10 great places to live in France that won’t blow your budget


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There are certainly many points to think about when planning your move to France, and your budget is usually top of mind. France is large and all its different areas offer a different lifestyle which comes with a different cost of living. So, what are the best cheap places to live in France? We’ve compiled a list of popular and lesser known cities and towns that are both affordable and nice to live in.

Paris remains the most popular place for foreigners to settle, but this definitely comes at a steep price. For many, the idea of living in France is appealing, but it also needs to be an affordable dream. Luckily there are a number of places in France where your money will go further and they are beautiful and desirable places to live.

The following are the 10 best cheap places to live in France:

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1. Châteauroux

This popular city in the Indre region in the center of the country is one of the cheapest places to live in France. Located just two hours from Paris, it is a much more affordable option for those who want to enjoy visiting the capital on a regular basis. The River Indre flows through Châteauroux. There are lovely open spaces throughout the town, including forests and La Brenne Regional Park, with its numerous lakes. The city has a strong economy with much of it focused on the aeronautics industry at the airport.

Fun fact, Châteauroux was an American Air Force base between 1952 -1967. Since then, American football became a popular local sport and the ‘Sabres’ team became one of the best military teams. Today, local teams still play in the French American football championship.

Châteauroux has a good range of apartments and houses to rent and buy. Prices are particularly affordable in the suburbs – making it one of the most affordable places to live in France.

Transportation is affordable as well. Everyone is encouraged to jump on the local buses – which are free to use. As an added bonus, Châteauroux has a really good train service to Orléans, Limoges, Toulouse, and Paris.

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2. Grenoble

Located in southeastern France, in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps region, Grenoble is a great choice if you enjoy outdoor life and mountain scenery and are looking for one of the most affordable places to live in France.

Grenoble is a small city that stands between the Isere and Drac Rivers, at the foot of the Alps. The scenery is absolutely stunning and there is a great choice of outdoor sports including two ski resorts situated just over an hour away. Grenoble has museums and universities, boasting a large student population.

Grenoble also has an industrial base with a nuclear research facility and semiconductor companies and these are popular with expatriate workers.

Rental properties are reasonably priced. For example, a 1,000-square-foot apartment costs about $1,200-1,300 per month.

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3. Le Havre

Le Havre in Normandy is France’s second largest port, located at the point where the River Seine meets the sea. The Normandy region is known to be a good value for those seeking to move to France and wanting a reasonably priced property to either buy or rent. Le Havre is a dynamic city – with the bonus of being one of the cheap places to live in France.

Le Havre is certainly a vibrant city as it has been totally rebuilt following its destruction in the Second World War.

Much to the delight of its residents, it has been listed as a UNESCO site because of its wealth of modern architecture. It displays the clever and bold use of concrete by Auguste Perret, the Belgian architect considered a pioneer of urban planning.

The new city has more than 10,000 apartments in two sections – the lower town with the old port and the Perret district and the upper town, which can be reached either by tunnel or cable car.

There are plenty of green areas in Le Havre, including the dramatic hanging gardens in the restored hilltop fort and the Montgeon Forest covering 240 hectares of park. Right in the center of Le Havre is a long stretch of beach which is popular with canoeists and wind surfers.

Local products, especially fish and vegetables, can be bought  in the daily indoor market or straight from the fishing boats. There are good restaurants including a Michelin two star locale.

Rents average $1,000 to $1,200 for a 1,000-square-foot apartment. If you would prefer to buy a property, there are some really attractively priced houses on the market – especially if you are willing to complete some work on them yourself. The average price to buy an apartment in Le Havre is between $130,000 and $150,000, a large house would go for around $300,000, depending on size and location.

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4. Lille

Situated in Hauts-de-France in northern France, close to the Belgian border, stands Lille. The region’s capital, Lille is a major transport hub, not just for France, but for Europe as well, with excellent rail links to other European cities.

Lille is one of the cheapest places to live in France; with affordable real estate prices, food and reasonably priced restaurants.

Lille has a long industrial history as it was once the area’s merchant’s center. However, it has completely overhauled its image and is now known for both its culture and commerce, especially in the service sector.

The city center is delightful, with medieval buildings and cobbled streets. The most popular green space is Parc Les Poussins, which is a hit with families as it has a zoo and fairground.

Lille is a dynamic university city, with many young people living here. It has some excellent restaurants serving delicious Flemish dishes.

Getting around Lille is easy, as its public transport is among the most advanced in France. It includes a driverless metro network. The nearest international airport is just 15 minutes away and it is the country’s third largest port.

Lille is one of the cheapest places to live in France, with one bedroom apartments costing on average under $700 a month. The average price of a house is under $300 per square foot. The cost of living in Lille is about 75% cheaper than New York.

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5. Marseille

This port city has long been popular with expats because it is a very affordable city to live in. The work balance in Marseille is good and there are plenty of leisure facilities including several good beaches not too far away.

The city has a long history, as it has been an important trading port for centuries. Its life is focused on the Vieux Port (meaning ‘Old Port’) which is a colorful mixture of fishing boats and snazzy yachts.

Marseille is one of the best places to live in France if you’re looking for cheap housing. Rent prices in Marseille are 70% less than Paris. A one bed apartment in the city has an average monthly rental price of around $600-$800, depending on location and size.

