Cost of living
Living in the Paris Region is quite expensive. We suggest you calculate your budget in advance so that you know what to expect when you arrive in France.
Below are some useful guidelines to help you estimate your expenses when you arrive and during your daily life.
For better guidance in this process, download and consult
The euro is the official currency in France and in 18 other EU member states. The cheapest way to exchange currency is to order some euros in advance, directly at your bank in your home country. You will find also find currency exchange offices (bureaux de change) in every international airport and train station.
We recommend you to have at least 50 euros with you for your first expenses, such as buying a metro ticket to get from the airport to the place where you will be staying. You can also get euros fairly easily right away when you arrive in France, as there are always ATMs at the airport.
Important: the cost of living in Paris is high, in particular regarding accommodation and costs of settling in France, during the first month after your arrival.
Please read carefully the information below to understand how much money you will need during your stay.
How much does it cost to live in France?
In France, the legal minimum wage, le SMIC, is the minimum level of salary an employer must pay their workers. As of January 1st 2021, the net minimum wage (after social contributions) for 35 working hours per week is €1,229.88 per month.
Upon your arrival, you will have to pay for some settling-in expenses, such as:
- Registration fees: Bachelor's programme (€170), Master's programme (€243), Doctoral programme (€380)
- CVEC - Contribution de vie étudiante et de campus: €92 (2021-2022)
- the first month of rent (around €800 for a 20 m² apartment in Paris)
- the security deposit (this amount is equal to one month's rent for an unfurnished apartment and two month's rent for a furnished apartment)
- real estate agency fees if applicable (around €800)
- your monthly public transportation pass (€40 on average with a student subscription, €85 on average for a regular subscription)
- utilities (electricity, phone and gas bills)
- house insurance.
Keep in mind that expenses on your arrival in a 20m² studio may reach €2,500, therefore, you need to plan your budget ahead.
If you are staying for more than three months you will have to pay €77 for the validation of your VLS-TS étudiant or €260 for your VLS-TS scientifique-chercheur.
The average rent for a 20m² studio in Paris and the suburbs is around €800 per month. Once you have settled in your apartment, you will be able to apply for an Aide personnalisée au logement – APL (individualized housing assistante). For more information on the APL, refer to the “Accomodation”.
The Origine-Destination ticket allows you to ride the RER or a SNCF commuter train outside zone 1. You can buy this ticket to travel from the nearest station to the university. It costs around €3.55 and is determined by the number of zones (1-5) traveled from your origin station to the destination station. Buying 10 tickets at once costs €28.40. A single metro ticket (Ticket T+) to move around Paris costs €1.90. If you buy your ticket on the bus, it will cost you €2.There are also a number of packages that can either be paid monthly or yearly. Until you get your subscription to a monthly or annual package, we advise you to purchase a book of 10 tickets ("carnet") for €14.50, which will save you about 27% in comparison to a purchase of 10 single tickets.
To know more about these offers, visit the RATP website.
In France, you can buy unleaded (sans plomb) in either 95 or 98 octane, super unleaded (super) or diesel (gazole) by the liter. The price of gasoline per liter varies by gas station. If you are using SP95, gasoline will cost around €1.47/L in the Ile-de-France region and €1.65/L in Paris. If you are using SP98, gasoline will cost around €1.57/L in the Ile-de-France region and €1.74/L in Paris.
Figuring out your monthly food budget will depend on your eating habits. It is cheaper to shop in a large supermarket than in a convenience store or in an open-air market.
What to expect in terms of food-related expenses (approximate prices):
- a baguette: €0.90
- a sandwich: €4
- a meal at a restaurant including main course and desert: €20
- a coffee: €4 in Paris, €2,50 in the suburbs (you will pay more if you have a drink at a table outside than at the counter)
- monthly food budget for one person: €200 minimum
In France, indicated prices include VAT and the service charge. You should not feel obligated to leave a tip.
- Monthly gym subscription: around €30 in the suburbs and €50 in Paris
- Hairdresser: around €20 to €40 for a woman (€40-90€ for a hair colour), around €15 to €25 for a man and around €10 for a child.
- Movie ticket: €9. There are discounts for the younger public and the price of a screening is lower during the week. The UGC and Pathé Gaumont cinemas offer a card allowing unlimited access to their cinemas for around €20/month.
Our tip: For cultural events, there are discounts for students and EU citizens under 26 years old. National museums are also free on the first Sunday of every month.