Population Growth and Growing Popular
Volume XXII, Issue 1
One of the biggest questions our clients pose is “Where to live in France?” It can be a very tough decision since so much of France is so desirable and it’s very easy to fall in love with just about every town, department, or region you visit. I’ve offered up my own strongly held opinions about what parts of France make the most sense, but there’s another way of looking it, too—where is the population growing? And why? And what does that mean to where you choose to live?
According to a recent study by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), which collects, analyses and disseminates information on the French economy and society, between 2015 and 2021, population growth is twice as high in urban areas than in rural ones.
In summary, there has been a demographic slowdown due to a decline in the natural balance (births minus deaths), with a population growth decline between 2015 and 2021 in almost all regions. There is stronger demographic growth in the West, South, Paris suburbs and Rhône Valley, with population growth higher in urban areas.
As of January 1st, 2021, the population of France reached 67,408,000, with an average annual increase of 203,000 (0.3 percent), a decrease from the 0.5 percent growth observed between 2010 and 2015. The overall slowdown is attributed to a weaker contribution from the natural balance in all regions except French Guiana, according to INSEE. Factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, an aging population, and a declining birth rate contributed to the unusually low natural balance. In 2023, France experienced its lowest recorded birth rate since the end of World War II.
Population growth is not uniform across the country, with 23 départements, including Nièvre, Cantal, Vosges, and Orne, witnessing a decline. These areas, often sparsely populated, face challenges like a lack of job opportunities, leading to an outflow of younger residents. Conversely, certain areas, such as the Gironde département in Bordeaux, Seine-Saint-Denis suburbs of Paris, and the Haute-Savoie Alpine region, have seen growth ranging from 0.8 percent to 1.6 percent.
Paris, however, is experiencing a steady decline, attributed to rising prices prompting locals to move to the suburbs. Notably, almost 90 percent of those leaving Paris relocate to the surrounding suburbs, where population growth has been observed in all départements. The départements of Meuse and Haute-Marne in the east recorded a more significant decline, while the southern areas of Haute-Garonne (including Toulouse) and Hérault (including Montpellier) experienced notable population growth.
INSEE highlights that population growth is twice as high in urban areas (+0.4 percent) compared to rural areas (+0.2 percent). Strong demographic growth is concentrated in specific départements, notably around Paris, along the Atlantic coast, in the south, and along the Rhône corridor. The data underscores the urbanization trend, revealing that, as of January 1st, 2021, 45 million people lived in urban areas, while nearly 22 million resided in rural areas. In comparison to the previous five-year period, population growth has decreased in all departments except Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Lot, Lozère, and Hautes-Pyrénées, where migratory growth has offset natural balance declines, according to INSEE.
So, why is this important when relating it to real estate or where you might want to live?
First off, if an area is increasing in population, then it’s logical there must be a good reason. In many cases, it’s because of transportation access. Cities that have good TGV access or new RER or Métro lines will definitely show growth. This also means that property prices will naturally increase as demand increases and supply decreases and that means these areas will be good investments, too.
With population growth, comes increased amenities and/or opportunities and that makes an area more desirable, too. We have personally witnessed the growth in the PACA region—Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and we know why! Besides the excellent transportation access, this area of France boasts of the best climate in the country.
Another interesting way of looking at where to live in France has to do with health. Like every year, Meersens reveals the cities where it is healthiest to live in France. The study, conducted by a team of experts using environmental and health criteria divided into six categories, compared the 20 largest cities in metropolitan France and discovered that the top three healthiest cities in which to live were Angers, Nantes and Paris! Read all about it.
If you want to learn more about what I personally think about where to live in France, particularly for North American expatriates, tune into a recent webinar on our Youtube channel.
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Fractional ownership is a perfect way of combining lifestyle with investments! To learn more, visit our site today!