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How much money do I need to live in south west France?

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
How much money do I need to live in south west France?
Thinking of moving to south west France? Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP

Whether you want to retire or move to work, we take a look at the cost of living in areas like Charente and Dordogne in south west France, and assess how much income you will need to live there.


One of the most common reasons people give for moving to France is the quality of life here, and many people are prepared to take a salary cut or reduce their working hours in order to achieve a better work/life balance - but how much do you actually need to live on?

The south west is generally agreed to be one of France's more affordable areas, particularly for housing costs. 

Here are some of the costs you can expect in the southwest:

Housing – from €388 per month

The southwest is a large region, so we used the small city of Périgueux – located in Dordogne – as an example to determine the cost of housing and came up with €388 per month for a one-bedroom apartment (around a third of what you would pay in Paris) on popular rental site SeLoger.


However once you’re out of the cities, people are more likely to live in houses than apartments, and buying property in the south west is much more feasible than it is in Paris.

The average cost per metre square is €1,871 to purchase, while to rent, you can expect about €11 per metre square. 

Property taxes – If you are a tenant you probably won’t need to pay any property taxes as the householders’ tax taxe d’habitation is being phased out, but if you buy you will need to pay the property owners’ tax – taxe foncière. The TV licence – previously €138 per year per household – has been scrapped this year.

Transport – €177 per month (excluding purchase cost)

If you’re living out of the city you will likely need to own a vehicle as public transport in rural France is often poor.

According to a government report on energy published in 2021, the average French household with a vehicle spent €1,542 per year on fuel, which comes out to €128.50 per month.

Afterwards, you would need to also add insurance – price comparison site Les Furets estimates the average national cost of vehicle insurance in France at €46 per month, although obviously a lot depends on your age, location and driving record.

There’s also the compulsory two-yearly contrôle technique vehicle check, the average national price is €78.

READ ALSO How to save money on your contrôle technique 

Utilities – €110-154 per month

Energy prices are set nationally in France and in August 2022, the electricity cost per kilowatt for those with a regulated rate with the national energy provider (EDF) was €0.1740 TTC.

The average national utility bill is €81 per month for combined gas and electricity or €125 per month for electricity only.

The average internet bill is €29.

However lower housing prices mean that in south west France you are more likely to have a larger space – which naturally will cost more to heat. If you have purchased an old property it may also have a poor energy rating and inefficient heating systems. While there are government grants available to install more energy-efficient heating methods or improve your insulation, there is likely to still be a cost to you.

On the plus side, rural homes are more likely to have open fires or log-burners, meaning you can collect your own fuel to contribute to heating, while the climate of the south west is generally mild.

Groceries – €221 per month

Groceries in the south west are cheaper than the national average.

If you go to an E.Leclerc (rated as the cheapest supermarket chain in France) in Périguex, you can expect to pay approximately €221 a month for the panier (the national measure of average groceries) for a single person, according to price comparison site Que Choisir.


The national average is €230 per person per month.

You are also likely to have a market nearby which can be good sources of cheap produce, while local wine is very reasonably priced.

Healthcare – €38 per month

Once you have lived in France for three months you are entitled to register in to public healthcare system – here’s how.

Once you are registered (and it can take a few months) the state reimburses the majority of your costs for medical appointments, prescriptions and treatments. There is also the option to purchase top-up insurance known as a mutuelle, which (in most cases) will ensure that 100 percent of your medical costs are reimbursed.

For a single person, the average cost of a mutuelle is €38 per month, and if you are an employee your employer must pay at least half of the monthly cost.

Childcare – €180-€400 per month (means tested)

Not applicable to everyone, of course, but if you have young children you may need to consider childcare costs.

After the age of three, children are required to attend pre-school (maternelle). This is free, public and mandatory. However, until your child reaches the age of three, you may need to budget for childcare – usually either a nanny, childminder or a nursery (crèche).


For public nurseries, the prices are determined on the basis of income. Typically, if you earn between €2,000 and €3,000 per month, you will find yourself paying between €180 and €250 a month for full-time daycare at a crèche. If you earn between €2,000 and €4,000 you might the crèche will cost you between €250 and €400.

READ MORE: Family-centred society: What it’s really like being a parent in France

If your income is higher than €4,000 per month, then you may find yourself paying closer to €1,000 per month.

The prices are staggered because childcare through a crèche or nounou (childminder) is state subsidised,

Families in France also benefit from other state benefits. After your child is born, you may qualify for the “prestation d’accueil du jeune enfant (Paje)” which can be paid at the time of the birth (or adoption) of the child and until the child reaches the age of six, for families who demonstrate the financial need. CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales de Paris) also offers assistance to low-income families with children. 

For childcare during the summer, your child can take part in the colonies de vacances – which are an opportunity to go away from home to learn and participate in new activities. The price to send your child can be subsidised by CAF, based on income.


If you are of working age you also need to consider the job market, and this is less bouyant in the south west than in, for example, Paris.


Jobs tend to be concentrated in the cities like Bordeaux and Toulouse, which have consequently higher housing costs than the regional average.

If you are working as an employee, you will be covered by the national minimum wage. As of August 2022 the minimum wage – known as the SMIC – in France is €11.07 per hour before taxes, which comes out to about €8.76 after taxes. A full-time worker on minimum wage would earn €1,329.05 per month, after taxes.

Total living costs – €940 a month

Our estimate for a single person without children - based on essentials only - is €940 a month, although clearly there are many variables.

If you’re in the countryside or a small town your housing costs will be significantly less than living in a city, while groceries are also cheaper than the national average.

The down side is that you are much more likely to need a car, making you more vulnerable to fluctuation in the cost of fuel. The government has a subsidy in place to help with fuel costs and there are also several grants in place to help consumers buy electric or hybrid vehicles. You can learn more HERE.

If you're moving to France from a non-EU country, bear in mind that you may need to be able to prove a minimum income level for your visa, and depending on your circumstances you may need to pay for private health insurance for your first year - full details HERE. 

While there is quite a significant amount of government help available to low-income households, this isn’t always available to new arrivals and will involve you navigating the French social security system, which is not always easy for newcomers. 

When we asked our readers who had moved to France, few had been motivated by money and the majority said that their overall quality of life was better in France. 

READ MORE: ‘Our life is so much better here’ – Why do people move to France?

One major plus for life in France is that if circumstances mean that the cost of living rises dramatically, you can rely on your new compatriots to be very stroppy about it until the government takes action to help individuals cope with their bills. 




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