May 16, 2010

The Cost of Living in France - Two Years Later

The cost of living in France is a subject that continues to be of interest to my readers, so I thought it was time to update my Cost of Living in France post and show you how we do it.

Living here is possible, even on a limited budget. We've been living in France full time for seven years and though we've had some difficult times with the $/€ exchange rate and almost packed it in and moved back to the States at one point, we managed to hang on by selling our garden and cutting back as much as we could.
We don't live extravagantly, never go out to the theater or to the movies, rarely eat out, and when our friends and family come to visit they offer to help with the added expense.  So it works.
Food prices have gone up in the last couple of years, as they have everywhere, and our income went up for several months when I worked last summer, but what we have to depend on every month is my husband's pension and my advertising income from Chez Loulou (a small part of the total), which equals about $1600, or €1290 at today's conversion rate.

As I stated before, we live in a village in the south, not in a big city, so the prices might be totally different to those living in cities like Paris, Lyon or Marseille.  Also, we own our little house outright so have no mortgage, nor do we have car payments or credit card debt.

EDF (electricity) €122
Phone and Internet €50
Heath Insurance (to cover the 30% that isn't covered by the state) €130
Car and Home Insurances €63
Taxes (habitation and foncières and TV) €50
Water €25
Fuel (to fill up the car twice) €90
Groceries (approx.) €350

Total €880
It leaves enough to live on.  Simply.
The good news is that the US dollar has been slowly gaining strength against the Euro.  Let's hope it continues!

We still do the majority of our fresh food shopping at the local markets.  The prices aren't any higher than what it would cost in fuel to drive to Narbonne or Carcassonne (a little over an hour round trip) and shop at the enormous grocery stores such as Géant Casino or Intermarché.  Those places drive me crazy and I would much rather support the small shops, local honey, wine and cheese producers, butchers, and fruit and vegetable growers in the area.

The one problem with living in rural France is finding a job.  Two years ago I didn't have the right to work, so it wasn't an issue.  Now it is an issue. The jobs are few and far between and are most commonly agricultural.  If only I knew how to drive a tractor, or had training as a shepherd.
So I continue to look for work and we continue to enjoy life to its fullest.  Proving that even with very little money, it can be done.

Related Link:
Jennie in France

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Betty Carlson said...

I'm sure a lot of French people would be shocked at your frankness about sharing your income and expenses with others, but some things just need to be said outright.

You forgot to put in a "pet expenses" line in your budget :)

Anonymous said...

We definitely feel your dollars-to-euros pain, Nick is paid in dollars too. Luckily I earn euros! Here's hoping the dollar keeps getting better!

islandgirl4ever2 said...

I really love the coffee cup in the first photo... it looks like a lovely breakfast...

I didn't realize you can make that much from your blog (advertising).. Sure, I've heard of people who do it, but that's a nice little income... I make not much more than every month from teaching and I'm off two months during the school year and two months in the summer - so I work an 8 month year...
Maybe I should look into blogvertising, too! Hey, though... I do agree that you can really live here without spending a ton of money... I rarely buy things here so most of my money goes towards travel.... I liked this post b/c it really puts things in perspective...

Jennifer said...

I'm sure a lot of people might be shocked by my frankness, but oh well! :)
I should include pet expenses, you're right.

I loved earning Euros last summer. We felt so rich!
Fingers crossed the Euro keeps falling.

Glad you like the photo. Thanks!
I'm sorry to say that I'm not earning that much from the ads on my blog. The bulk of our income is my husband's pension.
We really scaled back when we moved and the only thing I really miss is shoe and handbag shopping! lol

spacedlaw said...

Good thing that you live in a village. I find life is expensive in France. My parents live in Nancy and I am always shocked when I go visit them to see the price of food (compared to Italy, that is: compared to Holland it is still cheap).

Anonymous said...

Hello! I love your blog and visit it often. This jolt of reality is appreciated especially since your blog takes me to far away dreamland with melty cheese. Just a small word of encouragement to keep up the good work. France is a wonderful place and your blog gives my view of the country a new dimension. I'm sure any sacrifices made in order to stay in France are well worth it. Take care and all the best!

