People often ask about the cost of living in France so we thought we'd post some of our numbers to help those considering moving here for missionary service or other work. As in the US, the cost of living can vary greatly from one place to another so think of this more as a reference for comparison rather than a guide. Living in Paris would be quite a bit more expensive than our current small city of Albertville. In June we'll be moving to Chambery where we expect to have similar expenses other than rent, which we expect to be higher.
OUR MONTHLY EXPENSES
RENT OF A SMALL, 3 BED 1 BATH, OLDER (not so nice) APARTMENT: 740 Euros
In general we do find the rent more expensive than in the US. If we payed the same amount for an apartment in North Carolina, for example, we would expect it to be much nicer than the one we live in right now. *Our rent includes gas heat.
FOOD/GROCERIES FOR FAMILY OF THREE INCLUDING OCCASIONAL DINING OUT: 500 Euros
Many food items are more expensive, though some are less. See our blog entry on the cost of food in France for more info. In our budget we're able to buy all that we need but we almost never splurge on any higher priced items that we don't need- like peanut butter which runs around 4 Euros for a very small jar. Keep in mind you pay a 20% tax on anything you purchase in France. We find eating out expensive so we do it rarely.
ELECTRICITY: 100 Euros
Definitely more than in the US. We turn off lights when we're not using them. We never leave anything on that we don't need on. Our daughter is not even 2 years old, so she can't reach the light switches! Being extremely careful, we still owe around 100 Euros per month, though the bill comes every 2 months here.
WATER: 45 Euros
Not an extraordinary expense, but still more than we would pay back in North Carolina. We're fairly conservative with our water here too. Where we live, the water bill comes twice a year.
CAR INSURANCE: 45 Euros
We find car insurance comparable to the US and quite reasonable.
BASIC TV, HOME PHONE (free calls to US), AND WI-FI: 38 Euros
Again, quite reasonable, even less expensive than what we paid in the US. We're currently on a 1 year promotional rate offered by a large company called Orange.
2 CELL PHONES (unlimited calls, texts and 2 GB data in France) 40 Euros
Great deal. We use a budget company called Sosh, which is owned by the larger company, Orange. Our price is based on either paying upfront for a new phone or using an old compatible phone. We used our old T-Mobile Samsungs so we paid just 1 Euro for the Sosh SIM card.
FUEL FOR OUR CAR (we mostly ride bikes around town so we fill the tank once a month) 50 Euros
ROAD TOLLS 40 Euros
We go out of town around twice a month, meaning driving 45 minutes to 1 hour away for ministry or to visit a friend in a nearby city. Last month we drove 45 minutes south to the city of Grenoble for a friend's birthday. The toll each way was about 9 Euros. Not cheap. There are often toll-free roads that take much longer (sometimes hours longer). We use them when they're practical or if they don't make a huge difference in the timing.
TAX HABITATION (based on your the place you lived on Jan 1st of each year) 60 Euros
We haven't received it yet but expect it to be around 700 Euros for the year.
TOTAL: 1,658 Euros/month
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
Health Insurance- We're required to have insurance through our US Employer. My understanding is that any American on the Long-Stay Visitor Visa, as we are, is required to have their own American Health Insurance. So, we pay out of pocket for medical expenses here and are then reimbursed. Fortunately we have a low deductible. Visiting a doctor here is inexpensive as are most meds. We pay 23 Euros for a doctor visit. Last month I got a CT Scan and paid just $150 for it. Very affordable compared to what we'd be charged in the US.
The TV TAX- If you have a TV in your home in France (and it is connected to the TV outlet in the wall) you will pay a tax of 133 Euros per year.
Home goods, Toiletries/Cosmetics- We find many of these items more expensive, mainly because of the 20% tax which is tacked onto every item.
Residency Cards, Train or Bus travel, Amusement/Recreational, Daycare, Savings, Retirement, Donations/Church Giving