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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 meilleurtaux.com 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. 
 
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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.
 
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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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SECOND HOMES

Tax hikes of up to 60% for French second home owners

Towns and villages through France are raising property tax rates for second-home owners, with many areas voting for the maximum 60 percent increase.

Tax hikes of up to 60% for French second home owners

Even though France’s taxe d’habitation (householders’ tax) is in the process of being phased out for most French residents, second-home owners are still required to pay it.

This year more towns have voted to increase it, and others have recently gained the ability to add a surcharge for second-home owners, with French daily Le Parisien reporting that the residence tax “continues to soar.” 

Municipalities in zones tendues (areas with a housing shortage) have the ability to choose to increase taxe d’habitation by up to 60 percent for second home owners.

From 2023, several new areas – including Nantes – will join the list of zones tendues, meaning they will be able to vote to increase taxes for second-home owners.

This year, large cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Biarritz, Arles and Saint-Jean-de-Luz saw their city councils vote to increase the tax at the maximum 60 percent.

READ MORE: Why some French cities are increasing taxes for second-home owners

Some areas have still not chosen to apply the increase, but those looking to buy a second home in France should beware that these municipalities could vote to increase the taxe d’habitation in the future.

In 2020, cities on average voted to increase the residence tax on second homes by 248.50, in comparison to €217 in 2017. This year, that amount is expected to be even higher.

On top of the taxe d’habitation, second-home owners also have to pay the separate taxe foncière property tax, which is itself rising sharply in many areas.

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