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    Cost of Living in France: Travel and Stay for International Students

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    Anam Shams

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    France is one of the most popular tourist locations in the world and a booming destination to study abroad. Cost of living in France is surely expensive compared to most other countries in Europe. Among the cities in France, Paris is the most expensive. International students must start making arrangements for their stay in France as soon as they receive an acceptance from an institution. The general monthly cost of living in France for international students in affordable cities such as Metz, Toulouse, Lille, Lyon can be expected around 500-1,000 EUR. On the other hand, the monthly cost of living in Paris can vary between 1,200-1,800 EUR.

    The tuition fees for studying at private institutions in France can be 3,000-10,000 EUR per year. On average, a bachelor’s degree from a public university in France can cost 170 EUR per year whereas a master’s degree costs 260 EUR per year. Engineering programs in France typically have higher tuition fees around 620 EUR per year while programs in Medicine have average tuition fees of 450 EUR per year. It must be noted that the tuition fees for international students at public institutions are higher than those for European students. Apart from tuition fees, students are also expected to pay a campus contribution fee of 91 EUR. There are about 60 higher education institutions known as Grande écoles that grant admission on the basis of entrance exams. The tuition fees for such institutions range between 450-1,100 EUR per year.

    Affordable accommodation in France is short and therefore it is important to prepare a list of housing options close to the campus of the institution. Talking about transportation, there are several ways to commute within France. Public transportation is widely available in the form of buses and tramways. It is advisable to figure out your stay and cost of living in France before traveling to avoid any last-minute hassles.

    Cost of Living in France: Travel Guide

    A flight ticket from India to France would cost around 20,000 to 90,000 INR. Flights between India and France operate from most major Indian cities, Air France and Air India being the top flight service providers. Before traveling to France, students must make sure they carry the following documents:

    • Copy of passport
    • Visa for studying in France
    • Valid proof of identity
    • Birth certificate
    • Proof of enrollment at an institution in France
    • Proof of French language proficiency
    • Certified copies of the previous degree
    • Driver’s license, required for individuals planning to drive in France

    France COVID 19 Travel Restrictions

    In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the French government has marked green, orange, and red countries. India is in the list of red countries meaning those places with an active circulation of the virus. Currently, travel for the study is not authorized from countries in the red category. Once the pandemic situation and vaccination status in India improve, students may be allowed to travel to France for studying.

    However, even then proof of complete vaccination and a sworn declaration certifying that the traveler does not have Covid-related symptoms is required. Non-vaccinated students will be allowed to travel with a negative PCR test report dated less than 72 hours before departure and a sworn declaration.

    Cost of Transportation in France

    There are several ways of daily commuting in France such as public transport, car or bicycle. Travel passes are popular among students as they are often available at reduced rates. Some of the main modes of transportation in France are discussed below:

    • Public transportation mainly involves a bus or tramway.
    • Paris metro is one of the world’s most extensive metro networks with 14 lines.
    • Metro lines are available in 5 other cities in France: Lille, Marseille, Toulouse, Rennes, and Lyon.
    • A single metro ticket costs around 1.90 EUR.
    • You can also rent self-service cars through private channels such as Citiz network or from individuals such as Koolicar, Drivy, etc.
    • Traveling between cities in France is easy through one of the 45 airports with low-cost airlines.
    • The taxi service in France is reliable and safe, though the fares might be slightly higher than in other places.

    The mode of transport and average cost associated are given in the table below:

    Mode of Transport Average Cost (in EUR)
    Bus 5-90
    Self-service bikes 15-30
    Taxis 30
    Plane 69
    Train 50-79
    Car maintenance 145

    Cost of Living in France: Student Accommodation

    International students mainly have two options for staying in France: on-campus accommodation in student residences and private accommodation off-campus in apartments or flats. The average monthly cost of living in France is between 400 EUR to 1,200 EUR. The monthly rent in Paris is 400 EUR while rent in other cities is around 200 EUR. To rent accommodation in France, students will have to provide the following:

    • Identity proof or copy of passport
    • Bank reference form from a French bank account
    • A letter from your guarantor
    • Information of your guarantor such as identity documents, contract of employment, payslips, tax declaration, etc.

