I received this e-mail a little while ago from someone who was in the process of moving home to Ireland from France. They’d done significant research on the impact to their pocket of moving home when it came to their bills and shopping. (Before the last budget, mind you). Here’s the problems they found they’d be encountering when moving home:
I’d like to contact you to offer both my compliments and thanks to your site.
I’m moving back to Ireland after spending five years abroad – four of them in France and one of them in the UK. I’ve been planning the move back since November and found your site in December, and have been following the posts on the site since then. It’s provided a wealth of valuable information for me. I thought I’d share some thoughts about French and Irish prices, from the point of view of an average Joe, rather than a columnist in the paper. After all, the EU is supposed to be about the freedom of goods, single market, better competition and all that jazz.
France is a strange place for consumer pricing. Some areas see fierce competition, while others, for example the taxi industry, remain expensive and regularly.
Home telecom and internet sees, in my opinion, the best competition with excellent prices available.I am with a company called free who provide me with telephone, internet and television for 29.99 per month. There are hundreds of stations to choose from, the internet is 24mb speed with no download cap, and the phone calls to most EU and several international landlines are completely free. In comparison one of the best similar deals I can find in Ireland is with ChrousNTL, which will cost me 77 euro a month, and won’t include free EU or international calls – with close family in the US, UK and Spain as well as Ireland, this will be a disappointing drop in value. Not only will the base cost be more than double what I’m paying here, I will still need to factor in the cost of calls to the aforementioned countries.
Next up with have electricity. Electricity in France is reasonably priced, and that’s even with the default company, EDF. My current scheme runs on a yearly basis – I pay a fixed fee every month from my bank based on average usage for 11 months of the year, then it’s tallied at the 12th month. According to my last paper bill in August 2008, the origin of the previous year’s electricity was 87% Nuclear, 7.1% renewables of which 5.7% was hydro electric, 3.7% carbon, 3.2% gas, 1.5% fuel and 0.3% others. Wiki tells me that high % of nuclear power is a result of the 1973 oil crisis badly affecting the country. So, let’s see what sort of cost all that nuclear energy gives consumers.
August 2005 – August 2006: 2149 kWh – Cost: €300 approx – harder to calculate as EDF was still linked with gas bill and I had gas on the same bill.
August 2006 – August 2007: 2393 kWh – Cost: €318.09
August 2007 – August 2008: 2614 kWh – Cost: €346
August 2008 – August 2009: 2592 kWh – Cost: €360- obviously this is based on presumed usage, but I’m paying for this figure on a monthly basis at any rate.
These include the unit rate, and each year I’ve paid 12-14 euro for other fees.
My bill states that I pay just over 7 cent a unit, but the price plan i’m on seems to be represent the actual price of about €0.1350 cent a unit. Not that much cheaper than the ESB clocking in at €0.1640 – yet the difference adds up; for my current estimate of usage it would be €425.08 with the ESB for the electricity alone.however this doesn’t include the standing charge, which makes no appearance on a French bill. This is approximately €0.28602 including vat (all my prices include vat, and on French sites TTC indicates vat included) for a year this amounts to another €104.39, bringing the total bill to €529.47 with ESB We are surrounded by wind and waves that could provide a cheaper and sustainable source of electricity…
On this note, I gather prices will drop; I noticed a large series of campaigns by Bord Gais about bringing cheaper energy to the market.
Mobile phone – here’s one where Ireland beats France, but where the UK stands ahead. I’ve included the UK Offers there trump France and Ireland by a long shot. I’ve included them as I’ve lived there in the past, and have family there to compare deals with. I checked out the following links in anticipation of moving back for a phone I’ve fancied, and posted the best deals I could find in each country for a mix of text and minutes.
UK contracts for LG U990 touchscreen phone:
1) Free phone – 100 minutes and unlimited texts per month, £20 a month for 18 months with 3 telecom.
2) Free phone – 400 minutes and 500 texts, £29.37/month but 7 month free rebate means it averages at £17.95 per month for 18 months with o2
Ireland contracts for same phone with 3 telecom.
€149 phone – 90 mins OR 270 texts, €19 a month for 12 months
€129 phone – 150 mins OR 450 texts, €29 a month for 12 months
As you can see, you receive a lot more in the UK. Against France, Ireland wins out. The offers here are many and convoluted, especially with Orange. The same phone on a 1 year contract with Orange France costs 79 euro and has several contract methods. €18 a month contract gets you 40 minutes to mobiles and national numbers, or “unlimited texts” between 1600 and 2000. €21 gets you 60 minutes or “unlimited texts” between 1600 and 2000. The issue is the texts aren’t unlimited – you can convert your minutes to a fixed block of texts, 150 and 180 respectively. Higher packages similiarly yield more poor results.
Groceries - sadly I left my notepad in Ireland with the prices I had mentioned, So I can’t comment too much here. For an overall feel of prices, I’ve found France cheaper in general for all goods such as day to day shopping, or things from the electronics section in the supermarket. Without the exact prices to hand, I noted that for store brand produce, the prices were very close between Ireland and France for standard supermarkets (Dunnes Stores, Tesco, etc against Auchan, Carreforre), but for branded goods the differences showed. I’m pretty certain the difference in innocent fruit smoothy was almost two euro.
I guess none of that will matter too much to me as I will be shopping at Aldi/Lidl to minimise costs as much as possible.
Anyway, enough ranting from me, thanks for the great site and keep up the good work.
Makes for some interesting reading, doesn’t it. We’re being told that we now have competitive electricity and mobile phone markets, yet we’re not seeing the type of offers and discounts that you could get in either the UK or France.