What the French Know (and We Don’t) About Why Life in France is Better
Where France is known for offering very good coverage and aid in relation to education, child care, housing, and health, America is quite the opposite.
In the same study, France is in the 19th position out of 48 countries, while in 2000 the World Health Organization found that France provided one of the best overall health care systems in the world.
As to the individual costs, the U.S. is one of the nations that spends the most, ranking second in health care costs per capita at $8,608, while France spends only $4,086 per capita.
In France, doctors or practitioners can choose to be part of the system created by the government that sets the amounts for each type of consultation. And a majority of them do choose this. In that system, a visit will cost you around 23 euros (about $31) for a general practitioner and 25 for a specialist (about $35). Further, you will be reimbursed up to 70% of that fee by the public health care insurance.
At reasonably priced dentists, filling a cavity will cost up to 50 euros (about $70), while a teeth cleaning will be around 30 euros (about $40).
Going to the doctor in the United States is much pricier. An average routine physician visit will cost $95 while filling a cavity will range from $100 to $300 depending on the dentist.
People in France generally pay a flat fee when visiting the doctor, as mentioned above, though it can be higher for visits such as surgery. But, this is reimbursed to the patient by a state-run insurance provider. If you are referred to any kind of specialist by a general practitioner, you will also be reimbursed.
Additionally, there are no deductibles.
Out of pocket spending in 2015 made up 7 percent of total healthcare costs. This has been decreasing in recent years. And most of this spending is for dental or vision, which costs very little.
Additionally, people with low income get free or discounted health insurance, free vision care, and free dental.
There are, of course, way more details. That was just a brief overview.
Housing is reasonable and generally affordable. Excluding apartments in Paris’ most fashionable areas, you’ll certainly see two-bedroom rentals offered for $1,500 to $2,000 a month. It’s possible to find one-bedroom apartments in pleasant neighborhoods for $1,200 monthly, but they will be quite small. If you’d be happy with a studio apartment in Paris, expect it to cost about $1,000 a month.
By contrast, other cities are much better valued. For example, in lovely Lyon in the Rhône-Alps region, you can find classical two-bedroom apartments right in the elegant historic center for $900 — $1200 a month. Apartments outside Lyon’s center cost even less, running about $800 — $1000. In and around Blois, a small charming city in the beautiful Loire Valley, you can rent a three-bedroom house for less than $900 per month and two-bedroom apartments from $800 and good condition, sizeable one-bedrooms from $500.
So, don’t only confine your thoughts to life in Paris when France offers so many other affordable, beautiful places.
Higher education is dirt cheap. You can get your BA or BS for just €181 ($225) per year and enroll in post-graduate studies for €250 ($310) a year! Engineering schools are a bit more pricey with an annual tuition fee of €596 and obtaining a Ph.D. in France will cost you €380 for each year of studies. Private colleges (think law and medical schools) cost more, however are still rather affordable with prices ranging from €3.000 to €10.000 per year.
Childcare and preschool services are covered entirely by the government.
You even get paid to adopt a child.
The Louvre. Musee de Orsay. Notre Dame. Le Marais. Montmartre. The Eiffel Tower. High fashion. Theatre and ballet. Gothic architecture. So much history.
Art is everywhere in France — particularly in Paris and other major cities — and Gothic, Romanesque Rococo, and Neoclassic influences can be seen across many churches and other public buildings.
Many of history’s most renowned artists, including Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro, sought inspiration in Paris, and they gave rise to the Impressionism movement. The Louvre Museum in Paris is among the world’s largest museums and is home to many famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.
Paris is known as the home to many high-end fashion houses, such as Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. Many French people dress in a sophisticated, professional, and fashionable style, but it is not overly fussy. Typical outfits include nice dresses, suits, long coats, scarves, and berets.
The French take immense great pride in their nation and government and are typically offended by negative comments about their country.
“From around the 16th century, in Europe, culture became a term for the cultivation of the mind, the intellect, knowledge, learning, creative faculties and acceptable ways of behaving,” said De Rossi.
The French embrace style and sophistication and take pride in the fact that even their public spaces strike a regal tone.
The French believe in égalité, which means equality, and is part of the country’s motto: “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.”
The French embody romance and passion, and there is a more open attitude toward sex outside of marriage, according to a study by France’s National Research Agency on AIDS. As a reflection of the country’s secular nature, it is not uncommon for children are born to unmarried couples.
In addition to traditional marriage, French couples also have the choice of getting a pacte civil de solidarité (PACS). This is a union that has many of the same benefits of marriage, like tax breaks, but can be dissolved with a notice or by marrying someone else or instead of a divorce. Two-thirds as many French couples are in a PACS as are married, according to The Economist.
And, France has extremely diverse, beautiful scenery and locales to suit all tastes, from the bustle and excitement of Paris to the quiet romance of the countryside, to the lush and sultry aura of the French Riviera.
France has some of the most Michelin-starred restaurants on Earth, so it’s no surprise that it’s a haven for foodies. It’s also a country known throughout the world for having incredible food in general. From Coq au Vin (famous French Stew) to Croque Monsieur, Bouillabaisse (famous seafood dish), pain au chocolate, and baguette, French food is where it’s at.
And, get this, food quality in France is more strictly regulated than visas. The food here is stellar, from shopkeeps who specialize in and sell a specific kind of food (such as, the man who sells fish, or the woman who sells cheese, or the hole-in-the-wall bakery that’s been running for a hundred years), to the high quality of restaurants everywhere. Thus, they take their eating and food seriously here.
As you can see, much about France makes it an appealing place for living. You are unlikely to be saddled with lifelong student debt there and are also unlikely to have your 401k or savings wiped out upon experiencing a medical crisis (which is a common fallout in the U.S. when going through a medical issue). The social systems and safety nets in France make it far more likely you can have a more financially stable life with greater opportunities, in terms of education, housing, feeling more generally secure, and just being able to live a decent life.