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France is a popular location for British expats, whether moving for business purposes, in search of a better quality of life, or for retirement. Its proximity to the UK is a key factor, as it makes it easy to manage UK-based assets, such as property, as well as a short journey time to visit family.
There are a lot of changes to account for when relocating to a new country, and financial concerns are often one of the biggest considerations. Working out a comparative budget for day-to-day expenses is a good way of understanding what the impact of the move might be, for better or for worse.
The Expatistan website compiles cost data from cities around the world, with data entered by the people who live there. With over 2 million prices being entered so far by over 200,000 people, it’s a good port of call for understanding the real cost of living in France.
In a direct comparison of key spending between France and the UK, the website suggests that the overall cost of living in France is around 5% cheaper than it is in the UK, which is good news for British expats. However, as each individual’s priorities are different, it is worth looking at the breakdown of different key spending areas to compare the most relevant data.
For example, food is actually 26% more expensive in France, which includes basic groceries. Eating out and other forms of entertainment weight in as pricier too. This is balanced out by a significantly lower cost in terms of transportation, with both fuel and public transport being cheaper in France. Housing and utilities also come out slightly cheaper in France.
This data gives a very general overview of the cost of living in France. However, there are many factors that will also influence day-to-day spending. For example, location is very important. Big cities like Paris will cost a lot more then small villages in the rural regions. However, in a remote location, having a car can cost more to get in and out of nearby towns, or to commute to a place of work.
Groceries can vary widely in price too, depending on shopping preferences. Going to a big one-stop supermarket can be more expensive, but shop locally and at dedicated shops (such as the bakery, the grocers, the butchers, etc) and the spend can be much lower. There is a culture of buying local in France, which can make this way of shopping a more attractive option and part of a bigger lifestyle change after moving from the UK.
The cost of accommodation can also be variable. Apartments in cities are expensive and often have hidden costs, like maintenance charge. Utilities are generally quite reasonable, and things like internet and phone services are often cheaper than the UK, which is handy is there will be a lot of international calls. Rental costs are fairly comparable to the UK, but property purchase prices do offer some real bargains.