By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Oo la la! Just the thought of going to Paris is enough to send a thrill down the spine. But to actually live there? Now that's the stuff of dreams. Perhaps more than any other city in the world, Paris is the sweet lure.
Paris tops the lists as the most visited place in the world year after year. Paris hosted more than 35, 704,450 millions tourists in 2007 (the last year for which figures are available), according to the Paris Convention and Tourist Bureau. And who can blame them? The thought of Paris in the spring is enough to send thousands of tourists flocking to the capital of France every year. The Eiffel Tower, Champs de Elysee, steak frites in a bijou restaurant, fine wines and cheeses and unbeatable atmosphere.
But for all of you who are preparing to live in Paris -- or dream of it -- the real question is how much money do you need to make ends meet like a real Parisian? Is Paris all budget-busting haute couture dresses and five star restaurants or could it be an economical place to live? What should you expect to pay for day-to-day life in Paris?
Paris is the most populous city in France, with an economy dominated by business and financial services. Paris is not a cheap place to live, but you can get by on a limited budget. According to xpatulator.com, Paris is ranked number 21 out of 300 in the overall cost of living rank (2009) - number one is the city with the highest cost of living. That compares to New York at number 19 and Los Angeles at number 71.
The average annual salary in Paris is a subject of some debate. According to INSEE ,France's national institute for statistics, in 2008, the net annual salary for executive's in the Ile de France area which includes Paris was $73,652 (€53,800 ).
But according to PayScale, a leading provider of global employee compensation data, the average is $63,766 (€46,559, with 1 euro =1.369) . According to their data, a Project Manager in the Information Technology sector makes $63,936 (€46,361). A Mechanical Engineer makes $50,353 (€36,511) and a Project Engineer $54,609 (€39,597). The median salary for working in a company is $60,795 (€44,082). Salaries for a job in a government position average around $47,935 (€35,000), for a hospital job $53,270 (€38,895) and a school position $43,430 (€31,490).
The farther away you get from Paris, the less money people make. The French government's own figures for the average salaries for all of France is considerably lower. According to the French government, here are the average salaries as of 2007 (the last figure for which figures are available):
On 1 July 2007, the guaranteed monthly minimum wage (SMIC - salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance) was €1 280.07 gross for a working week of 35 hours at an hourly rate of €8.44.
Mean fiscal annual salary
Professionals: €82 100 ($112,394)
Executives, management staff: €45 327 ($62,052)
Technical and supervisory personnel: €23 139 ($31,677)
Farmers, farm workers: €20 00 ($2,738)
Other intermediate professions: €21 502 ($29,436)
Skilled workers: €16 900 ($23,136)
Clerical, white collar workers: €16 079 ($22,012)
Unemployment is fairly high (9.2 to 9.5% in 2010) compared to other European countries like Britain (7.9%). [Update, as of December 31, 2012, the unemployment rate in France is 9.9%, and including the overseas territories, it is 10.3%, according to the national statistics office, INSEE.]