Money in France

by Kelly

in Notes On Culture

Money, and financial issues, is very different in France from the United States. Well, first of all, we use the Euro! But all joking aside, there are a lot of financial benefits to living in France, despite their (mostly) being the cause of our low salaries.

First of all, health care*. My husband has private insurance through his company- this insurance picks up the tab for anything not covered or reimbursed by the State. For our family of five, it costs him €37 a month. Try finding that in the US! And then there’s the State health care… a doctor’s appointment costs anywhere from €22 to €27, most if not all of which is reimbursed. Prescriptions are almost always reimbursed as well, as well as visits to physical therapists etc. Of course all of this comes at a cost: the system is several billion euros in debt. And a good chunk of the (on average) 23% deducted from our paycheck goes to pay for this. I’m not an expert on health care or coverage, and it has been covered from many angles by people much more knowledgeable than I, but speaking as a person who couldn’t afford insurance in the US, this is like living in a dream world.

The other huge financial advantage to our living in France is the Euro/Dollar exchange rate. It’s been flirting at €1:$1.47 for the past few months, and this is great. As our budget grows even tighter thanks to the rising costs of gas and food, it’s nice to see my student loan payments shrinking: we are able to pay a tiny bit extra each month thanks to the favorable exchange rate. It’s certainly not going to hurt our vacation budget either!

The other thing that I’ve noticed about money living in France is attitude: people don’t have credit cards, and they don’t seem to get into as much debt as in the US. I could be wrong, and I’ve certainly heard enough stories about families who have ‘credit de consomation’ after ‘credit de consomation’, but in my experience people manage their money differently than in the US. I think some of it has to do with the consumer spirit and urge. Certainly we’re not pushed to buy things the same way in France as in the US, something I’ve often lamented!

As I’ve said before, I’m not an expert, and there are many more knowledgeable writers and bloggers out there. These are just a few of my observations, sure to be followed by more.

*This is a great post that shows what it’s like in the US for healthcare.

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