Nice France coastline
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What’s the Cost of Living In Nice France 2021?

Nice France coastline

A lot of people ask about the cost of living in Nice France, and how I ended up here. There’s a big assumption that living on the French Riviera is synonymous with Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. It’s not.

There are others that think moving to Nice is a simply process. That you can simply arrive, find an apartment to rent and live here. It’s not that simple.

Here are some the reasons I love living in Nice France with pros and cons, and below is a breakdown of what it costs to live in Nice, France.

If you are wondering is Nice France safe to visit, I’ve covered that in this post. It may be that you are simply curious about what to do with a weekend in Nice France. There are many reasons people choose to move to the Cote d’Azur, and I hope you find this information about the cost of living in Nice France helpful.

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Where exactly is Nice, France

Nice is in sunny, southeast France in the Alpes Maritimes Department of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur (PACA) Region. France is divided into Departments and Regions, kind of like Counties and States in the US.

The Alpes Maritimes county stretches from the other side of Cannes, east to the Italian border. And the coast that Nice is on is called the French Riviera or the Cote d’Azur. The French Riviera includes not only the coastline of the Alpes Maritimes, but also includes the department of the Var beyond Toulon.

Map of the French Riviera

Nice is a good-sized city with around 350,000 people, while the PACA Region has over a million. It’s the 5th largest city in France, behind Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and Toulouse.

Nice is big enough to keep even the most die-hard art aficionado entertained with numerous museums, art galleries and the Opera. Yet Nice is small enough to get to know your local butcher. It can really feel like a village. And getting to know your butcher is a good thing. He’ll give you better cuts of meat after he knows you!

A quick recap of the climate in Nice

The climate on the Cote d’ Azur is one biggest reasons people choose to live or retire here. The 300 days of sunshine a year and the turquoise blue of the sea are mesmerizing. That’s why I came. That, the proximity to Italy, and the fact there is an international airport were a draw for me.

We enjoy a Mediterranean climate in Nice with hot dry summers and slightly rainy, but mild winters. October through April are the rainiest months with temperatures in the 40s and 50s F.  We get snow in the mountains, which are only 1.5hrs away, but rarely do we get snow in Nice.

Temperature map in Nice, France

Beach in Nice France

There’s no denying Nice’s multi-colored Mediterranean is a draw for people wanting to live on the Cote d’Azur.

Cost of Living in Nice France- Know Where to Rent in Nice

Nice has a variety of distinctly charming neighborhoods. The most expensive areas to rent in Nice are on the Promenade des Anglais, which is the main drag that fronts the sea, and the Carre d’Or, which is the Gold Square.

These, along with Nice Old Town, are also the most central areas people look to rent an apartment, particularly if you want to be close to the sea. Renting an apartment in Old Town can actually be quite reasonable. I explain more below.

The cost of living in Nice France can be quite surprising

Views of the Promenade from Castle Hill. The terra-cotta roofs are Old Town.

If walking to the sea in 20 minutes sounds like great exercise, then look to rent an apartment the Nice neighborhoods of Liberation and Borriglione.

These areas have a more local, neighborhood-y feel, are more economical, safe, and have a lovely, bountiful fruit and vegetable market where locals and tourists shop.

If you have the cash to spend, you can look to the areas of Cimiez or Mont Boron. These Nice neighborhoods are pricier, more distant from town and the sea, quieter, and frequently have sea views. These neighborhoods are some of the best places to stay in Nice.

The cost of living in Nice France can be quite cheap if you shop at Liberation Market

Liberation Market in Nice

Renting in Nice

As you’d expect, rental prices vary by size and location. We live in smaller apartments here compared to the US or Australia, and renting can be tricky business.

This is all general information, and here’s a great rental agency that can give you precise details on renting in Nice. I, and a number of friends, have used them in the past.

Always go with a rental agency. I’ve had friends scammed by renting off of Le Bon Coin, which is like Craig’s List. Don’t go there. Enlist an agency that will ensure the rental is valid.

Palais Immobilier Rental Agency

A quality Rental Agency in Nice

Rental contracts are quite complicated here, and you rent primarily on a multi-year basis. However, this depends on whether the apartment is furnished or unfurnished.

You generally rent a furnished apartment for one year. Unfurnished apartments have a 3-year contract that is renewable. The contract is legally binding for the duration of the stay.

Typically, you pay a 1-month deposit on unfurnished apartments, and there is no maximum deposit amount on furnished apartments. You then need to pay the utilities, have renter’s insurance, pay the agency a, ‘finder’s fee’, and you may or may not need to pay a ‘Habitation’ or city tax. I believe this is being phased out. Again, speak to the agency.