Unknown said...

thank you Loulou for being so open - very helpful in my thinking! I doubt if I could control my spending as well as you on food wine travel etc with so much to do in France

just back yesterday from out Alsace then Auvergne tours - weather sucked as you know in France and sorry to say the Auvergne turned out to be our least favorite region!! atleast the north part! still fun

penny said...

Interesting figures. You don't say how your house is heated? Our electricity bill averages only 35 euros per month. Our water bill is 120 euros per year and out taxe d'habitation plus fonciere is around 260 euros per year. But then, we do live in a 90m2 little mountain house, heated by woodburner on which we do most of our cooking in colder months, have no TV, no microwave etc.... it's pretty much a 'back to basics' existence and not for everybody, but if you can handle it, it is a very cheap environment in which to live! We are also fortunate to be mortgage and debt free and to derive a sufficient income from my internet business It's not a bad life and I wouldn't leave France if you paid me!!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

You are lucky not to have a mortgage.. We have that, and an endowment policy.. and Council tax.. and Gas on top of Electricity plus the insurances.. we rarely go out, at all.. The cost of living is getting higher and higher here, and food prices.. ! What you live on for the month is less than our mortgage.

I would love to support the smaller shops, and markets.. !

My work has got slower and slower over the last 7 months .. so need to get my thinking cap on and find another outlet.

Alissa said...

Very interesting! Is that the grocery bill for just two of you? It seems a bit higher than I might have expected, but as a vegetarian I probably just don't know what normal people spend!

The green beans in your 2nd photo are calling my name. I like steaming them and dousing them in a lemon-butter, but our market hasn't had any good green beans recently. YUM!

D R E W said...

i quit my full time job just over a year ago because i couldn't stand the 9-5 thing anymore.

i saved enough money to live for a year and here i am a year later and haven't even spent 1/2 of what i saved from being frugal, like you.

i do have some small freelance jobs and have two etsy shops which helps.

anyway, i was going to suggest you open an online shop on etsy or on ebay selling vintage french items or prints of your photography... just a thought!

i really want to live in france someday so thank you for the inspiration and good luck!

Amanda said...

Very interesting post.
When I read my favorite blogs from American expats living in France, I get so impressed (and envious).
"Vous ne roulez pas sur l'or" but you seem happy. Sure, a little bit more money would be welcome but it really takes guts to leave the US and try to make it somewhere else and I really admire that. If it was up to me, I would make you, Walt and Ken, Susan and Nick... french citizens on the spot, because you guys integrated so well. I hope a good job comes your way soon.

Vivi said...

I'm assuming your heat is electric, as your figures for electricity are the same as ours. The apartment we're buying has collective gas heat so we expect our electric bill to go down to 30 - 40€ per month! Of course, we're making up for it with apartment charges... we'll still come out ahead, though. We're in a similar situation, living on basically one salary, as I have the right to work but no one's hiring. We don't get to travel and go out as much as we'd like but I don't regret a thing! :)

We're France said...

In Australia the 'cost of living' for ONE WEEK is similar to the costs you have for ONE MONTH!

Nica said...

i live in paris and our costs are similar except that we dont have a car, but between metro passes and gas for the vespa, its about the same(plus another 900 euros for rent)... cooking at home and going on picnics and walks for entertainment have really made our budget manageable. like you, we think the simple life is the way to go. totally worth coveting the shoes in the shop windows instead of owning them if those sacrifices mean we get to live here!!
i love your blog and can totally relate to so many of your experiences!

L Vanel said...

I feel your pain with the job search. Fingers crossed for you. It took awhile to change our mindset with spending but we are making it work pretty much the same way you are after we've made the house payments. I don't remember when the last time I had any pocket change, we are on such a tight budget. I would not change it for the world. It is an easy way to force yourself to go minimalist, which is something I had always struggled with before.

Amber said...

Thank you for you openness. It's great to compare figures. I'd love to live in France. We've been traveling for about a year now and are in Italy for 6 months.

