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Cost of Living for familes in France?


blackcat
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Hi, any experiences of families in France would be appreciated.

We would be a family of 5 (kids aged 5, 12 & 17). Im trying to gain a realisitic perspective of what sort of monthly income we would need to live on comfortably, mortgage aside, just bills, food, maintenance etc. Average sized property, one car, no debts. 

I understand the wages/salary in France are much lower than the UK and am hoping this reflects in the cost of living.

Any info appreciated.

Sara

 

 

 

 

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Sara I honestly don't think you will find much difference between here and the UK these days from what my family tell me. Here your equivalent of council rates will be cheaper BUT you will have to finance your top up health care which cancels out the difference(with three kids and two adults expect to pay anything from 150€/month upwards), food here is better but not cheaper any more and very limited in some areas to what the supermarkets will stock only dependent upon local requirements. You will drive twice the distance here to get anywhere and with petrol/diesel cheaper but not a lot you will save on road tax as there is non for domestic vehicles. School will cost you in insurance for the kids,school meals,books etc,sports clothes but then you probably have uniforms in the UK. Electricity is dear here,expect utility bills every two months once resident.At the end of the day whats cheaper there is not here and vice-verce. As long as you don't keep popping back to the UK by ferry like many people do,your finances should stretch if you can find work.Child benefit is payable for the second child upwards and you must sign off with the UK first but you do get it backdated eventually. Don't forget that if you need hospital treatment and doctors visits,you usually pay at the time and them claim it back as not all establishments have the Carte Vitale automatic reimbursement system installed yet.
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I would tend to agree with Val, these days the diffferences in costs are minimal and sadly the wages are a lot lower.  You would do well to research and find employment before commtting to coming over, I have a totally fluent ex-teacher friend who can't even get a job as a cashier in the local supermarket here in the Charente. 
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Hi

Thanks for your reply. There is a lot of useful information on the other posting thanks.

Here in the Uk I spend £130 per week on shopping and its rising rapidly at the moment. Is the local produce in France not cheaper? Here my only option is to shop in the local Tesco as theres no local butchers or grocery shops any more, in fact Tesco has even taken over most of the post offices and turned them into small versions of the stores!

We are looking at moving to the Dordogne area, we are going to start visiting Eymet as it may be a good place for us to move first with the children so they can indulge in a bit of british culture still, and with Bergerac airport only 25 mins away would be good for my hubby as he will need to fly back for work.

For the first year my husband will continue to work in the UK but is hoping to only have to do that for about 6 months of the year, in periods of 12 weeks at a time via his agency. In France his trade will only pay a fraction of what he can earn in the UK, so he's hoping that if he may only have to work half the time to achieve what we need to live on.  In the Uk we have large mortgage (over £1,000 a month). by selling up and moving to France we will mortgage free with our equity so wont need that extra £1k a month.

God only knows if its going to work but we'll give it our best shot. We just need a realistic view of what its going to cost us to live. It can't be any more than here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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we are a family of  7  Mam, Dad 2 kids age 6 and 14 and nana, sister and uncle, 1 car we eat very well and have no mortgage  we can live on 2000 euros a month ( Basic income)but thats without luxury's such as holidays and not counting all the animals, we work hard for our extras in the b and b so I think you could survive on less than that maybe just ever 1500 a month but don't expect lots of fine dining or holidays you just couldn't do it

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sara77,

You don't say what age your children are, but if they are in secondary education and not proficient in the French language you might want to research carefully the education section of this forum, so that you fully understand the challenges and risks involved. Especially, if things don't work out financially and you have to return to the UK, which unfortunately is a real possibility based on the estimated return rate of other non retired Brits who have moved to France and needed to continue to work.

As for the cost of living, as the other posters have mentioned France is not cheaper than the UK and is becoming increasingly expensive in £ terms with the strenghtening Euro. Therefore, if you are going to be reliant on UK source earnings you should factor in the risk of the weak £ depreciating further against the Euro, as if we end up with Euro/£ parity ,anywhere in the Euro zone will be expensive from a UK comparative!

 

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Hi there

I said in my original post, kids will be 5, 12 and 17. Am currently looking into the education side of things too, but not planning on coming over for at least a year and have a tutor booked for my 12 yr old. 17 yr old is fluent but not looking at studying, she is coming for a year 'experience' and then maybe going back to the UK to stay with her dad and study for another year or so.

Have taken into account the Euro/£ factor. The wages for my husbands trade are too poor in France and he can earn 3 times as much in the UK so he'd be better off commuting even with the weak £. We have 2 bachelor uncles who are always taking in lodgers, one of them is in London so would be perfect for him as most of his work centres around there.