Are you Eligible to Live in France?

Not just anyone can move here and rent an apartment. This goes for Europe, in general.

Firstly, you need to have the legal right to live in France. For non-European Union passport holders that means you need a work, student, residency or retirement visa. There’s no getting by this. There’s a good guide here for residency permits in France.

The cost of living in Nice France to go to the Opera is reasonable.

The Opera in Nice will cost around $22 and students pay $6.

What does your Visa say?

This is important! Most agencies/landlords need to see your work contract and/or visas. For employed visa holders, you need to show that you have a sufficient salary to cover your rent – oftentimes, 3x your monthly rent.

That means if you have a take home salary of $2100, you can afford an apartment worth $700. And you’ll need to provide the agency with pay slips to prove it.

For others, you may need a bank guarantee where 12-months rent is held in an account by the bank and you are unable to use those funds to pay the rent. You have to pay rent on top of the bank holding on to your annual rent while you make no interest on it…

The cost of living in Nice France for rentals can be economical

‘A Louer’ means, ‘For Rent’

Know what your Charges include on top of Rent

The rental agency will tell you how much additional you pay in charges. You’ll see a rental price plus charges. These charges are kind of like, ‘Condo’ fees.

We all pay for the facade, roof, elevator and internal spaces, so charges may mean ‘condo’ fees. If you are lucky, heat and hot water will be included, but make sure your agent spells everything out for you.

Charges in Old Town are often lower, because we don’t have elevators or communal heat and hot water that are included. Keep in mind that elevators are not standard in Old Town, since many of these buildings are from the 1700’s!

You’ll find cheaper apartments in Old Town the higher the floor, because you gotta walk those stairs! You can get a steal of a deal on the 5th floor walk up. Great for exercise, but remember you’ll be going up and down several times a day, perhaps.

My friend lives on the 5th floor in Old Town, and I curse her stairs every time I go up.

But when I’m up there, I’m reminded of why I love it. We see the gorgeous rooftops of Nice on her lovely terrace. But her motto is that she NEVER goes up empty handed.

The cost of living in Nice France is cheaper if you do aperitifs with friends at home

If you are looking in Old Town, try and find an apartment with a balcony for dining outside

Of course, there are short-term rentals in Nice, and Airbnb is here as well. You’ll pay a premium for short-term rentals in Nice, akin to renting a hotel room, and they are much easier to rent. There are also Apart-hotels, or apartments with hotel-like amenities.

Rental Prices Cost of Living in Nice France

To give you an idea, rents for apartments in Nice as of January 2020 are below. You can find cheap accommodation in Nice if you scour and wait.

A friend scored a small, but cute 1-bed in Old Town for $577 + $30 for charges. It’s a sweet deal for a perfect location, just 5 minutes from the sea with butchers and shops on her doorstep.

I mentioned above that rents in Nice’s Old Town can be cheaper. That’s because oftentimes you’ll have a few flights of stairs to walk, and since the buildings are close together, you may not be getting a lot of sunlight.

Some apartments in Old Town Nice have balconies, but they are snatched up first. People love the charm of the Old Town and if you can score a balcony, you are lucky.

Studio $625 + $50 in charges – 270 SqFt in Central Nice

Studio = $615 + $22 in charges – 280 SqFt in Old Town Nice

1 Bedroom $715 + $150 in charges – 440 SqFt on Avenue Californie (parallel to sea)

1 Bedroom $770 + $70 in charges- 430 SqFt in Old Town Nice

A 1 Bedroom $875 + $30 in charges – 270 SqFt in Mont Boron w/ sea view

2 Bedroom $2200 + $170 in charges – 730 Sq Ft in Nice Port w/ view of the Port

2 Bedroom $1275 all included – 750 SqFt in Borriglione neighborhood

Views of apartments in Nice France

The apartments are lovely but they are way up there…

Cost of Living in Nice France for Health and Renter’s Insurance

There are numerous agencies that provide health and renter’s insurance, and AXA Agency has a full team of English speakers.

France has some of the best healthcare in the world and it’s very reasonable. I pay less than $30 for a doctor’s visit, and it’s usually same day or next day!

Top-up Health Insurance – $50/month. In France we are covered by government-sponsored health care, but we buy supplemental coverage (called a Mutuelle) so we pay little out of pocket. For instance, a friend had surgery and treatment for cancer and paid only around $250 out of pocket when it was all said and done.

I have my Mutuelle with April International. They offer international health insurance for expatriates and travelers at reasonable prices.

