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Moving to Nice

Expats moving to Nice will find themselves in the centre of the French Riviera, between Cannes and Monaco, a place where beauty has inspired artists and drawn visitors for centuries. Considered the central hub of the region, Nice is not quite the quiet town that many may imagine, but rather one of the largest cities in France. The metropolis continues to become more cosmopolitan each year in terms of both its nightlife and shopping options. 

Most expats moving to or living in Nice are middle-aged or retired. Still, a significant number of 20-somethings do come to the city to study or work in the tourism industry. The economy is robust and the unemployment rate is low, making it an appealing prospect for those looking to work in France. Expats can easily find jobs in the service and hospitality industries, especially if they know the local language.

On the other hand, those who have finally taken their leave from the daily grind will find that the Mediterranean climate provides ample opportunity to indulge in a life of leisure, and is one reason many expats choose this French city over Paris. Summers are warm and dry, with temperatures ranging between 60°F and 80°F (20°C and 26°C). Winters are also mostly sunny, and temperatures range between 50°F and 60°F (10°C and 15°C) during the day and 40°F and 50°F (4°C and 10°C) at night. It rains mostly in the winter but generally clears up just as suddenly as it starts. 

Furthermore, the region’s diverse natural beauty draws wealthy expats from across the globe. The ocean is 10 minutes from the city centre and the mountains are just a short bus ride away. It follows that young and old expats alike can take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and outdoor activities. From mountain climbing to windsurfing, there’s always something for expats to do at any time of the year.

Securing accommodation in Nice may not be as easy as finding a job in one of the seasonally oriented industries. The city is set up to cater more for tourists so holiday rentals are easier to find than long-term rental accommodation that is sought by expats.. Apartments can be pricey in the centre of town, particularly near the port and the old city, prime areas due to their proximity to both the water and the city’s nightlife. Alternatively, some of the suburbs that are farther away from the centre offer more affordable housing in quiet but charming neighbourhoods. For the young and financially endowed the Old Town, an area in the centre of the city is the place to be. 

Expats will be happy to hear that Nice is designed to be traversed without a car, thanks to efficient public transportation options. It’s quick and easy to get around town by tram, and buses are cheap, running throughout the city and to other nearby towns, like Cannes. Another great feature is the bike rental system that has bicycle stands all around town. It’s less than a 20-minute bike ride to most places within the centre of Nice, so this is a great option for getting somewhere in a hurry.

The only thing that may be hard to get used to is the two-hour pause for lunch when most shops and schools close. Expats should try not to worry, though. Grab a salade niçoise and sit near the beach to enjoy the relaxed way of life that is the reason most expats move to Nice.

Accommodation in Nice

Accommodation in Nice is known to be expensive. Supply is limited as the majority of housing is used for short-term vacation rentals or as second homes for city dwellers. 

Some expats are lucky enough to have their employers provide housing options, a housing allowance, or a contact from which it’s possible to negotiate a favourable payment plan. On the other hand, others must secure accommodation themselves, and in these cases there are some important points to consider. 


Types of accommodation in Nice

Apartments

Expats looking to live close to the action in centre of the city, the Old Town and along the port should note the space is limited and so they are likely to be limited to smaller apartments within older complexes. It is also important to bear in mind that many of these older buildings in Nice won’t have elevators and other amenities. As one moves further away from these sought-after areas, expats are likely to find larger, more modern apartments.

Houses

Expats moving to Nice with a family or looking for more spacious accommodation will need to look to the suburbs of Nice. Here, expats will find more spacious houses. Many of which will come with a decent-sized garden. Houses in popular suburbs such as Fabron and Cimiez provide a fair number of reasonably priced options.


Factors to consider when looking for accommodation in Nice

First and foremost, prices vary depending on location, and rental prices are considerably more expensive in popular parts of the city. However, being located centrally allows residents easier access to a multitude of facilities as well as the public transportation infrastructure.

Naturally, moving further away from the city centre allows expats a wider choice when it comes to housing options. However, expats need not worry about being isolated if they opt to live in a suburb of Nice. Even without a car, local bus services are extensive and allow people to travel easily around the city.

Aside from financial concerns, expats may want to choose accommodation in close proximity to their workplace, in an area that offers them a certain lifestyle, or in a place that makes getting around easier. Since traffic can build up in the evenings, expats can avoid getting stuck for a few hours by living closer to work. 


Finding accommodation in Nice

When looking to rent an apartment in Nice there are a few resources available. Before starting the search, though, expats should keep in mind that they will need to learn about the different kinds of properties that will be available to them.

Pièce refers to the number of rooms, and chambres refers to the number of bedrooms. So, a two pièces, one chambre listing would mean a one-bedroom apartment with a salon or kitchen.

For expats who don’t have time to go apartment hunting or would like assistance, leasing agencies can be a helpful option. There are also several local websites that provide rental listings.

