The cost of living in France is high, especially in the large urban centres such as Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Expenses decrease considerably the further one goes into the rural countryside, a result of both lower prices and a less extravagant lifestyle.

Paris and Lyon both appeared in Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2020, ranking at 50th and 123rd most expensive respectively out of the 209 expat cities surveyed.

Expat salaries in France are also considerably less lucrative than the financial packages given to those who move to the Middle East or Asia for tax-free wealth or high-powered positions. That said, it's possible to enjoy an excellent quality of life on a budget in France. This is especially true in the south of France as well as some of the charming provincial villages. 

Cost of accommodation in France

Accommodation in France is frequently the most intimidating expense for expats. It can easily swallow a third to half of their monthly salary if residing in an established urban centre. On the other hand, expat retirees that have flocked to France in search of sunny shores and purchased property may not even have a monthly mortgage to worry about.

In France, homeowners pay less for more space than those elsewhere in Europe. This explains why many expats sell property in their home country and can afford to buy property in France and cover the cost of renovation as well. Expats in this situation need only be concerned with the rising cost of utilities.

Utility bills are comparable to those in the rest of Europe. Prices of electricity and gas are fairly average. While air conditioning can be expensive, it isn't as commonly used in Europe as it is in the US. Many apartments don't come with air conditioning facilities installed.

Cost of clothing in France 

A 20-percent sales tax in France makes everything slightly more expensive than many other countries in Europe, and clothes are notoriously expensive. This means that expats must often choose between pricey boutiques, speciality stores or upscale department stores and low-priced, poor-quality goods.

Cost of transport in France

France boasts an impressive public transport system. Expats living in big cities will find that life without a car is easy. Many employers in Paris even subsidise a portion of transport costs – so expats should not be afraid to ask.

Rural infrastructure, on the other hand, is not as comprehensive as that of the cities. Expats living in the countryside may need to buy a car, which can make village life slightly more expensive than anticipated. 

Cost of living in France chart

Prices vary across France – these are average costs for Paris in May 2021. Prices may vary depending on product and service provider.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

 EUR 2,000 – 4,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

 EUR 1,200 – 2,500

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

 EUR 900 – 1,700

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

 EUR 600 – 1,200

Food and drink

Milk (1 litre)

 EUR 1.12

Dozen eggs

 EUR 3.86

White bread (loaf)

 EUR 1.80

Rice (1kg)

 EUR 2.26

Packet of cigarettes (Marlboro)

 EUR 10

Public transport

One-way ticket (local transport)

 EUR 1.90

Taxi rate per km

 EUR 1.50

Petrol (litre)

EUR 1.50

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

 EUR 9

Coca-Cola (330ml)

 EUR 3.20


 EUR 3.70

Bottle of beer (domestic)

 EUR 7

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

 EUR 60


Internet (uncapped ADSL per month)

 EUR 26.95

Mobile call rate (mobile-to-mobile per minute)

 EUR 0.27

Basic monthly utilities (electricity, water and refuse)

 EUR 172