Our heating bill here, in this 16th century castello, was outrageous for March - 420 Euros! I hope no one repeats our mistake and rents a charming, old house. You really need modernization to make it affordable. But I digress, love your blog and the practical information you provide as well as the inspirational.

Fingers crossed you find a job soon!


Oh, and I do agree with the comment on Australia and cost of living. We were there for 3.5 months and it was outrageous! Europe is much cheaper. I was so disappointed I didn't just come here first.

Jennifer said...

I found prices more expensive in Paris, and they varied from neighborhood to neighborhood, but it is definitely cheaper out here in the country. I haven't been to Italy in a few years, but remember the food prices being very reasonable.

Thanks for your comment!
Yes, the sacrifices are more than worth it, even though I don't feel like we've had to sacrifice very much. :) Just develop infinite patience and change our spending habits.

Sorry to hear that you were here during this bad weather. Still quite chilly down here in the south, so much so that we still have our heaters on.
Never spent any time in the Auvergne, just driven through on my way north. I hope you had the chance to enjoy some of the delicious cheeses from that region.

Jennifer said...

Our heating is electric. We have a fireplace but never use it as wood is quite expensive to purchase. We've done all the figures and found that heating with electricity is the best and cheapest option for us.
We have a TV but no microwave.
I wouldn't leave either! No way.

When we bought the house we decided that it had to be something we could purchase outright, with no mortgage. Thus it is a small house with no garden, no terrace, etc. When we say we live in the south of France people always assume we live in a large country house with a pool and lots of land. It is exactly the opposite! We're happy not to have the financial strain, so having a small place is perfect.
Sorry to hear that you're having a tough time. I hope you figure out some work options soon. :)

Jennifer said...

Yes, that is for the two of us and for two small dogs and two cats. Meat is quite expensive here, so we don't eat it every day.
I always make my grandma's green beans, an Italian recipe that is so delicious! Hope you get some soon.

Glad to hear you took the leap and have made it work. I'll look into the etsy shop thing. Thanks for the idea!

Thank you! :) No, we're not rolling in dough and yes, a little more money would be nice.

Yes, we have electric heating. I've been looking at apartments in cities and noticed that the collective heating generally costs less, but with the charges it would average out. Just like your situation.
I don't regret moving to France either. Not for a second!

Jennifer said...

We're moving...
I'm sure you'll feel very wealthy in France! Hope your move goes smoothly and that you find a great place to settle down.

We did some research about moving to a city and noticed that our costs wouldn't really go up, other than having to pay for rent and wanting to go out!

Every time I read about your little house in the mountains I can see how happy you are, so I know that the sacrifices you make to pay for it are more than worth it!
Thanks for your good job hunting wishes. I know I'll find something soon.

Thanks for your nice comment.
A castello sounds wonderful, but the cost of living in it would be painful!
Do you think you'll come and live in France after Italy? I loved reading your most recent Tuscan cheese article. Looks fantastic!

garry said...

The chicken and potatoes pictured are 10 Euro or the "promo" size.

Easily feeds a family of 4.

In Canada McDonalds for 4 would be about 20 Euros
Cant really compare the dollars because it doesn't compare quality.

On euro basis i would pay 50 for the chicken rather than 20 for McDonalds.
It would stlll be abetter deal.

Jennifer said...

A very good comparison.
We often order the "promo" because we get two meals out of it and I make stock with the bones.
Doesn't compare to what you get at a fast food place at all!

Ken Broadhurst said...

We live on a similar budget. We heat with oil for the boiler and radiators, and with a wood stove too. The cost of wood here in the Loire Valley is much lower than the cost of heating oil. Like you, we never go out to eat or to movies (not much theater around here). All in all, not having a mortgage or rent or car payments makes all the difference.

Jennifer said...

Heating oil has gotten very expensive so I'm glad we don't have to rely on it.
We once discussed all of the heating options and compared notes with friends who heat different ways and in the end it all seemed to be the same.
I just read on a travel website that "it never gets very cold in the south of France" and wanted to comment that we just turned our heaters off after seven months, so I beg to differ! :)

Parisbreakfasts said...

Very, very interesting!
I will come back and read more closely.
You are living so many other's dream Loulou!

