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France has the largest land area of any country in Western Europe and consists of 22 separate administrative regions. Its capital city, Paris, is the largest city in Europe and houses approximately 1/6th of France's total population. Living in France offers expats a chance of a lifestyle that is rich in culture and entertainment.
Renowned as one of the world's cultural centres, and offering significant cultural activities in the arts, education, history and cuisine. Many expats choose to relocate to France because they find that life there is less stressful, they can allow their children greater freedom, the pace of life is enjoyable and the cost of living is lower than the U.K.
Rural France is popular with people who want the opportunity of a second home, whilst keeping a permanent base in the U.K. With this option, people often stay at their French house, a couple of months at a time or visit for the occasional weekend.
Recent reports show that over 15% of the total population living in France, is over the age of 65. This being indicative of the country’s popularity as a home for retired expats. There are currently an estimated 4.3 million foreign residents in France, the majority of which are from elsewhere within the European Community.
Despite high levels of VAT added to French consumer goods, the cost of living in France is surprisingly cheap with the cost of everyday items generally on par with price found in mainland continental Europe. However, in the large urban cities such as Paris, Lyon and Marseille, expenses can be considerably higher whilst decreasing considerably further into the rural parts of France.
As in the U.K. your weekly food costs will depend on whether you shop at an out-of-town supermarket or at a local grocer, which will be more expensive. Stores in most French towns are small and quirky, and not dedicated to a one-stop shopping experience. If you want a baguette, you go to the boulangerie. You buy meat from the boucherie, and chocolate from the confisserie. Although bulk buying at a supermarket is the ideal way of keeping costs down, one of the great pleasures of France is its markets. These small provincial markets provide fresher produce, and bargains can be readily had. The Marché d’Aligre, in Paris, is one of the cheapest and busiest markets and is complemented with a covered market for meat, poultry, and cheeses.
Utility bills are dependent on the property size, as well as the climate.
For most couples living in a typical village house outside of the coldest alpine regions, household utility bills are likely to be in the region of £50 per month in spring and summer, and around £100 per month in winter. As in the U.K. telephone, internet and cable TV packages are provided in bespoke package deals, which usually drives down costs.
French Embassy U.K.
Tel. 0207 073 1000
British Embassy Paris
35 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré