The Best Places to Live in France & the Cheapest Cities

Cheapest places to live in France - Lille

While negatives include relatively high costs and the difficulty non-French speakers may experience, France has plenty going for it as a digital nomad destination. It’s a country that is betting big on tech with startups springing up across the country and it can be a great place to meet people and make connections. We’re going to take a look at some of the cheapest places to live in France and best cities for working remotely.

Living on a budget in France is certainly a challenge. Living costs in France for young people and students soared to “historic highs” in 2023 and budget-minded nomads can certainly find better value in other European countries. However if you’ve an established online business or can work remotely and do a well paid job, France can be a great destination.

5 of the Best Cities to Live in France & Work Remotely

1. Nice

Nice - best places to live

Living in Nice, even for a short period, has many very obvious advantages and it’s not surprising that this is one of the most popular parts of France with digital nomads and holidaymakers alike.

Benefiting from a beautiful Mediterranean climate and a fabulous coastline with gorgeous beaches in and around the city, Nice is a sun worshiper’s paradise. The city itself is full of charm too with a very walkable old town (Vieux Nice) the highlight with its mysterious narrow streets, colorful buildings, and sociable market places.

The main downside is the relatively high cost of living. While it may be one of the best places to live in France, it is far from the cheapest destination with the better located neighbourhoods particularly pricey.

However, when weighing up the benefits against the costs, it’s worth noting that Nice is cheaper than nearby Cannes and much more affordable than Paris. Compared to France’s other major cities, you may expect to pay in the region of 100-300 Euros more per month, a difference that many remote workers and digital nomads may be willing to stomach for a warmer climate in one of Europe’s most beautiful regions.

2. Toulouse

cheapest cities to live in France - Toulouse

Toulouse may not be an obvious choice for foreigners moving to France, but it’s developing a bit of a reputation as a good option for anyone looking for an attractive and slightly more affordable base than some of the fancier French towns and cities.

The city centre boasts well-preserved medieval architecture and pleasant streets that are easy on the eye and nice to stroll through. However Toulouse is also very much moving with the times and looking to the future having become a big hub for aerospace and technology, with growing numbers of startups and research institutions which make it one of the best cities to live in France for anyone with an interest in those areas.

While it may not have a beach or coastline to offer, Toulouse is one of the warmest French cities thanks to its southerly location with much milder winters than are found further north and hot summers.

It’s also the best located major French city when it comes to access to the Pyrenees. The ski resorts of Andorra can be reached in less than three hours by road while Barcelona is less than four hours away by rail if you fancy hopping over the border for a weekend getaway.

  • Estimated living costs in Toulouse – 1200-1800 Euros/month
  • Estimated digital nomad costs in Toulouse – 1500-2700 Euros/month

3. Grenoble

Grenoble - best places to live in France

If you’re a real lover of the mountains, then Grenoble is surely your best bet for living in France, at least if you want to also be based in a town large enough to have good facilities and entertainment options.

The stunning natural scenery is the obvious highlight of life in Grenoble though and offers up a wide range of opportunities for outdoor activities from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking, rock climbing and mountaineering in the summer.

Another appeal for foreigners may be the international feel to the city. Some French cities are not the best places for non French speakers in truth, but Grenoble has a diverse and international feel.

Finding affordable housing options can be a challenge during more popular times of the year though and digital nomads coming to Grenoble for only a few months will want to research their options thoroughly and consider booking well in advance if coming during the peak of the ski season (considered to be around February time) or the busy summer months.

  • Estimated living costs in Grenoble – 1150-1750 Euros/month
  • Estimated digital nomad costs in Grenoble – 1450-2600 Euros/month

4. Lille

Cheapest places to live in France - Lille

If living in a warm climate or in the mountains is not a priority, then a range of other French cities become potential candidates. One of the best is Lille, a lively northern city with great transport connections.

Lille exists at something of a crossroads on one of Europe’s busiest and most important sections of railway. High-speed Eurostar services mean from Lille, passengers can reach London in 82 minutes and Brussels in 34 minutes, while Paris is only around an hour away.

Aside from great access to major European capitals, Lille is also a lively and fun city in its own right. Lille’s city centre is distinctive with pretty cobblestone streets and some busy squares. It’s home to several universities which give it a youthful vibe, but it also has a thriving business district.

It’s also one of the cheapest cities in France when it comes to living costs, at least of those that are considered desirable places for international people to live.

  • Estimated living costs in Lille – 1150-1750 Euros/month
  • Estimated digital nomad costs in Lille – 1450-2600 Euros/month

5. Paris

Paris, France

At the other end of the cost scale is Paris. Few cities in Europe are as expensive to live in as the French capital, with Dublin one of the few exceptions in the EU. Digital nomads and anyone able to live remotely who wants to prioritise saving money will most likely want to choose another base, however there are many good reasons to move to Paris if you can put up with the high costs.

It’s a major international hub that has changed considerably in recent years in terms of its ability to bring in business from abroad and encourage companies to base themselves in the French capital. Paris is also ahead of the game to a large extent in terms of its wide range of co-working spaces, cafes, and public spaces that offer reliable internet access and you shouldn’t struggle to find new corners and spots to work from for a day.

With a large public transport network, getting around is relatively fast and straightforward, although you’ll need to do your research into neighbourhoods when it comes to finding a place to live. You also may need to be patient, particularly in the buildup to the 2024 Paris Olympics, with six month waits to find a studio currently being reported.

Moving to France – Useful Resources

What are the Cheapest Cities to Live in France?

CityEstimated Cost of Living (Monthly in Euros)
Le Havre1100-1700

The cost of living in France varies wildly between different cities. Paris is the most expensive city while the French Riviera is also notoriously pricey with Cannes and Nice particularly expensive places to live.

Of the bigger cities, Saint-Etienne, Rennes, Toulon, Le Havre, Reims and Dijon rank as the cheapest places to live in France. Lille is also good value and offers a nice balance between a high quality of life and affordability.

Working from France cafe
France’s cafe culture helps make it an attractive option for remote workers.

It’s a bit of a misconception that the whole of the South of France is expensive. The port city of Toulon is a good example of an affordable southern town which boasts a great climate and a coastline.

Moving inland, there are even cheaper regions in the South of France and you can find more affordable rents in some of the smaller towns and villages, although it may be quite an isolating experience as a foreigner, particularly if you’re looking for something of a digital nomad community.

France Estimated Living Costs Calculation:

To help calculate the cost of living in France in the table and the cities featured above, we used Numbeo’s data to help. The figures aim to estimate the cost of living (including the cost of rented accommodation) for people living in French cities for a year or more. Digital nomads only looking to spend a few weeks or months in France may want to increase their budget slightly though given the higher cost of short-term accommodation and a lack of familiarity with the country and the best ways to save money.

The estimated living and digital nomad costs are only designed to be a guide but should offer at least a means of comparison. Much will depend on your personal circumstances and lifestyle but the table pretty clearly shows which are the cheapest and most expensive cities in France to live. 

In each case, the lower figure might be a more realistic budget for anyone living in a flatshare and being a bit careful with their expenditure. The upper figure would offer a lot more freedom and should enable a single person to rent their own apartment or studio, although that may still be a challenge in Paris right now.

The Best Places to Live in France & the Cheapest Cities

Danny is a digital nomad who has travelled extensively in Europe whilst writing about his adventures and closely monitoring his costs. He's a regular writer for and has experience of short stays in many of the best and cheapest places to live in Europe whilst working online.

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