Paris is ‘world’s cheapest city for young people’

Paris isn’t exactly known for being cheap but a global study has somehow named the French capital the “most affordable” city for young people to live in. The Local takes a closer look at how Paris managed to top the rankings.

Paris is 'world's cheapest city for young people'
Young people in Paris shouldn't be complaining if one survey is to be believed. Photo: Lucian Milasan/

"Paris" and "affordable" are not two words that anyone, let alone young people, would normally put in the same sentence – not when you consider that the price of a pint can hit €10 and a ham and cheese baguette can top €5.

Nevertheless, in the Youthful Cities Affordability Index Toronto-based group Decode ranked 25 of the world’s largest cities according to various factors to find the most affordable and Paris has come out on top, ahead of the likes of Berlin and Rome.

The criteria included everything from wage levels and rent prices to the cost of burgers. Since young adults often rely on entry-level jobs to enter the labour market, the report compared costs to an hour of minimum wage work as the best way to measure a city’s affordability.

And when the scores in each category were added up it was the City of Light that came out on top as being most affordable for people between the ages of 15 and 29, ahead of Toronto in second place and Los Angeles in third.

Despite usually being thought of as an affordable city and topping four categories, Berlin was let down by its lower minimum wage.

The report concluded: “We know affordability is the top priority for young people. And the results of this index prove the important role that a fair minimum wage plays in a city’s overall affordability. Paris, the most affordable city, sits in the top spot largely because of its high base wage.

“In fact, each of the top five cities in this index has seen minimum wage become a hot button political issue recently. But a fair minimum wage is just one way municipal governments can make cities more affordable for the important youth demographic.”

For those of you still refusing to believe Paris could top such a survey, here's why it did:

  • With €9.53 per hour, Paris has the highest minimum wage of all the cities covered in the study, topping Berlin in second place and Rome in third. “Even with local cries about it being too small, it’s hard to criticise the wage in Paris, considering the range of minimums observed around the world,” the report said.

  • When it comes to the cost of movie tickets for young people, the same cities are ranked in the top three, with Rome in first place this time and Paris in third. In Paris, you can afford a ticket after exactly one hour of work earning the minimum wage. For comparison, to buy one in Nairobi you’d need to work nearly 50 hours.
  • Musical entertainment also contributes to a city’s liveability. The cheapest concert tickets are found in Berlin, leaving Paris in second place with 5.65 hours of work required on average to pay for a ticket.
  • The title for lowest rent prices goes to Berlin, but with Paris ranked in sixth place the City of Light doesn't score too badly either. The decent position in the table is also due to subsidies that are available to students in France. “Affordability rules post secondary education, as students across France can access the APL housing subsidy. It’s available to all students, whether a citizen of France, the EU or otherwise,” the study notes.
  • With 7.99 hours of work needed to buy a monthly transport pass Paris sits in fourth place when it comes to the affordability of public of transport. However it still lags well behind the leader Buenos Aires, where only 2.62 hours of work at the minimum wage are needed. The report also says young people in Paris benefit from the city's bike sharing scheme. "Youth in Paris can take advantage of reduced rates for the popular, privately owned Vélib' bike sharing program, as well as cheaper municipal public transit fares on all weekends," the report says.
  • Burger lovers out there will be glad to hear that Paris is the second cheapest place to eat fast food, coming in just behind Berlin.

  • Berlin also tops the list for the cost of a dozen eggs, with Paris in fourth place.

  • Fast and affordable travel out of the city is apparently one of the top urban priorities for young people. In the ranking for cheap getaway flights Istanbul topped the list, with Paris again in a respectable third place. After 16.51 hours working at the minimum wage, you’ve earned enough to hop on the next flight for a weekend getaway.

by Simone Flückiger

Are you a young person in Paris? Is it really that affordable?

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