Can we live in France on just 1000€ a month?

Can we live in France on just 1000€ a month?
We’ve been considering our priorities lately

Yes, I know. It’s a really small amount when you take into account the high cost of living in France.

But, we all know that I like a challenge, and I like not working even more.

Why would anyone do this?

Before we get to the how of doing this, let me first take you back a few weeks to when Graham and I were chatting over our usual Sunday morning coffee in bed, and offering each other words of encouragement to keep us upbeat in our respective jobs. It’s a routine that we have circled time and time again during the last (almost) 3 years in which we have been living in France, but this time something was different. Graham has been working full-time for a French company since the end of summer, and to be honest I have hardly seen him. Despite the fact that we both live and work in the same little French house in Limousin, often the only indicator that we have of the other’s presence throughout the working day is the reliable deterioration of broadband speed if we should dare to use bandwidth at the same time (merci Orange!).

Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook will no doubt know that I had a significant surgery in August which I had been preparing for through the year and that my recovery was longer than expected. Unfortunately, this propelled us into an unanticipated period of very limited financial means, since we depended entirely on my income at the time. But perhaps serendipitously it did give us a taste of what it might be like to live on even less, after all the whole point of my blog has been to share how we live in a frugal yet fulfilling way in France.

Having our own chickens saves us some money on the cost of food, having Margot… does not!

So, being the ambitious character that I am (this could also be read as ridiculous, you’d have to ask Graham…) I proposed over that lie-in coffee morning that perhaps we could attempt to cut our monthly budget further, going from 1500€ a month to a 1000€ spending limit for the whole household. My motivation for suggesting this voluntary diminishment of our available funds comes from a number of places.

Primarily, I had started to miss him – which sounds a bit mad considering we see each other every day, but over the course of the last few years we have adjusted to being together for much of the time, and frankly, I had started to resent his employer getting so much of his attention – and not just for me, but for the things that I know that he both wants to and enjoys doing. We are still very much in the throes of our renovation – in no small part due to the fact that we have so little time in which to do it. We seem to accumulate all of the materials when our good intentions peak, and then they sit in storage (or worse, in the room for which they are intended!) for weeks. It can be a little deflating to have a kitchen work surface in your hallway for the entirety of autumn, especially when the one we have been using since we moved in is in such dire condition. So, I proposed to him that if he wanted to leave his job and return to his hobbies, his interests and the work which we are doing on the house, then that I was okay with being the one who worked.

Serious questions

And I am okay with that, in principle, but another layer of this proposal comes from the many deep reflections that I had before and particularly during my medical recovery. Whilst I love my work as a psychotherapist and counsellor, and I have no intention of giving it up, I do want to make more space for the other things that give me great happiness and fulfilment too. Having such a powerful experience and noticing the changes that have been happening to my body as a result of surgery has really brought my focus back from others to myself, and for me, that is a very positive thing indeed.

I am a natural helper and I get a great deal of satisfaction from supporting and listening to others. I also get an enormous amount of fulfilment from my counselling work, but I have to acknowledge that I currently spend a lot of my time longing to do more writing.

I want to spend more time in my garden and be able to easily see friends again (even if this new budget means travel has to be well planned and budgeted for). Thrillingly, I want to make time to be with my parents who – in a very exciting recent development – have found a house in the same village that we live in, and are planning their permanent move from the UK to France over the next few months.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing for Living France and French Property News for almost three years

So with those things in mind, we have both agreed that I should cut back the amount of work that I do so as to allow me more time to do the things that I love. You may have recently read in my column for French Property News that December 2021’s issue will be my last, and for me, that’s all part of this very positive grander plan to do less and live more.

So, now I’ve explained the why, I shall have a think about the how – and I’ll be blogging about this challenge over the coming weeks, I do hope that you’ll join me for the ride. À bientôt!

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Laura @frugalfrance


  1. November 8, 2021 / 5:24 pm

    I’m so excited your parents are joining you! Also, my husband and I find ourselves in a similar place. 3 weeks ago he had a sudden cardiac arrest–something only 1 in 10 people survive, you can google it–and we almost lost him. In a miracle, he woke up from a medically induced coma. He is 60 (I’m 54.5) and now has a long recovery ahead of him and wants to retire–and I want him to! So we have to figure that out. Both our jobs–we are writers and university professors–were incredibly stressful. I will also be the one working longer–but I am also cutting back on the “too much” I was doing (like, did I really need to be writing 3 books at the same time while also trying to teach, NO!) because nothing shakes you awake like a health crisis.
    Good luck to you–I love reading your blog. Doing what you have done still remains our goal–but I’m going to have to get my French WAY better so I can understand how to communicate and understand his now more complicated health needs in another language.

    • Laura Harley
      November 8, 2021 / 5:45 pm

      Oh wow, I am so sorry to hear of what I can only imagine being an indescribably stressful time in both of your lives, and I am so very happy that the outcome has been positive, both in terms of your husband’s health and your reflections on living life. Sounds like we have a lot in common in terms of our headspace right now! Thanks for mirroring my thoughts, and I hope that we both find a more fulfilling balance x

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