Skip to main content

Getting the measure of how much it costs to live in France

Paris may have a reputation as an expensive city to live in, but when compared to other such cities around the world, it ranks considerably lower.

Coming in at 34th in Mercer’s Cost of Living Rankings 2018, it sits below London at number 19 and New York at number 13. According to cost of living site Numbeo, the three most expensive cities to live in are Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, in descending order. Toulouse is at number 5, and Marseille at number 8.

However, as many expatriates tell you, you don’t need a huge amount of money to enjoy a high quality of life in France, and your living costs will heavily depend on the area in which you set up home. Predictably, life in the major urban centres like the cities listed above will be more expensive than in small provincial towns in the South of France.

Accommodation and Utilities

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in central Paris will cost you around 50% less than London. Away from the centre, you can expect to see a similar situation.  When it comes to buying, depending on where you live, expect to pay around 25% less than in New York and 45% less than London.

Something you need to consider is that if you own your property, you must pay la taxe foncière, and if you rent it will be taxe d’habitations, which is due every January 1st. The amount of both depends on where you live, the size of your property, and your income, so take these into consideration when thinking about your monthly budget.

Utility prices in France are comparable to the rest of Europe but quite a bit more expensive than New York. Many expats say they’ve found telephone and Internet much cheaper in France, with their monthly expenditure sometimes up to a third less than in the UK.

Clothing and Food

The 20% sales tax in France means that clothes, some services, and electronic items are more expensive than many other places in Europe. There are no mass-produced high-quality clothes, so you get what you pay for, and if it's very cheap, it's likely to be lower in quality.

France has strict food regulations so even if you pay a little bit more than you would in the UK or the U.S., the quality is likely to be very good. Buying British or American foods in France is liable to be more expensive.

If you're heading out to dinner in Paris, expect to pay less than New York for a decent 3-course meal in a mid-range restaurant, but dining out at McDonald's will be a shade more expensive. Choose wine with your meal, and you'll make a good saving, but order soda or beer and you could end up paying more. Compare the same night out in Paris with one in London, and again, you'll save on food at the restaurant but all the drinks, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic will cost you more.


France has impressive public transport facilities in its large cities, which are very reasonably priced. Some employers will also subsidies transport costs, which will reduce your monthly outgoings if you can utilise the public transport.

In rural areas, of course, the public transport systems are not as accessible, and it’s likely you may need to factor in the cost of buying and maintaining a car. 

One cost you don't need is expensive medical bills. Talk to us today about health care insurance for you and your family and take the worry out of planning your exciting new life abroad.

Aetna® is a trademark of Aetna Inc. and is protected throughout the world by trademark registrations and treaties.

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. See our cookie policy for more information on how we use cookies and how you can manage them. If you continue to use this website, you are consenting to our policy and for your web browser to receive cookies from our website.