With recent protests on France over the retirement age being changed from 60 to 62 us North Americans wonder what the big deal is all about. France has a tradition of riots and public demonstrations when they disagree with government policy so the recent unrest makes you wonder if they’ve had it too easy in recent years.
Quick Facts: Population 65,447,374 Population Density: 115/km2 or 299/sq mi
6.7 Percent of the population is below the poverty line (12% in US, 10% in Canada)
one of the first countries to create a Ministry of the Environment, in 1971.
Though it is one of the most industrialized and developed countries, it is still ranked only seventeenth by carbon dioxide emissions, behind such less populous nations as Canada, Saudi Arabia or Australia.
Because the French government’s decision to invest in nuclear power in 1974, after the 1973 oil crisis, with 78% of France’s energy production from nuclear energy, France pollutes less than comparable countries.
France ranks high among those countries with the best standard of living in the world. They have not totally given up their identity to become politically acceptable. Ask an expatriate living in France and they will likely tell you that the stereotypes are exaggerated.
Here are some excerpts from an article “The cost of living in France” posted on a blog called expatforum.com in 2009
Living in France can be relatively cheaper compared to the United Kingdom. Although salaries for employees are not that high compared to other European nations, the government does provide a lot of backup to business owners to give company benefits. As many advisories provide, the cost of living is dependent upon your lifestyle with the cost of going out an aspect that you need to consider, as it is easy to get lost in the sights and sounds of the French jet-set and haute couture lifestyle.
France is one of the G8 and its economy boasts a 6th place ranking worldwide. Industries are doing very well which mean that expatriates can easily find secure jobs. Trade and commerce continue to comprise the bulk of the economy. It is considered as a giant in terms of productivity ranking 4th in imports and 5th in exports.
France also has several investors helping it make 2nd place in outward transactions. A total of 57 billion dollars was placed in investments. In terms of per capita GDP, France also leads all other G8 countries. Tourism is also another main contributor in the country’s excellent financial status.
It is the number one tourist destination all over the globe. Productivity is good but the nation is currently experiencing low employment rate due to the aging population. More and more immigrants and skilled workers are needed to ensure constant effectiveness in trade and other business transactions. This has been clearly felt by an expat in a post made at France Expat Forum last August 9, 2009:
Well where to start, first of all this is just my impression and view, I have been here of 7 years and I am well travelled through the North but I have never lived in the south. In the country I find it boring and although I can not totally agree with comments that all the French are rude and unhelpful, I think it fair to say we are not popular in a number of quarters, I think resented is a better term. They resent the fact that we are here in the first place, they resent that we give them far more for their run down ruins than they could ever dream of. They resent that we have invigorated their economy and provided hundreds of jobs in service and other industries that otherwise would not have been available. But they grudging love our money….. There is absolutely no concept of ‘customer service’ whatsoever.
In the main if you need to work (like most of us) you have to look into being self employed, and the social charge system is expersive, most enterprises close in the 3 rd. year………
If you want a place to come and just drink wine, eat cheese soak up the rays and watch the seasons pass, it’s for you………………
Food and Drink Costs in France
The cost of food and drinks in France is significantly lower compared to other European nations. There are thousands of great restaurants offering the best cuisines made only of the finest ingredients. Dining out will definitely cost more but expatriates can also find a good deal of affordable meat, fish, milk, herbs, fruits and vegetables in markets and nearby ports.
France is one of the world’s largest exporters of beer, wine and bread. Pastries and wheat products comprise most of the goods for export. But there are also meat products like beef and pork as well as fish such as salmon that are continually brought out to the United States.
As far as drinks are concerned, France imports and exports wine extensively. Beer and cider are also widely traded. Locally made wine and beer are priced depending on quality but lower prices can be given if purchased directly at the brewery or winery or as wholesale.
An average individual spends around 100 euro every week on grocery items and food consumption. In Paris, the cost of commodities is low compared to other big European cities. French cuisine is very easy to get by in varying prices for every individual.
Clothing and Accessories Costs in France
Since Paris is the center of world fashion, clothes are typically expensive. There are virtually brand and designer labels everywhere. France is the place where everyone on earth can find the best quality and newest designs. Almost every week there are runway shows and magazine debuts are also featured monthly. Coats and jackets can range from 50 euro up to several thousands depending on the material.
Fur coats are limited but still very much available for big spenders. Suits, dresses and other classy items are sold in all colors and varieties at varying prices as well. In Paris, there are also unique items created by designers that can be used for collection purposes.
For expatriates looking for cheaper wares, there are a number of department stores offering different kinds of clothing and accessories. Chinese-made products have also entered France by storm that may have caused some designers to increase significantly in prices and avoid sales and auctions that may make people think of their original creations as mere Chinese imitations. There are though some low cost high quality manufacturers in this highly fragmented market. In the outskirts of French cities, they are often found as many multiple specialist stores that cater to the market of thrifty shoppers.
