May 16, 2010

The Cost of Living in France - Two Years Later

The cost of living in France is a subject that continues to be of interest to my readers, so I thought it was time to update my Cost of Living in France post and show you how we do it.

Living here is possible, even on a limited budget. We've been living in France full time for seven years and though we've had some difficult times with the $/€ exchange rate and almost packed it in and moved back to the States at one point, we managed to hang on by selling our garden and cutting back as much as we could.
We don't live extravagantly, never go out to the theater or to the movies, rarely eat out, and when our friends and family come to visit they offer to help with the added expense.  So it works.
Food prices have gone up in the last couple of years, as they have everywhere, and our income went up for several months when I worked last summer, but what we have to depend on every month is my husband's pension and my advertising income from Chez Loulou (a small part of the total), which equals about $1600, or €1290 at today's conversion rate.

As I stated before, we live in a village in the south, not in a big city, so the prices might be totally different to those living in cities like Paris, Lyon or Marseille.  Also, we own our little house outright so have no mortgage, nor do we have car payments or credit card debt.

EDF (electricity) €122
Phone and Internet €50
Heath Insurance (to cover the 30% that isn't covered by the state) €130
Car and Home Insurances €63
Taxes (habitation and foncières and TV) €50
Water €25
Fuel (to fill up the car twice) €90
Groceries (approx.) €350

Total €880
It leaves enough to live on.  Simply.
The good news is that the US dollar has been slowly gaining strength against the Euro.  Let's hope it continues!

We still do the majority of our fresh food shopping at the local markets.  The prices aren't any higher than what it would cost in fuel to drive to Narbonne or Carcassonne (a little over an hour round trip) and shop at the enormous grocery stores such as Géant Casino or Intermarché.  Those places drive me crazy and I would much rather support the small shops, local honey, wine and cheese producers, butchers, and fruit and vegetable growers in the area.

The one problem with living in rural France is finding a job.  Two years ago I didn't have the right to work, so it wasn't an issue.  Now it is an issue. The jobs are few and far between and are most commonly agricultural.  If only I knew how to drive a tractor, or had training as a shepherd.
So I continue to look for work and we continue to enjoy life to its fullest.  Proving that even with very little money, it can be done.

Related Link:
Jennie in France

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