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Managing your budget

The euro (€)

The single currency in use in most European countries is the euro (€).
You can find exchange offices (bureaux de change) in many airports, as well in the city centres: Grenoble, Valence, Chambéry and Annecy.
You can also get some money (euros-€) out of the cashpoints anywhere in France.

Means of payment

The most popular means of payment, approved by most shopkeepers, is the bank card.
You can also pay by cash or cheque.
Direct debiting is frequently used for subscriptions (water, telephone, internet…). Direct debits are set up by providing your ‘RIB’ (Relevé d’Identité Bancaire), and can be stopped by contacting your bank.
In case of loss or theft of your means of payment, immediately report it by following the procedure the bank will have indicated, or contact your bank.

The cost of living

Expenditure to anticipate for when you arrive
  • Accommodation guarantee deposit : equivalent of one month's rent excluding bills (non furnished accommodations), up to 2 month's rent excluding bills in some residencies and/or furnished accommodations.
  • The first month's rent.
  • Accommodation insurance: the cost depends on the type of lodging. You should reckon on between 20 and 80 € per year.
  • The fiscal stamp to regularize your stay in France: 60 € for students.
  • Various other expenses (university study supplies, "Contribution Vie Étudiante et de Campus" (if you are eligible), estate agency fees, odds and ends for your accommodation, opening a bank account, etc.)

Main monthly expenses

  • Accommodation:
    • In a private residence: 450 to 600 € per month 
    • University residence (CROUS) : 200 to 500 € per month
    • A 20m2 apartment in town: average price is 400 to 500 € per month 
    • Electricity and gas bills: around 50 € per month
    • Water: around 15 € per month
  • Telecommunication: Acquisition of a mobile telephone with SIM card and internet subscription: between 5 and 30 € per month
  • Transport:
    • Local transport (tram and bus) pass: 15 or 56,70 € per month depending on your age (Grenoble)
    • Bicycle rental: 15 or 25 € per month depending on your age (Grenoble)
Everyday expenses
  • A midday meal in a restaurant: 10-14 €
  • A 'baguette' : 1 €
  • A meal in a university restaurant: 3,25 €
  • A coffee in a bar or cafe:1,50€
  • A beer: 2,80 €
  • A cinema ticket: 6 to 11 €

Opening a bank account

Do I have to open a bank account in France ?
Having a bank account in France is not mandatory, but it will make the management of your daily finances easier : paying bills (water, electricity, gas), telephone or internet subscriptions, as well as receiving salaries or medical expenses reimbursements.
It is mandatory to have a french bank account to receive allowances from the CAF (housing benefit, family related allowances…).

How to choose a bank ?
It is up to you to compare the different bank offers, and the bank fees (for account keeping, bank transfers, bank cards…), to find the one that best meets your needs.
You can also check with your bank in your home country if they have a partnership with a French bank. You may then save on international money transfers for example.
Note that most banks have special offers for students.

How to open a bank account ?
You will need to make an appointment with a bank advisor.
On the day of the appointment, you will have to bring :
  • a proof of identity (identity card or passport),
  • a proof of address (home insurance, rental agreement, bill, ‘certificat d’hébergement’…),
  • your student card or proof of registration at university (not mandatory, only to benefit from the special offers for students).
You will get a ‘relevé d’identité bancaire’ (RIB), immediately after the opening of a bank account. You can provide different organisations or public administrations with this document, in order to receive salaries, medical expenses reimbursements, or allowances directly onto your bank account.

Facing difficulties to open an account ?
Opening a bank account is a right recognised by French authorities. If you are facing difficulties to open a bank account, there is a procedure to follow with the Banque de France called « droit au compte ». The Banque de France will appoint a bank that will have to open an account for you.
More information on the Banque de France website

Taxes in France

  • Housing tax ('taxe d'habitation')
This tax is a local tax related to your accommodation on January 1st of the tax year. The amount varies according to your type of accommodation, its location, and your situation.
You do not need to file any tax return.
You will receive a tax notice during the last term of the year, either by post, or online on your tax account if you have one.

You have to pay this tax, even if you are moving during the year.
This tax also includes the broadcast licence fee (« contribution à l’audiovisuel public »), which you need to pay if you have a television set (139€ in 2018).
Please note that students living in CROUS residences do not have to pay the housing tax.

  • Income tax ('impôt sur le revenu')
Since January 1st, 2019, the income tax in France is deducted at source: it is directly withdrawn from your salary, and shows on your payslip.
Your employer applies the tax rate indicated by the French tax authorities.

If you have recently arrived in France, and/or if the French tax authorities do not know you yet, a ‘neutral tax rate’ will be applied (in accordance with the tax grid, article 204 H of the French General tax code).
Under certain conditions, you can personalize or have your tax rate adapted to your situation. For all questions related to your tax rate, your contact is your local tax office ("Centre des finances publiques" or "Service des impôts").
If the French tax authorities know you, and if you already know your tax rate, you can carry out a simulation on the French tax website to find out about the amount that will be withdrawn from your salary.

Good to know
Because of the tax collection procedure change, and the implementation of the income tax deducted at source, the years 2018 – 2019 are transition years.
Before January 1st 2019, the payment of the income tax in France used to be 1 year delayed: in 2018, taxpayers paid the income tax for the income received in 2017.
Does that mean that in 2019, I will pay twice: for the income received in 2018, and every month for the income received in 2019?
No, there won’t be any double charging effect in 2019 for the regular income (salaries) and the income considered as ‘non exceptional’. The income tax normally due on these income received in 2018 is going to be canceled via a tax credit calculated automatically, and based upon your income tax return.
Only the income received in 2018 considered « exceptional » will be taxed.
To find out more

Annual income tax return

Even if the income tax is deducted at source, you still have to complete an income tax return every year, in April/May.
This enables the tax authorities to regularise your situation (in case you paid too much tax, or not enough) and to recalculate your tax rate according to your situation. Your new tax rate will be transferred to your employer in September.

If it is your first income tax return, you can get a tax return form (form 2042), and send it by post to your local tax office.
As of this year (2019), you can also report your income online.
You will need to get a tax number, in order to create your personal account on
Two options to get a tax number:If you already completed a tax return the year before, a pre-filled tax return form will be sent to your address, and you will be able to complete the tax return online, on the French tax website

Please note that if you are a grant-holder, you should contact the grant awarding authorities to find out whether you have to report it or not.

To help you with your income tax return (2019 tax campaign) :
Practical information sheet « The income tax return in France »

- Dedicated telephone line on the payment of withholding tax (« le prélèvement à la source »), in French only
0811 368 368
- The local tax office of your place of residence in France (« Centre des finances publiques” ou “Service des impôts”)
To find its contact details, go to, section 'Contact'
- If you have left France
Service des impôts des non-résidents – SIPNR
10 rue du Centre, TSA 10010, 93465 Noisy-le-Grand Cedex
Tel : 00 33 (0)1 72 95 20 42 (if no reply received within 10 days after sending your request, contact the SIPNR by phone)

Updated on September 13, 2019

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