Many expats moving to Monaco often expect nothing but a playground for the rich and famous. While this aspect of the country is certainly at the forefront of its culture, it's also possible to live a 'normal' middle-class existence. Whether expats are moving to Monaco to start a business, retire in a peaceful countryside or work in the luxury industry, Monaco has a lot to offer.
Monaco has long been an attractive destination for those seeking a life of luxury. Its temperate Mediterranean climate and favourable income tax laws have meant that the state has become a haven for businesses and the wealthy.
The economy is largely based on tourism and luxury living. Golf courses, stunning beaches, yachting, ski resorts and an abundance of international cultural and sporting events occur all year round. The famous casino of Monte Carlo attracts many tourists each year.
Monaco covers just less than two square kilometres and is almost entirely urban, squeezed into a strip between the Mediterranean and French mountains across the border. Walking is by far the easiest way to get around, but expats can also rely on taxis or the extensive bus system.
Although it has been ruled almost without interruption by the House of Grimaldi for 700 years, the state is surrounded by France and has similar laws and culture. Expats from all over Europe and the US intermingle with the local population to create a very international, cosmopolitan community and culturally diverse experience. Although French is the official language, expats will hear other languages like English and German spoken widely throughout Monaco.
Expats might be pleasantly surprised to know that the cost of living is not as high as one may expect given Monaco's reputation for grandeur; although it's possible to spend astronomical amounts of money in Monaco’s high-end fashion boutiques, restaurants and casino, the price of day-to-day goods and services is comparable to large French cities like Paris.
For those moving to Monaco with a family, the state has a selection of French-speaking state schools and a private international school, which is very popular with the expat community.
Population: About 30,000
Capital city: Monaco
Geography: Monaco is a sovereign city-state located on the French Riviera. It's bordered by France's Alps on three sides, with one side bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Political system: Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy.
Major religion: Catholicism
Main language: French
Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from late March to late October)
Currency: Euro (EUR) which is divided into 100 cents. ATMs are readily available throughout Monaco and major credit cards are accepted in most places.
Tipping: Prices in Monaco often include a service charge. In cases where it isn't, one should tip about 10 to 15 percent.
Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. Plugs with two round pins are used.
International dialing code: +377
Internet domain: .mc
Emergency numbers: 17 (police), 18 (ambulance and fire). The general emergency number for the EU is 112 and is also in operation in Monaco. Monaco's emergency services are efficient and offer an extremely professional service in line with standards in Western Europe.
Driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Monaco has an extensive bus network which covers a large area. Boats and taxis are also good transport options.