The Cost of Owning Property in France

Before you decide what your budget will be for purchasing a property in France, it is worth carefully considering the likely annual costs of running said property. Sometimes a French property valued at less than €100,000. can cost more to run than a property costing €300,000 in France.

Many potential buyers begin their search for a French property by looking at properties for sale online. However, it really is important to understand the costs of owning a home in France before you begin the search.

The good news is that most utilities and other services you will need are slightly cheaper than in the UK and the rest of Europe. Needless to say however, properties of different sizes, with different facilities and in different locations will incur different costs but the INSEE (Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques) publish a regular (although infrequent!) report on the average monthly costs of running a French property for a family of four. 

Unfortunately, the most recent report published was for the year 2011 but it does make for an interesting reading and provides a rough idea of likely costs per month:

Property taxes €96.25
Water, sewerage, electric and gas €162.50
Mandatory property insurance €26.42
Internet €35.00

Property Taxes 
At the moment two separate taxes are levied on every French residential property – Taxe Fonciere and Taxe d’Habitation. Currently Taxe d’Habitation is charged to whoever is living in the property (either the owner or a tenant) whereas Taxe Fonciere is levied solely on the owner of the property. The French government are committed to abolishing Taxe d’Habitation by 2020. On the 30th December, 2017 Emmanuel Macron signed the last three laws passed in Parliament with the 2018 budget, which began the removal of the Taxe d’Habitation for 80% of households which will be conducted over three years commencing in 2018 “with the prospect in 2020 of a major reform that will remove this tax for all of our citizens”. The removal of this tax will only apply to main residences so if you are buying a holiday home in France you will remain liable for both property taxes. With the abolition of Taxe d’Habitation (which currently includes the tax for TV) on main residences, property owners will still be liable for the payment of the Redevance Audiovisuelle (TV licence) which currently costs €138. Your French estate agent will be able to let you know the current amount of property taxes levied on a property before you agree to buy or even view the property.

Water and Sewerage 
As long as your property is connected to the mains drainage system, both of these are provided locally by the Syndicat d’Eau et Assainissement. Generally speaking, rural properties have their own private sewage system known as a fosse septique and these properties will come under a separate regulatory body (for sewerage). They will have their private sewage system inspected by the regulatory body roughly every 4 years. Water is metered to your property and the good news is that both water and mains sewage costs are cheaper than the average price charged throughout Europe.

Gas Suppliers in France
The national supplier of gas is Engie/GDF Suez and they operate a state regulated charge. There are however many other suppliers you can choose from including those suppliers that offer dual fuel supplies. Quite often, rural properties in France are not connected to a mains gas supply and if the owner uses a large quantity of gas (for central heating) then a gas tank (citerne) can be installed in the garden at a regulated distance from any buildings. If you buy a property with a citerne you will need to sign a contract with the supplier and the Notaire will provide you with this document at the final signing for the property. For those owners wanting only a small amount of gas (for cooking only) then bottled gas can be used. Be careful when you buy it as there are two types, one which can be stored inside and the other which must be stored outside the building.

There are many electricity suppliers to choose from. The great news is that electricity costs in France fall below the European average price. France enjoys a superb three tariff system. Tarif de Base Bleu means that your electricity is charged at the same rate for 24 hours but the preferred option for most people is Heures Creuses/Heures Pleines which has cheaper rates for off peak use. The obvious benefit is that you can choose the tarrif that best suits and meets your needs regarding usage and budget. The details of any property which you decide to view must, by law, show the heating efficiency rating of the property.

French Internet Service
There are many different internet suppliers, all of whom have different tariffs according to their different offers, but as a rule of thumb you can expect to pay from €35 upwards per month.

French Property Insurance
It is mandatory to have property insurance in France and when the Notaire completes the purchase of your property he or she must see a copy of the insurance policy. Not only is insurance generally cheaper than in the UK, but an ‘All Risks’ policy will provide third party and public liability cover - including cover for any school age children for whom insurance against damage to persons or possessions while at school is obligatory.

Liaise with the Current Property Owner Or Notaire
The current owners of the property that you are buying are likely to have all of the above mentioned services in place and it is often easier to take over their current suppliers initially and perhaps consider changing suppliers when you are a little more settled and a little less stressed! Your notaire should be able to help you take over contracts from the existing property owners so that everything is in place on that wonderful day when you move into your new home in France.