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Moving to Nice

Expats moving to Nice can look forward to being based in the ideal location 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 far from the quiet town that many may imagine it to be, but rather one of the largest cities in France.

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. In fact, this picturesque city continues to become more cosmopolitan each year in terms of both its nightlife and shopping options. 

The city's climate is another major drawcard. 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. 

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. 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 see and do at any time of the year. The city's calendar is also positively brimming with events and festivals of all kinds.

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 thanks to their proximity to both the water and the city’s nightlife. Alternatively, some of the suburbs that are further 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 transport 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, such as 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.

Weather in Nice

Expats moving to Nice can look forward to one of the best climates in Europe, as the city is blessed with typically Mediterranean weather with hot summers and mild winters. During the hottest summer months, particularly in August, temperatures often climb to 86°F (30°C), while maximum temperatures in winter are about 59°F (15°C).

August is the hottest month and January is the coldest. Rainfall is moderate and mostly occurs during winter; October is usually the wettest month. Snowfall is extremely rare. Nice is sheltered from the wind by the hills around the city so only the occasional mistral wind causes a stir.

Beach-loving expats will enjoy Nice the most during summer months, but it's also when the city is at its most crowded. However, the spring months of April and May can be lovely with far less crowded beaches. Autumn can be rainy but the weather is mild and it's also a great time to enjoy all the city has to offer.

 

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 the centre of the city, the Old Town or along the port should note that space is at a premium in these areas, 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 expats moves further away from these sought-after areas, they 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 months’ 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. 

Furnished vs unfurnished properties

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. 

Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation is available in Nice. Most apartments in the centre of the city are furnished, but not all apartments have air conditioning, an oven, or a washer and dryer. Furnished options are inevitably more expensive and more likely to be available for short-term rental. Unfurnished accommodation rarely includes appliances such as a fridge or stove.

Making an application

Expats seeking accommodation in Nice will need to act swiftly once they find a place because of the intense competition and demand in the city, with listings commonly being taken down minutes after going up.

A good impression with a prospective landlord can be the difference between signing a lease and having to continue the search, especially when there are dozens of other eager candidates. Expats should come prepared with all the necessary documents so they can get the ball rolling as swiftly as possible. 

Leases

Standard leases in France are generally for 12 months. It is possible to negotiate shorter leases directly with the landlord but most property owners are reluctant to do so. Leases can vary depending on the landlord, and usually require one month's notice before moving out.

The law in France mostly favours the tenant, meaning that eviction or raising the rent can be a difficult task for a landlord. A letter must be sent to the tenant at least six months prior to a rental increase, informing them of the landlord’s intentions. The landlord also has to show that the rental increase is in line with the market value of the property.

Utilities 

When signing a lease, expats should be sure to read the paperwork carefully in order to understand what is included in the rental price. Some rentals include utilities like electricity, heating, cable television and internet, but usually tenants are responsible for paying their own utility bills. 

Deposits 

The deposit for an apartment is usually one month's rent, with the expectation that the tenants will provide two months' rent in advance in addition to this. 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. If the inventory shows no damage upon the departure of the tenant, the full deposit should be returned.

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 such as 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 such as 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 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 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 salade niçoise 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 sit down at a picnic table in the midst of the shopping area.

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. 


Nightlife in Nice

When it comes to nightlife, Nice is like the laid-back 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.

Those looking for a casual drink can 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.

See and do in Nice

Expats thinking of a move to Nice will be pleased to know that there is an abundance of sights and activities to keep busy with in this French city. From sprawling gardens and bustling promenades to fantastic art galleries and imposing cathedrals, there is plenty to see and do in 'Nice la Belle'.


Recommended attractions in Nice

Parc de la Colline du Château (Castle Hill Park)

A site of significant history, Castle Hill was the first area of Nice to be settled by the Greeks two thousand years ago, and in 1706, the citadel, which was considered impenetrable, was destroyed by King Louis XIV. Nowadays, visitors can stroll through the lush grounds, meander along winding paths and enjoy the waterfall, two onsite cafés and the unrivalled panoramic views of the city and its harbour.

Musée Matisse

Art lovers, and especially fans of the genius that was Henri Matisse, simply have to visit the Musée Matisse during their time in Nice. The stunning collection of 31 paintings and 57 sculptures are housed in a lovely and historic Genoese villa, which is surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens and an olive grove. 

Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas

Expats might be forgiven for thinking they’ve somehow landed on the Red Square when they see the Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas. This extraordinary structure was built by Tsar Nicholas in 1912 and designed in the Muscovite style – the typical onion domes a peculiar site in the centre of Nice. Visitors are permitted inside but should respect rules and traditions as it is still used as a place of worship.

Promenade des Anglais

Expats in Nice will come to love a stroll down the Promenade des Anglais. Built by Englishman Reverend Lewis Way in 1820, the promenade was originally just a footpath but has since grown into a grand palm-lined seaside boulevard complete with underground tunnels for traffic which means the Promenade is always filled with strollers, skaters and cyclists. It is fringed by exquisite gardens and lined with opulent buildings such as the Villa Masséna Musée and the Palais de la Méditerranée theatre.

Jardin Albert 1er

Perfect for a family day out, the Jardin Albert Ier boasts sweeping lawns, leafy trees, fountains, a wonderful rose garden, playgrounds for the little ones and even a vintage carousel. During spring and summer, the venue becomes an open-air theatre, hosting concerts and even music festivals.

What's on in Nice

Nice is blessed with an utterly eventful calendar, and expats are encouraged to join in the fun. Festivals and events are a great way for newcomers to the city to meet people and make friends, and the city's wide variety of events cater to every taste so that everyone is sure to find their own idea of fun.

Below we list a few of our favourite Nice events.


Annual events in Nice

Nice Carnival (February)

The biggest event on Nice’s calendar, expats will love the Nice Carnival and it’s a good time for newcomers to meet people and make friends. The entire city is enveloped by an electric party atmosphere, and the highlight is when hundreds of extravagant floats parade along Nice’s streets. 

Race to the Sun (March)

This gruelling cycle race starts in Paris and finishes on Nice’s iconic Promenade des Anglais where thousands of spectators welcome the exhausted riders and a big party ensues.

Fête des Mai (May)

Another festival that expats should make a point of attending. Dating back hundreds of years, this festival celebrates the coming of the summer and the recovery of nature after winter. Held on every Sunday in May, the city comes alive as it indulges in the area’s wonderful locally-produced wines and regional speciality dishes.

Nice Jazz Festival (July)

Nice has always had a mild obsession with the art of Jazz, and this annual festival attracts the best of the best. Hosted at the Place Messena and the Jardin Albert 1er, this celebration of Jazz, which dates back to 1948, should definitely not be missed out on.

French Riviera Marathon (November)

One of the most scenic marathons in the world, the French Riviera Marathon, also known as the ‘Five-star Marathon’, starts on Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, meanders along the spectacular coastline for 26 miles (42km) and finishes on the famous La Croisette Street in Cannes. Expats are encouraged to join spectators as they cheer on runners and enjoy the festivities. 

Christmas Village (December)

Expats can get into the Christmas spirit properly at this annual holiday festival in Nice. Visitors can expect plenty of food stalls, an arts and crafts market, a ferris wheel and even an ice rink.