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Rent prices in France: What can you get for your money in each city?

Renting an apartment in France can be an expensive endeavour but it doesn't have to break the bank, depending on where you live. Here's a look at which French cities are the most expensive and which are the most reasonable.

Rent prices in France: What can you get for your money in each city?
How do rent prices in Bordeaux compare to the rest of France? Photo: AFP
The study by France's national union of real estate agents, FNAIM, published on Wednesday, shows what people can expect to pay for rent in the country's ten biggest cities and their surrounding suburbs, according to figures collected from the first three months of 2018. 
And it's unlikely to come as much of a surprise that the most expensive agglomeration for rent in France is its capital, Paris (see table below). 
In the French capital, including the surrounding suburbs, tenants paid an average of €18.4 per square metre. 
This figure doesn't only include the cost of rent within the 20 arrondissements but the areas outside the capital including the departments of Seine-Saint-Denis to the north east, Val-de-Marne to the south east and Hauts-de-Seine to the west — an area which is known as the Petite Couronne — as well as the area known as the Grande Couronne, which incorporates the rest of the Ile-de-France region. 
Average rent prices in Paris and surrounding area
Unsurprisingly, prices are noticeably lower in the areas outside of the city's 20 arrondissements.
Within the city limits, the average rent price per metre squared is €29.3 while in the Petite Couronne, immediately outside the city that drops down to €19.5 per metre squared and in the Grand Couronne prices drop even further by metre squared to €15.4. 
In Paris itself, tenants paid an average of €779 for a studio and €1,183 for a one bedroom with the overall average rent paid by Parisians calculated at €1,335 per month.
But these prices dropped dramatically outside the capital.
For example in the Petite Couronne the average amount spent on a studio apartment per month is €594 and €760 for a one bedroom apartment compared to the Grande Couronne where tenants pay €525 for a studio and €680 for a one bedroom. 
It's worth noting that since August 2015, Parisian landlords in the 20 arrondissements have had to play along with the rent-capping law – known as the Loi Alur (or Loi Duflot as it was originally called). However, these rent caps, which have prevented landlords from hiking prices, are set to be abolished in a move that City authorities worry could see rents shoot through the roof.
Authorities have however vowed to introduce new regulations to keep a cap on rents in the capital.
Photo: AFP
Hot on the heels of the capital were two spots in the sunny south of France; Nice in the French Riviera and the combined urban area of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille in Provence, referred to as Aix-Marseille. 
When looking at the city of Nice and its outskirts combined the average cost of rent was significantly cheaper than the Ile-de-France region at €15.8 per square metre. 
Rent prices in Nice and suburbs 
This worked out as €495 for the average sized studio apartment and €690 for a one bedroom apartment in Nice itself. 
People on the beach in front of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. Photo: AFP
Meanwhile in the twin cities of Aix-Marseille the average cost per square metre was €12.7 which worked out as tenants paying €420 per month for a studio and €570 for a one bedroom apartment. 
The table below shows the prices per square metre in the country's main cities.
Somewhat surprisingly, the table put the two southern locations ahead of booming Bordeaux in western France where, despite costs shooting up in recent years, the average cost per square metre was €12.6. 
This translated to an average price per metre squared in the city itself of €13.6 compared to €11.9 in the suburbs.
In Bordeaux proper the average cost of a studio was €453 compared to €595 for a one bedroom apartment. 
Rent prices in Bordeaux and the suburbs
These cities were followed by the port city of Toulon on the Mediterranean coast where it cost €12.1 per square metre. 
In this picturesque city people paid an average of €408 per month for a studio and €560 for a one bedroom apartment. 
The industrial urban area of Lille in the north of France was ranked sixth at €12 euros per square metre, with the average monthly rent for a studio came with a price tag of €431 and a one bedroom apartment cost €545. 
Lille city centre. Photo: AFP
Meanwhile the capital city of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and its surrounding urban area Lyon came in seventh with the average price per square metre calculated at €11.7. 
The price of a studio flat in the so-called gastronomic capital of France will set you back €460 per month while a one bedroom apartment comes with a monthly price tag of €600. 
Rent prices in Lyon and its suburbs
The cheapest three cities on the list were Nantes in Brittany, France's 'Ville Rose' Toulouse in Occitanie and Grenoble in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region which came in 8th, 9th and 10th, respectively.
The average price per square metre in Nantes was calculated at €11.4 while it was €11.1 in Toulouse and Grenoble. 
In Nantes, often cited as one of the most attractive French cities, tenants paid an average of €387 for a studio per month and €500 for a one bedroom. 
Nantes. Photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/Flickr
In the city of Toulouse itself that dropped to €380 for a studio and €495.  
Rent prices in Toulouse and its suburbs 
In Grenoble the average studio cost €397 however the price of a one bedroom apartment in Grenoble were more expensive than either Nantes or Toulouse, coming with a price tag of €544. 
Rent prices in Grenoble and its surburbs
The study also compared rents of cities with a population of over 100,000 and without including the wider suburbs or agglomeration, hence why the figures are slightly different to those in the table above.
This saw Montpellier, where the price per square metre was €13.2, Rennes (€12.7), Rouen (€11.9), Tours (€11.3), Strasbourg (€11.3), Caen (€10.9), Dijon (€10.7), Reims (€10.5), Angers (€10.5), Le Havre (€10) and Besancon (€9.4) all included in the ranking of average rent prices. 
High demand 
The study also looks into how long the turnaround is between an apartment going on the rental market and being snapped up (see table below). 
“This is an indicator of the local market tension,” says Fnaim. “The longer the delay, the more it shows an abundant rental offer and sluggish demand.”
And perhaps surprisingly for anyone who has struggled to get the apartment of their dreams in Paris, the French capital doesn't have the highest turnaround. In fact, it is Lille in the north where demand is highest with an average turnaround of just 23 days.
Meanwhile the French capital sat comfortably in the middle of the table with an average turnaround of 74 days. 
And the big agglomeration with the least demand is Toulouse where the average turnaround is 146 days. 
However that pales into comparison compared to Dijon where a flat is taken up on average 222 days after going on the market.
There was also a lengthy period before flats are taken up in the southern cities of Marseille ad Montpellier where the average turn around is 155 and 168 days respectively.

