The dream of moving to France is often based on a simpler, less costly and more rewarding lifestyle, but is it really a cheaper place to live?
Start With the Facts…
The table below is based on a family of four, using statistics from the French national statistics office, Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE)*. The key figures shown below come from a questionnaire answered by residents across France, and they’re a good place to start.
|Mortgage / Rent||€5,303||€441.92|
|Electricity + Gas + Water||€1,950||€162.50|
|Phone + Internet + Mobile||€1,950||€162.50|
|Supermarket inc. alcohol||€6,168||€514|
|Other insurances & charges||€1,102||€91.83|
|Car expenses & Fuel||€3,818||€318.17|
|Car purchase or Loan||€3,184||€265.33|
|Clothing & shoes||€2,152||€179.33|
|Other health expenses||€650||€54.17|
|Eating out / Cafés||€2,711||€225.92|
|Without Mortgage / Rent||€40,326||€3,360.50|
Reading Between the Figures
If you glance at the publicised INSEE results, the cost of living shown for a family in France is an appealing €36,824 a year; look more closely and you realise this doesn’t include major costs like mortgage repayments, council tax or income tax. INSEE also recognises that when completing the survey, most families underestimate – their true spending is usually higher.
Where You Live
Naturally, your living expenses will vary, depending upon the size of your property, the region that you live in, and whether you’re resident in the city or the country. Paris, Grenoble, Bordeaux and Lyon are all expensive cities, which affects the overall costs of living in the areas that surround them.
How You Live
The reality is that the true cost of living in France depends on your lifestyle and choices. Food costs will be higher than the average if you prefer ready-meals or insist on imported British foods rather than preparing your own meals. If the French dream is all about having more time, you could prepare your own dishes from more basic, less expensive ingredients that are available locally – which is what many French families do. Also, bear in mind that most French people tend to prioritise buying a better quality of food rather than changing their décor or upgrading their car. This can be very positive, as you’re less likely to spend on ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.
Bad News & Good News
Firstly, if you’ll be relying on income from the UK, fluctuating currency rates will definitely affect you and they’re beyond your control, so take professional advice from exchange specialists, such as moneycorp. Other common financial complaints from UK residents in France involve the cost of visiting Britain, high social charges or unexpected taxes, and top-up health insurance, which it’s highly advisable to take out. However, there are countless small bonuses, such as only needing a CT (like an MOT) every two years, no road tax (for most people) and lower fuel costs. Plus, if you manage to move without a mortgage, you’ll never pay ‘wasted’ money in interest charges. Until you experience life in another country, you can’t predict which differences will affect you most, but as always – the more research you can do, the better prepared you’ll be.
*INSEE is the French equivalent of the Office for National Statistics. The figures in this Fact Sheet are taken from their most recent survey on family spending: Enquête Budget de Famille, 2011. All figures are provided as a guide only, using the most recent and reliable information, but real costs vary with each family situation.