Housing Costs in France
Cost of housing has increased drastically over the past years. This is not uncommon since France has always been among the top three tourist destination countries. The influx of people coming in caused congestion a few years prior but the government is doing several housing measures and regulations that aim to limit the population excess. As it is worldwide, the global recession has hit the once red-hot property market in France, especially in the French Riviera as buyers drive harder bargains for the hard earned purchases.
Rental in nearby communities can cost around 500 euro every month while downtown apartment and condominium rental costs reach an astounding 1500 to 2000 euro every month. Fully furnished spaces will cost more as well. Rental spaces are priced according to location, condition and quality.
One-fourth of the French population lives in housing complexes subsidized by the government. The living condition is not really good compared to modest housing structures in the city outskirts. Farm space is available in the provinces at expensive prices. It is almost impossible to acquire land in the big cities today. Laws and regulations are also very stringent when it comes to expatriates owning French land. The cost of housing and rentals usually include insurance and utilities.
Services Costs in France
France has state-of-the-art technology that provides remarkable telephone and Internet services. Broadband networking is currently the trend and there are several WiFi hotspots almost anywhere in Paris. Remote areas as well are well supported by these modern devices in addition water and electricity.
Education and college grants are made available by the government. Public schools are subsidized by the French government as well since they value the literacy rate among the rising number of younger generations. There are a number of excellent colleges and universities in France. Students aim to study arts and communication in Paris particularly because of its cultural and artistic heritage.
Financial plans and insurance services are also provided to all working individuals. The French health care system is one of the best in the world, offering high quality of services and being easily accessible at the same time. If France becomes the country of your residence, you will be covered by the state social security system that also includes health insurance. Expatriates can also apply for insurance quotes as well. The government can provide funding for immigrants provided that part of their future income will automatically be directed to specific government or community funding.
But the just how expensive it is to live in France? A post made in the France Expat Forum last January 3, 2009 can summarize it:
How expensive France (or anywhere) is will depend on a number of things. The big one (especially right now) is where you’re coming from and what your source of income will be. If, like many of the members of the forum, you’re from the UK, the current rate of exchange is a killer. At roughly GBP 1 = 1 € everything is going to be expensive. And, you’re at the mercy of the exchange rates as they rise and fall.
It can also depend on what part of France you’re thinking about.
Employment Costs in France
Overall, employment rates have been rising in all members of the European Union. France has an employment rate of almost 90%. Majority of the remaining population are working part-time jobs including students aged 15 to 17 years old. Males constitute most of the workforce although majority of French women including pregnant ones are also working full time. On the downside, maintaining these employment costs has put pressure on the overall income of the French, as it is the highest and most expensive overall in the European Union in 2009.
France is currently looking for more skilled engineers, architects and teachers. Business investors are always welcome as well as those who are highly adept in trade and commerce. Expatriates may have a hard time finding a well-paying job during the first few years until they find their niche and prove their expertise in a given field.
Another page describes the countries economy as of January 2010
France is in the midst of transition from a well-to-do modern economy that has featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, and has ceded stakes in such leading firms as Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales. It maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. With at least 75 million foreign tourists per year, France is the most visited country in the world and maintains the third largest income in the world from tourism. France’s leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. France has weathered the global economic crisis better than most other big EU economies because of more resilient consumer and government spending, and lower exposure to the downturn in global demand. Nonetheless, France’s real GDP contracted 2.1% in 2009, while the unemployment rate increased from 7.4% in 2008 to nearly 10%. In response to the economic crisis the government passed a $35 billion stimulus plan in February 2009 centered on investment in infrastructure and tax breaks for small businesses. Paris also created a $25 billion strategic investment fund to protect French companies from foreign takeovers, and President Nicolas SARKOZY proposed a $52 billion plan for strategic investments in science and technology. These various stimulus and investment measures are contributing to a deterioration of France’s public finances. France’s tax burden remains one of the highest in Europe – at nearly 50% of GDP. The government budget deficit rose sharply from 3.4% of GDP in 2008 to over 8% of GDP in 2009, topping the 3% euro-zone ceiling in both years. SARKOZY is expected to seek passage of some structural reforms – notably to the pension system and government bureaucracy – which have the potential to cut public expenditures, while he may delay additional, more costly, reforms.
A good question to ask these days is “What comes first prosperity or nuclear energy?”
The UK recently woke up to reality and has changed a new government policy originally set on wind and tidal energy to a Nuclear future. Likewise China, Finland, India, Iran, Spain, Venezuela and more have Nuclear plants under construction.
The US is talking about it and talking about it. Thirty coal plants since 2008?
2007 Article still very relevant - Recycling Nuclear Fuel: The French Do It, Why Can’t Oui?