Cost of Living in France 2024: Example Table of Monthly Expenses Included

Cost of Living in France
Avignon, France|Hugo Ghiara

By Tuula Rampont

France is a land of easy living, gourmet cuisine, and beautiful landscapes stretching from the Normandy seacoast to the sun-splashed beaches of the Cote d’Azur. With so much beauty and a sophisticated culture that’s been exported the world over, it’s easy to think that France is a luxurious paradise accessible only to those with very deep pockets.

While securing an elegant apartment with Eiffel Tower views is certainly on the pricey side, the country is much more affordable than many North Americans could ever imagine. Housing prices are, on average, 34% less than in the United States, with property taxes coming in at one-tenth of what you could expect to pay back home. While inflation has touched some products at the supermarket, eating out is incredibly cheap—especially considering the quality of the products and how far your euro will take you. With a culture highly focused on eating well, you’ll find a wealth of restaurants to choose from, helping keep costs down as each establishment competes to offer the best value for money. It’s still possible to have a gourmet, farm-to-table, three-course lunch for €28 ($31). If you’d like to go bistro-style, which still uses quality products, and is impeccably prepared, you can get out the door with the dish of the day for €14 ($15.30). Keeping in mind that, while a welcome addition, tipping is not a standard custom in France, so those figures are your final total.

Although these numbers might be enticement enough to think about making the leap to la belle France, the real stand out in the savings department is the French healthcare system. As prices are fixed by the government, you’ll never pay more for a doctor’s visit whether you go to a clinic in the center of Paris or to your favorite village practitioner in the south of France. For a low yearly fee, the €25 ($27) you’ll spend on the doctor’s appointment, will be reimbursed at 70% - leaving your out-of-pocket charge at around $9. These fees have not increased in the last 10+ years, with no sign of changes in the future as France is a social welfare state concerned with making sure all citizens, and foreign residents, have access to low-cost quality healthcare.

Throughout this article, we’ll break down the specific costs of living in France and provide you with a roadmap for budgetary planning across the different regions.

Video: Cost of Living in France: Why It's More Affordable Than You Think!


Housing prices vary greatly throughout France and some very interesting deals are to be made in areas that combine attractive climates, established expat communities, and a wealth of social and cultural activities for active retirees.

For example, at the time of writing, the average price for a one-bedroom rental in Paris is €1392 ($1528), in Strasbourg the figure is €795 ($872), and that same one bedroom comes in at just €579 ($635) in the city of Pau in southwestern France. Paris and the French Riviera are the highest priced housing markets in France, although you can still find lower budget options away from the seacoast in the southern countryside.

Home costs along the Mediterranean have seen significant upticks post-Covid. Currently, the median purchase price for a pre-existing home and Toulon is €468,000 ($513,791), in the Marseille/Aix-en- Provence area it’s €400,000 ($439,138), and Montpellier comes in at €418,000 ($458,899). As mentioned previously, looking for housing 30-40 minutes away from the seacoast can produce a significant decrease in price. Two-bedroom village homes in the expat hub of Cotignac, about 45 minutes from the nearest beach town, start at €190,000 ($208,590). Standalone homes with sizable gardens can be had for €340,000 ($373,267).

Buying an apartment in a town in south-of-France is an even more attractive option. Two-bedroom, one-bath apartments in Toulon start at €175,000 ($192,122), with apartments in highly sought-after Aix-en-Provence (“the Paris of the south”) starting at around €275,000 ($301,907) for a two-bedroom. The city of Nice has similar pricing, with a large selection of apartments outside the city center, which can be easily accessed via public transportation.

For the real bargains on real estate, head to southwestern France and concentrate your search in the Dordogne. With a moderate climate, and a collection of picturesque, fairytale-like villages, the Dordogne is a tried-and-true expat favorite. In the past five to 10 years, more and more Americans have decided to retire in this land of 1001 castles. In the central expat hub, Sarlat-la-Canéda, 1500-foot village home rentals can be rented for €800 ($878) a month. If you’d like to buy a house with the same square footage, it will run you about €250,000 ($274,461). Since Sarlat is the top destination, nearby villages will be considerably cheaper. You can find two-bedroom one-bath homes for under $210,000 throughout the Dordogne. If you’d like to venture into a remodel, you can get your hands on a two-bedroom fixer-upper for around $170,000 or less.