    On Campus Accommodation in France

    Student accommodation is advantageous because it is specifically designed to suit the needs of students and also affordable to a great extent. Centre régional des œuvres universitaires et scolaires more commonly known as CROUS manage university residence halls and offer them to students at subsidised rates. This is the most preferred form of student accommodation in France because of its cheap rates and proximity to the campus.

    However, due to extensive demand, the availability of rooms is short. If you are looking forward to accommodating yourself in a CROUS managed building, you must start gathering resources and apply early. To reserve a place, applicants need to apply online through their website from July 9, 2021 onwards. You must also check with your institution to see if they have an agreement with CROUS to provide accommodation. The rent of such accommodation is somewhere around 400 EUR in Paris and 200 EUR in other cities. It not only provides student accommodation but also directs you to restaurants where you can eat for less than 5 EUR.

    Cost of Living at Top Universities in France

    On an average, a student incurs 200-400 EUR per month on account of on-campus accommodation. In the QS World University Rankings 2021, 36 universities in France were ranked of which 10 were in the top 300 bracket. The cost of living in France in top universities are given in the table below:

    Name of University Accommodation Average Total Cost of Living
    HEC Paris 620 EUR/ month 1,560 EUR/ month
    Ecole Polytechnique 450 EUR/ month 800 EUR/ month
    Sorbonne University 480-780 EUR/ month 760-1,360 EUR/ month
    EDHEC Business School 300-550 EUR/ month 800-900 EUR/ month
    INSEAD France 1,000 EUR/ month 2,826 EUR/ month
    NEOMA Business School 400 EUR/ month 700 EUR/ month
    EMLYON Business School 400-600 EUR/ month 820 EUR/ month
    Paris School of Business 800-2,000 EUR/ month 1,200-1,800 EUR/ month
    Sciences Po 885 EUR/ month 1,235 EUR/ month
    IESEG School of Management 400-800 EUR/ month 800-1,000 EUR/ month

    Off Campus Accommodation in France

    You must check with your institution to see if they provide assistance to look for off-campus accommodation. Otherwise, rooms and apartments for rent can be searched through an agency or an individual property owner. Accommodation in the countryside such as cities like Creuse, Montpellier, Metz, Versailles is less expensive compared to other regions.

    Off-campus accommodation often provides basic facilities such as furnished rooms, student lounge, laundry facility, internet access, gym service, and a good social atmosphere to interact with peer students. Some of the most popular websites for seeking accommodation are Studea, Les Estudines, Cardinal Campus, Lokaviz, Student Factory, etc. Private apartments or studios can be browsed using websites such as Lodgis, Le Bon Coin, Roomlala, SeLoger, and others. Apartments in Paris cost around 800 EUR and 400 EUR in other parts of France. Some students also prefer to live with local host families or in hostels.

    The city-wise cost of living in France (off-campus accommodation) is given in the table below:

    City Rent (in EUR)
    Paris 870-2,860
    Nice 725-1,960
    Lyon 490-1,520
    Montpellier 486-1,120
    Toulouse 482-1,135
    Metz 380-1,135
    Lille 505-1,510

    To summarize, the monthly rent for accommodation on-campus or off-campus are given in the table below:

    Accommodation Type Rent (in EUR)
    On-campus accommodation 200-400
    Apartment 400-800
    Hostel 250-500
    Host Family 200-800

    Food Budget in France

    One of the important considerations for staying in France is the food budget. On an average, food expenses can sum up to 300 EUR per month. It is mainly influenced by the individual’s tastes and preferences. A meal in the university’s food court can cost around 3.30 EUR. While regular purchases of coffee, croissants, baguettes or other snacks can add around 70 EUR to your monthly budget. A list of basic food items and their average prices are given in the table below:

