Cheapest places to live

For administrative purposes, mainland France is divided into 96 departements, each with its own presence of the federal government at the Préfecture. Not only is that convenient for the elected officials in Paris but it’s also handy for comparisons when you’re trying to decide where you might want to live. Here on our blog if you click on the Tag “Where to live in France” (in the right hand column) you’ll see posts that have sometimes included that division in the results. Today we’re adding one more article to that list with the topic being “cheapest” since it’s about the cost of living while others have looked at factors such as healthcare, recreation, and weather. After all, it’s probably pretty inexpensive to live on a desert island but the quality of life might leave a lot to be desired.

The title of the article in the newspaper Le Parisien was “The cities where life is cheaper” where they took into account these seven financial factors that the residents of those 96 departmental cities mentioned above must deal with:

From the Châteauroux Métropole website

Average hourly salary

Real estate prices

Food costs

Property tax rates

Cost of movie tickets

Local bus/tram/train ticket prices

Cost of a liter of gasoline

Here are the top 20 cities where your euro stretches a bit further:

  1. Niort
  2. Châteauroux
  3. Laval
  4. Nevers
  5. Belfort
  6. Chaumont
  7. Épinal
  8. Saint-Brieuc
  9. Saint-Étienne
  10. Rodez
  11. Châlons-en-Champagne
  12. Quimper
  13. Arras
  14. Foix
  15. Poitiers
  16. Le Mans
  17. Colmar
  18. Montauban
  19. Bourg-en-Bresse
  20. Nantes
Rodez city wall

Other than Nantes (population 319,000) there aren’t any in the top 20 that I think of as big cities but further down the list you find Lyon at number 58, Paris 77, Marseille 84, and Montpellier 90. The study’s authors point out that while salaries in metropolitan areas tend to be greater than in smaller towns, that advantage is offset by the higher cost of the items in the list above.

Arras Hôtel de Guines

The website France Transactions that gives advice on savings and investments has taken a different view of the same data that Le Parisien used. In their opinion, being a renter can be a better financial option especially when property taxes are soaring. They say, “Rents increase much less quickly than inflation and are most often now capped by the municipalities.” Accordingly, by minimizing the impact of housing costs in the data, their “Top 10 Cheapest Cities” would be:

  1. Niort
  2. Versailles
  3. Laval
  4. Nantes
  5. Vannes
  6. Paris
  7. Châteauroux
  8. Bordeaux
  9. Colmar
  10. Chartres

That led to their conclusion that by modifying the real estate factor, “we can observe that life would not be so much more expensive in Paris than in Niort! Surprising all the same.”


That’s great news for anyone who wants to live in the capital, in Nantes, or in the other big cities that moved into the revised top 10. But where does that leave us out here in Carcassonne that came in at position 78 (directly after Paris) in the original list? Happy, I’d say, especially if Paris moved up from the position right before us to number 6. Luckily we have no rent nor mortgage payment which leaves us the resources to visit all of those other cities across France that otherwise (apparently) don’t cost any more than right here at home!


Data note: To see the ranking of the original full list of 96 cities you would need a subscription to Le Parisien. I was only able to find the top 10 of the modified France Transactions list, yet their conclusion could suggest that there might not be much of a difference between number 1 and number 96.

Photo notes: The featured photo across the top is from the Ville de Niort website and in the first paragraph is the Grande fountain in Belfort.

14 thoughts on “Cheapest places to live

      1. Hello to all,

        for me it is an opportunity to look up “where in France” these places even are? The rental situation has gone up sky high here in Germany. Apparently the French government has been doing much better for and with low level incomes?
        Good to know.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. We too had to look up some of these places but that’s why we like these “best of” lists since it gives us new ideas of cities to visit. You’re right, at least from what we’ve observed locally, that the French government has many programs to assist those with low incomes.


  1. Bonjour Bill et Bob, I really appreciate your blog and it is a pleasure to read it. I am French, husband American and we would like to move to France from Florida. Who would you recommend to contact for a furnished rental in the City of Carcassonne. I am so used to the American real estate websites that I have trouble searching in France. Merci beaucoup et a bientôt. Monique


    Liked by 1 person

    1. So happy that you enjoy our blog. We will send you an email tomorrow to find a little more about what you actually need and then we can see what is available for you. Merci Bill et Bob


      1. Hi Bill,

        If you could send us that information as well, I would really appreciate it. We’re about to move to France (10 May) and, initially, will be living in Espéraza. We’ll be neighbors, so to speak. 😉


        Liked by 1 person

  2. Inexpensive is one factor but there are others when considering where best to live like a good paying job for example. I look at the lists above and of course Bretagne is cheaper in general always has been loaded with Parisiens making house prices go up by 40% I live in the Morbihan breton after moving from Versailles.

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