Thanks for the advice, lots of useful info on these forums, expect everyone will get sick of me soon!

 

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Thanks Lizzy for your reply, straight to the point! 1500 euro was the figure I had in my head and was hoping someone would confrm that.!

How have you all settled in? Would be very interested to hear other families experiences.

Thanks, Sara

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No, not mandatory but then you have to think of paying 30 to 35% of many medications and treatments.  Plus, if you end up in hospital, you pay the "hotel" charges.

Peace of mind equals paying for a good top-up or, if you are willing to chance getting ill and paying for a proportion of things like medicines, x-rays, physio, nursing care, etc. you will have to put aside a certain amount and hope that that is enough.

If you are loaded, however, I guess it's not such a worry and, in that case, not a lot is mandatory!

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As somebody who does, indeed, maintain households in both Britain and France, I would agree totally that cost of living is about the same. Of course some things are less and others more, but I would be very surprised if, comparing like for like, there was a significant overall difference in either country. I would also agree that if relying on sterling to live in France, then France is currently looking rather less attractive.

Things do go up and down. Up to a couple of years ago I would have agreed with Val_2 about electricity being dearer in France, but now the positions have reversed. Similarly fuel costs were formerly less in France but are now much more on a par with Britain. Remember that your house in France is likely to be bigger and less well insulated than your house in Britain, so that will have a bearing on heating costs.

And also remember that unless you live in a bigger town or city then opportunities for spending your money are rather fewer in France than you may be used to back home.

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[quote user="Will"]

I would also agree that if relying on sterling to live in France, then France is currently looking rather less attractive.

[/quote]

Thanks for your reply, but could you elaborate on the above for me? My head is spinning! We are hoping he would only have to work in the Uk for 6 months at first while he achieved enough to live on in France for 12 months, then he could have plenty of time to sort out work in France. If not then its back to the UK again the following year!

Also, as someone who is maintaining households in both countries, would you know anything about converting our savings into euros in another account, maybe off-shore account? Would you know if this is possible, as I would like to avoid problems with the pound getting any weaker. If we are looking to buy 18 months down the line I would like to see if there is a possibility of converting our money now.

 

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Last year you would get around €1.40 to your pound. At the mo, it's around the €1.27 mark. If you brought over £20k, last year, you would have got €28k, this year, around €25.4k. But you still get more euros for your pound. All my money is in Australia, so I only get 58 centimes to my dollar, which is harder. Obviously you'd lose a hell of a lot more more if you brought over hundreds of thousands.

In a years time, it'll probably be different. There's a lot of doom and gloom around atm, but it'll pick up again, it always does.

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If you read the education section of the forum there is a general consensus that 11-12 is advised as the maximum age to risk moving a child into a different language educational system. One reason being is that in France the State has no obligation to educate children beyond 16 and if your 13 or 14 year old by the time you move has to re-take a year in France, because of a lack of fluency in French, they might not have time to catch up.

Also don't forget that at 14 a child in the UK has started their GSCE syllabus.

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Hi. thanks for your reply. My daughter is 10 now, she'll be almost 12 when we move, as I said in my original post. She is currently eagerly taking french lessons so Im hoping she'll be well on the way to being fluent by the time we go.
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The point I was making was that exchange rates are currently unfavourable to having a sterling income in a Eurozone country - as correctly identified by L&R.

If you are worried that rates might fall lower, you could fix a rate with one of the currency exchange companies (look at Foreign Currencies Direct, HIFX or any of the hundreds of other players). I personally feel the rates will creep up again, perhaps not to a high level, but I'm no financial expert. Investing in an offshore euro account is an option of course, but you wouldn't get a good rate for your sterling at present, and I think you would get better interest rates leaving the money in sterling. But as I said, I'm no financial expert.

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Sara, lets cut to the chase.  You seem to think that  the cost of living in France is much less than in the UK and that 6 months work in the UK wil pay for a year's living in France, based mainly on the premise of cheap local produce.[Www]  That is just not the case, overall I find its a little bit cheaper to live here than in the UK [:D]but that all depends on what you drink, what you eat and where you live.  You should really take note of the posts above.[8-|]

If your household income is generated in the UK, you will not be living on 1500€ -2000€ you will be living on £X = Y€ and as we have found Y can be as much as Y/ 17% within 6 months.  You cannot just put £s away in an account and then get them out as euros at a rate that suits you, while the UK is not in the euro you are very much a hostage as we all are to the money market, you could lose or gain on exchange rates, at the moment the losses are crippling many people in France.[:@][:-))]

