So, I might be biased, but I think France is a pretty great place to live. Jake and I have lived here for a while now and whenever we’re asked ‘is France a good place to live, it’s always a resounding yes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect and there are definitely some things about living in France that I’m not a fan of, but on the whole, we love it here.
Want to find out if moving to France is the right decision for you? Check out my reasons why France is a great place to live – and a couple of downsides that you might want to be aware of before you decide to move.
10 Reasons Why France is a Good Place to Live
Let’s start with all the good stuff about living in France compared to the United States.
1. Health Care
First things first, having socialized healthcare with amazing health insurance is unbelievable and definitely something that should be standard in all countries. Yes, it does mean that the tax is a little higher, but when procedures like getting an IUD fitted only cost $200 rather than $1000, it’s a no-brainer.
You do need to have French health insurance as a part of your long-stay visa application process, but it only cost Jake and me $750 for the whole year, which compared to the US, is insane. French healthcare also includes dental, so this just adds even more value to the already incredible French healthcare system.
2. Work/Life Balance & Better Quality of Life
Despite being one of the world’s biggest economies, the standard work week in France is actually only 35 hours a week. It leaves plenty of room for excursions, family time, and huge, delicious lunches.
This means that people are less stressed, are more easygoing, and often have more free time to do hobbies and activities that they actually enjoy. It’s amazing.
The focus on pleasure and leisure in the French lifestyle is something I’m constantly trying to incorporate into my daily life. Detoxing from the fast-paced American schedule that my brain seems to be stuck on.
One of the best things about France is its location. As part of the European Union, residents have freedom of movement around the 26 nations in the EU block.
Want a weekend in Switzerland? Living in the South of France and fancy a day trip to Spain? There’s no paperwork needed.
With the number of cheap flights, buses, and trains in Europe, there are so many great destinations that are within affordable reach. Also just getting around France is pretty easy with the extensive train network.
Rather than spending a fortune to get across the country, you can buy super cheap flights that’ll take you right across Europe. Perfect for a pair of travel bloggers!
Not to mention that after living here for almost two years, I just keep adding locations INSIDE of France to my bucket list. Before moving here, I honestly had no idea how amazing France itself was and I plan to spend years visiting French cities all over the country.
From the French Riviera to the French Alps, I don’t think I’ll ever see it all. Lyon and Annecy have become two of my favorite places on Earth and I haven’t even been to Bordeaux, Montpellier, Toulouse, Rennes, etc.
You are just a few hours from most European countries, so France makes a great home base for traveling!
4. Multicultural Influences
Due to France’s long and illustrious history, there are so many multicultural influences. From Spanish and Italian architecture to the influence of French colonialism on food, music, theatre, and more.
There are dozens of surprising influences around every corner, meaning that living in France can sometimes feel like you live in Italy, Spain, Morocco, and more without ever leaving your town or city.
5. Varied Landscape
You want mountains? Choose from the Alps or the Pyrenees. Want beaches? We’ve got tons of world-class beaches and even world-class surf swells. Wanna hang out in forests? Visit Fontainebleau.
France has so many lakes, rivers, canals, outstanding cities, rural idylls, and so much more. It’s got any kind of landscape you can possibly want short of a rainforest or desert, which in Europe would be pretty insane.
Even if you don’t want to set down roots in one of those locations, having them on your doorstep means that the option to visit is always there.
Yes, the US has all of these too, but it’s 18 times the size of France, so it’s a lot less accessible to jump between different landscapes. Driving from Calais to Toulouse – one of the longest routes in the country – is only 600 miles and takes between 10 to 12 hours.
6. Cheaper Rent
This probably comes as no surprise but the rent in France is much cheaper than in the US. Of course, there are more expensive regions like Paris, but on the whole, it’s way more affordable.
For $750 we have a newly refurbished apartment that’s just 5 minutes from the beach in the gorgeous city of Nice. We could barely get a shoebox apartment for that amount in the US.
There is also rent control in many of the major cities in France to prevent huge rent increases from landlords.
I went over all of my monthly expenses here in Southern France in this blog post if you want a complete breakdown!
7. Affordable Public Transport
A great thing about France is the public transport connections. Both in big cities and across the country, you’ll find plenty of routes for an affordable rate. Most trains have comfortable seats and WiFi available with amenities tending to improve on longer routes.
It means that especially if you’re in the city, having a car isn’t a necessity and actually doesn’t even make financial sense. It’s a greener way to live and it’s a cheaper way to live!
