Cost of living in France for a foreign student

cost of living foreign students france

This was one of my biggest doubts before coming to France, the cost of living for a foreign student in France depends on many factors such as the type of accomodation, the city where you live, if you prefer to cook or eat out and of course there are budgets for all pockets.

Although it is very difficult to give an exact figure, in this post I will try to give an idea of ​​the main components of a student’s budget in France and the amount that they can represent each month.

In my experience, the main components of a student’s budget in France are the following:

Housing: The cost of your rental will depend on the city where you live, and it can vary a lot if you live in Paris or if you live in the Province. As I explained in this post, the average rent for a studio in the province is € 424, in Paris and its surroundings the average is € 731. For a one-bedroom apartment the average cost is € 574 and € 1068 respectively. This cost can be reduced by 25 – 30% thanks to the assistance provided by CAF (more information in this post).

Food: This cost can also vary a lot and will depend on whether you always decide to cook at home or eat at your university or school. Today with my wife our monthly food budget is approximately € 300. With this budget we can buy fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, chicken, rice, pasta, bread, eggs, milk, cereals, condiments and cleaning products.

Having said that, I would estimate the food expenses for a student at € 150 per month, which I think is quite comfortable. This amount will also depend a lot on where you do your shopping, because if you go to Monoprix the products will be much more expensive than in other supermarkets such as LIDL, for example, which is an excellent option for students.

Transportation: The cost of transportation also depends on the city where you live and your age, since in France there are special discounts for children under 26 in various items, including transportation. To have a global idea, here is an example of the cost of transportation in some of the main cities in France:

  • Paris: In Paris there is the imagine R Etudiant subscription for students under 26 residing in France. This payment has an annual cost of € 350 (Approximately € 30 per month).
  • Marseille: The permanent XL pass costs € 18.3 per month.
  • Lyon: The CAMPUS subscription costs € 318 per year (€ 26.5 per month)
  • Bordeaux: The pass jeune annuel, for people under 28, has a cost of € 19 per month.

Cell Phone, Internet, TV: If you live in a student residence, the internet will be included in your rent. If you live in a private studio or apartment you will have to pay it separately. Having a cell phone subscription is also essential and most companies offer subscriptions that include all three services. There are different offers in the market, but on average you will find a mobile subscription with 20GB of internet for € 5 a month, if you want to add internet, landline and TV on average you can cost € 25 per month, with no minimum stay.

Insurance: As I mentioned in this post, in France it is mandatory to insure your place of residence, which covers you in case of damage or theft. The MEP, specialized in insurance for students, offers this insurance for an amount of € 64 per year for a study (€ 5.3 per month, more information here).

Electricity (if not included in the rent): If you live in a residence, this will already be included in your rent. In some private apa

rtments, electricity is also included, but in most cases, you will have to sign an electricity contract under your name. The average monthly cost, considering that in winter this cost increases due to heating, is € 50 for a study of about 20 square meters.

Outings and leisure: Obviously not everything is studying and there must also be place for fun. Also, as a good student you should take advantage of your stay to discover the French nightlife ?. This amount will also depend on your outings per month. To have an idea, a pint of beer in a pub or bar costs on average about € 6 – € 7, a glass of wine is about the same price, a movie ticket has an average price of € 7 – € 8 for students. Among students, house parties are very popular, everyone brings their drinks and it is much cheaper since a sixpack in a supermarket costs about € 6.

Assuming a couple of nights out a month to a bar, some parties at home and a couple of cinema outings I would estimate these expenses at around € 70- € 80 per month.

Health (optional Mutuelle): France has a public health system of excellent quality and the government reimburses most of the price of medical consultations. However, if you need to have access to specialists during your stay or simply if you want to be covered in case of any eventuality, having a mutuelle is something that I recommend since specialists’ consultations are more expensive without it or in some cases are not reimbursed by social security. The MEP also offers several options for students, the most popular costs € 25 per month and includes the civil liability insurance that covers you in case of causing damages to third parties.

Taxes: As a student you will surely not have to pay income tax, unless you have a job that generates enough income to have to do so. However, you must pay the Taxe d’habitation if you occupied an apartment on January 1 of the current year. This tax varies from one city to another, but on average is the equivalent of a month’s rent so I recommend saving 10% of the value of your lease each month so that this tax does not catch you off guard.

Travel (if budget allows): One of the advantages of studying in Europe is the possibility of visiting several countries and cities for a reasonable price, thanks to low cost airlines and hostels. If your budget is enough to make a trip every month or every two months, it is something that I recommend and that will allow you to make the most of your stay in France. Just to give an example, a round trip Paris – Rome with Ryanair costs about € 40 for a 3-day stay, if you add € 20 per night in a hostel in a shared room and € 100 for meals and expenses, the trip would cost € 200. Like this, you can put together many trips to different cities in Europe.

To summarize these expenses and calculate a monthly budget, I will summarize the values ​​I have just described in the following table:

Item Paris Province
Housing 531€ 300€
Food 150€ 150€
Transportation 30€ 20€
Cellphone, internet, TV 25€ 25€
Insurance 5,3€ 5,3€
Electricity 50€ 50€
Outings and leisure 80€ 80€
Taxes (10% of lease) 73€ 42€
SUBTOTAL 992€ 720€


Health (Mutuelle) 25€ 25€
Travel 200€ 200€
TOTAL 1217€ 945€

For this simulation I assumed that the person is under 26 years old and lives alone in a studio. For doing this I took the average rent in Paris and the rest of France and from these amounts I deduced the aid given by CAF (approximately 30%), the rest of values ​​are those that I described for each one of the components. In this simulation the monthly basic budget for a student in Paris would be € 992 and in provonce it would be € 720. If we add to this budget the optional expenses such as mutuelle and travel, this would rise to € 1217 for Paris and € 945 for the rest of France.

With this simulation I only intend to give an idea of ​​the cost of living for a foreign student in France. As you can see, this budget can be adjusted in different components and can be much lower or much higher. I hope this information and this simulation will be useful to calculate your monthly budget according to your needs, if you have any questions or you are in France and you want to share your monthly budget, do not hesitate to write in the comments.

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