Prices and Numbeo? (she asked from a crouching position)

Please, please, please forgive yet another question on how much it will/may cost to live in France. I plowed through as many “how cheap/how expensive” posts I could find and was surprised to see that most of you indicate virtually everything costs more in France (apart from health care, uni, and perhaps real estate depending on where you have located). If I check my home town against any city to which I’m interested in moving other than Paris, the cost of living according to Numbeo is anywhere from 12% to 39% lower. Is Numbeo just flat out wrong? Any real world experience with its algorithms? Tell me if I’m just beating un cheval mort and I will likewise let the topic die. :grimacing: Thank you, merci!

Unfortunately, we live in different areas of France and our experience is the same.
There is not the same attitude to competition here in France as there is in UK and prices are not driven down so much.
Annual sales are regulated by government and you just do not see the same bargains and only twice a year.
I don’t know how you intend to live over here, but it is true that there is more bureaucracy and, as is being experienced at the moment, how each Prefecture deals with issuing Cartes de Sejours differs widely, even though as there is a national list of requirements.
The cost of buying a house is less in France, so you can offset the cost of living by using the gain you make from your uk house.
Brexit has really affected everyone here who brings their money over from UK, on average we have lost 12% of our annual income due to the poor exchange rate.
If we do have Brexit, you could find it more difficult to find work over here as you will lose automatic recognition of academic and professional qualifications.
I am sorry to sound so unhelpful, but the reality is not as pictured on the tv programmes.
Having said that, we would not go back to UK.
Do you speak French, as that really helps?

and so say all of us!


A big difference for many immigrants is that they are dependant on the exchange rate as their income is not in euros. So for british people the last few years have been tough as we’ve seen the value of the pound plummet. If you will be working and earning in France then it is a slightly different story.

I don’t know how numeo builds up its data, but is some of it through individuals posting information? If so that can skew it signifiantly. And some of these sites are based on comparisons between cost of goods, rather than purchasing power of average salary. Eg if a teacher in france earns slightly more than a teacher in the UK they can buy exactly the same lifestyle even if individual elements are more expensive.

Essentially I would suggest you add up the core elements of your budget - house purchase/rent, heat, electricity, water, transport, local taxes, insurance, and set reasonable estimates for the rest. And if that adds up to what you can afford you are likely to be ok… Agonising over over detail may not be helpful when there are so many unknowns.

And as long as you can cover the basics then all the rest you can adjust.

Its shockingly expensive to live in France. On the plus side we have reduced our meat consumption. In rural areas there are local festivities and that becomes the highlight of your life. You buy less clothes and generally shop less.
Basically life’s necessities become ones luxuries, shelter, food, heat and a car.


Are you basing this on an income derived from pounds? Or are you earning euros? If you look at a price and still translate it into pounds at current exchange rate then that does exaggerate the pain.

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I agree with JJs analysis here.
Although all our ‘income’ comes from UK pensions, over the past 10 years we have drifted away from over reliance on british products in favour of those more easily available in France. As a simple example, Heinz baked beans (full of sugar!) are way more expensive than the haricot blank avec sauce tomate which are quite delightful (once you overcome the undesirable need for a sugar rush).
Moreover, from a tax standpoint (in our case) we are far better off.
2 x £12500 free tax allowance translates to 29k€ (@ £1 = 1.16€) but, for a pensioner, the free tax allowance is more like about 33k€+ including an additional 10% tax free allowance so we consider that moving back to the UK would place us in a much worse place (without considering the awful way pensioners are treated in the yUK) from all respects - particularly health care.


We would be coming from the US with social security and savings, so it would be a Dollar v. Euro comparison. We’re used to much lower federal income taxes here and my state has no income tax (although the sales tax on all but most food items is quite high, 10%). Frankly, if the COL isn’t lower in whatever area of France we may settle, it makes no sense to move there. I’m fine with budgeting and smart shopping - it’s what I do already.

Numbeo’s COL comparison data is crowd-based, as is that of Expatistan and NomadList. Roughly akin to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’s “ask the audience” feature, on the supposition that the more people agree on a factual point, the more likely they will be correct.

I’m concerned that the comparisons are just plain wrong. Am tempted to travel around different parts of France to take pics of posted prices for groceries, toiletries and - um… perhaps the costs of a cord of wood. Real estate-related taxes are posted online so can at least have a firm grasp of such costs.

Please accept my gratitude for your responses. It must be a pain to keep answering the same Qs from cluless lurkers like myself and I do appreciate your kindness.

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Why not check on some of the supermarket chains… compare prices for usual stuff…

for example…

All the big chains have special offers on a regular basis… it is quite easy to plan your shopping trips to coincide…

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You’ll struggle to make direct comparisons - the US and Europe are very differant in some fundamentals - best illustrated with your own words - 10% “sales” tax is quite high. There’s a lot more tax and social security as a rule across the board so that can make thing seem expensive - the upside is there are taxes and social security so health/education are cheaper - assuming you qualify to enter the system.

