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What’s the cost of living in France for international students?

You’re going to study in France and you’re wondering how much does it cost to study in France for international students?

Keep reading to get a general overview of what other international students are spending, and get some tips to help you save money as an international student in France.

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How much does it cost to study in France for international students?

cost of living in France for international students

On average, the average student budget in France is between 635€ and 1200€ per month.

Average studio rent600 – 800€
Average flatshare/room rent400 – 600€
Mobile phone + internet20 – 30€
Transport (Bikes + Trains + Subway + Buses)30 – 50€
Groceries & personal care120- 150€
Going out30 – 50€
Health and wellbeing30 – 50€

 

However, you need to keep in mind that the amount of money you need is highly dependent on where you study! Indeed, whereas a student in Paris will need around 1318€ per month, a student in Limoges will only need 790€...

You’ll find specific figures for the following cities below: 

  • Paris
  • Lyon
  • Marseille
  • Lille

Depending on your nationality and/or the type of program you’re studying in, you’ll also need to pay for visa fees & tuition fees.

French student visa

Some students need a VLS-TS visa to study in France (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour mention étudiant). When you arrive for your studies, you’ll need to validate your visa and pay a fee of 50€.

Also, this is not really a fee, but you should know that the bank balance required for the visa application is 615 € / month.

💡 Don’t know if you need a visa? Read our guide on how to get a student visa in France.

Tuition fees in a public university

France is one of the countries with the cheapest university tuition fees. Here’s how much it costs to study in France for international students:

 

You’re from the EU

You’re not from the EU

Undergraduate student (Licence)

170€ /year

2 770€ / year

Masters’ student (master)

243€ /year

3 770€ / year

Erasmus program (undergraduate or master)

0€

0€

Doctorate

380€ /year

380€ /year

 

⚠ This only applies for public universities, not private schools (eg: business schools), or engineering schools.

How much money does a student need in Paris?

On average, students in Paris need 1318€ per month to cover their living expenses, according to a 2020 study made by the National Union of Students of France (UNEF).

Paris is the most expensive student city in France, especially regarding accommodation & transport.

Average studio rent

870€ 

Average flatshare/room rent

609€

Mobile phone + internet

30€

Transport (Bikes + Trains + Subway + Buses)

42€

Groceries & personal care

150€

Going out

50€

Health and wellbeing 

30€

Student tip:
If you want to save money on accommodation, keep in mind that the Nothern part of Paris is cheaper than the Southern part of paris. The East and the West are mostly residential areas, they're cheaper than the South but more expensive than the North of Paris.
Nick
Student in (Paris)

How much money does a student need in Lyon?

cost of living in France for international students
Lyon, Parc de la Tête d'Or in the 6th arrondissement

On average, students in Lyon need 1020€ per month to cover their living expenses. The second student city in France, Lyon is a little more affordable than Paris.

Average studio rent

595€ 

Average flatshare/room rent

498€

Mobile phone + internet

30€

Transport (Bikes + Trains + Subway + Buses)

33€

Groceries & personal care

135€

Going out

45€

Health and wellbeing 

30€

How much money does a student need in Marseille?

On average, students in Marseille need 950€ per month to cover their living expenses.

Average studio rent

530€ 

Average flatshare/room rent

453€

Mobile phone + internet

30€

Transport (Bikes + Trains + Subway + Buses)

20€

Groceries & personal care

135€

Going out

40€

Health and wellbeing 

30€

How much money does a student need in Lille?

On average, students in Lille need 950€ per month to cover their living expenses.

Average studio rent

502€ 

Average flatshare/room rent

419€

Mobile phone + internet

30€

Transport (Bikes + Trains + Subway + Buses)

20€

Groceries & personal care

135€

Going out

40€

Health and wellbeing 

30€

How can a student save money in France?

Save money on accommodation

Accommodation is going to be your biggest expense, especially if you’re studying in Paris and its suburbs… However, don’t fret, my tips will help you save your wallet.

💡 Choose the cheapest accommodation options

Instead of looking for a studio apartment, look for cheaper options! Here’s the best ways to save money on housing: 

  • Public residences (CROUS) : avg.monthly rent : €400
  • Flatshare/ Room : avg.monthly rent for a 13m2 room :  €609

In comparison, an average studio apartment will cost you 870€ a month on average…

💡 Choose an accommodation option that is eligible for housing benefits

Foreign students are eligible for housing benefits from the CAF (Aide personnalisée au logement), so before you choose the place you’re going to live in, make sure to ask the landlord or the residence manager if it’s eligible for APL.