Jennifer said...

ParisBreakfasts (aka Carol!) :)
I still feel like it is a dream sometimes.
I'm a long time admirer of your work. You are truly talented!

Danielle said...

Thanks for another informative post, Jennifer. You are so thoughtful to demystify the topic of living in France for your readers. Cheers!

emiglia said...

I'm very impressed with you--you're doing exactly what I'd like to do! I'm paid in dollars, so I know the pain... good luck on your shepharding training! :)

P.S. Have you looked into teaching English?

Jennifer said...

I'm glad you found it helpful! :)

Tractor drivers are really sought after here as well, so maybe I should change my career direction! :)
I've thought of teaching English but we live in such a rural area that there isn't much of a demand. If we end up moving to a city then it would be something to consider.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I had no idea Europeans have to pay anything for medical insurance. Hmmm... I don't get it then. You have "free" health care?

Jennifer said...

As you are probably well aware of, nothing comes free.
In France the health care is paid for through taxes. Generally 70% is covered and you pay the rest. A regular doctor visit costs €22-25 and 70% of that is reimbursed. You must be in the system if you live here full time, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
The best thing about it is that seeing a doctor, even a specialist, won't cost you more that a few Euros, even if you don't have added insurance.
Do you "get it" now? :)

Bruno said...

Anon -
And to elucidate further on your comment regarding "free health care"
The state (France) is the public option the US plan forgot to include in their so-called healthcare program. The state covers approx. 70% of all costs including drugs and the user (us) purchase an optional complementaire (top up) (major medical) plan which covers the rest. The plan prices vary but according to your age you can figure on at least 120 Euros a month for 2 people. France has 60 million people - the USA has 300 million and the largest GNP in the world. Small potatoes if they really wanted to cover the masses and give them a real choice between the for-profit insurance companies and a state-run option like Medicare for all. Too bad they just "Don't Get It".

Robin @ My Melange said...

Thanks for the info Jennifer - it comes in handy for me-as I want to live abroad at some point in my life. I remain hopeful.

I have always believed that if you are good at budgeting and paring down, it can be done. It's amazing what you can do without and still be happy, imo.

I am sure your quality of life is better than some here in the US that make 10 times your income, eat out (but eat crap) all the time and blow money on fancy cars and extravagant luxuries - none of which goes to making one happy and content.

Keep living the good life girl - You will ALWAYS find a way to make it work! :)

Diana Strinati Baur said...

HI, I am Diana, fellow blogger, cyber friend of a couple of the commenters above. I found you through DeeAnne White, @LiveCharmed. I am delighted at your blog, find your way of expressing yourself and to be in tune with our world today in a very healthy and open way. I will keep up with you now, savoring over the morsels of life in your part of France.

Living simply is, in reality, living abundantly, because it is living with awareness.

I think this hits home when a person leaves their country of origin and strikes out to create something new.

Jennifer said...

Well stated my dear.

We plan to keep living the good life and look forward to the day when you join us over here! Which will it be? France or Italy? :)

So glad you stopped by to introduce yourself. Your place in Italy looks so relaxing and beautiful. I would love the chance to go and visit some day. And learn how to throw a pot or two!

Jean-Jacques said...

Hi, I'm 35 years old and I have been thinking about spending 6 months to a year in France taking one of those French immersion courses, with the goal of possibly staying there. I'm half French and got all my paperwork squared up, but I'm not fluent in the language. I really enjoyed reading everyone's comments, but I still don't understand what is it that people like so much over there compared to the US.... although the health care issue is a big plus.... Could you guys mention what are the overall pros and cons about moving there? Thanks!

Jennifer said...

For me it is a question of lifestyle. Living in France doesn't appeal to everyone, but it does to us.
I think you'll have to come spend 6 months and decide if you want to stay or not. :)

Debbie said...

