Best Places For Expats To Live In France

Being an expat gives you the flexibility that no other position could give. And it is only natural that expats want to tour the world, living in new cities and towns that will acquaint them with the best places, amazing weather, and more.

While most picture Paris when considering France, there are many beautiful, lesser-known cities that are worth living in. They offer the best facilities, fewer tourists, and a cheaper cost of living. What’s more, Paris is a short distance away anytime you wish to admire the Eiffel Tower.

Top 3 Cities In France For Expats

Here are the top 3 cities that you must consider for your stay in France as an expat:

1. Bordeaux


Bordeaux, or “Little Paris”, is a hotspot for expats and reasonably so. Expats love the place for its amazing culture, breathtaking surroundings, lively atmosphere, friendly people, and wine. Bordeaux is the world’s biggest wine producer and hosts around 7,000 vineyards and wineries.

There are many architectural masterpieces spread all over the city. It is so beautiful that in 2007, UNESCO declared 1810 hectares of it a World Heritage Site.

Bordeaux is just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Because of this, the weather here is amazing. With warm summers and mild winters, anyone who loves the outdoors will fall in love with the place.

Also, English is the second most spoken language, preceded only by French, so people usually have no trouble adjusting to the place. With an airport situated west of the city, you can hop on a plane and visit your loved ones whenever you want. Also, the city has a main train station, an electric bus system, a tramway, and ferries linking the eastern and western parts, so you don’t have to worry about getting around.

Cost Of Living

Considering that it is a French city, the cost of living is high but not as high as in Paris. In fact, when compared to other major global cities such as New York and London, the cost of living is relatively low.

Without rent, the cost of living for a single person is around €879.76, while for a family of four, it is €3,163.40. You will find that supermarket prices, communication costs, and utility prices are almost the same throughout the country.


Investing in a property in Bordeaux is quite attractive. Buying an apartment in the city center will cost you around €5,109.33 per square meter, and an apartment outside the city center will set you back by €3,933.33 per square meter.

Renting is not too costly either. Renting a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around €762.50 and €606.25 outside the city center.

Taxes For Expats

An expat is considered a citizen of France in the following cases:

  • Their primary family home is in France. Or in case of no family home, the primary residence is in the French Territory.
  • The individual spends more than 183 days in France or spends most days in France compared to other countries.
  • They derive primary employment or professional activity from France.
  • France is the person’s center of activity for economic purposes.

If an expat falls under any of the above cases, he will be considered a citizen of France and will have to pay taxes on their worldwide income.

*The taxes are the same anywhere in France.

Healthcare System

WHO has consistently rated France as having one of the best health systems in the world. Keeping up with the standards, Bordeaux also offers world-leading healthcare services.

It has excellent private and public healthcare services, with easy access to doctors and dentists. Also, most staff members at these facilities speak English, which is a big plus.

*The healthcare system is the same anywhere in France.

School System

The education system throughout France is exceptional. The people and the government realize the importance of educating their future generations and invest a great deal in their education system.

The system here is state-funded, so public institutions’ tuition fees are quite low. However, there are also many international and bilingual schools in Bordeaux, but they can be quite costly.

Living in Bordeaux: Pros and Cons


  • Reasonable cost of living
  • Great education and healthcare system
  • Heaven for wine lovers
  • Close to the coast
  • Amazing culture
  • Many public green spaces
  • Great network of expat communities


  • High on tourism
  • Food prices are quite high
  • Public transportation is not that great

2. Montpellier


A lesser-known city on the French Riviera, Montpellier could be all you are looking for in a place to live in. Being close to the Mediterranean, Montpellier has a wonderful climate with minimal variation between the winter and summer temperatures.

The city has impressive architecture, a welcoming environment, and a thriving nightlife. The town is vibrant, bursting with energy, and considering that it is called “the city of youth,” with around half the population being 30 or younger, this is no surprise.

Montpellier is home to 70,000 or more international students studying at one of its many universities.

The city is growing quickly but is still somewhat protected from commercial tourism. All the more reason to experience the old town charm before it gets too crowded. It has many inviting, beautiful beaches. One of them, Plage de L’Espiguette, was even voted one of the most beautiful beaches in France.