You should also be aware that the price of heating a house and electricity for 5/6  people is not cheap,as Will has already pointed out, France is not immune to fuel cost hikes.[:'(]   Kids clothes are not cheap, car parts are not cheap.[:(]  Others have also neglected to mention that although you are taxed a year behind, you still have to pay income tax up front each quarter on account based on your previous year's return, there is a balancing payment when your tax return is submitted, so 3 - 400€ plus 500€ for heating oil every quarter is going to make a big dent in your 1500€ a month isn't it, not everybody has acres of woodland to use for fuel.[8-)]

All in all, I really do not believe that you can keep a family of 5 on 1500a month and maintain a decent life style, even in rural France,  and you certainly will not find work easily in rural France, even if you speak French like a native.[;-)]

 

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Ron does talk sense, but I would point out that the official figures for our commune in Northern France give an average household income of less than 1000€ per month. But do bear in mind that many of the inhabitants are elderly with very simple lives, producing much of their own food etc, and that official figures are always several years behind reality. Things have gone up a lot in France, like everywhere else, over the last few years. And I don't think a young family would find the 'retired' lifestyle particularly fulfilling: the open spaces, quietness and beauty of the countryside may be perfect for an extended holiday but doesn't sustain kids for ever.
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I'd take note of both Ron and Will's comments.  We are two and we do like to eat well and enjoy a drink, so that probably increases our shopping bill.  However, with no mortgage our outgoings average about 1200 euros a month.  This does not take into account filling the oil tank 1.5 times a year, which will now cost just over 2100 euros compared to about 800 euros 3 years ago, Christmas presents, birthday presents, car parts/servicing, clothes or holidays - it just covers day to day living expenses.  

I used to wonder how our neighbours seemed to live so well, new 4x4s, 3 kids each family, holidays, and they earn no more than us.  However, they are farmers and in addition keep rabbits, chickens, the odd sheep and a good potager.  Consequently they NEVER have to buy any meat or milk and very few fresh veg.  You may have to think about turning to the "Good Life" to help make ends meet, but remember, that is also extremely time-consuming if you have 3 kids to look after and ferry around.  Good luck anyway - but thik hard.  Just speaking good French and having the will to get a job certainly doesn't guarantee getting one.

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Hi

I dont think that the cost of living is much cheaper in France, I just wanted an realistic idea of how much families in France do manage on.

We are a family of 5 and spend £2500 each month living in the UK, which includes a monthly mortgage payment of £1,050 each month. Now, if we lost the mortgage why on earth couldnt we manage on £1500 in France each month, regardless of where the income came from.

We have been a family of 5 for some time, I manage the finances in our house very well and have a very realistic view of what it costs to keep a family as I actually do it every day.

The question I posed was just a cost of living query. I have been used to my husband working away for many years, its nothing new to me and I didnt ask for anyones opinion on how our income will be generated, not did I ask how my children should be educated, which someone was keen to offer advice on.

When I posed a question on another forum about residency for my elderly mum, people seemed to want to tell me I shouldnt contemplate living with my mum, which wasnt the subject up for discussion either.

I am grateful for the advice being given but I just wanted a couple of simple questions answered.

Thanks for your help anyway.

 

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I can understand your frustration sara77 when you ask what appears to you to be an isolated question or two and people introduce other topics as well in replies.

Realistically though it is a little too simple to look at things in isolation as so many things are interlinked. The answers given by posters reflects their overall experience of living here which they are trying to share with you. Ignore the bits that you already think you have sorted but bear in mind there is probably a very good reason why people have mentioned them from their own experiences.

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Hi.

I totally understand that. But no-one else knows your own circumstances, how much money or assets you may have, your knowledge and experience, your families individual personalities, what they are capable of etc.,

Having given out only as much info as I wanted to, I didnt feel that the questions I posed warranted knowing the full picture. Maybe the area we intended to move to, yes, thats relevant.

I appreciate people want to share their own experiences, but there is a way of wording things tactfully so as not to be patronising or condescending.

Thanks for your time. 

 

 

 

 

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 I understand your frustration Sara, but " cost of living" is not a simple question ! Just put the term in the forum search engine and you'll see what I mean [:)]

To be honest you are looking quite a long way ahead and there are many variables, for example this time last year no one realised the changes to health care provision and their effect.......however unless something fantastic happens you may find that the main problem is work,  and this "could" have knock on consequences to your life style, finances and relationships........plus your cost of living of course.

You may find that reading up on previous posts allows you to ask more defined questions  - good luck with it anyway, perfect planning prevents "problems" [:)] 

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