We have purchased a home in the South of France and hope to retire there in about 8 years.I noticed you pay only 30% of health care costs. Do you have your French citizenship or does the government pay 70% if you live there for a certain period of time? Can you provide more details as we are very interested? Thank you! (Our story is at

Brunofrance said...

we don't pay the 30% the french system does not cover because we opted to buy the complementaire (top-up, major medical). if u decide to not buy a omplementaire, you are reponsible for the 30%. you do not have to be a citizen as i am not and my wife became a citizen years after we were covered by the system. You do have to have a carte de sejour and u have to file french tax returns which may cause the french to bill you for being in the health system based on your worldwide income. don't forget you also have to file american tax forms every year. but as soon as you get your carte de sejour get down to your nearest cpam office and apply for healthcare. until then you must have private coverage to obtain your carte de sejour.
good luck

Jennifer said...

I hope that Bruno has helped to clear up the details for you.

You don't use capital letters anymore? :)

Anonymous said...

With the same budget in the US, I am not sure how your life would compare (only speaking financially, not factoring in preferences of life style). That of course depends where in the US. I kind of feels that some smaller items are cheaper in the US (food [but it is not the same quality. Good food can end up being very expensive in the US], clothes, etc) but the big ticket items (health insurance, property taxes, etc) would be more expensive. Did you ever compare?

Anonymous said...

I own a place in Brittany and I loved your budget, although I think I might be spending a little more in electricity and fuel (wood ) in the winter months when I finally make the leap. I am intending to stop full time work in 2012, and have been diligently saving for several years so that I will have enough to last until I can draw my pensions.I am really looking forward to it. Simple life is OK with me.

Jennifer said...

We've compared some prices.
Electronics, clothing and personal care items are all much cheaper in the States. We live in a rural area so car insurance is cheaper here compared to what we paid in New Orleans or San Francisco, same for property insurance.
Food is very subjective, but since we hardly buy any processed food, it saves us a lot of money.

Sounds like you are well prepared and will do just fine. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

what? You're paying fifty euros for phone and internet? is that monthly, or every two months? I've been in france for about the same amount of time as you, but phone and internet is no more than 30 euros per month (the bill is like 60 E for two months, and calls to countries like USA and Canada, are absolutely free) Try neuf telecom / SFR.

Jennifer said...

Yes, we pay that much because we chose to keep our France Telecom line as well as having another phone line with Alice, our internet provider. We found that because we live in such a rural area, the Alice line wasn't always dependable so we kept the France Telecom line for around €15 a month. Alice is approx €34 a month.
The calls to the States are free with Alice.

Les said...

Loulou, my wife and I are looking seriously at going expat in France. We are familiar with Languedoc and have been through Olonzac many times. However, we haven't been in France for about 4 years. Your information is very helpful in our decision making.
We will be on a fixed income similar to yours, with my pension and modest savings.
Are you part of the French health care system? We will need to use international insurance until we qualify for resident status.
Any comments about insurance and getting resident status?
Merci beau coup,

Jennifer said...

Hi Les
Good luck with your plans! France is a wonderful place to live.
Yes, we have been in the French health system since we got our Carte de Séjours.
I've written all about moving to France in my Moving to France Tutorial.

The next chapter will be about getting a Carte de Résidence, but you first have to have a Carte de Séjour for 5 years.

Debbie said...

Hello Les: If you are considering what type of home to buy you may want to check my blog at We also purchased in Languedoc.

Unknown said...

Chez Loulou, in your experience, what is the overall rate of social contributions and tax on the average french wage? Wikipedia claims it is ~70%!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the link. There's some helpful information there.

I would say more like 35-50%, depending upon how much you earn.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for your wealth of info. We are planning on moving from N to the South of France within the year and it helped to see how much things are.
When you say tractor ; as in tractor for fields, or tractor trailer?
Thanks again. Much appreciated.

Jennifer said...

You're very welcome. Good luck with your move.
Tractor, as in tractor in the fields.

Diane said...

I am a little behind with your update, but our tax habitation and foncière pretty much doubled this year . Foncière went from €490 last year to €920 this year!!! Habitation went from €370 up to €699. We had converted one barn to a bedroom but that was all. It was a huge shock!!! Diane

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

We've felt the Euro to the dollar pain too. We had planned to come back to Provence for two - three months last year, but that didn't work because of the dollar's decline.