Agencies can give a better idea of the types of apartments available in the city and can even provide tours. These service providers usually charge a finder’s fee that is equivalent to one month’s rent. The finder’s fee does not include the cost of the security deposit that is due upon moving in. Most apartments charge a security deposit equivalent to one month’s rent, but some can ask for up to three month’s rent. 


Renting accommodation in Nice

A few things to take into consideration whether searching for a place to live alone or with the help of an agency are the length of the lease, utilities, and the current condition of the apartment. Leases can vary depending on the landlord, and usually require one month's notice before moving out. Some rentals include utilities like electricity, heating, cable television and internet. Most apartments in the centre of the city are furnished, but not all apartments have air conditioning, an oven, or a washer and dryer.

When viewing an apartment, expats should make sure to note any issues or changes that will need to be made before moving in. It is also necessary to have home insurance in France, whether buying or renting. Insurance can be purchased at a bank and will vary on a case-by-case basis. A copy of the lease and proof of address are usually required. 

Some expats choose to ship their furniture over, depending on the length of their stay and their budget. Others take advantage of the variety of options available within Nice, like modern furniture stores and antique markets all over town and by the port.

Lifestyle in Nice

The laidback lifestyle in Nice is one of the main attractions of this Mediterranean city. In the summertime, locals take advantage of the beautiful weather and head to one of the beaches. Expats will find that they too will start to embrace this lifestyle, lounging on outdoor terraces, sipping espressos in the morning, or having a glass of rosé along the Promenade des Anglais in the afternoon.

The 35-hour French work week and five weeks of paid vacation are two advantages of living in Nice, while the slow pace of life draws retirees looking for a place to relax. The lifestyle in Nice also provides professionals with plenty to do in their spare time. Many people take advantage of the promenade for running or cycling, and there are a variety of outdoor activities in the region, such as hiking or rock climbing.

While most activities in Nice focus on the outdoors, there are also plenty of museums and cultural sites to visit. The Matisse and Chagall museums are located in the Cimiez area, just a bus ride away from the centre of town. There is also a modern art museum in Place Garibaldi and the Asian art museum along the promenade.

English speakers will find that there is a large English community in the area and a variety of pubs in town. Expats can often find free language exchanges at these pubs. These are a great way of mingling with the locals while learning French. 


Shopping in Nice

Whether one is looking for the latest designer wear or vintage attire, a fully-equipped department store or quaint boutique, Nice has something to satisfy everyone’s shopping needs. A majority of the stores line Jean-Medecin, a street that runs through the centre of the city alongside the tram line. Here shoppers will find large stores such as Galeries Lafayette and FNAC, along with other chains like H&M, Zara and Sephora.

If one is in the mood to window shop or check out the designer stores, be sure to walk down Avenue de Verdun and the Rue de Paradis with luxury stores like Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Chanel. Other French stores such as The Kooples and Longchamp are also in this area.

Strolling through the Old Town, there are a variety of shops selling Italian leather, jewellery, and all types of spices and products typical of Provence. There are also plenty of vintage stores where one can score a vintage Chanel bag for a great price on a good day. It is worth bearing in mind that many of the stores close during the two-hour break that takes place from 12pm to 2pm daily.

Sales take place twice a year in France, in January and July. If shoppers can hold out, prices continue to get lower throughout the length of the sale. 


Eating out in Nice

Since Nice is on the Mediterranean and bordering Italy, many of its restaurants are known for their seafood and Italian cuisine. The port has a variety of restaurants to choose from with outdoor tables facing the harbour.

Expats can also take a walk into the Old Town and choose from one of the restaurants lining the Cours Saleya with fresh seafood on display outside. Although this may be one of the more touristy areas, it is great for people-watching or enjoying the flower market during the day and jewellery stands at night in the summertime.

Moules frites and salade niçoise are two must-have dishes, but Nice also has other specialities that are particular to the region. Some of the dishes include pan bagnat, a niçoise salad served as a sandwich in a bun; tourte de blettes, a Swiss chard tart; pissaladière, an onion tart; farcis, stuffed vegetables; and socca, a crêpe-like pancake made with chickpea flour. Head into the heart of the old town and try a sampler platter of Niçoise specialities and eat on picnic tables in the midst of the shops.

A service charge is usually included in the bill, but most people usually leave a few euros as a tip if they enjoyed the food and plan on returning. 


Nightlife in Nice

When it comes to nightlife, Nice is like the laidback little sister in between two places known for their extravagant parties – Cannes and Monaco. Most locals will go out for a drink in the Old Town at one of the bars, but there are also places to go if one is in the mood to dance. Most bars close promptly at 2am, but a few will stay open until around 4am. If bottle service is out of the budget, there are plenty of happy hour options and bars catering to students.

For those looking for a casual drink, stop by one of the busiest streets in the Old Town, the Rue de la Préfecture. There are some great venues for sitting at outdoor tables and taking in the atmosphere.