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For members


Mutuelles: Why is French health insurance getting more expensive?

France’s top-up health insurance 'mutuelles' have been getting steadily more expensive in 2020. Here’s a look at what’s changing, why and who is the worst affected.

Mutuelles: Why is French health insurance getting more expensive?
A dentist is checking the teeth of an elderly lady in a nursing home in Paris. Photo: AFP

“The prices have never been so high in France,” said Fabien Soccio, spokesperson for the company Meilleure Assurance (Best Insurance).

His company this week revealed the results of a new study of France's private health insurance fees, mutuelles, to French media.

After comparing 55 different mutuelles health insurances, Meilleur Assurance concluded that there had been a general spike in the average cost.

What is a mutuelle?

France has generous state health care that covers a lot of medical expenses, but not all costs are reimbursed.

In France you pay upfront for your doctor's appointment, prescription or procedure and then the government reimburses the costs to you. Depending on the procedure and your situation, usually about 80-90 percent of the cost is reimbursed.

If that cost is a €25 appointment with your GP that's not such a big deal, but with more expensive treatments the costs can mount up, which is where a mutuelle comes in.

The mutuelle is a 'top-up' insurance – not obligatory, but recommended – which covers extra costs that are not covered by the state. How much a mutuelle covers will depend on the kind of insurance, where you live and the expenses in question.

If you are an employee, your employer must pay for at least half the cost of your mutuelle

Who was affected by the price increase?

The 2020 price hike touched the country as a whole, however some regions and population groups were harder hit than others, Soccio told Le Parisien.

To compare the costs for different socio-demographic groups, Meilleur Assurance created three different types of profiles; a 25-year-old employee with a “classic” mutuelle; a couple with two children, also on a “classic” mutuelle and a 60-year-old couple with “strengthened” guarantees in their mutuelle.

Seniors hardest hit

Retirees tend to go for fuller versions of mutuelles because these cover additional costs (such as dental and optical treatments). 

Seniors on extensive types of mutuelles were those suffering the steepest price increases this year, Soccio said. 

“In 2020, fifteen départements exceeded a threshold of €3,000 in annual fees for a senior couple with extra guarantees,” Soccio said.

“That’s an average increase of more than €176 in one year,” he said.

For the couple with a child, the increase was slighter ( an extra 4 percent), whereas the young employee saw health insurance bills largely unchanged.

READ ALSO Brexit: Do I need a mutuelle to get residency in France?


.. along with Parisians

The study also revealed large price differences between different regions, with inhabitants in the Paris region Ile-de-France paying the highest bills for their mutuelles.

A retired couple would pay on average €528 more if they lived in Paris compared to if they lived in a more rural, cheaper département like Mayenne.

Similarly, employees would pay 30 percent more on average in Paris than in Pays-de-la-Loire.

Parisians also saw the steepest price increases since last year, by 14.6 percent on average for the retired couple with a mutuelle covering extra costs.

On a national level, the average price increase for the same couple was 12.1 percent. 

.. but everyone was a little worse off

However the country as a whole saw a price increase last year, with even those opting for the cheapest kinds of health insurance affected by the general price hike.

In one year, from 2019 to 2020, the cheapest type of health insurance had increased by 13.7 percent, according to the study. 

Why the increase?

Prices generally increase a little every year, but this year was unusual, Soccio said.

“Today, we are in an uncertain and troubled situation,” he told Europe 1, listing several factors that had contributed to the price increase: the Covid-19 pandemic, the government's new health reform known as “100 percent Santé”, and a new health tax known as the “Covid surtax”.

When the French government presented their new budget for 2021, centred on their dazzling €100 billion relaunch plan, they promised not to increase taxes for the French. Instead, to top up their savings a little, the government introduced a new tax, the “Covid surtax”, which will be paid through the mutuelles and other health insurance companies.

This tax will provide €1 billion in total to the state in 2021, and €500 million in 2022, according to French media.

What about the future?

Soccio said he worried the trend of prices increasing would continue in the next couple of years, leading to steep prices for even those opting for the cheaper mutuelles.

“It's safe to bet that the national average costs will pass €3,000 in the next two years,” he told Le Parisien.