs, and inclusion in France
- Welcome to France – instructions for registering for social security