    Food Item Average Price (in EUR)
    Croissant 1.10
    Baguette 1
    Milk (1 litre) 1.20
    Pasta (1 kg) 1.50
    Coffee in a restaurant 2
    6 eggs 1.50
    Meal at the university food court 3.25
    Meal at the restaurant 10-20
    Fast Food meal 7
    Sandwich and a drink from a bakery 5-8

    Cost of Healthcare in France

    In France, having health insurance is necessary to control the expenses on account of healthcare. Without health insurance, healthcare expenses can shoot up to 70% higher as doctors are free to charge the prices they want. Even the prescribed medicines are covered by health insurance. Checkups at the university that you are enrolled in are free. In case you need to see a doctor, it is recommended you visit a conventionnés de Secteur 1 or a sector 1 doctor as their charges are reimbursed by Social Security. On average, health insurance costs around 40 EUR.

    The check up cost for different specialists and the reimbursement available are given in the table below:

    Type of Doctor Average Cost (in EUR) Reimbursement (in EUR)
    GP 25 16.50
    Specialist 25 16.50
    Dentist 30 Varies depending on the service availed
    Gynaecologist/ Ophthalmologist 30 20

    A budget of the medical expenses for students with health insurance are given below:

    Expense Cost (in EUR)
    General Consultation 6.60
    Specialist Consultation 8.50
    Psychiatrist Consultation 11.10
    Cardiologist Consultation 14.17
    Filling a Cavity 5.78-14.46
    Root Canal 28.20
    Teeth Cleaning 8.68
    Purchase of Ibuprofen (30x200 mg each) 1

    Cost of Living in France: Additional Expenditure

    Other than the housing expenses, students are also responsible for paying a number of bills, subscriptions, etc. These expenses are compiled in the table below:

    Expense Cost per month (in EUR)
    Rent 400 - 1,200
    Groceries 400
    Internet 26
    Electricity 39
    Transportation 145
    Phone 16
    Gas 48
    Regular purchase of food items 70
    Health insurance 24
    Miscellaneous 150

    Cost of Living in Best Cities of France

    Among the top student cities in France are Paris, Montpellier, Toulouse, Lyon, Lille, Metz etc. Of these, Paris is one of the most sought after cities in France and therefore the most expensive too.

    • Toulouse is located in the South-West in France and is home to 3 QS ranked institutions namely Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III, Université Toulouse 1, Capitole and University Toulouse II – Le Mirail. It is also ranked 40th in terms of affordability offering low tuition rates and affordable cost of living. The average tuition in Toulouse is around 500 EUR and the cost of living is around 800-1,000 EUR which is nearly half compared to costs in Paris.
    • Lyon ranked 50th in QS Best Student Cities is another affordable destination for international students in France with one of the highest ranked institutions in France - Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon. Other top institutions in Lyon include Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA), Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (701-750) and Université Lumière Lyon 2. Ranked at the 36th position in terms of affordability, the average tuition fee for institutions in Lyon is around 335 EUR and cost of living is between 800 EUR and 1,000 EUR.
    • Montpellier is ranked 100th in QS Best Student Cities offering affordable education with low tuition fees and cost of living. The top ranked institutions in Montpellier include Université de Montpellier and Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3. The average tuition fees in Montpellier is around 335 EUR and the monthly cost of living is between 650-1,000 EUR.

    A comparison showing the cost of living in some of the top student cities in France is given below:

    City Average Cost per month (in EUR)
    Paris 1,200-1,800
    Lyon, Toulouse, Lille 800 - 1,000
    Metz 500 - 1,000
    Rest of France 650

    It is prudent to be well-informed about the expenses to study in France while planning the budget to be able to analyse extra expenses. Also, after arriving in France you must open a bank account to initiate any further transactions, paying bills, buying subscriptions, etc. To look for accommodation, you should not wait to arrive in France. While staying in France, buying student passes for transportation is a better alternative than others. All non-European students must also buy health insurance after settling in France.

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