8. French Food
Okay, let’s be honest, this is probably the main reason why France is a good place to live. The food is outstanding. It’s the home of haute cuisine. The varied climate means that you can get pretty much any fresh produce, locally sourced, all year round.
Let’s not even start on the wine, cheese, and bread. It’s paradise when it comes to food.
9. Cheaper Stores
One of the biggest stores in France is a sports megastore called Decathlon. You can find them all over Europe, but as a French company, they’re everywhere and it’s super cheap.
We’re talking running leggings for $10, bikini bottoms for $3 and there’s so much choice it’s honestly hard to figure out how they’ve stayed in business so long.
With other big box shops like Maxi Bazaar and Carrefour offering home, groceries, and electricals at low rates as standard, it’s easy to see how the cost of living in France is so low compared to other countries.
10. Paid Vacation Time
This is something that Europe in general does so much better than the US. It’s a legal requirement that you get 30 days of paid holidays per leave, not including French official holidays – and there are plenty of them!
Considering that US companies don’t actually have to give you any time off at all, this legal protection for time off was so refreshing, especially as travel bloggers.
There’s also government-mandated parental leave for both partners in France. Paternity has recently been upped to 28 days and while the maternity leave process and allowances are a little tricky to get your head around, as long as you’ve paid social security for 10 months and have worked 150 hours in the past 90 days, you should be eligible for at least 8 weeks of paid maternity leave.
Again, it should be standard everywhere, but coming from the US, this is a huge bonus.
4 Reasons Why France Isn’t a Good Place to Live
Okay, now let’s have a quick look at the not-so-good stuff. You’ll notice there are way fewer of them!
11. Red Tape (French Bureaucracy)
Okay so no nation is a stranger to red tape, but France goes above and beyond, especially when it comes to expats.
It’s notoriously hard to get a visa that allows you to work in the country unless it’s specifically sponsored, which can make it difficult to get by once you’re here, especially on long-term stay visas.
Getting a long-term stay visa wasn’t actually that bad, but I’ve heard the renewal process is a bit of an ordeal – I’ll let you know how that goes!
Also trying to find a place to live as an expat is incredibly difficult unless you hire a company to operate on your behalf. We learned that the hard way, so factor that into your moving costs and time frames.
Similarly, opening bank accounts on long-term stay visas is a minefield of red tape. Of course, a French bank account is critical in order to pay rent, utilities, taxes, and tons of other stuff, so be prepared to go through the wringer with this.
We ended up using the same service that found our apartment to help us open our bank account (Adrian Leeds Group).
12. Knowing French is a Necessity
This shouldn’t come as a surprise since, you know, we’re in France, but many countries operate on a bilingual basis. France is not one of those places. Yes, the majority of French people can speak English. Will they when they’re in their own country? Not really.
Especially to get around all the red tape, knowing French is an absolute must. Get on Duolingo and start taking iTalki classes like yesterday if you’re thinking of making the move. You should honestly be doing this anyway to immerse yourself in the country, but it’s a must-do before you get on that plane!
13. Sorely Lacking in Good Mexican Food
Coming from the US, we have a ton of amazing Mexican food, thanks to the geographical location. Sadly, France doesn’t have that same proximity to Mexico, nor the same amount of Mexican expats who want to share their culinary culture with the world.
The result? Some seriously sub-par Mexican food. If you want your fill of delicious tacos, get your fill before you move.
The stereotypes are true – France has a lot of strikes. As a lot of the services in the country are run by the state, if there’s a problem with conditions, pay or anything really, the whole country tends to come to a standstill.
That’s airports, train stations, garbage men, council services, everything that isn’t private enterprise. Even car manufacturers are predominantly owned by the French government so they can come out of strike at the same time.
It can be really inconvenient, but they tend to announce the strikes at least a few days in advance, if not weeks, so you can make alternate arrangements.
15. The Summer is REALLY Hot With No Air Conditioning
This summer I basically roasted inside my apartment. Living on the Côte d’Azur is a dream, as long as it’s outside of June, July, or August.
It got so hot this summer, I saw multiple people get picked up by ambulances after passing out from heat exhaustion and dehydration.
The French are notoriously anti-air conditioning, which is great for the environment but after weeks of not being able to sleep or cool myself down, I caved and bought a mini air conditioner for our bedroom.
Honestly, I don’t regret it at all.
Overall, France is a Great Country to Live in
So, even though the bureaucracy, strikes, and bad Mexican food are definitely not ideal, the great healthcare, cost of living, location, food, and work-life balance more than make up for it. So, is France a good place to live? Yeah, I’d say it definitely is!