Budget

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. Previous years can be found on a separate page, link below. Our first year here, 2016, we rented a fully-furnished house that included the utilities and taxes before buying a house.

Category (in euros)20162021
Rent10830
Electricity & Gasincluded145
Waterincluded56
TV/Phone/Internetincluded50
Property Taxesincluded108
Habitation Taxincluded0
Property insurance2042
Food/Grocery items320320
Cell phone service1010
VPN for US connex.33
Bank fees1310
Local bus83
Health ins. France15345
Health ins. USA1640
Medical visits & OTC drugs5050
Entertainment350350
Residency card fee *440
Furnace Certification/Maint.12
Total/month in euros22181195

*Notes: 2021 – We are applying for our 10 year residency card so will not need this fee for a while. Not travelling due to Covid-19 meant we were home to use more water, etc. so our budget had to increase for some items. Previous budgets can be seen by following this link

19 thoughts on “Budget

  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

    1. 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

    1. 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.

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  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.
    Thanks,
    Amy

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 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?
    Cheers,
    Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 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!

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    2. 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.

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      1. 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 🙂

        Chris

        Liked by 1 person

  6. 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.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Bill, I’m new to your blog, so far it’s very enlightening! I’m wondering what your thoughts are on a single lady retiree moving to France. I would have about 1700 euros a month. I’d like to live in a moderately sized village/town. Would making friends be difficult?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Guys. I assume the amount listed for French health insurance is only what you pay for the mutuelle – people would need to also budget 8% of their income to pay for the national insurance, correct? If so, this would increase the monthly budget significantly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the amount we pay is for the mutuelle. The 8% (above the minimum income threshold of around 10,000 euros at this time) does not currently include government pension income (Social Security, IRAs, 401k, etc.) so that’s why our budget is correct for us.

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  9. Thanks for the clarification Bill. I had been reading the post on Health insurance and read there that retirees pay 8% of their income – that concerned me! If pensions & social security are excluded then for a lot of retirees (myself included), there won’t be much income outside of that to be taxed. Phew!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi bill love your blog and I am finding it so interesting, I am am hoping to move to France with my friend this year. ( when one can of course ) I’d love your advice on it… regards Rita

    Liked by 2 people

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