Living in France: 6 pros and cons
Published on March 15, 2023
Many people dream of living in France to fully experience its beautiful landscapes, incredible cuisine and idyllic lifestyle. While the country does have a lot to offer, as with anywhere, it’s not all sunshine and roses. It’s important to research a country before you move there, so you know which city is best for you, what paperwork you need and how to get properly set up. We’ve put together a list of six pros and cons of living in France to help you get a better understanding of what it’s like. Let’s dive right in.
The number one pro of living in France is, without a doubt, the quality of life. The country regularly appears in the list of the top countries for this category. This is for a number of reasons: Fresh produce is grown locally; French cuisine is renowned around the world; the country offers a variety of landscapes; spending time outdoors in nature is very common and easy to do; residents enjoy a slower pace of life making work-life balance more than achievable; university education is cheap and the healthcare system is outstanding. These are but a few of the many reasons why the quality of life in France is consistently ranked as one of the best in the world.
In general, the work-life balance in France is more achievable than in other countries – especially the United States. The two-hour lunch break truly is part and parcel for most jobs in France. The standard working week is 35 hours and the country has 11 public holidays. On Sundays, most stores and supermarkets are closed, giving everyone the opportunity for rest. And to round it all off, the country essentially closes down during the month of August so everyone can enjoy a long holiday and spend time with their kids. Fun fact: Children get two-week holidays every 6-7 weeks, plus two months off in summer.
The healthcare system is yet another aspect of life in France that’s considered one of the best in the world. The state offers coverage for everyone regardless of income, with residents having to pay only a small part (usually 25% maximum). If they then add on a mutuelle (insurance), they should be covered 100%. This not only includes standard doctor’s visits but also prescriptions, hospital stays, emergencies and pregnancy.
France has long been associated with red tape and unfortunately, it is a stereotype that holds true. Everything from opening a bank account and setting up visas to grappling with the tax system can be complex and slow. Answers provided by government officials can vary depending on who you speak to. And the system in general is not as organized as it is in other countries like the States. Even the simplest of tasks, such as changing address, can very quickly become a headache.
Yet another category where France is regularly top of the list is tax. It has one of the highest tax systems in the world, with the top band hitting a whopping 45%. And that’s just income tax! You also have to add tax on goods and services, social security tax and even a TV tax. However, a good percentage of tax in the country goes towards providing many of the elements in the pros list above (e.g. healthcare) so it’s really a trade-off that’s worth it in the long run.
While France has so much to offer residents, it does come at a price. Aside from the high taxes, the cost of living in the country is one of the highest in Europe. In Paris, accommodation is extortionately expensive and daily living costs from food to transport are high. Outside of the capital, the cost of living varies. In the countryside, life in France is much cheaper but you often need a car to get around which pushes costs back up. Cities in the south are consistently ranked as expensive and even traveling around from region to region is costly, due to the toll system on the roads.
Every country has pros and cons but there’s a reason why so many people dream of moving to and living in France. The pros far outweigh the cons and living in the country can truly offer you a wonderful lifestyle.