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Monthly wrap: Spain vs. France – which country is better for expats?

currency-newsMonthly wrap: Spain vs. France – which country is better for expats?
When people think about moving to Europe, there are two countries that are likely to immediately come to mind – Spain, with its beautiful weather and laid back atmosphere, and France, with its culture and charm. 

But which country is better for expats? In this article we will compare both Spain and France to give you a better idea of what each country has to offer those thinking of making a move abroad.

Climate and geography

Despite sharing a border, the climate and geography of Spain and France are actually rather different, with Spain seen as quintessentially Mediterranean, while France is predominately Oceanic.

In terms of weather, unless you’re situated in the South of France, Spain is the place to be when it comes to sunshine, with the balmy heat resulting in the prevalence of the mid-afternoon siesta.

However, the milder weather in France is part of what helps to give the country its picturesque green rolling hills and rustic charm, so it may be a bit of a trade-off depending on how much you value your beach time.

Speaking of beaches, Spain manages to pull ahead here as well with the country’s 3,100 miles of coastline outstripping France’s 2,100, with the Mediterranean climate in Spain making the country’s beaches the envy of much of Europe.

With both countries featuring large mountain ranges, if you enjoy skiing then you will be able to find spots in either country with plenty of snow, although France probably comes out on top in terms of average snowfall and the quality of its resorts.

Another advantage offered by France is that it is more centrally positioned, which (combined with its superb transport links) allows for quick and easy access to the rest of Europe.

Cost of living

The cost of living is another major area in which Spain and France diverge, with life in Spain appearing to be quite a bit cheaper than in France, according to Numbeo.

Consumer prices average around 30% higher in France, with some areas (such as an average grocery shop) costing around 50% less in Spain.

In terms of house prices, Spain again has France beat as Numbeo reports that the average apartment outside of a city centre in Spain would cost about €1,600 per square metre, compared with €3,200 in France.

Of course this doesn’t tell the whole story. The higher average wages means that local purchasing power is actually a lot stronger in France, so if you will be working you may find yourself better off in France.

Conversely those who have retired or receive a wage from abroad will likely be able to make their money go a little further in Spain.

Life in Spain and France

As they’re both key members of the EU, the quality of life in Spain and France is very similar, with education, healthcare and life expectancy comparable within both countries.

However, there are a few more abstract aspects of life within Spain and France that help differentiate them from one another.

For Instance, if you’re looking for the country that is easiest to navigate without a grasp of the local language then you’re probably going to gravitate towards Spain, as its large expat communities have increased the prevalence of English speakers through the country. 

However, France would be the preferred choice if you are big into sport, with the government putting significant funding into domestic talent and the country hosting many international sporting tournaments over the years.

In terms of culture, France is world renowned for its rich history and is generally seen as one of the major centres of Western cultural development.

French Cuisine is often seen as one of key selling points of the country, with an abundance of Michelin starred restaurants as well as its famous cheese and wines, it’s seen by many as the holy grail of gastronomy.

With the Louve (the world’s most visited museum) in Paris, a rich domestic film industry and dominance in fashion it’s hard to top France in terms of cultural significance.

However, Spain does give it a good run for its money, offering a very diverse mix of cultural experiences due to being a melting pot of European and Islamic influences, while also being home to 46 World Heritage sites.

Meanwhile the food in Spain reflects the country’s Mediterranean roots, with lots of seafood and rice based dishes to tantalise the taste buds.
As everyone looks for something a little different when planning a move abroad, it’s up to you to decide whether Spain or France is the better country for expats – but hopefully this article has given you some good points for comparison!
Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct is one of Europe's leading non-bank providers of currency exchange and international payment services. Since we were formed in 1996, we've maintained our focus on providing innovative foreign exchange and international currency transfer services to corporations of all sizes, online sellers and private individuals. We have also expanded our services to provide dynamic and pioneering "business to business" solutions to help companies, tier 2/3 banks and other non-bank financial institutions to process their international payments. Our headquarters are in the City of London (United Kingdom) and we have operations in continental Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States. Currencies Direct is jointly owned by private equity firms Palamon Capital Partners and Corsair Capital.

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