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6. Nantes

Nantes is sitting on the banks of the River Loire, in the Brittany area of northwestern France. This attractive university city has a rich history, including its iconic Château Ducs de Bretagne – once home to the powerful Dukes of Brittany and the area’s main attraction.

The city is also has a strong economy as it is the country’s third largest industrial center and it is developing as a hub for an increasing number of international companies.

Nantes is one of the cheaper places to live in France, but nevertheless is known for its high quality of life – which comes at half the price of Paris. Rental prices are as low as $600 per month for an apartment – even less if you opt to live further out from the city center.

The city has much to offer residents. For those who enjoy history, the recently revamped museum features multimedia presentations. If you enjoy outdoor life, Nantes is a good choice with plenty of green spaces including Les Jardins des Plantes (one of the largest botanical gardens in the country) and a forest at your doorstep.

Everyone is encouraged to be environmentally friendly and use public transport. There are trams, a comprehensive network of buses, and the Navibus water bus. 

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7. Nîmes

Nimes is situated in southern France and it was a very important area in Roman times – as revealed by its magnificent Roman amphitheatre and the Maison Carrée limestone temple.

If you’re looking for warm weather, Nîmes boasts more than 300 days of sunshine every year and enjoys a lively calendar of festivals and other events.

Nîmes is located within easy access of some beautiful coastline and the amazing Camargue National Reserve – famous for its beautiful flamingoes that can be spotted on its lagoons.

The Cévennes Mountain National Park is also within easy reach and it has more than 300 hiking routes and numerous cycle tracks too.

For shopping, Nîmes is close to Arles, which is famous for its sprawling market said to be one of the best in the South of France. Nîmes has so much to offer and is one of the most affordable places to live in France.

Nîmes is the ideal place to retire. Being relatively unknown to foreigners, it is by-passed by many expats, which helps keep the prices down, hence making it one of the most affordable places to live in France.

In the center there are good shops and restaurants. The city offers its residents quality healthcare facilities too and has a top teaching hospital – Centre Hospitalier Universitaire. Rental prices are good in the city, averaging $1,000 per month even in the historic center, which is a particularly attractive area to live.

Getting around Nimes is easy, as the city center is compact and ideal for walking. The TANGO city bus is reasonably priced and very efficient – no wonder it is one of the cheapest places to live in France.

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8. Périgueux

Périgueux is situated in the southwest of France, and it is the attractive capital of the Dordogne region. Perigueux is one of the best places to live in France if you’re looking for cheap cost of living.

This area has been popular with expats for years and it is easy to see why. The Dordogne has rolling countryside and numerous châteaux and is as pretty as a postcard.

There are many lovely historical towns including Périgueux, Bergerac (with a regional airport with flights mainly to the UK) and Sarlat la Canéda.

You can find real estate properties to suit everyone’s wallet, from a château to a cottage and everything in-between. The rental market is buoyant too. Rental prices start at $560 a month and property prices start at $115 per square foot. If you are looking for the best value, this will be found in the smaller villages.

The large number of expats living in the Dordogne are drawn by its mild climate, slower pace of life and good value property, which make it one of the most affordable places to live in France.

There is a lively expat scene in Perigueux, which includes an English church in Eymet. There is plenty to do in the Dordogne including walking, horse riding, canoeing and golf – and the fast-flowing rivers are good for water sports.

If you like swimming, the Dordogne River is ideal as it is the cleanest river in France. There is a lively cultural scene too. The public transport network is very reliable, running between the main towns, with a rural service between the smaller villages.

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9. Saint-Étienne, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Located in eastern France, Saint-Etienne is the main city (prefecture) of the Loire Valley. For the last 200 years, it has been an industrial base. However, in recent years the city has completely changed following a dramatic restoration of its buildings and a change of emphasis focusing on design.

Saint-Etienne is a pleasant city to walk around, with numerous attractive squares. It is also conveniently located near Lyon Airport and a great base to explore the beautiful Loire Valley.

Saint-Etienne is one of the greatest places to live in France with a cheap cost of living. Rented property is attractively affordable, with monthly rates usually less than $1,000, depending on size.

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10. Toulon

Found in the Var region in the South of France, Toulon has been an important harbor on the Mediterranean coast since the 15th century. Today it is a major military base, naval port, and ship building center.

Toulon is also a university town, with a veterinary college and chiropractic school. Consequently, the city is very diverse and full of character, no matter where you live.

The old heart of the city is attractive with narrow streets leading to numerous pretty squares with central fountains. There are good sports facilities and transport networks and everyone seems hard-working but relaxed and friendly. Moreover, Toulon has a strong and friendly expatriate community of many nationalities.

Toulon has its own airport called Toulon-Hyères International Airport, east of the city and it is also within easy reach of the Marseille and Nice Airports. In terms of housing, rental prices in Toulon are generally affordable, ranging from $800-$1,200 per month.

Before deciding where in France to move, it is certainly well worth researching further which areas in France are the cheaper places to live and how to make a living in France as a foreigner.

Other places to consider include Angers in Pays de la Loire, Dijon is famous for its mustard and sits among the vineyards of Burgundy, while Reims is home to many world-famous Champagne houses. Researching online potential places to live in France can be both interesting and fun, particularly when done while enjoying a glass of fine French wine.

This article originally appeared on MyDolceCasa and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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