How to evaluate the cost of living in France?

Written By: Rachel

How to evaluate the cost of living in France?

When you consider a new destination for living abroad, it is important but also tricky to evaluate the cost of living.  How does France stand today in term of prices? How do you make a choice between Paris and the provinces?

According to the latest Mercer’s 22nd annual Cost of living Survey issued last June 2016 , Hong Kong leads as the most expensive city to live in, while Paris is at the 44th place. France is not only Paris, and differences between the capital and the rest of the country can be important.

Here are a few serious and less serious ways to help you understand how your budget may look like.

France’s prices are higher than the average of Europe


In France, prices are higher than the average of Europe. In 2014, costs were 7.3% higher than the European Union average and 5.5% than the Euro area. These differences are based on the same consumption structure, according to the international method of calculating purchasing power parities performed by the INSEE. They therefore reflect price differences between comparable products.

Within France too, price differentials exist between territories, notably between the capital and the rest of the country, not even mentioning the overseas departments.

Paris is more expensive than the rest of the country

The inhabitants of Ile-de-France often complain about "the life being more expensive than elsewhere in France" ... and they are right!

The price difference between the capital and the rest of France is almost 9% and is mainly due to housing. Rents are 50% higher on average in the Paris region compared to the rest of the country. Repair work or garbage collection costs are also more expensive.

Health cost is also 6.5% higher in the Paris region. The inhabitants of Paris also pay more for recreational activities and cultural expenses, or for specific services such as home insurance. This higher cost of living is even felt at the hairdresser: prices are on average 10% higher!

On the other hand, price differentials are lower in terms of catering, transport, clothing or food.

The INSEE specifies that the question of price must also be linked to wages. In Ile-de-France, the average hourly wage of a worker or employee is 8 to 10% higher than in the provinces.

Other fun ways of finding prices…

The issue with giving prices is that it can change a lot from district to district, even from street to street. The last time I checked in Paris, a kilo of tomatoes ranged from €1 to €7!

A quick way to find indicative prices would be to go to the online supermarket (; for example), buy a fake week shopping basket, and check how much it would cost you.

Another way is to get a sample budget and compare it with the current one in your country. Take a look at this site (or probably many other equivalent ones): You can find the average price regularly updated, of more than 50 goods and services in most major cities around the world: cigarettes, restaurant meals, taxis, cinema, hotels, internet or mobile subscriptions, etc.

Below is an example of a 500g of bread in Paris with an average price of €1,31.


On this site, you can also find a comparison for the McDonald’s menu in many countries. It is always a good indicator of cost of living on very standard items around the world.

Below are the Top 10 most expensive countries, based on where to eat the famous burger and fries.

The funniest map we found in Paris was about comparing prices of a pint. It includes a map of the metro focusing on pint prices: It is very clear from this that the West of Paris is more expensive than the rest! Now you know!

The Internet can easily give you ideas of what a budget could look like in your new country but the best way may still be to contact someone who has the same kind of life that you would have in your new country – for example, someone arriving as a student would be very different from being an expatriate with family and in an international school. Our airXpat Xperts would be a great way to find out the cost of living in your new city or country. If you are thinking about moving abroad or have just arrived in your new destination, consider booking a consultation. They could help you figure out the nitty-gritty of this topic while taking into account your profile and way of living!

You can have a look at these services:

- in Paris:



- in Lyon:


- in Casablanca:


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