Compare: Which French city is the cheapest to buy property in?

As everyone knows, house prices can vary dramatically between different French cities. Luckily, a new survey shows where in France you're likely to get the most bang for your buck. But would you move there?

Compare: Which French city is the cheapest to buy property in?
Photo: Alain Rouiller/flickr
Most people are aware that their dream pied à terre in Paris is going to come to with a heftier price tag than an apartment in any other city in France but it can be difficult to know exactly which French city suits your budget. 
Luckily, a new survey compares what you can buy in France's 20 largest cities with a budget of 212,000 euros. 
This amount, which was used as the measure by the company behind the study, online property brokers equates to a monthly payment of 1,000 euros over 20 years which is equal to the borrowing power of a couple earning 1,500 euros (net) per month — slightly lower than the average wage in France. 

Members' Q&A: Where is the cheapest place to live in France?

And it won't come as a surprise to anyone that Paris is by far the most expensive city in France to buy in, with a budget of 212,000 euros equating to a 22 m2 apartment in the French capital.
The south west city of Bordeaux (see below), which has experienced a boom in recent years, came in as the second most expensive French city, with property buyers able to get 46m2 for €212,000 – so double the size of apartment that you could buy in Paris.
But don't despair, there are a lot of French cities where property prices aren't through the roof. 
For example for the price of a 22m2 flat in Paris you could buy a modest two-room 50m2 apartment in Nice and a whopping 151m2 property in the central city of Saint-Etienne if you're willing to move there of course.
The city has seen a decline in its population in recent years and has an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent.
Due to this lack of appeal, property price have fallen by 30 percent between 2008 and 2017.
Meanwhile in the north west city of Le Mans, famous for its Gothic-style cathedral and 24 hour race, you could buy a 118 m2 property.
Hot on the heels of the two most affordable city's in France in terms of property are Le Havre in Normandy (111 m2), the picturesque western French city of Angers and Nîmes in southern France, famed for its well-preserved Roman ruins. 
With a budget of €212,000 in both Angers and Nîmes buyers can get 95 m2.
Here's the full list (from cheapest to most expensive):
Saint-Etienne : 151 m2
Le Mans : 118 m2
Le Havre : 111 m2
Angers : 95 m2
Nîmes : 95 m2
Toulon : 92 m2
Dijon : 88 m2
Reims : 84 m2
Grenoble : 82 m2
Marseille : 74 m2
Montpellier : 72 m2
Toulouse : 71 m2
Rennes : 69 m2
Lille : 67 m2
Strasbourg : 64 m2
Nantes : 62 m2
Nice : 50 m2
Lyon : 47 m2
Bordeaux : 46 m2
Paris : 22 m2

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Property taxes: How much will it cost to extend your French home?

Installing a swimming pool, building a garden shed, or adding a conservatory to your French home has become more expensive in 2023.

Property taxes: How much will it cost to extend your French home?

If you are planning a renovation project in 2023 you’re likely looking at rising cost for materials and labour due to inflation – but there is one other cost to consider; taxes. 

In France there is a one-off tax that has to be paid on certain building works, and the government has raised the rate for this.

The taxe d’aménagement, sometimes referred to as the garden shed tax, applies to all property development – construction, reconstruction and extension – of buildings that require planning permission or a building permit.

Garden sheds, swimming pools or extensions with a surface area of more than 5 square metres are subject to the development tax – although a 50 percent reduction is applied to the flat-rate values of certain buildings, particularly the first 100 square metres of main residences.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about installing a swimming pool at your French property

The tax is collected by local councils, who set their own percentage rates for the tax, working off the base rate set by the government.

A decree published in the Journal Officiel set the base figures for 2023 at the following rates: 

  • €1,004 per square metre in Île-de-France (up from €929 per square metre in 2022);
  • €886 per square metre outside Île-de-France (€820 per square metre in 2022).

The flat-rate values per square metre of building space, which constitute the basis for the development tax, are revised on January 1st of each year according to the latest construction cost index published by national statistics body Insee. 

Additionally, specific rates are set for:

  • €250 per square metre  for a swimming pool (up from €200 in 2022);
  • €12 per square metre of ground-fixed solar panels (up from €10 in 2022);
  • €3,000 per wind turbine more than 12 metres high;
  • €3,000 per pitch for tents, caravans and mobile leisure homes;
  • €10,000 per pitch for a holiday chalet or bungalow.

The amount of the tax is calculated according to the following formula: 

(Taxable area multiplied by the government-set base figure) multiplied by the percentage tax rate set by the local authorities. This gives the total to be paid in cents. Bills are rounded down.

So, the tax for a 30 square metre extension in an area where the combined local and departmental tax rates total 6.25 percent would be calculated like this:

30 (the size of the development) x 886 (the base tax rate outside Ile-de-France) = 26,580

6.25 (local and departmental tax) x 26,580 = 166,125 cents, more usually expressed as €1,661. 

If the total payable is less than €1,500, you will receive a bill in the six months after planning permission was granted, with details of how to pay.

Otherwise, it is paid in two instalments, 12 months and 24 months after authorisation, with a 10 percent surcharge applied in cases of late payments.

READ ALSO The hidden costs of owning property in France