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Lyon, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse: Where do people move to from Paris?

Hundreds of thousands of people have been leaving the capital in search of cheaper housing, more space and better living standards, a study has found

Some 240,000 people left Paris in 2018 Pic: Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock

Several hundred thousand Ile-de-France inhabitants left for other cities in search of more space and more affordable housing in 2018, a new study from the French national statistics institute Insee has revealed.

Some 240,000 people in Ile-de-France – mostly single people or couples – left the capital in that year for major French cities, and the exodus created a negative net migration rate, with 100,000 fewer people arriving than leaving.

Lyon (Rhone-Alpes), Toulouse (Occitanie), Nantes (Loire-Atlantique) and Bordeaux (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) are the most popular with relocators overall, the study found, while Nice (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) is mostly chosen by people over 60.

The study highlights an increasing phenomenon in which people have begun to leave Paris and its region for other towns, mostly because they have been priced out by skyrocketing rents. 

The consequences of the pandemic were not covered in the study, but are expected to have accelerated the trend, since it happened a year and a half after.

Read more: See the French cities where properties sell quickest (and slowest)

Paris was ranked the second most expensive city in the world in The Economist’s annual study in 2021, behind Tel Aviv. The French capital had topped the podium in 2020.

People below 40 represent 44.5% of the people who moved out of the Paris region in the year of the Insee study. They are often single (43.1%) or childless couples (26.6%) and move predominantly to other cities with more than 700,000 people. 

Read more: Map: Where rural French house prices have risen (and fallen) the most

People under 30 living outside Ile-de-France have 18m² more space on average – or a 31% bigger room, flat or house – than those in the region. For a couple with one child, the difference rises to more than 30m². 

People are often more able to live in houses rather than flats in areas outside Ile-de-France,  particularly when moving to a rural area. 

Although the average household salary decreases outside Ile-de-France from €2,230 net to €2,025, those leaving have €270 more disposable income each month.

People over 40 go rural

Young people are not the only ones leaving the Paris region. 

Around 29.2% of people aged between 40 and 59 who moved out of the capital chose the countryside over cities, while 26.2% chose urban areas. The proportion opting for a rural environment jumps to 42.6% for people above 60. 

Cities in southern and western France are some of the most popular choices, along with Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône) and Les Sables-d’Olonnes (Vendée). 

People over 40 also benefit from a greater quality of life and spending power outside Paris, with the study reporting that living standards increase at least twofold in Lille and in Lyon.

Still, some parts of France remain unpopular with people from Ile-de-France, with vast areas having reported less than 20 relocations. 

Northern Corsica, eastern France, the eastern part of Bourgogne-France-Comté, everything south of Lille in Hauts-de-France and the north west of Occitanie are among the least sought-after areas. 

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