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Mike Anderson | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

Cost of Living Near CERN


Americans are becoming poorer!

Most graduate students I know are paid enough to live fine in France. I do occasionally, however, hear about a grad student who isn’t being paid nearly enough and is digging into savings just to get by.

That is why it is important to know how much it will cost for you to live somewhere before you agree to move there. If a professor (or boss) isn’t offering you enough compensation to move you should make them aware of this and negotiate a higher pay.

For reference to potential future students moving to France to work or do research at CERN, here are some costs to think about.


This is a current comparison of the cost of various items in France vs in the US. I have converted all costs to US dollars using the current exchange rate: 1 Euro = 1.50 US Dollars. (I also converted weights in kg to pounds).

Item Cost at Migros near CERN Cost in Midwestern US
Apples (per pound) $1.00-$2.34 $1.33
Bananas (per pound) $1.15 $0.59-$0.99
Baguette (per long piece) $0.67 $1.99
Bread (sliced, per whole-wheat loaf) $1.91 $2.49
Chicken breast (per pound) $7.50-$10.90 $3.69
Eggs (per dozen) $4.60 $0.99-$2.49
Milk (per gallon) $6.15 $3.29
Pork Chops (per pound) $10.00 $5.49
Rice (per pound) $1.79 $1.10
Tofu (per 32oz package) $5.00 $1.49

At least bread & wine are cheap in France.

For lunch at the CERN main restaurant, the least expensive hot meal is $7.83, but typically range between $8.50-$13.10. The other restaurant at CERN has good meals too for similar prices. The only nearby non-CERN restaurant that you can reach easily on foot is an Indian restaurant (I believe called Madhura).


The auto-insurance company that seems to get good reviews among people at CERN is the french company MAIF. A friend of mine with a used car pays 550 Euros ($827) per year for car insurance to them and likes them.

The current cost of gasoline near CERN is around $5/gallon, which is about twice as much as the cost in my city in the US, around $2.40/gallon. (To find prices near CERN, search the web for something like “prix essence meyrin suisse”).


I gave good links to find housing near CERN in an earlier blog post. Basically, living in France is cheaper than living in Geneva, but still you should expect to pay in the high hundreds of dollars a month for rent.

Going Out to Movies

Seeing a movie at the big theater at the nearby Balexert mall, Pathé Balexert, costs 18 swiss francs ($17.87). Go ahead, click on the link and see the prices for yourself – click “vo” for version original or “vf” for version francais. I’ll admit, the idea of spending that much for two hours of sitting and watching a movie in a theater blows my mind.


I’ve given just a sample of common things, but basically, yes, things are a bit more expensive in Europe than in the US on average.

But, if you let yourself constantly fall into the mentality of “this is cheaper in the US” then you will find yourself never going out to do things, or never buying good food. You’ll be a weird shut-in, and besides, comparing the present with the past is a mistake we make when deciding how to spend money, and it drives economists nuts.

Final moral though: know what your costs will be, and make sure you will be paid enough before agreeing to move.


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