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Living expenses

The cost of living in France

You need to plan a budget before coming to France. Here are a few tips to give you a better idea of the cost of living in France.

When you arrive in France

You will need some money on your arrival. We recommend you to have a few euros with you for your first expenses, such as buying a metro ticket or a sandwich.
The Euro is the official currency in France and in 16 other EU member states.

Currency exchange

Before leaving: the most inexpensive way to exchange currency is to order some change in advance. To do so, go directly to your bank.
While travelling: you will find currency exchanges ("bureaux de change") in every international airport and train station.
Upon your arrival in France: please refer to the “opening a bank account” section.

The cost of living in France: what to expect

In France, the minimum legal wage is an hourly wage below which no employee above 18 years old can be paid. As of July 1, 2012, the gross amount is €9.40/hour and the gross monthly minimum wage for 35 working hours per week is €1,425.67.

Rent
The average rent for a 20m² studio in Paris and the suburbs is around €600 per month.

Public transportation
To know more about the transportation rates in and around Paris, please visit the RATP website.

Driving in and around Paris
In France, you can buy unleaded ("sans plomb") in either 95 or 98 octane, super unleaded ("super") or diesel ("gazole") by the liter. The price of a liter of gasoline varies from one gas station to another. If you are using SP95 you will pay €1.47/L in the region of Ile-de-France and €1.65/L in Paris. If you are using SP98 you will pay around €1.57/L in the region of Ile-de-France and €1.74/L in Paris.

Food
Your food budget depends on your own eating habits. However, you should know that it is much less expensive to shop in a supermarket than in a convenience store or in an open-air market.
What to expect in terms of food-related expenses (approximate prices):

  • a baguette: €0.80,
  • a sandwich: €4,
  • a meal at a restaurant including main course and desert: €20,
  • monthly food budget for one person: €200 minimum.

What you will have to spend on your arrival

Upon your arrival, you will have some settling-in expenses including:

  • the first month of rent (around €600 for a 20 m² apartment in Paris),
  • the security deposit (around €600),
  • agency fees (around €600),
  • your monthly public transportation pass (€50 on average),
  • utilities (electricity, phone and gas bills),
  • household insurance.

Keep in mind that expenses on your arrival in a 20m² studio may reach €2,500, therefore, you need to plan your budget ahead.

If you plan on staying for more than three months you will have to pay for your residence permit (around €380).

A few reference prices in France

  • In France, indicated prices include VAT and the service charge. You should not feel obligated to leave a tip.
  • A coffee costs around €4 in Paris and around €2.50 in the suburbs. You will pay more if you have a drink at a table outside ("en terrasse").
  • A monthly gym card costs around €30 in the suburbs and €50 in Paris.
  • If you want to go to a hairdresser, you may have to pay from 20 up to €40 for a woman, from 15 up to €25 for a man and around €10 for a child. If you want to dye your hair, you will have to pay between 40 and €90 on average.
  • A movie ticket costs €9.

Our tip

If you are a movie-goer you should know that movie theaters usually offer discounts for people under 26 and on some days of the week. Cinemas like UGC and Pathé Gaumont sell a card that gives unlimited access to their movie theaters for around €20 a month. If you are under 26 and plan on going to see a movie in Paris, you can buy a cinema ticket for €4.90 at the Cinéma des Gobelins movie theater (Metro station: Place d’Italie/Gobelins).