Since both the south of France and the Dordogne combine a high standard of living with a relatively temperate climates, many expats find themselves drawn to these corners of the country. If weather isn’t a factor, the Normandy and Brittany regions both have low-cost housing markets.


A couple can expect to pay, on average, $600 per month on groceries, depending on specific needs and tastes, and where you choose to do your shopping. All the major supermarkets-Auchan, Carrefour, Casino, E. Leclerc, and Intermarché-offer client fidelity programs where shoppers can receive weekly discounts and cashback incentives that run throughout the year.

The discounts are often “buy two, get one free” on selected items, a percentage (5-10%) off of the chain’s generic brand (organic items included), or a special promotion week. As an example, the Carrefour supermarket runs many “themed” cashback offers. During the holidays, for every €50 you spend on wine and spirits, you’ll be credited €10 on your fidelity card. Some months it can be on beauty and hygiene products or electronics – €10 back for every €50 spent. Card members also get “surprise” incentives throughout the year. You may leave the checkout lane with a €10-€15 cashback coupon to use anywhere in the store during you next shopping trip.

Outside of the incentive programs, the real savings on groceries comes from discount supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi. Lidl is wildly popular in France and easily slices 10-15% off your grocery bill. Lidl has its own fidelity program with an easy-to-use phone application that lets you check discounts before hitting the aisles.

For dining out, only those seeking Michelin-star experiences will see a significant hit to their pocketbooks. Your average French restaurant is a huge value proposition due to the price and quality of products. Since good cuisine is integrated into the heart and soul of French culture, establishments work hard to give customers the best meals at reasonable prices… or risk seeing their clientele move to the next quality bistro down the street.

For the moment, France hasn’t experienced a significate inflation hit to its lunch and dinner menus – although prices have increased somewhat in recent years. You can count on having a three-course gourmet lunch for $31 per person (drinks are extra) in cities and towns throughout the country. Paris prices tend to be a bit higher, but competition is keen so many restaurants offer lower lunch menu specials during the week, with prices higher at dinnertime and on the weekends.

For budget-conscious diners, look for the lunchtime special of the day which could include a starter / main dish, or a main dish / dessert, for as low as $20 per person. This is simple bistro fare like a salad of crudities plus a pork filet and potatoes as the main dish, or a slice of quiche Lorraine with a bit of leafy greens and a crème brûlée for dessert.


Many expats who move to France prefer to leave their cars at home, which is an excellent idea in larger cities – and in many smaller towns. Relying on public transportation – buses, trains, and trams – in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg, Nice, Aix-en-Provence, and a host of other cities, is a great way to save money. Most places offer senior discounts, where €6.90 ($7.60) will get you 10 rides on the city’s public transportation system – buses, trams, or even boat-shuttles in the coastal cities. An unlimited monthly travel pass starts at €35 ($38).

France has fast, efficient, and easy-to-use train service with discount rates available on the OuiGo website, a low-cost spinoff of the national rail agency, the SNCF. The OuiGo trains offer very cheap tickets: a one-way from Marseille to Paris €16 ($17.57), for example, if you book a month in advance. These are highspeed trains, so you’ll be at your destination with little or no stops in between. While the standard SNCF trains have a dining car, OuiGo passengers will need to bring their own lunch / dinner on board.

Expats can easily buy a new or used car on arrival in France. Due to the high cost of shipping a car to France, with the added obligation to have it standardized to European norms, it’s best to leave your vehicle at home. Gas usage will depend on how much traveling you do. Currently, it takes around €50-€60 ($55-$66) to fill the tank of a compact car. Car insurance and maintenance are around €68 ($75) per month.

