Cost of living

There is always discussion over the cost of living in Europe compared to the UK – and it is France that often tops the list of expensive countries in the Eurozone. 

Cost of Living

Every spring, the France Buying Guide conducts a price comparison to assess the cost of food and general household items in equivalent French and British supermarkets; in this instance, we have compared France’s Carrefour to the UK’s Tesco.

What is very important to remember here is that shopping in outdoor local markets is incredibly popular in France; practically every town and village has at least a once weekly market and prices are much cheaper here than they are in the supermarket. These markets are not just for food, but also stock clothing, jewellery, household items, car parts and, indeed, most items.

Food in France is not that dissimilar to that in the UK, but you are less likely to find ready meals or processed foods. 

Eating out in France is generally cheaper than in the UK – except in the very upmarket restaurants, or those in cities like Paris and Bordeaux. Most restaurants will offer a ‘prix fixe’ menu which is extremely good value – and of course, you will find a huge choice of wine available.

Petrol and diesel are not far off UK prices; household bills, too, are probably roughly the same. The two taxes everyone pays as a property owner here, the taxe d’habitation and the taxe fonciere, equate to the UK’s council tax – and they also include the cost of the TV Licence. They will vary with the amenities of the town or village, as well as the size and type of property: whether it has land or a pool, for example.

Services such as hairdressing, beauty treatments and opticians are excellent and usually cheaper than those in the UK. The French take pride in their appearance, meaning you are likely to find all three of these services in even the smallest of towns and some villages – but clothes can be expensive, especially with the 20% sales tax. However, there are some excellent mail order companies such as La Redoute and 3 Suisses which offer clothes and household items such as bed linen and towels. You can even opt to have them delivered to a nearby local shop so that you have no worry about being in for delivery.

DIY goods, such as paint, will generally be dearer than you are used to, as France has not yet caught up with the UK in terms of ‘Do-it-yourself’! We have noticed however that these are gradually coming down; and more and more folk are interested in doing home renovations. 



ItemFranceFranceUK cost**UK cost**Comparison France vs. UK
British style loaf of bread€1.20£0.86€0.77£0.55HIGHER

2 pints of milk

6 eggs


500g cheese€5.00£3.59€4.19 for 450g - €4.65 for 500g £3.00 for 450g - £3.33 for 500gHIGHER
200g jar instant coffee€5.50£3.95€3.91£2.80HIGHER
40 teabags€3.50£2.51€0.98£0.70HIGHER
1kg apples€2.00£1.44€2.72£1.95LOWER
1kg bananas€1.00£0.71€0.95£0.68HIGHER
2 medium chicken breasts


500g pasta€1.35£0.97€1.05£0.75HIGHER
500g fresh fish (e.g. salmon)€6.00£4.31€5.59£4.00HIGHER
500g cornflake€2.60£1.87€2.09£1.50HIGHER
Laundry detergent (40 washes)€9.00£6.46€8.38£6.00HIGHER
Washing up liquid€1.80£1.29€1.05 for 450ml - €1.01 for 433ml£0.75 for 450ml - £0.72 for 433mlHIGHER
Tube of toothpaste 75ml€2.80£2.01€1.33£0.95HIGHER
2l Coca-Cola€1.80£1.29€2.58 for 1.75ml - €2.95 for 2l£1.85 for 1.75l  - £2.11 for 2lLOWER
40g chocolate bar€0.80£0.57€0.84 for 43g - €0.78 for 40g£0.60 for 43g - £0.56 for 40gHIGHER
1 400g can of dog food€1.90£1.36€0.63£0.45HIGHER
1 litre petrol€1.46£1.05€1.58£45.00LOWER
1 litre diesel€1.35£0.97€1.66£97.00LOWER
Monthly water cost for three bedroom property€40.00£28.72€62.74£45.00LOWER
Monthly electricity cost for three bedroom property€80.00£57.46€135.24£97.00LOWER
Monthly interent + satellite cost€55.00£39.50€48.40£35.00HIGHER
Property/council tax for three bedoom property per month€100.00£71.82€2549.75 per annum €212.44 per month£1825.36 per annum - £152.11 per monthLOWER
Glass of house white wine€2.50£1.80€4.18£3.00LOWER
Bottle of beer in a restaurant€3.00£2.15€4.32£3.10LOWER
Main course in local restaurant€16.00£11.49€14.81£10.62HIGHER


*Based on GBP/EUR rate of 1.3923, 12/05/2015.
**UK food cost compared to 12/05/2015, fuel and eating out costs are an average on 12/05/2015.


Further reading for Living In France


Finding work in France

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in France.


Education in France

Are you emigrating to France with school-age children?



Social life in France

The best way to get settled in France is to find out as much as you can about your new community.



The French healthcare system is one of the best in the world...