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Moving to France offers a mixture of convenience and aspiration, with a shorter travel distance than other EU countries, a thriving rich culture, delicious French cuisine, and a wide variety of places to live – from the balmy warm French Riviera to the modern, busy cities of Paris and Marseille.

Creating a comprehensive budget is essential to ensure your relocation is successful and enjoyable, with a clear idea of how your income will support your lifestyle, expectations, and plans for buying a property overseas.

In this guide, we’ll compare the costs of living in France to those in the UK and explore some key areas to build into your budget.

Average Living Costs in France vs the UK

Britons living in France as a family of four will normally need approximately €3,278 (£2,854) per month, excluding accommodation. In contrast, a single person relocating to France will require a budget of €920 (£801) per month – also excluding the cost of rent or mortgage payments.

In many ways France is considerably more affordable, with property rental averages 26.4% lower and French restaurants charging 7% less than comparable establishments in the UK. The public transport system in France is roughly 40% cheaper than in the UK, and utilities cost 30% less, alongside broadband connections that are around 14% more affordable.

Average consumer prices though tend to be slightly higher in France, making some costs such as fuel, taxis and mobile phone contracts more expensive.

However, a direct comparison between regions demonstrates how variable these living costs can be. An expat moving to Paris from London would find consumer prices in the French capital over 8% more affordable, so those relocating from regions in the UK with higher living costs will see a more significant drop in their outgoings.

Much, therefore, depends on where you live and whether your income is earned in Euros or GBP. If the latter, you must include the exchange rate when calculating your expendable income to ensure your budget is sufficient.

Moving to France with School-Aged Children

If you intend to live in France with a family, you will need to consider the practicalities. Children who plan on learning French may wish to enroll in a local public school, though many expats opt to send their children to private or international schools once they have moved to France.

Hiring a tutor to help all family members learn French may be an alternative, ensuring that kids can integrate, make friends and attend a local school. The average educational costs are as follows:

  •             €23 (£20) per hour for a private French tutor – this may be higher in areas with fewer tutors to choose from.
  •             €643 (£559) per month for a private nursery or preschool place, based on a full day.
  •             €9,870 (£8,587) a year for a place at an international primary school per child.

Private schools that teach primarily in French charge lower fees than international schools, although the latter will often follow the UK National Curriculum or the International Baccalaureate. The right decisions may depend on the age of your children and whether a switch to a different curriculum would disrupt their education.

However, a local French private school will normally charge rates from €750 to €1,200 (£653 to £1,044) per year outside of the main cities. This average applies to schools contracted to the French state, whereas those that operate independently charge higher costs of around €8,000 to €15,000 (£6,960 to £13,050) a year.

Relocating to France With Pets

If you will be living in France with pets, the first concern is ensuring any rented accommodation permits animals. There are plenty of green spaces and dog parks, but some landlords have strict rules.

You will need to arrange proof of vaccination and evidence that your pet has been microchipped – these documents normally cost up to €500 (£435) from a licensed veterinary practice. Pet owners living in France will also need a rabies test and health certificate.

Pet insurance is mandatory, and costs begin from €15 (£13) per month, which will vary depending on the species and breed.

Buying or Renting a Home in France

Finally, it is important to ensure you have a good idea of what your living costs will be per month, depending on the type of property you purchase or rent and where your French home is located.

Of course, a luxuriously renovated apartment in central Paris will cost more to buy or rent and maintain than a more modest home in the suburbs or a rural region.

As an idea, the average monthly rental costs are below based on popular French cities.

City Studio Apartment Family Apartment Additional Running Costs
Bordeaux €609 / £530 €1,020 / £887 €885 / £770
Lyon €1,000 / £870 €1,626 / £1,415 €900 / £783
Marseille €600 / £522 €733 / £638 €880 / £766
Montpelier €650 / £566 €800 / £696 €792 / £689
Nice €750 / £653 €1,061 / £923 €947 / £824
Paris €1,326 / £1,154 €1,802 / £1,568 €950 / £827
Strasbourg €659 / £573 €890 / £774 €800 / £696

The running costs include electricity, water, gas, waste collection and internet connection expenses based on average charges.

Expats planning to purchase a property may also need to factor in mortgage repayments. Unless you buy a home outright, the primary considerations will be the potential for property tax, mortgage interest, utilities, and the rates paid to the local municipality for homeowner services.

As we’ve mentioned, rental prices are more affordable than in the UK, but purchasing a property tends to be more expensive, depending on the region and whether you are relocating from London and the southeast or lower-cost areas within Britain.

The average property sells for €6,420 (£5,585) per square metre as an idea, and an apartment tends to cost from €214,000 (£186,000) nationwide, compared to starting prices from €547,000 (£476,000) in Paris.

For further information about creating a realistic budget that helps get your finances into good order ahead of your move or to discuss your relocation plans, projected income and investment returns to ensure you are well-prepared for your new life in France, please get in touch with Chase Buchanan Wealth Management.

Download our free guide to Taxes in France,  and France Residency Guide from our website.

Our French team is based in Bordeaux and will happily provide guidance, while our UK Administration Centre is also on hand to help.

*Information correct as at November 2023