TL;DR: Are PEE (company savings), PEA (stocks) and renting the best options in France long-term?

I am single, 26, living rent-free and wondering how I should proceed to ensure my financial stability in the future and having a decent wealth in the future: my goal is to be able not to work and live well, if I want to. I have read a lot on the subject, and here are my conclusions.

Please tell if I missed something important!

I live in France, and currently doing a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision, which is a well-paid (?) field. I have a student debt (~15k€), that should be cleared by the end of the year. Unfortunately, I do not see many options for medium/long-term investments, compared to the US (as the 401(k) or Roth IRA).

Still, the decent options right now seem to be:

  • The Livret A, a savings account (0.75% / year, capped at 21k€)
  • PEA: European stocks, with much less taxes if the money is retrieved after 8 years (capped at 150k€). Also includes ETF trackers and investment funds (SICAV, OPCVM, ...).
  • Buying apartments / houses and renting them.
  • On a smaller scale, the PEE (by making use of the abondement: as an example, my company gives 700€ if I put 2000€ in the PEE). The PEE has a very low risk investment (mostly bonds).

However, I have some doubts about other financial products:

  • Life insurance: the non-euro funds are too risky (I'd rather buy stocks) and euro-based funds have low performance (2%, decreasing every year) and high fees (0.6%).
  • Managed investment funds: too risky - they crashed last year. I'd rather buy stocks myself.
  • Ironically, bonds and ETF trackers. The reason is that they seem to have increased (too much?) in popularity recently, while the performance is lower than in the past.

Overall, my short-term plan (3-4 years) is to:

  • Invest every month a good chunk of my salary (e.g. 30%+) in stocks of dividend paying, well-known companies (Airbus, Peugeot, AXA, Société Générale...) using a PEA. Reinvest the money earned from dividends.
  • Make the most of my PEE and the abondement offered by my company.
  • Keep my emergency fund (5k€) and whatever is left in a Livret A.

My medium/long-term plan is to:

  • Same as short-term, but with a lower % in stocks. Use a normal trading account if I go above the PEA cap;
  • Invest some % of what I earn in ETF trackers.
  • Be on the lookout for a good housing opportunity, that can be rented medium-term (it is easier to get good loans for your first home, but you need to wait some time before you can rent it).

Finally, note that I am willing to take (moderate) risks in the short term. I do not exclude the possibility of working abroad, and not interested in short-term stocks selling.

Are the financial products I listed the most appropriate ones in my case?


  • As a sidenote, if anyone has concrete info on how much an engineer with a PhD in AI/Computer Vision, can earn (in France or abroad), please share! Thanks.
    – user57429
    Feb 23, 2019 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


Disclaimer: this is my personal advice as a resident in France and investor. This is not professional investment advice.

Short Answer:

A good option in order to build long-term wealth in France is to invest in capitalizing Index ETFs through PEA and PEE, and eventually in euro funds through a life insurance.

Long Answer:

In term of minimizing how much tax you pay, the PEA and the PEE are possibly your best bets. Specifically, what happens is that after holding them for some time - 8 years for the PEA and 5 years for the PEE - you only pay social contributions (prélèvements sociaux) on your gains.

This is less than a securities account (compte titre) or a life insurance (assurance vie) where you would be paying some income tax on top of the same social contributions as in a PEA.

A life insurance is useful if you want to invest in a euro fund (fonds euro) and want to have a tax advantage that is better than a securities account in the long term.

Since your stated goal is the long-term building of wealth, PEA, PEE are more suitable. A life insurance can be useful eventually when you want to diminish your risk exposure.

As for rent, I am not an expert, but consider that this is not an effort-free investment. You have to do renovations and deal with tenants - including finding them and doing the paperwork. In addition, there is a big fee to be paid simply for doing the purchase transaction. Finally, what if you are not able to secure a tenant for every month? Those are things to consider.

Overall, my short-term plan (3-4 years) is to:

Invest every month a good chunk of my salary (e.g. 30%+) in stocks of [...]

You mention investing in individual stocks. It's worth to ask yourself the question of whether stock picking is a good investment strategy for you. Let's see:

  1. A study by a company named Dalbar showed that from 1997 through 2016, the average active stock market investor earned 3.98 percent annually, while the S&P 500 index returned 10.16 percent in returns
  2. SPIVA Europe Scorecard: Year-End 2018. They compare passive to active funds. A quote from their report:

"Over the 10-year period ending in June 2018, only 11 out of 490 eligible active funds investing in U.S. equities (denominated in euros) survived and outperformed the S&P 500®."

Do you have the knowledge and the experience to do better than the minority of active funds who manage to outperform the S&P 500 (and when they do, it could be simply because of luck)? Will you be able to hold onto a stock even if it drops by 50% of its value? Have you considered the fees to pay every time you buy a stock?

An alternative to picking individual stocks is ETFs (through your PEA/PEE). ETF fees are extremely low. Also, you can investing in capitalizing ETFs (de capitalisation) and they will automatically reinvest your gains in the ETF.

Finally, note that I am willing to take (moderate) risks in the short term. [...]

ETFs allow you to increase your risk. For example, you could allocate part of your portfolio to ETFs that follow companies from emerging or small markets.


You mention that you can invest in European stocks with a PEA. What you might not know is that you can also invest in non-European stocks through synthethic ETFs. As an example, the LYXOR MSCI WOR PEA is a PEA-eligible tracker that follows the performance of the MSCI World tracker. Incidentally, it's a good idea to start your PEA (and life insurance) as soon as possible. Even if you don't contribute to it right away, it will start the 8-year countdown. Same for life insurance if you decide to go that route.

  • Thank you for your insights, I am happy to see I am not too far off the mark. Not sure if this is appropriate question, but what would be good ETF trackers to start?
    – user57429
    Feb 24, 2019 at 19:33
  • Check out the boggleheads wiki for some long-term portfolio ideas. After that, you can find PEA-eligible trackers on TrackerInsight. Just search something like "etf", and then choose PEA on the filter column.You can find the methodology of Trackerinsight here. I personnaly like Amundi MSCI World (follows most of the world) and Lyxor SP500 (follows the 500 top companies in the us)
    – edoreld
    Feb 24, 2019 at 20:48

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