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Living in France

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 03, 2023

Summary: People often describe life in France as relaxed, romantic, and full of culture. Expats love the food, the wine, the art, the architecture, and the overall atmosphere of the country. The average cost of living for an expat is around $2,000 per month, depending on the city and lifestyle. The population of France is approximately 67 million people, and the largest cities are Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, and Nice. The cons of living in France include the high cost of living, the bureaucracy, the language barrier, and the difficulty of finding a job. Additionally, the weather can be unpredictable and the public transportation system can be unreliable.

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What do I need to know about living in France?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to France, they said:

"Before retiring in France, it is important to understand the requirements for obtaining a visa, to become familiar with the taxes and fees associated with living in the country, and to gain knowledge of German language, as well as the culture and customs of the country. Additionally, it is beneficial to understand the healthcare and pension system in France and to research retirement planning options, such as housing and investments. Lastly, it is important to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations surrounding residency and immigration, to be aware of the cost of living in the country and to research career opportunities that may be available to you after retirement," wrote a member in France.

"Check out nancy.OnVaSortir.com to find out about events that are planned by locals (and therefore not promoted by any public methods), and follow the city on Facebook to get updates about festivals and other happenings around town," commented one expat who made the move to Epinal.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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How do I meet people in France?

When we asked people living in France about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"It can be daunting to meet new people when visiting a new country, particularly one with a different language and culture. However, there are a few ways to meet people in France. Joining a language class or course is a great way to meet new people and network. Socializing at restaurants and cafés is another great way to meet people. Getting involved in local community activities, such as sports clubs or volunteer initiatives is also a great way to meet locals. You could even join social events like concerts, festivals and other gatherings. Lastly, searching for expat meetups in your area is also a great way to start building a local network in France," added another expat who made the move to France.

"I have been nicely surprised on how big the community of expats is in France. We are lucky to have: meetup.com/cities/fr/lyon/ - smaller groups of expats who organizes meetings close to their interests onlylyon.com - very useful for info and events happening in Lyon internations.org/start, which actively organizes events for expats," explained one expat living in Lyon, France.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What is life like in France?

When we asked people living in France what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Living as an expat in the area is a unique and rewarding experience. The diverse culture and economy provides numerous opportunities and gives newcomers a vibrant and dynamic social environment in which to network. Expats have the chance to make friends with locals and other expats, allowing them to experience different cultural events, customs and foods. Furthermore, there are plenty of activities to do including visiting national parks, nature reserves and beaches. The climate is temperate and the cost of living is generally moderate, making it a great place for expats to live. There is also a wide range of housing available and excellent transportation links to surrounding cities and towns. Overall, it is a great place to live, work and experience the culture," remarked another expat living in France.

"Work, socializing, sports, festivals & community celebrations in centre-ville. Lots of opportunities to be active with a climbing gym, sports halls, dance classes, martial arts clubs, etc," added another expat in Epinal.

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Is there a lot of crime in France?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Crime in France is lower than it is in many other European countries. Although France does experience some violent crime, it is generally low. Homicides have been decreasing over the last few decades, with much of the crime concentrated in larger cities. Property crime is more common than violent crime and mostly limited to theft," said another expat in France.

"Not more then other comparably sized cities in Europe. I find that if I stay out of the troubled areas and habits the crime does not affect me on a personal level. Know what parts of the cities to avoid," added another expat who made the move to Marseille.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in France accepting of differences?

"France is a multicultural country and reflects its diverse population with many nationalities living together. French people are generally respectful of differences and accepting of people from different backgrounds. Immigrants of various nationalities, cultures, and religions and those of varying sexual orientations all contribute to France's vibrant and diverse culture. In addition, the French government has policies to promote equality and diversity, and help improve the integration of ethnic and religious minorities into French society," wrote a member in France.

"As a small town with few expats & international visitors, there is not an overtly diverse culture, but there are various religious institutions, celebrations of other culture (like "American Night" in the summer), and an organization called "EST Solidarite" dedicated to solidarity with foreigners," commented one expat who made the move to Epinal.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in France

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.
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What are the schools in France like?

"Schools in France are highly structured and focused on academic achievement, with a strong emphasis on teaching basic skills such as reading and writing. Most schools in France offer a liberal curriculum, but there is also a strong emphasis on the sciences, mathematics, and foreign language instruction. Schools in France use the French school system, which typically consists of three cycles: elementary school (primaire), junior high school (collège) and high school (lycée). Each cycle culminates in nationwide exams and can be completed during a three-year period (chronologically grade 6, 9, and 12). Schools are free, publicly-funded, and are divided by age group, typically divided into classes of twenty to thirty students. Schools in France tend to have higher standards and better resources than many other nations, with the goal of equipping each student with the skills they will need to succeed," said another parent with children at in .

"Please think CAREFULLY before moving your child to that school as the Group who owns currently focusing on making money not academics, bare in mind that they also own (International School of Nice (ISN), ICS (named ebica before), mainly all the International private schools in the South of France. Doesn't value the money. Low quality of teachers specially English level is a disaster for a British school. Teachers leave in the middle of the course without being replaced except with online recording videos," commented one expat when asked about Mougins School in Mougins - Cote D'Azur.

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Is the cost of living in France high?

We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in France, they wrote:

"The cost of living in France can vary depending on the area, however generally it tends to be higher than other countries in Europe. Housing and utilities are typically the most expensive costs in France while living costs such as food and transportation are generally average," wrote a member in France.

"This of course depends widely on where you live and what luxuries you will require. To give you an good idea you can find a city centre one bedroom apartment for about 700Euro and a three course meal at a restaurant generally costs me about 50Euro. Groceries are much cheaper then restaurants of course," commented one expat who made the move to Marseille.

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"Affordable. It's a small town, which means housing and food costs are low, but there's lots of cultural value to be had, which makes the living experience even more valuable," said one expat living in Epinal.

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What type of recreational facilities are in France?

When we asked people living in France about recreational activities, they mentioned:

"There are several youth and culture centers (MJCs: Maisons des Jeunes et de la Culture) that offer classes and social opportunities on topics like guitar, dance, English, pottery, martial arts, etc. There is also an Olympic pool, great hiking in nearby La Bresse, and several very nice parks within the city (the city rose garden, the park that houses the castle on top of the hill)," said one expat living in Epinal.

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What is the weather like in France?

"Temperate. Winters are chilly but bearable, with not much snow. Summers are lovely," mentioned another expat inEpinal.

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Are there good restaurants in France?

"Mostly typical French cuisine. A few foreign cuisines like Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese. There aren't many bars at all. The main hangout is the Irish Pub, which is really small but a fun place to enjoy a beer," said another expat.

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Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in France?

"In the downtown area there's a MonoPrix and a Intermarche, and a bit further but still within town is a large E. LeClerq with plenty of selection, There's also a covered marketplace open on Sundays in town, where all the locals prefer to buy fresh cheese, fish, meat, produce, etc. And of course there are plenty of boulangeries for fresh bread and pastries," said an expat in Epinal.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in France?

"Carte de sejour/titre de sejour: residence card. This can be obtained through enrollment in a French university, sponsorship by an employer, marriage to a French citizen, or a few other ways. Details here https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/getting-a-visa/," said an expat in Epinal.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in France?

"Very affordable, even before I was on the healthcare system I paid less than 100 euros for full x-rays and a cast for a broken wrist. With healthcare, it's simply covered thanks to higher taxes," mentioned an expat living in Epinal.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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