Dreams are free; reality requires a budget.
The author, Kathleen Pedicord, is well-versed in living overseas and runs a business centered around helping others with that concept. She writes that a couple could live modestly in Carcassonne on 1300 dollars a month total and still be able to dine out and enjoy entertainment opportunities. Since that figure is about equal to the average monthly US Social Security check for one person, it would appear that a comfortable retirement there for a couple is quite achievable.
On this page I want to list a few budgets that we’ve seen from others living in France and then update ours annually to show what it is costing us.
The other south of France budget (from the article above)
- Rent 400
- Electricity 50
- Gas 15
- Water 16
- Phone/TV/Internet 40
- Groceries 480
Total 1000 euro or 1300 dollars when she wrote the article
To be honest, I think that she’s left out some things from her line item list, but at least this got us started. Immediately below is a more complete accounting of what another couple spend. NOTE: Since publishing this article in the magazine the author has revised the total on her own website to a more realistic, but still low, 1350 euro.
Source: US News & World Report, September, 2012
From a couple who live in Angers, about 3 hours west of Paris
As for cost, we live comfortably in a medium sized village (Dept 49), within walking distance of all shops, restaurants and cafes. Our basic budget is:
- housing 1030 (includes rent – 700, tax – 130, utilities – 200) for 85 m2 apt
- internet 33
- food/dining 500
- Bank fees 40
- Basic cell service for 2 25 (unlimited calls in france & North America, but no data)
- Car insurance 26
- Travel/gas 100 (we only use the car a couple times a week)
- Entertainment 150
- Haircut/color 60
- Medical 100
- Annual visa fee 40/mth
Total 2100 euro
Source: Yahoo Live in France forum, April 2015
From friends who used to live in Carcassonne
We can usually get by on 2000 euro per month. Our rent included Internet and the apartment was fully furnished. We spend 10 euro per week on 20 pounds of fresh vegetables.
- Rent 750
- Utilities 80
- Groceries 60
- Dog food 40
They now live directly beside the Mediterranean in a larger house where the rent is 70 euro more per month for size and location but the budget remains otherwise unchanged.
From one of the blogs we follow
Here’s a link that will take you directly to the cost of living section of the Chez Loulou blog. She began with a budget of 800 euro in 2008 living down in our area and her most recent listing from 2017 in Paris shows monthly expenses of 2595 euro.
Our own monthly budget
Here’s what we budget each month in euros for our family of two. Our first year here, 2016, we rented a fully-furnished house that included the utilities and taxes before buying a house.
|Category (in euros)||2016||2017||2018||2019||2020|
|Electricity & Gas||included||146||147||147||132|
|Cell phone service||10||10||10||10||10|
|VPN for US connex.||3||3||2||3||3|
|Health ins. France||153||153||42||42||44|
|Health ins. USA||164||204||0||0||0|
|Medical visits & OTC drugs||50||50||50||50||50|
|Residency card fee||44||44||44||44||44|
|Total/month in euros||2218||1582||1287||1294||1215|
* Notes: 2018 – We joined the national health plan and dropped our USA health insurance. We purchased mutuelle insurance that covers some of the out of pocket expenses. This is a personal choice as to how much coverage you feel you need.
2020 – Fiber optic cable was installed in Carcassonne and we opted for the highest speed possible. Lower prices are available. Our boiler (that provides instant hot water and heat) required service and for insurance purposes it must be recertified each year so we purchased a contract. Due to changes in the way our US income is treated for tax purposes (mostly government pensions – IRAs, SS, state pensions) we no longer pay the habitation or TV tax.