Live in France and Enjoy the Crème de la Crème of European Living
There are several important questions you must considering when thinking about living in France or any other foreign country. What are the costs of utilities, apartment charges, telephone costs, groceries, etc.? Really, though, a lot will depend on your own lifestyle and where you plan to take up residence once you live in France. Opting for the high life in Paris is likely to make larger holes in any budget than the modest tranquility of living in a quiet corner of France, such as the Charentes or the Auvergne. There are lots of statistical surveys out there that compare living costs in the world’s major cities. Although Paris isn’t particularly inexpensive, it does compare favorably against London and New York.
Apartment-Living in France
Unless you insist on living in Paris’ very best areas, you’ll certainly see two-bedroom rentals offered for US$1,500 to $2,000. It’s feasible to find one-bedroom apartments with a kitchen, a bathroom, and utilities in pleasant neighborhoods for $1,000 monthly. And remember–these are Paris prices. You won’t pay anything like that in the French provinces. In Rouen, a historic city in the Normandy region, for example, most two-bedroom rental apartments are $500 to $700 per month, and studios and one-bedroom apartments rent for $300 to $450. You’ll need household insurance when you live in France–even if you are renting–as French law requires you to have insurance for your home. Various agencies offer insurance services. Monthly rates are typically from $30 to $40 in Paris and the larger cities, and less elsewhere.
Grocery Costs When You Live in France
Your weekly food costs when you live in France will depend on whether you shop at an out-of-town supermarket chain such as Carrefour or at a local grocer, which will be more expensive. Stores in most towns are small, quirky, and unique–not dedicated to one-stop shopping. If you want a baguette, you go to the boulangerie. You buy cigarettes from the tabac, meat from the boucherie, candy from the confiserie. Although there’s nothing wrong with doing some of your bulk-buying at a supermarket, one of the great pleasures of living in France is its markets. You won’t find fresher fruit and vegetables–and you won’t find goodies such as farm cider in a supermarket.
The Cost of Utilities in France
Regarding utility bills, how much you pay will depend on the climate, the size of your property, and how many electrical appliances you need. Common sense should tell you that a studio flat in sunny Provence costs much less to heat than a 10-bedroom mansion somewhere in the wintry wonderland of the French Alps. For most couples living in a typical village house outside of the coldest alpine regions, gas and electricity costs are likely to be in the region of $30 per month in spring and summer, and around $75 monthly in winter. In most instances, you will have to arrange to have utility services reinstated when you move in, as they will almost certainly have been disconnected. But getting reconnected is a quick and smooth process. Your realtor can explain where the local offices are and who to contact.
The Bus and Metro Make Living in France Easy
All sizeable towns have a bus network with good coverage. Many cities also have an underground train service, known as the Métro. Paris has one, of course, but so too do Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, and Rennes.
Getting Connected Locally
There is a large population of British and American expats who live in France. If you’re living here you’ll have no problem connecting socially. There are a number of American associations you may wish to join, although most are based in Paris. For the names and locations of these organizations you may be interested in knowing about, get in touch with the American Embassy.
*Prices as of 2013
You can learn more about the cost of living in France in this monthly sample budget.
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