💡 Live away from the center

In most cities, you are guaranteed to find cheaper places in the suburbs! Now, this means that you will spend more time in public transportation and/or in your car, but if your budget is tight, it might be something you should consider…

Save money on your phone plan

Accommodation is going to be your biggest expense, especially if you’re studying in Paris and its suburbs… However, don’t fret, my tips will help you save your wallet.

If I were you, I would get a French phone plan as soon as I arrive… Indeed, this can help you save money as phone plans in France are quite cheap compared to other countries – the average phone monthly phone bill was 19€ in 2019, and they often unlimited or large amounts of data, which is perfect to keep in touch with your family and friends at home with apps like Whatsapp or Messenger! 

 

Here’s how you should choose your mobile phone plan to save money as an international student in France: 

 

💡 Get a cheap, no-contract phone plan unlimited data plan

No-contracts phone plans are usually the cheapest, and phone providers run promotions all time: for example, at the time of writing this article, you can get a Free mobile phone plan with 90GB of data in France, 10GB of data in Europe and unlimited minutes and texts for only 9,99€! Crazy, right? 

Want to make sure you get the best price on your phone contract, your utilities,your transport card, and everything else you need for your stay abroad? Movido can help you with that!

Save money on transportation costs

Now, let’s move on to another important expense: transportation. 

💡 Get the student travel pass of the city you live in 

Most cities have a reduced transportation fare for students: just get this fare and you’re guaranteed to get the best price in most cases. 

💡 Get the student travel pass of the city you live in 

If you want to travel cheaply, buses are your best friend. Don’t believe me? 

You can buy bus tickets for your next trip here:

You can find carpooling rides here:

Save money on groceries

France is well renowned for its cuisine, but needless to say that if you’re a foreign student on a budget, you’re not going to be able to eat at 4-star Michelin restaurants… However, that doesn’t mean that you have to eat pasta every day! Here’s my best tips to eat well on a budget: 

💡 Eat at student dining halls (“restaurants universitaires”) as often as possible

Since January 2021, all students can get 2 meals a day for 1€! This is a temporary price to help students during the COVID-19, but usually one meal costs 3,30€, which is also pretty good..  

🗺 Check this map to find the nearest student dining hall: Carte pour trouver les Resto’U | Étudiant.gouv 

💡 Shop in the right supermarkets

If the prices are roughly similar in the whole country (prices are roughly 9% higher in the Paris area), the price differences are much more pronounced depending on the supermarket chain! So, for your weekly shopping, you should go to : 

    • Lidl
    • Aldi
    • Leclerc
    • Intermarché
    • Carrefour

💡 Use food waste apps

I get it, sometimes you’re just lazy and don’t want to cook… Then the smart, money-saving solution is to forget about Uber Eats and use apps like TooGoodToGo, Phenix or Optimiam instead! Those apps help you save money by allowing users to purchase unsold food from top eateries at the end of service, to prevent it from being thrown away. 

The best thing? You’re saving money and saving the planet at the same time! Indeed, 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste 🙂 

cost of living in France for international students

Save money on going out

💡 Use Mister Goodbeer to find the cheapest bars in your area

I haven’t paid more than 5€ for a beer since I’ve discovered this website! All you have to do is enter your address, and you’ll find the 20 cheapest bars around you, with or without happy hour! The best thing? It’s free and they also have an app you can download on your phone.

💡 Go to free museums

If you’re a student under 26, There are more than 50 museums that are 100% free, all the time! Can you believe it? Here’s some of my favorite free museums across the whole country: 

If you’re older, don’t worry: most museums are free on the first Sunday of every month! 

cost of living in France for international students

💡 Find free events on Meetup

I feel like Meetup is seriously underrated as a way to find cool and cheap local events… From hikes, to book clubs there’s something for everyone on Meetup. Signing up is free, so go check it out here.

Save money on health and wellbeing expenses

💡 Go to a general practitioner certified by the French social security system (médecin conventionné secteur 1)

Even if you’re a foreigner, you can benefit from France’s very generous healthcare system! All you have to do is to register to the French social security system. It is mandatory, and you can complete the process here.

Then, when you need medical care, make sure to choose a doctor “médecin conventionné secteur 1”. Then, you will only pay 8,5€ for a doctor visit (a consultation costs 25€, and 16.50€ are reimbursed by the French social security system).

⚠ Europeans don’t need to register, just use your European Health Insurance Card (“Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie”)

 

💡 Choose an affordable gym

If you want to burn all the calories from your croissant and your macaroons without paying a fortune, there’s several low-cost gyms chains all across the country like:

  • Neoness: Plans start from 15€/month, and they offer no contract monthly plans!  
  • Basic-Fit: Plans start from 19,99€/month 
That’s it! I hope that our tips will help you save some €€€, and if you have any other tips, feel free to share them with us in the comments 🙂 
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