I really admire your ability to live in France. Years ago, if we had discovered Provence before we did the northern Bahamas, perhaps we would have retired there, bought a old mas, remodeled it when everything was still in French Francs and lived happily ever after. Don't get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with living on a tiny tropical island in the Atlantic. Sometimes life reveals its self in strange ways.

Just discovered your blog and love it.

Jennifer said...

That is a huge increase! Ours went up too, but not that much.

Really sorry to hear that your plans to spend several months in France were thwarted by the strong Euro. Hope you have the opportunity to make that extended trip in the future.
We are continually frustrated by the weak dollar and wish it would turn around one of these days!

Glad you found me. I'm looking forward to reading about your life in the Bahamas and in North Carolina.
Thanks for commenting!

Sandra loves France said...

Thanks for the nitty gritty on costs. I have dreamed about living in France for years. It doesn't seem as scary as imagined.

Jennifer said...

No, it's not scary! :)

Jean-Jacques said...

The only thing that's really scary is the exchange rate dollar vs. euro...

Jennifer said...

You are correct, the exchange rate is scary.
I think if one is coming to live in France without a job then they need to have a good amount of savings or income from some source.

Anonymous said...

thank you for posting this information.
it is so nice to find cost of living data that i can really use.

again many thanx

Jennifer said...

You're very welcome.
I'm thinking about doing another update as things have changed a bit in the last year.

rbrassard said...

Just came across your blog (via Twitter) and love it. I assume the pension you refer to is from the U.S. Do you pay U.S. or French taxes on that income?

Jennifer said...

Yes, the pension is from the US, and we are required by law to file taxes in both countries, which we do.

Cindy said...

Was this blog posted in 2011? it doesn't say what year and I'm wondering if prices are current?

And I have read in various places that Americans cannot get into the French healthcare system even with resident visas. Is this incorrect?
I've been looking at the more costly AARO plans thinking that would be the only option for a retired senior.

Jennifer said...

This was posted in May 2010. I'm thinking of doing another update. The prices have gone up on food and fuel here, like they have everywhere.
I'm afraid your question about healthcare is difficult to answer. From my understanding, it is possible, if the person dealing with your dossier is friendly and wants to make it happen for you. You have to be a legal French resident and show your worldwide income.
Also, we have many friends who don't join the system because the cost of healthcare is so inexpensive.

Ashley Davidson-Fisher said...

Do you get free rent? That is a huge cost for us right now and our new mortgage is equal to that!

Jennifer said...

No, we own our house outright. We bought it about 10 years ago, so have no mortgage and no rent. I noted that just above the breakdown of costs.

I just realized that when I did the My 7 Links post I thought your name was Stephanie! I apologize and have corrected the error. Sorry about that! :)

KateinOR said...

Since you have moved from south to north, do you have an update on cost of living? It would be interesting to know how it compares. Thanks for all the great information and your fabulous photos!

Jennifer said...

I hadn't considered an update on the cost of living - North vs. South - but it is a good idea. Watch this space.

Anonymous said...

At last some actual figures.
Been trying to compare figures to see if my meagre sum of money would last till this miserable government will pay my pension. I'm sure it will depend where I live so if anyone else has figures on Brittany I'd be grateful.

Thanks LRR

Jennifer said...

We live in Normandy now and I'm finding it to be pretty comparable to the Languedoc.

Anonymous said...

I have more than an avid interest in ancient France...I started out with things Roman...So I bought a very tiny house in central France..I just like the feel to the place..nothing more..I was so surprised to find your website..and all thIs moving to France stuff...Especially all the people moving to France...From my own experience some things can be as expensive as anywhere...what you all have is a common ideal in you save money intrinsically...I have found all the comments great advice...thanks for the news..and to the authors...

Anonymous said...

Local taxes and water can vary widely; our taxe d'habitation and foncière come to about 100€ per month, while water and sewerage is 50 a month (on mains drainage). We also live in a small village.


Jennifer said...

Yes, the taxes vary, especially depending upon the amount of land you own. Our village house has no land or garden, so the taxes are quite low.

Jennifer said...

Sounds like you've found the perfect place for yourself in France and am glad you've enjoyed this post.

tramivy said...

