This is the first part of my three part (at least) series on settling into Paris. Most importantly finding a roof for your head.
But the first question you need to ask yourself is…
Can I afford this?
Or really, HOW can afford this? If living in Paris is what you desire, depending on your income/savings you may have to make some “sacrifices” in creature comforts to afford what you need. And although I find it worth it, you will know your own limit. Life in Paris is in no way a hardship, its just is different from in-particular lifestyles in suburbia USA. And I am sure these same sacrifices you need to make to live in other big cities such as NYC and Chicago.
Anyway… let’s analyze the bare minimum of what you should expect to need.
Cost of Living (minus lodging):
I find lots of cost of living sites on the internet misleading (often inflated). Comes down to how YOU are willing to live (especially with food and entertainment). I recommend thinking about what your core basics are and then research perspective companies that might offer them, to calculate costs. Also, try to find locals or bloggers on the internet that might be similiar to your situation to ask.
An idea of monthly living costs, as of October 2011 (for a couple):
- Transportation – 120 EURO for two monthly metro/bus passes
- Though personally we just walk and buy carnets (books of 10 tickets) for our occasional ride.
- Add 30 EURO more to the pass if you live outside of the city.
- Electricity – 50 EURO for 2 people in a 27meter squared one room apartment. This escalates closer to 70 during the winter, depending on your heating preferences and the age of the building.
- 2 Phones/Internet/TV – 90 EURO
- Water – 20 EURO?
- Included in our rent so this is a guess.
- Apartment Insurance – 12 EURO/month
- Required to rent. And you need it before you secure a long term apartment lease. I went with a local agent, recommended through a friend. But I heard you can secure this via the internet. Make sure you get coverage for theft & window/glass breakage.
- Food for Two – 600 EURO/Month or 20 EURO/Day
- This of course varies. And this is if you are very good about eating in with an occasional dinner out.
- Some meals out can cost 7EURO-30EURO per person… so its up to you. And those on the lower end are not usually bad. Just have to find the right spots!
- Misc – 100 EURO
- Medicine, cleaning stuffs, etc.
Do not forget the Shiney Things:
- Entertainment and inevitable travel (you are in Paris/Europe after all!)… this could be up to 500EURO/person a month… but that depends on you! But its foolish not to fit some of that into your budget.
- Shopping? – I do not but… you might want to. Depends on your tastes, the amount varies you can pay for this.
- Booze & Other Vices – A beer or glass of wine is at least 8EURO if you go out to a bar. Happy hour is pretty popular here and will save you a EURO or two. Cigarettes are 5 Euro a pack.
- And then of course the expense of traveling to/from whence you came, if you plan on going back to visit.
- Medical Insurance? – While basic coverage free in Europe, when in an emergency you could still accrue some heavy bills. Plus dentistry and optometry costs are not covered. If you plan on getting some supplemental insurance, plan at least 50 euro a month for a good plan.
Oh Right… Savings…
Do not forget a buffer! For example getting locked out of your apartment could cost you from 400-1k (a blog post for another day). So once again… look back at your budget and expected costs and perhaps cut out some shiney things to ensure you have some savings. Saving at least 10% of what you make is a good start.
ADDENDUM: Taxes… Oh right!
Working here? They will take out most of your taxes (up to 25%) BUT I would suggest saving an extra 10% as at the end of the year the government will be sending you a bill for the rest! (That’s right you report your first year but the following years they calculate it for you!) Worse comes to worse you save too much and have some to burn on travel at the end of the year!
What about Lodging?
That is actually a separate topic as this can be greatly variable depending on your needs and wants. In fact I encourage you to calculate the above first and THEN look at what your lodging budget will be (then of course tweak your utilities to fit the space of your abode you desire). And perhaps make some sacrifices on your shiney object budget.
Expect a post shortly talking about researching/gaining lodging.
But if you need a ball park now. Expect to pay as little as 500 euro/month if you do not mind living in old maids quarters (10 square meters and a bathroom in the hall) to 2000 euro/month for large flat’, 2-3 bedrooms, 60-70 square meters. We pay 850 euro/month for our 27 square meters one bedroom apartment a little north of the center of the city.
Til next time – S