Home Is the Cost of Living Cheaper in France or the UK?

Is the Cost of Living Cheaper in France or the UK?

Posted by on August 11th, 2017.

Paris skyline

France is perhaps one of the most popular emigration destinations for UK nationals due to its geographical closeness to Britain and the historic relationship of the nations.

The long-standing ties between France and the UK also makes French one of the easier languages for English-speakers to learn.

One popular conception about France (and many other places in Europe) is that it’s cheaper to live in than Britain, making it even more appealing to those looking to move abroad.

But is there any truth to this? There are many factors involved in assessing general living costs besides buying or renting a property – including shopping and transport.

To give you an idea of how the cost of living in the UK really compares with France, we’ve used the data accumulated by Numbeo to put together some key stats.

Cost of Living in London vs Living in Paris

The most obvious and immediate cost of living comparison to make would be between the world-famous capital cities of each nation, London and Paris.

London is notoriously expensive to live in, but is Paris actually any more affordable?

When it comes to renting or buying an apartment, Paris appears to win in terms of being less costly. A three-bedroom apartment in London’s city centre would have a monthly rental rate of around £3,119, compared to a far smaller £2,087 for a Paris equivalent.

Obviously, a smaller apartment in the city centre would be cheaper. A one-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre would cost around £1,186 in London but only around £741 in Paris.

The same goes for buying an apartment. A central London apartment would likely cost around £14,054 per square-metre, but the Paris equivalent could be below £9,000 per square metre.

Still, there’s a lot more to living costs than paying for housing. Clothing is actually likely to be pricier in Paris than in London, as are other consumer goods like foods.

However, the cost of eating out at a restaurant is generally a bit more affordable than in London and transportation costs are notably cheaper. A monthly transportation pass that could cost around £132 in London would cost a far cheaper £65 in Paris, and new cars are also more affordable.

Based on these numbers alone, it seems that Paris does in fact have a lower cost of living cheaper than London, but can the same be said of other French and UK cities?

Comparing Living Costs in Bristol and Toulouse

It’s a similar situation here – despite Bristol being quite considerably cheaper to live in than London, the French city of Toulouse is cheaper than Bristol in a lot of the same ways Paris is cheaper than London.

Rent per month and apartment prices per square metre are both more affordable in Toulouse than they are in Bristol, with a one-bedroom apartment in the centre of Toulouse going for around £526 per month in rent, while the equivalent in Bristol would set you back £866.

Eating out in restaurants and using public transport is a bit cheaper in Toulouse than in Bristol, but consumer prices excluding rent are a bit higher overall.

A standard McDonalds meal would only set you back £5.75 in Bristol while it would cost you £7.25 in Toulouse. Everyday items like bread, rice, eggs and cheese would also cost you more in Toulouse than Bristol.

However, coffee lovers might appreciate the face that while an average cappuccino might cost you £2.72 in Bristol, it would cost you £2.16 in Toulouse.

Is Lyon Cheaper than Scotland’s Capital?

Both the British cities covered so far have been in England, so how does Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, compare to France’s financial and tech city of Lyon?

Consumer prices, leisure and transportation are pricier in Lyon. Consumer prices excluding rent come in 10% higher in Lyon than Edinburgh, while grocery prices are 17% higher and restaurant prices are 0.8% higher.

Apartments are also more expensive to purchase, (£3,923 per m2 in Lyon vs. £3,110.00 per m2 in Edinburgh), although rental prices are 20% cheaper.

So Which is Cheaper Overall?

While a lot of well-known English cities are much pricier than their French counterparts, there are areas of the UK which are substantially more affordable than comparable parts of France.

Of course, the situation will differ substantially across both countries but (generally speaking) rent, restaurant prices and transport are typically cheaper in France, while food and some luxury items are generally more affordable in Britain.

Average monthly earnings (after tax) came in at £1,774 in the UK but £1,740 in France.

Average rent on a 1 bedroom apartment came in at £765 in the UK but £580 in France

Average property purchase price came in at £4,786 in the UK but £3,910 in France.

Based on Numbeo’s distribution of expenses figures, UK residents’ spending is broken down in the following way:

  • Rent per Month: 26.7%
  • Food: 26.7%
  • Clothing and Shoes: 15.9%
  • Transportation: 13%
  • Utilities: 6.9%
  • Sports and Leisure: 5.3%
  • Restaurants: 2.4%

While spending breaks down like this in France:

  • Food: 33.9%
  • Rent per Month: 23.8%
  • Restaurants: 14.9%
  • Transportation: 11.6%
  • Utilities: 6.9%
  • Sports and Leisure: 5.7%
  • Clothing and Shoes: 3.1%

If you’re interested in finding out a bit more about France, download our guide to moving to the nation!

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