Utilities in France


You’ll find utility costs low as comparted to the US. France has one of the lowest electricity rates in Europe, 26% less than the average. Most French choose the company EDF as their provider with a base-rate contract that charges customers the same price for electricity at every hour of the day. Average rates per year are from €870 ($955) to €950 ($1,043) annually—a bill of €72.50 ($79.60) to €79 ($86.70) per month.


Not every home or apartment is equipped with gas. One-third of French households use natural gas for heating, hot water, and/or to cook on gas stoves. You’ll be charged for the amount of gas consumed, with the average natural gas bill coming in at around €850 ($933) per year, or about €71 ($78).


While water in France is controlled by several private companies, like Suez and Veolia, the infrastructure is controlled by local suppliers, so rates vary across the country. You’ll be charged by cubic meter and billed every six months or once a year. Average water bills are €30-€40 ($33-$43.90) per month.

Internet and Cell Phones

You can go with separate providers, but the easiest way to meet your Internet and mobile phone needs is to sign-up for a bundled service. Operators like the company Free offer a grouped service of high-speed Internet plus mobile phone service and a cable TV box for €34.99 ($38.41) a month.

Healthcare Costs in France

The only thing you’ll need to enter the French healthcare system as an expat is a Long Stay Visa. You can enroll after three months of living in the country, and France must be your primary residence for six months of the year.

Once on the healthcare system, you’re entitled to receive 70% to 80% off healthcare prices,which are already incredibly low. A visit to the doctor costs €25, around $27, and an appointment with a specialist is €50, around $55. These costs are when you are not enrolled in French healthcare—i.e.. a visiting tourist would pay €25 to see a doctor when on vacation in France.

Once enrolled in the healthcare after the three months entry point, a visit to the doctor would cost you around $9, as 70% of doctor’s visits are reimbursed directly to your bank account. With the 70% off, an appointment with a specialist would be about $16.50. For hospital stays, you’ll be reimbursed 80% for treatment the first month and 100% for each month thereafter. All surgical expenses are reimbursed at 100%. There is a fee of €20, about $21 per day for bed occupancy. There are private hospitals available, which will charge you more for treatment. Prescription drugs, also very low-priced, are covered up to 100%.

Enrollees pay a low yearly fee based on the income they are able to declare to the French government. Since passive income, pensions, and social security income can not be included in the calculation (due to a tax treaty with the US), many retirees are paying minimal amounts into the healthcare system. As a baseline, a couple declaring $37,000 of active income would pay approximately $1800 a year for French healthcare.

Sample Monthly Budget for Living in France

Budget$ (U.S.)$ (CA)
Groceries (Incl. Wine)600805
Car (Insurance/Maintenance)75100
Gas (Diesel/Petrol for car)100135
Gas (Heating/Stove)5979
Phone (Landline)2128
Health Insurance Top Up2939
Cellphone Plan2229
Lunch Out (Five Times a Month)200268
Misc. (Coffee, Croissants, etc.)80107
Movie Tickets1420

Miscellaneous Fees

Renters and homeowner’s insurance are two different fees to consider when moving to France. Securing rental insurance before you fill-out a rental application can make you a more attractive prospect for a potential landlord. Insurance is based on the monthly rental amount and the average price is €216 ($237) a year, available through your bank.

You can also set-up homeowner’s insurance via your bank - the average yearly amount is around €372 ($408) a year.

Lastly, maintenance fees can be charged to renters and homeowners living in apartment buildings, condominiums, or housing tracts. Referred to as “les charges,” you will see this amount often listed as a monthly sum in a rental announcement or referred to at the time of purchase. Depending on the amenities of the building, fees - if applicable – the charge can range from roughly €20 ($22) to up to €100 ($110) or more a month.

France is captivating country and the most diverse land in all of Europe. Sharing a border with eight different neighbors, discovering all her treasures could last a lifetime. While such a fascinating and culinarily delightful place might seem out of the grasp of an average retiree, la belle France is actually one of Western Europe’s top retirement gems—hiding in plain sight.

While retirees might be attracted to the high standard of living and excellent infrastructure, the real draw remains the access to affordable, quality healthcare and a cost of living that is well-below current standards in the United States.