Retirement living standards in france

Hi all

I am planning my retirement to France and currently am working on how long I have left to work before I can retire! I know a couple of people who live in france who tell me it’s much the same cost of living as the UK but i did wonder if this was true for expats and those in retirement. I know it will depend on individual circumstances and there will be increased costs for health care and the like post brexit. I found this site which gives a handy guide and wondered if anyone was aware of a similar standard for france or had any views on how the costs would stack up?

Any advice welcome.

Thank you

The cost of living in France has been discussed on several threads … here on the forum.

This is just one of them… which you might find interesting…

I would say that your link (exchanged into euros of course) gives a reasonably accurate picture here as well as the UK. Of course someone coming here now will have to have an adequate income to get a visa, which is above the statutory minimum here to get benefits. So allows you to live a modest, but not penurious life.

Health costs will only apply for first year. Once fully in the system then you join the French health service and at the moment the Uk government have said they will continue the S1 system which pays for UK state pensioners health costs. Otherwise it’s around 8% of your income above €10,000.

I think the biggest differences in costs are possibly housing and heating (with a wood burner), particularly if you choose a traditional property in one of the less popular departements in the south-west, such as the Aveyron (where I live). Why they’re less popular, I don’t know , we have stunning scenery, a mild climate, masses of history and if you want a winter break, you can be in Spain by lunchtime or Barcelona in time for dinner.

Overall we’ve found little difference between the cost of living in France and the UK - but that doesn’t mean there are no differences, so whether you are an overall gainer or loser will depend on lifestyle and location.

There can be big differences between city and country, but generally there are things that tend to be cheaper in France, such as housing, transport, alcohol, eating out (unless you go for fast/pub food); but others are more expensive than the UK, such as international brands in supermarkets or building trades (electricians, etc) - indeed most things that involve a high labour content, because wages tend to be higher in France.

When my mother-in-law visits from the UK she always remarks on how expensive France is, but that’s because she’s comparing the price of tins of Heinz beans, and not rent, fuel, etc…


It is not clear if you are in fact considering early retirement but if I have correctly understood the S1, it seems to me that the cost of living for a person moving to France after retirement with an S1 from the UK, may be significantly less than the cost of living for the same person moving to France before retirement without an S1?

Apologies, yes it would be early retirement at 55.

8% of your income over €10,000…average French income is about €27,000. So 8% of €17,000 is just over €100 a month, plus say an average of €50/month for your contributions. Not exactly huge for the quality of health care you receive?

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shopping in france is a lot more expensive than the uk. at sainsbury’s in Fulham Broadway I buy a kilo of chicken thighs for £1.60. in mirambeau its 7 euro. vegetables are ridiculously expensive in France. why I don’t know but they are 4 or 5 times the price of the market I go to in Fulham. in France the markets are more expensive than the supermarkets.
on a positive note the drink is cheaper in the supermarkets here but the bars expensive. the big saving here is when you buy a house. they are a tenth of the price in London.
we always have a good summer here as well.

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I entirely agree, I see nothing wrong with paying for one’s own healthcare.
Actually I was thinking not of the cost of healthcare but of the social charges on foreign income. I was assuming that Julesandal’s income will be entirely from outside of France as they will not be working here, and am I correct in thinking that not having an S1, and not having reached retirement age, they may be liable for the full 17% social charges on all foreign income?
€27 000 x 17% = €4 950
Added to the 1 360 in cotisations makes a little over €6 000 or €500 per month which to me is starting to be significant.
I am not suggesting it is excessive, or a deal breaker, but the question was about the cost of living and €500 a month this way or that is something that one would probably want to factor in.

Do you not think that this is part of the problem?

Supermarkets have driven wholesale prices down - shrinking margins along the whole chain from supplier to intermediate processor to haulier. Is it any surprise that in the ever more frantic dive down to the bottom no one has any money to invest in the service that they offer or to pay their staff a decent wage?

Add Brexit into the mix and the whole fragile house of cards has fallen apart.


A kilo of chicken thighs for £1.60 seems shocking.


Also comparison of prices like ‘chicken thighs’ tells you nothing much, because the quality might be different - and different in ways you can’t necessarily perceive, such as treatment of livestock, feed, hygiene, supply chain waste, etc.

We used to buy Scottish salmon in the UK, and continued to do so here for a while because it is much cheaper - until we actually read up on the difference between Scottish and local Brittany salmon.


Last year (yes, I googled it) feed prices were about £400-450 per tonne. I have no idea how much you need to feed a chicken to get 1kg of meat but let’s say 2kg of feed - about 90p for that kilo of thighs.

70p for the farmer, the haulier, the slaughterman and the supermarket (who, I’ll bet, gets the lion’s share) does not seem sustainable to me. Not to mention the conditions the poor birds much have suffered.


Sorry @bazza , I just don’t recognise those prices where I am. I pay at most €4.50 per kilo for chicken thighs. I also don’t pay 4 or 5 times as much for vegetables. I think you’re shopping at the wrong places, even the popular supermarkets here dont charge anywhere near those prices. Some items are expensive in comparison, but most are not in my experience.

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It’s a thing at Sainsbury’s though - not sure if special offer or regular price (screenshot in case it’s an offer).

Yes @billybutcher , I looked it up too. It’s an Aldi price match. Regular prices are around £5 per kilo or more. I can also get less than the €4.50 per kilo on special offer, especially at Lidl when they do a 2 for 1 offer.

OK so the original argument applies to Aldi - supermarkets consistently driving prices down is ultimately a problem for everyone.


It is a vicious circle though. Seller behaviour is driven by customer behaviour. If customers looked for guarantees on animal welfare, sustainable farming, ethical supply chains, and fair prices being paid to producers, that is what sellers would focus on. It is because UK consumers shop primarily on shelf price, that supermarkets compete primarily on shelf price.

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on the subject of potatoes. in my market in fulham. north end road market. the stalls sell veg in steel bowls these days at £1 or £1.50 a bowl. spuds are always £1. a bowl contains 2.5kg. 2 small cauliflowers also a pound. in super u at mirambeau the spuds range from €3.50 to €5.50 euro for 2.5kg. cauliflowers cost as much as beef. veg is very expensive and quality not good. with the climate in the area it should be cheap and plentiful.

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