Hi! I'm living in Vietnam. Incidentally, I find this forum and I am so interested in your topic that I wanna share something about life in my country.
I'm an airline staff, ticketting and reservation agent. Cost of living in VN is extremely cheap because of low everage income.
EDF (electricity) €20
Phone and Internet €10
Heath Insurance (paid by my company)
Car and Home Insurances NO
Taxes (habitation and foncières and TV) no
Water €5
Fuel ( motocycle are popular) €20
Groceries (approx.) €150

Total €220
My income per month is around €700, so I have nearly 500 for saving, travelling, shopping, supporting my parents. I've got a 79m2 flat with 2 bedrooms. I'm living with my 7 year daughter. I enjoy a comfortable life in VN because everage income of people here is only about €100/month.
My problem is I'm dating with a French middle-aged man and he wants me to settle down in France. He is a secondary teacher. Please give me some advice.

Jennifer said...

I wish I could give you some advice, but all I can say is that your cost of living will go up dramatically if you move to France and if you don't have a job, a lot of money saved or someone to support you, I don't know how you can afford the cost of living. I wish you good luck, in whatever path you choose.

Anonymous said...

I just wandered in, and I can tell I'll be spending a lot of time reading here over the next few weeks!

I wonder if I may pry just a bit, and ask whether you are paying less US income tax on your pension income because you live in France.

I ask this because (please don't be mad at me), for personal reasons, I would like (legally) to pay more of my tax to France or some other nation, and less to the US. If that means paying more tax overall, that's OK with me.


Jennifer said...

As far as I know, there is a treaty between the US and France. You'll need to verify everything with the IRS. Good luck!

Gael N said...

I love how informative your blog is about living in France. I plan to move there and I was wondering what the best thing to do with as far as currency conversions go. Is it better to keep my account in the US and use my debit card everywhere or would it be better to open an account and transfer all of it to my French account?

Jennifer said...

If you use your ATM card everywhere, you'll be paying hefty charges.
I would open an account here for French bills, etc, and keep your account in the US. You just move money when necessary. You'll always lose a bit with each transaction, but that's just the way it is.

WhyNot said...

Hi there

Thanx for sharing your experience, it is all very interesting. Tell me (anyone) if you know in which areas of France (that aren't TOO cold & snowy in winter) it is affordable enough to live on a small farm? We're thinking of MAYBE moving to France - all the way form South Africa *Gulp!* - and would like to eventually live on a farm with good enough weather to grow our own organic veggies most of the year. Any good ideas?

Jennifer said...

Why Not
I'm afraid finding a place that doesn't get cold in the winter in France just doesn't exist. There are more temperate regions with longer growing seasons, but they still can be brutally cold at times. Or you could consider Martinique. :)
There are many weather related websites and websites that compare the French regions, so I would have a look at them to help with your research.
I wish you all the best!

Scayuga said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. We plan to move to Villefranche sur Mer in 2016 and retire in France.
We plan to sell our residence in the US and rent a small apartment in Fr. We do not plan to own a car and just utilize the trains and bus system in Fr. I have a life long pension from the US and according to both yours and our calculations should be able to live in Fr. comfortably. Do you now what the current economic calculation of income is required to obtain the long term Visa in Fr.?

Jennifer said...

In order to get that information, you will need to contact your region's French Consulate.
There is some more information here:

Good luck with your move!

Kathy B. said...

Hello - I am following you on Twitter and am fascinated. My husband and I have a dream to move someday - but now it is just a dream. However we are planning a trip in July to Paris and Nice with two of our children, one 18 and one 22. I am curious - (since for some reason my husband and I have this romantic notion of the Languedoc) why you decided to move to Normandy? I hope I am not prying and I apologize if I seem to be!

Jennifer said...

No, you're not prying. :)
We loved living in the Languedoc for so many years, but in the end, found the lack of job opportunities a problem.
I wrote about it here:
Good luck figuring out your possible move and let me know if you have any other questions.

alanala said...

What if you don’t speak French and maybe you’re too old to learn?

Jennifer said...

I'm afraid I can't give you advice about that.