Montpellier is a cultural hub. It hosts the jazz and music festival, Festival de Radio France et Montpellier, every year in July. The two-week festival takes place at historical and charming venues throughout the city.

Montpellier is also recognized for opera; the city’s main square was named after Opera Comedie. The restaurants stay open late to accommodate the lively nightlife of the area. Locals and expats enjoy the musical festivals, orchestra performances, and late-night-outs with family and friends.

Montpellier also has the largest pedestrian area in Europe. So, if you love exploring a city on foot, Montpellier offers the best solution. Roam the streets to admire 15th-century buildings, old monuments, twisting cobblestone streets, family-run businesses and shops, and open-air markets.

The city has its airport in the town of Mauguio. It also has a tram system along with regular trains and buses. In addition to all this, Montpellier also has Vélomagg, an environment-friendly bike-sharing scheme.

Cost Of Living

Montpellier has a lower cost of living, even lower than Bordeaux, but it is still more expensive than rural French destinations. Since Montpellier is a town on the French Riviera, the cost of living is higher. Without rent, the cost of living for a single person is around €791.56, while for a family of four, it is €2,833.07.

The city has 11 Michelin-starred restaurants, but you can also find affordable restaurants that offer 3-course meals for just €25. The rates in supermarkets are almost the same throughout the country. The cost of other utilities does not vary much either.


Whether you are buying or renting, property prices are relatively inexpensive in Montpellier. Buying an apartment in the city center will cost you around €5,289.33 per square meter. An apartment outside the city center will set you back by €4,134.33 per square meter.

Renting a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around €706.58 and €577.78 outside the city center.

School System

While the school system is uniform throughout France, Montpellier holds a special place, a step ahead of other cities. It hosts the oldest university in the world—the medical school that had Nostradamus, Petrarch, and Rabelais as alumni.

The universities of Montpellier are one of the main draws of the city, and every year, around 70,000 students from all around the world enroll here.

Living in Montpellier: Pros and Cons


  • Many universities
  • Amazing nightlife
  • Lower cost of living
  • Good healthcare system
  • Booming economic growth
  • Cultural activities
  • Fewer tourists
  • International connections
  • Great food and wine


  • High student population
  • rains a lot in winter
  • Not very good public transportation

3. Nice

Nice, France

The capital of the French Riviera, Nice, is also the 5th largest city in France. Being close to the Italian border, Nice offers a beautiful cultural mix of France and Italy.

Being located in the Mediterranean, living in Nice is like being on an extended vacation. The relaxed atmosphere and the liveliness of the place make it easy to fall in love with it. It has amazing villages nearby that are worth visiting.

The climate is fairly good, with winters dropping to a maximum of 10 degrees and summers reaching a maximum of 26 degrees. It is a place to enjoy outdoor activities. Many open-air markets and cultural events like jazz festivals and carnivals are held here.

With an airport, Nice has good international connections, making commuting easy. It also has a good network of public transportation. It is a destination for art lovers, with several museums.

Cost Of Living

Nice is one of the most expensive cities in France. Without rent, the cost of living for a single person is around €946.10, while for a family of four, it is €3,385.95.


Buying an apartment in the city center will cost you around €6,583.33 per square meter,, and an apartment outside the city center will set you back by €3,700.00 per square meter.

Renting a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around €875.31, and €701.33 outside the city center. How close or far you are to the waterfront will also play a major role in determining the cost of your property. However, Nice is a famous destination, with high overall property prices.

School System

While most English-speaking expat students are found around Paris, places like Nice also offer bilingual schools. The education system throughout France is amazing, and there is no compromise on the quality of education.

Living in Nice: Pros and Cons


  • Job opportunities for expats who want to work in the tourist industry
  • It is never too hot, not even in summer
  • Best starting point for travelers
  • Amazing healthcare facilities
  • Beautiful scenery


  • High cost of living
  • Hotspot for tourists
  • Not as French as other French cities


France has something to offer everyone. If you have decided to move as an expat, these 3 cities will offer you beautiful scenery, upbeat nightlife, amazing wine, and more.


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