Cost of living in France

6 min read

Over the years thousands of people from all over the world have chosen France as their new home. From rolling green fields and quaint towns, chic cities and stunning coastlines, there’s so much to explore and appreciate. If a new French life is something you’ve always dreamt of, it’s important to work out whether you can afford the reality. So, how much does it really cost to set up your new life across the Channel?

Cost of living comparison

In this short read, we will draw comparisons between the cost of living in France and the UK. (All figures are correct at the time of publication and have been drawn from a variety of sources.)

France is one of the more expensive Western European countries, especially when compared to Spain or Italy. It is estimated that an individual needs at least €1,800¹ per month to cover basic expenses. However, calculating the cost of living is not a precise art and depends on several factors.

It is important to note that prices fluctuate due to inflation and location. For example, if you’re thinking about moving to a rural area of France, the cost of living may be significantly cheaper than if you live in Paris or one of the other major French cities.

If a new life abroad is on the cards for you and your family, read on for a rough breakdown of how much daily life in France could cost.

Dining Out

If you’re someone who loves food and trying new things, then French cuisine has a lot to offer. But how does the cost of restaurant dining, takeaways and drinks compare between England and France?

On average, restaurant prices are 9.1% lower in France than the UK, according to Numbeo (a large online cost of living databases). A meal for two at a mid range restaurant is priced at an average of £60 in the UK and £51.25 in France. However, when it comes to fast food, a meal is around £1.54 more in France.

Country McDonalds Meal (£) Domestic Beer (£) Cappuccino (£) Coke/Pepsi (£)
France 8.54 5.12 2.55 2.33
United Kingdom 7 4.5 3.13 1.75

Grocery Shopping

Whether you’re hoping to enhance your culinary skills or just prefer home cooked meals, then you might find grocery shopping slightly more expensive over the Channel. It is estimated that grocery prices are 23.7% higher in France than compared to the UK.

Below, we compare the prices of some common ingredients for your information.

France (£) United Kingdom (£)
Milk – 1 litre 0.95 1.24
Loaf of Bread 1.52 1.21
Rice – 1 kg 1.82 1.58
Eggs – 12 3.18 2.99
Chicken fillets – 1 kg 10.85 6.55
Potato – 1 kg 1.73 1.10

Despite the difference in price, how much you pay for your weekly food shop in France can depend on location. For example, if you’re buying groceries from local town or village markets, these will be significantly cheaper than urban supermarkets.

Focus: Cost of city life

City life in France doesn’t come cheap. According to research compiled in 2022, living in Paris or Lyon would cost the same as living in London, whilst living in Marseille was just 9% cheaper than London.²

Transport and Travel

Just like the UK, France has a large and busy public transport system, and you can get around using local bus services, trains, and the metro in cities. Individual fares vary from region to region, and below we’ve detailed average costs of transportation.

Monthly Pass (£) Single Ticket (£) Taxi (per km) (£)
France 59.28 1.54 1.55
United Kingdom 68 2.50 1.24

Cost of Clothing

When it comes to shopping, France is known for its love of fashion but when you’re looking at costs, there is little difference between what you would pay in the UK and France.

According to research by Numbeo, you can expect to pay £31.19 for a dress in a large chain store in the UK and £31.53 for the same item in France. The biggest difference in cost is the price of men’s leather shoes, costing approximately £75.98 in the UK and around £98.63 in France.

Costs of Running a Home

Recently, the UK has seen a massive jump in the price of energy. Households are spending far more on gas and electricity than in previous years. But does the same apply in France? Research shows that the utility costs for a small apartment would be 41.9% less expensive in France compared to the UK. Whilst prices have increased, this is nowhere near the levels we’re seeing in the UK.

Currently France’s mortgage rates are much cheaper than the UK, meaning a lower monthly expenditure overall. In February 2024, average rates in the UK were around 5.9% and just 3.54% in France. Similarly, rental prices are 33.5% lower in France than the UK³.

To find out more about house prices and rental costs, read our guide:

How much does it cost to own a property in France?

Free Education

Education is mandatory for children between the ages of 3 and 16. France operates a free for all state education system which is secular and available to non-citizens. Parents contribute financially for lunches, after-school care, and class trips.⁴

Private schools and international schools are also an option for parents with average prices shown below. Private schools in the UK are much more expensive, with parents paying up to 54% more for preschool and day care in the UK.

Private Preschool Monthly Fees (£) International Primary School Annual Fees (£)
France 573.76 1,247.51
United Kingdom 8,494.63 14,223.28

Just like the UK, French schools operate in catchment areas, so the state school your child attends depends on how near you live to it.

How to set up a family in France ?


Whilst France operates a state-run healthcare system, this is not free, and citizens must have some form of health insurance cover. Once a non-resident has been in France for more than three months they must be registered within the system.⁵

The French healthcare system is funded in various ways – by social security contributions, by the Government and by the patient who must contribute a percentage towards their care. However, fees for medical care are relatively low and once you have a healthcare card (similar to a National Insurance Number in the UK), you could be eligible for up to 80% off medical services.⁶

Unlike the UK, where healthcare is free, it is important to set aside part of your monthly budget for healthcare insurance if you are not contributing through your salary.

If you are planning to retire in France, it is important to understand the healthcare system and your expected contributions. You can check out our guide to retiring in France here or speak to one of our experienced iad Overseas property consultants who can assist you.

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Salaries in France

If you’re planning to work in France, it’s important to know how much you can expect to earn. As with most countries, higher-paid employment is more likely to be found in cities, however this will also lead to a higher cost of living.

The minimum wage in France is €11.65 per hour (approximately £9.98) or €1,766.92 per month (or £1,513.29) based on a 35-hour working week.⁷ The average salary in France in 2022 was estimated at around €30,721 per annum (approximately £26,314).⁸

In the UK, the average monthly salary after tax is £2,324.92 – so there is a significant difference in the amount you stand to earn if you’re planning to permanently relocate.

Please note, these figures are just a guide to salaries and may not reflect actual earnings.

Relocation to France

Whilst the cost of living in France is marginally more expensive than the UK (approximately 4% higher), overall, there isn’t that much difference. However, with the lower costs of renting or owning property you could enjoy a better quality of life with warmer weather, a close-knit community, and a new adventure if you decide to relocate.

If you’re thinking about moving to France, get in touch with our iad Overseas property consultants*. They can help you find your perfect property and navigate the processes of buying French real estate.

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