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, Lyon and Toulouse all appear in Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2022, respectively ranking as the 35th, 96th and 110th most expensive out of the 227 expat cities surveyed. The cost of living in Paris is similar to that of Washington, DC, and the cost of living in Lyon or Toulouse is similar to living in Perth or Vancouver.

Expat salaries in France are 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 in 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 groceries in France

Thanks to France's strict food regulations, food in France is top quality. Many French residents get their food from local fresh goods markets, bakeries, butcheries, groceries and cheesemongers. Quality aside, the cost of living in France is quite high, and this extends to food as well.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in France

The cost of restaurants in France is also on the higher end. After all, France is the birthplace of the modern restaurant. Paris is more costly than other cities in France.

There are many free and budget entertainment options, though. Expats can visit many public parks and historical sites for free, and museums and galleries are generally affordable. Expats on a budget will have no problem soaking in France's rich culture.

Cost of education in France

French public education is free for citizens and residents, and certain public schools called Sections Internationale are even geared to integrating non-Francophones into the mainstream curriculum.

For a higher premium, expat parents can enrol their children in a private school. These have smaller classes and better facilities, and may have special classes for non-Francophone learners. Parents should note the difference between state-sponsored and privately funded private schools – the former have a better reputation.

Most international schools are in Paris and are marked by high tuition fees.

Cost of living in France chart

These are average costs for Paris in November 2022. Prices may vary depending on product and service provider.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

 EUR 2,900

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

 EUR 1,900

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

 EUR 1,300

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

 EUR 950

Food and drink

Milk (1 litre)

 EUR 1.46

Dozen eggs

 EUR 5.16

White bread (loaf)

 EUR 2.00

Rice (1kg)

 EUR 2.06

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

 EUR 10

Public transport

One-way ticket (local transport)

 EUR 1.90

Taxi rate per km

 EUR 1.82

Petrol (litre)


Eating out

Big Mac Meal

 EUR 12

Coca-Cola (330ml)

 EUR 2.73


 EUR 3.63

Bottle of beer (domestic)

 EUR 7

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

 EUR 60


Internet (uncapped ADSL per month)

 EUR 23

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

 EUR 0.20

Basic monthly utilities (electricity, water and refuse)

 EUR 168