Managing Money as a Migrant in France

Audrey Hepburn claimed that “Paris is always a good idea!” While images of the Eiffel Tower and delectable French pastries come to mind, how good of an idea is Paris really for migrants looking to earn a living in France? Before you decide to head to France as a migrant, it’s best to equip yourself with the knowledge of what finances are like in a new country. After all, managing your money in two places isn’t simple, but with a bit of advanced planning, it can definitely be done.

Average Cost of Living in France

France is the largest country in Europe by size, meaning it’s a lot more spread out than some other European countries. This leads to a large variety of landscapes, cities, and available jobs, so keep that in mind for when you move there. The cost of living can vary significantly depending on where you live. For example, you can expect Paris to be a lot more expensive than smaller French cities. Still, overall, France is cheaper than 71% of other Western European countries, which is what contributes to it being a popular choice for migrants. On average, you can expect to pay €1,925 to cover your monthly basic expenses in France, but of course, this number varies depending on where you live.

Everyday Costs in France

It’s helpful to know how to break down everyday costs so that you can estimate how much you might need to spend every month. Based on your habits or location, some expenses might not be relevant to you, but overall, these common items are good benchmarks to use to see how expensive one country is compared to another.

  • Rent: between €630 – €1,600 depending on the area and apartment size
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: €14
  • Beer: €1.88
  • Bus ticket: €1.65
  • Milk: €1.12
  • Eggs: €3.96
  • Gas (1L): €1.45
  • Monthly utilities: €76 – €158 depending on apartment size (heating, electricity, gas, etc.)

Most Expensive Cities in France

Where you choose to live will have a big impact on how much you can expect to spend each month. These are some of the cities in France with the highest cost of living:

  1. Paris
  2. Lyon
  3. Marseille
  4. Nice
  5. Bordeaux

Despite the fact that Paris is the most expensive city to live in, it’s still home to 40% of France’s immigrants, making it the most popular choice of cities for foreigners. Even considering the high prices of living in Paris or in France, overall, the quality of life is quite high. France scored above-average on the OECD when it comes to work-life balance, meaning people in France are generally happy and still take the time to enjoy their day-to-day lives outside of work.

How to Manage Your Money in France

Managing your money in France, or anywhere you land as a migrant, is essential to your success. Here are a few tips you can use for getting your foreign finances in order:

  • Set a budget early on when you arrive in France. Creating a budget will help you see how much you earn each month and how much you need to spend so that you have a clearer picture of how much you might be able to save and send home to your family.
  • Make better spending choices when you can. France has a good public transportation system, which should help you cut down on the cost of cars or taxis. And while French restaurants might be tempting, you can pick up groceries including fresh baguettes for cheaper at a grocery store.
  • Always look for ways to save. Whether it’s shopping with coupons, buying things second-hand, or looking for low-cost international remittance providers, saving a few euros on each transaction can help you grow your savings at the end of each month.

Final Word

While Paris isn’t necessarily a bad idea, a better idea is being prepared for the expenses you’ll face as a migrant in France. The good news is that as a country that’s home to many foreigners, you surely won’t be alone when landing there and you’re likely to find a strong community of immigrants and foreign workers to help you acclimate to your new surroundings.