But how much for item X is quite distorted in a direct comparison - its pretty much usually cheaper in the States.

The other thing no web site ever mentions - new countries do mean money just keeps vanishing your first few years - especially if you have large gardens/land - just stuff you don’t have/have never needed previously.

Its easy to find the supermarkets online - do a virtual shop

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You’re very sensible to ask. I only found out last week that if I drive from Dordogne to Charente petrol is cheaper. In 2014 when holidaying in Provence prices were much lower.
If you’re from the US then energy and petrol will definitely be more expensive here. Milk is more expensive than in the UK and we still use a lot. My husband likes to buy bread daily and that adds up compared to buying a loaf in the UK. I dont use market stalls much because they are so expensive. A cooked chicken can be €12
and last week 2 bunches of radishes cost €3.
I look at the fish stall and gasp at the cost and wonder who buys it all.

If the CoL was the same in France as where you are in the US, would you move? If the answer to that is no, then I raise my eyebrows slightly as to why you are moving so far. Surely there are other ways to reduce your living costs and still have a good quality of life in a beautiful landscape, with interesting things to see and do and many fascinating nearby countries - like countries in south america!

Anyway, back to prices. Le prix du stère de bois de chauffage oscille entre 40 et 120 euros, plus souvent entre 50 € et 70 €, soit en moyenne 0,04 €/kWh.

You can play around with prices here…

Get on the supermarkets’ emailing list.
Carrefour, Intermarché, Leclerc, Auchan, Monoprix, Lidl all have online catalogues.

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[quote=“Legs, post:8, topic:25403”]
We’re used to much lower federal income taxes here and my state has no income tax (although the sales tax on all but most food items is quite high, 10%). Frankly, if the COL isn’t lower in whatever area of France we may settle, it makes no sense to move there.

You are probably right.

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If you look at the Numbeo ‘methodology’ page ( it’s easy to see that the comparisons are going to be inappropriate for many, perhaps for most people.
We find little difference in the overall cost of living between here in rural France and our old home in rural Britain - some things are cheaper, others not. I think some people have the impression that France is more expensive because the easiest things to compare - multinational brands - do indeed tend to be more expensive in France.

I don’t think it is “shockingly expensive” to live in France Teresa. It may be “shockingly expensive” to live anywhere in Western Europe today but where are you comparing to France for your shockingly expensive assessment?

Hi Jane,
The answer to your question about overall cost of living comparisons depends very much on where in the USA you are coming from, and where in France you are thinking of moving to.
Also the comparison will be different according to the standard of living that you enjoy now, and whether you wish to still be making expenditure on the same type of lifestyle here in France.

As we have property in both Vendee and VA we can give you a comparison between those two areas, and taken overall, Vendee is definitely substantially cheaper.
Energy and gasoline prices are higher in France, as is VAT (the equivalent of your sales tax) at 20%, but this is massively offset by the huge reduction in healthcare costs in France compared to the private insurance needed in the US.
It’s also important to compare like with like. Take gasoline prices for example. It’s cheap to buy in VA, but you use more because of the distances one has to drive to get to a shopping mall, and European cars tend to have better gas consumption figures than American brands.
Things like replacing a roof covering are also very different. In France one pays a fair bit more, but what you get will probably be tiles that will last well beyond your lifetime, instead of felt shingles that will need replacing again in around 30 years.
In France you’ll be horrified at the price of a BigMac, but a $14 bottle of wine will only cost you around $3.50 here.
As I say, your comparative cost of living will depend very much on what you wish to buy.
Feel free to send me a private message if your would like some more specific comparison prices between Vendee and the Mid Atlantic States.

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Thank you so much for the links and the names of the major chains! I wouldn’t have even known which stores to look for and would never have stumbled upon the bois site :).

Robert, thank you for your kind offer - I will send you a pm. We’re in Seattle and are looking to escape the dreaded Big Grey, but moving somewhere just because it’s sunnier (or tons cheaper) isn’t our main focus. Neither of us have travelled as much as we would have liked, and to be able to connect with and broaden our knowledge of our European roots is much more appealing than moving to South America or some other destination to which we have no ancestral heritage.

Are we seeking to have our gateau and to eat it, too? Indeed. Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp… :wink:

Thanks again, all. I do appreciate all of your comments and suggestions.

American friends have a holiday home here… they spend 10 weeks every summer and sometimes visit again during the winter.

They “tested” France first, for a few months … before they made the decision to buy… then they bought a very cheap “renovation job” which they have thoroughly enjoyed working on over the past 15 years.

I would suggest you do something similar… test the water for a few months at least… gives you a good idea of what is what…

We all have different ideas, different preferences and very different ways of life… and you may find that France is NOT the place for you… on the other hand, you may well decide that it IS…

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