A little more than a year ago, I wrote a post called A Tale of Two Budgets, in which I did a very unscientific comparison of budgets from two families: mine and a family living in the United States. As happens with so many posts, people commented on it, and then as it got pushed further and further into the archives, the comments died out.
A few days ago, however, somebody left a comment on the post saying that he didn’t agree with the numbers supplied by the American family. And then, a few days later, he came back with his own set of comparisons, from his personal experience spent living in both NYC and Paris.
While you should go back to read the original post (and all of the comments Charlie left), the comparisons Charlie made were so interesting that I’m highlighting them here.
For the record: because ages of budget/income vary by income-level, I will stick to Cost-of-Living figures. Over the last 30 years, I have lived/worked in NYC (urban & suburban), Chicago, San Francisco, London, the Netherlands (Amsterdam & suburban) and Paris, while keeping a home in the USA.
Having lived in both, here’s a breakdown of the relative Cost of Living between living/working in similar areas in a world capital in the USA (NYC – W 82nd off Central Park West) and one in FR (Paris – 16eme near the Bois). Since the site is based on being frugal – the City named in each category is the one that costs LESS of our household income.
Housing – Paris
- less than 27% of income vs NY’s roughly 40% (an equivalent to our Paris apt would cost nearly double in rent per month in NYC right now)
Utilities – Paris
- about 30% less per month for comparable living space where heat/water chgs are collective
Phone / Internet – Paris
- In NYC – a bundle incl TV, unlimited US Telephone calling & 15mbps Internet is $100-120/month. Paris (w/unlimited calling to 60 countries incl US) is â‚¬30/mon.
Cell/Mobile phones – NYC
- Paris is just catching on to price competition in mobile phone services.
Insurance – Paris
- Auto/life is about the same, home is less – but INCL Medical/Hospitalization plus “top-up cover” (i.e. Aflac in the US /”mutuelle” in FR)???
- Insurance total cost in Paris is about than 35% of what our insurance cost us in NY… with lesser coverage and higher deductibles (which are nearly non-existent in France or Med Ins)
Entertainment – Paris
- Film tix are about equal. But across the board (we are avid cultural fans): concerts, dance, museums, plays etc are cheaper in Paris than in NYC. i.e. West Side Story musical perfomance – Paris top ticket 110 vs Broadway 165 / Alvin Ailey in NYC was $165/seat vs top ticket of 105 in Paris next week.
Air Travel – TIE
- Both have substantial discount airlines
- France generally saves more of its income than in the US, although that has changed a great deal with the advent of foreclosures sweeping the USA
Home Repair – TIE
Groceries – TIE
- although fresh green groceries are a bit cheaper in Paris as are dairy products
Sundries/Electronics – NYC
- For reasons too deep to dive into here, Paris is more expensive for almost all manufactured goods including cars, household electronics, computers, tools, etc
Dining Out -TIE
- one can find a range of restos at any price point in either city (although in Value For Money, I’ll take Paris’ food and wine)
Local Tax – TIE
- unless you are wealthy, there is no local tax other than a consumption tax (VAT/TVA) in Paris plus habitation and TV services tax. Paris VAT is 19.6% but (to my knowledge) NYC charges about 10% VAT PLUS up to 8% income tax. Owned Property tax is higher per assessed value in NYC than Paris a well unless you are assessed a “wealth tax” which near evens it out.
Medical Care – Paris
- The cost of services, tests, care and prescription medicine is about 10-20% of the same services in NYC. eg: an MRI in NYC = $1000-1500 vs Paris = â‚¬89, 2 wk course of antibiotics: NYC $60 vs Paris â‚¬5-7
Transport – Paris
- Metro/Bus/RER system 1.50/11.40/56â‚¬ for 1 trip/10x/month pass
- New York city Subway/Bus = 2.25/20/89$ for 1 trip/10x/month pass
- Paris->Amsterdam via TGV = 50â‚¬ vs NYC->Wash DC on Amtrak = $155 (for a shorter distance)
By the way – before anyone brings up currency conversions, one who has lived overseas knows that conversion (though hard to stop doing in your head ‘-) does not apply when talking about residents who earn the currency they spend – only to people who earn in one and spend another currency, which is quite rare. In general, its 1-to-1 units even tho NYers may earn a bit more doing a similar job, but that is impossible to discuss in this limited context.