Spending money when you live in France is inevitable.
I have people messaging me all the time asking me “How much does it cost to live in France?”. In order to answer this fully, allow me to elaborate and include my own story.
Before we moved we had a fantasy that once we were here we would really only need a couple of hundred euros a month to get by – after all, we would grow our own vegetables and have our own chickens, make do and mend and perhaps even come out of the end of the month with a little change…
This is not realistic.
The reality of living in France – as wonderful as it is – is that you will still have an electricity bill, water bill, gas bottles to buy, taxes to pay, likely a mobile phone contract.
Things will break, your chickens will need you to pay for their vet bills even if you only free-range them. Your pets will refuse to eat the nice brand of pet food you bought, your partner will at some point want to wear clothes without holes in them.
This is not necessarily bad news, because the need to spend – and the essential element of having some kind of income – will actually integrate you into France further. It will, however, require some effort – but I’ll talk about that further on my Working in France page (coming soon).
How much does it cost to live in France?
In terms of how much it costs to live in France as a French resident, here is a list of some of the bills which you can expect to pay:
- Mortgage / rent (if applicable)
- Electricity bill
- Mobile phone bill (optional)
- Gas bill/bottle
- Heating oil / Firewood (if applicable)
- Phone line / Intenet (optional)
- Tax d’habitation
- Tax fonciere
- Water bill
- Food costs
- Basic healthcare access (eg, the cost of a GP visit)
- Health Insurance (optional)
- Car insurance
- Petrol / Diesel
- House insurance
- Pet food (if applicable)
- Vet bills (if applicable)
- Emergency repairs
- DIY materials
It’s easy to see why the idea of living on 400€ a month is a romantic, yet unrealistic notion.
How do I live more frugally?
What you need to spend on will depend upon the standard of living to which you aspire or are willing to live with. For example, the whole point of my blog and my journey towards living more frugally in France has involved a conscious shift in adjusting the way in which I source those essentials and what I do about keeping costs down.
I was already someone who lived a generally frugal life before coming to France – I had a cheap, old car in the UK which was economical on fuel, I shopped at Lidl, we made the raised beds (and even some steps!) in our garden from reclaimed pallets.
How much should I spend on my French home?
What you spend on your house will also doubtless influence what kind of spending you sign yourself up for when you land in France. If you’re buying a chateau, chances are you have a little more cash to splash on the repairs.
If you’re buying a derelict presbytery which has no electricity or running water, while your initial outlay will be low, your repairs budget will need to be substantial.
We went for a more middle-of-the-road house – certainly on the cheap side – choosing a house which was livable upon arrival with basic amenities – heat, electricity, water, double glazing even! We knew we would be able to manage in it, despite it having been neglected for the best part of a decade.
We also reigned in the (I think very natural for those from a small island) tendency to land grab – buying houses with the biggest possible acreage. With great land comes great responsibility, and we just didn’t have the money, time or inclination to look after 8 acres of land alongside doing up our modest home. When considering how much it costs to live in France, we erred on the side of safety.
What kind of lifestyle do you want?
Think about how you want to spend your time once you get to France. Can you cope with a renovation? Does it fit your life stage, your health and your bank balance?
Do you want to spend the first five years of your journey repairing walls and fitting pipes? If so, great – there will be a lot of choice for you, but if not then don’t be lured in by low prices and optimistic estate agents telling you a complete re-roof will only cost you 10k€.
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