Euro bills and coins

Euro bills and coins

Dreams are free; reality requires a budget.

Here’s a link  to one of the first articles we read that pointed us toward the “other” south of France as a place to retire (or click here for the PDF version). 

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
Rent 1083 0 0 0 0
Electricity & Gas included 146 147 147 166
Water included 41 38 38 38
TV/Phone/Internet included 23 43 43 50
Property Taxes included 104 105 108 108
Habitation Tax included 77 79 81 81
Property insurance 20 36 39 40 41
Food/Grocery items 320 320 320 320 320
Cell phone service 10 10 10 10 10
VPN for US connex. 3 3 2 3 3
Bank fees 13 13 10 10 10
Local bus 8 8 8 8 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
Entertainment 350 350 350 350 350
Residency card fee 44 44 44 44 44
Furnace Certification/Maint. 3
Total/month in euros 2218 1582 1287 1294 1321

* 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.

  1. Hi Bill, interesting what one finds. The budget for the “Angers Couple” above is actually mine. And, it’s still pretty accurate, except after we purchased, our mortgage now is 100e less than we were paying for rent. And surprisingly to our US friends, we added full data when we got our smartphone, which only added 7e to our previous rate of 12e/month.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Terry, so nice to hear from you. Your budget helped us decide to make the move and ours is very similar now that we are here in Carcassonne. At the moment the budget is in flux because we have just decided to buy a house while renting another. It will take us a few months to get all the updates and furnishings in place but we do have time. The budget will certainly change when this lease is up because we will then not have a mortgage or rent payment as we put the money aside when we sold our home in the US just in case.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to be able to help Bill. When we bought our apartment, our initial plan was to pay in cash, but then I learned from our Credit Agricole bank, that they would give us a loan if we wanted. The rate was really great, IMHO, at just 2%. There were some other quirks, but all to protect the borrower, so we went ahead and took out the French mortgage. Mainly to hedge against exchange rate risk. Should the dollar drop dramatically, and we had to move back to the US, at least we’d have a nice gain on the apartment sale.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So happy to have found your blog! I live in the USA and recently inherited a house in Val D’Anjou. I am trying to figure out if I can hold on to it for a few more years as husband and I are not at retirement age yet. Your budget information is very helpful. It seems that it would be less costly to live in France then where we currently live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • La Grenouillette – if you’re still there, how was your experience with transfer of the inheritance? Depending on the value of the house, it can be pretty expensive to “inherit” property in France – if you’re not a close relative.


  4. Hi! I wish I had seen your blog before we took our love bug, Georgia Bear, to France with us. I searched long and hard to find out the information that I needed (when I could have just visited your website!) If you want an update on the travel process you can check out our blog here: http://gooberkids.com/news/
    We don’t really blog much, but I have so many people ask me how we did it, that I finally put together a little website for GB. But if I had known that you have one already I probably would have just referred them to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My husband and I are planning a move to France at the end of 2018.
    Do you have any updates on what your budget became once you bought a home?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chris Harcourt Duffy

    Hi – my wife and I are retiring to rural Normandy in May. From the research I’ve done, the monthly cost figure averaged about 1800e /month. That includes 700e in rent. We are going to rent for a year and explore, then likely buy. Does that figure seem realistic to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chris, That looks about right as long as you have some extra money left over for travel/vacation/entertainment. We don’t have a car and that could add a bit to the budget so hopefully you have looked at where you will want to be and how to get around. Good luck!


    • Hi Chris, I was wondering if you went ahead with your plan to retire to rural Normandy this month. (May). We were thinking of doing something similar, but only have a budget of 1,800 euros a month, although we have a little saved. We live in the U.S. and are a little worried this will not be enough to meet our needs on a monthly basis. And what about health insurance? How are you getting along? Would love to hear from you. Thanks, Kathryn.


      • Chris Duffy

        Hi Kathryn – we leave Bangkok for Normandy on Friday. Finally. I have researched and had feedback that 1800e is a realistic budget. We will rent for 600e /month in a nice unfurnished gatehouse near Deauville. As for healthcare, we took out a 4 month policy for two with AVA, at 300e a month, until we get State healthcare arranged. It will take 2 months of residency before we can apply. Then we will consider a top up policy for the 30% not covered. We bought a car online, and the insurance will be 50e a month. We intend to shop at local markets in Trouville, and get away from the supermarket world. I must say that I hold an Irish passport which makes visa etc. a bit simpler. I would go for it…a lot to be said for the quiet life. I will keep you posted and don’t hesitate to contact me for a progress report 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

  7. Chris Harcourt Duffy

    Hi Bill – thanks for replying and very reassuring. After 35 years in the ad biz flying around the world countless times, we now seek the ‘quiet life’. I will buy a used car for occasional excursions etc. Can’t wait to get to cooler climes, been is SEA for 5 years now.


    Liked by 1 person

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