Renter’s insurance – $45/month. This is for a 1-bed apartment, sea view, on the Promenade des Anglais.

I pay $28/month in Old Town Nice for a bigger apartment that looks at 300-year-old cracked walls! You are required to have renter’s insurance. I use AXA, again.

Cost of Living in Nice – Utilities

Depending on what type of apartment you rent, your heat and hot water may be included, which is a bonus. Many buildings have communal heat, and the heat is turned on in October and off in April, roughly.

Some friends turn on only one radiator because the occupiers downstairs have all their radiators open so they are cooking upstairs. The occupiers aren’t concerned about the waste, because the heat and hot water are included in their monthly rent.

Water – $26/month. This is for two occupiers. One to two showers a day and my partner went through a lot of laundry. I don’t have a dishwasher. Single occupier in a studio is around $19/month.

Gas/Electric – $50/month. This is for a 1-bed with no gas supply. Everything is electric including the wall heaters.

In a Studio it’s around $40.

I pay around $100/month because I work at home, so I have lights and heat on most of the time. Plus I cook a lot with a gas stove and an electric oven.

Phone/internet costs in nice

The Phone company is the biggest pain in the ass, next to the Electric company. We have a variety of competitors here including Bouygues, SFR, FREE and others. You have to shop around, because there are good deals to be had.

But they are always screwing things up. They switch you onto a different program without telling you, and cancelling is near impossible without paying a hefty fine. I’d prefer to get rid of my landline and internet at home, and use the free wifi at the library!

Plus, I had to get a TV box if I wanted home Wifi. I don’t watch TV and loathe the TV, so this was super annoying. I just wanted frickin’ internet… but no. You have to pay for a souped-up package.

The cost of living in Nice France is cheaper if you use free wifi

Insider tip: Get to know the restaurant/shop/bar nearby, or your neighbor, and ask them for their wifi password or offer to pay them a small monthly fee to access their internet. Also, in certain places in Nice you can access the free wifi network. For instance, in Place Garibaldi, Place Massena, Cours Saleya, the Coulee Verte, the train station and other locations. Look for this sign above.

Standard phone w/50Gg internet- $24/month. This includes calls to other cell phones within France. You can get cheaper starter plans from $14 a month. Then it goes up in your second year.

Phone line w/ internet/TV at home – $39/month.

Phone in the sand

Transport Cost of living in Nice France

We benefit from very good public transport, which makes the transport cost of living in Nice France reasonable. The buses, trams and trains are all pretty good quality and well used.

You can buy a travel card that is valid on the bus and tram, and you can use this same ticket to travel more than 1.5 hrs to get to cities such as Menton, on the Italian border, and Grasse, where you can make your own perfume.

The cost of living in Nice as far as bus/tram transport is concerned is quite cheap. Train tickets, however, are based on distance and can be quite expensive compared to the bus.

10-ride bus/tram ticket – $11.50

Monthly unlimited bus/tram ticket – $45.50

Train ticket  – $8. For a train ticket from Nice to Ventimiglia, Italy for a 50-minute ride.

Train ticket – $11. A train ticket from Nice to Cannes for a 25-minute ride.

Taxi – $45. This is from Nice Airport terminals to Central Nice – a 15-minute ride

Airport trip – $1.75. Catch Tram 2 from the Port of Nice to the airport for a 30-minute ride.

transport cost of living in Nice France is cheap

Cost of Car Insurance, Gas, Garages and Parking in Nice

Nice’s transport system makes it easy to get around without a car. But there will be times when you want to do some day trips from Nice and wish you had a car.

Parking in Nice is getting scarce and parking garages are costly. Luckily we have semi-electric cars here.

Electric Car – $9/hr. There’s a new program with Renault where you sign up online and book your car for the day. The new models should be able to take you 250 miles on one charge, but I’ve also heard they are not 100% electric, which might be why you can go so much further. An 8 hour day will set you back $72.

Car Insurance – $65/month. This is a typical 4-door car that my friend uses for work to visit clients, so lots of miles.

Gasoline in Nice – $1.70 a liter. The same friend drives to clients every day and fills up the tank 3x a month and pays around $170.

Parking – $125/month in someone’s private garage. You can get it as cheap as $90 if you shop around.

Parking Garage – $175/month. There is long-term parking in Nice’s municipal parking garage network. If you want to park your car in a there for just the weekend, it’s $68. For 24 hours it costs $27.

The cost of living in Nice France is cheaper with an Electric Twizy Car

My favorite electric car, the Twizy. And you can park these anywhere there is a space for free.

What do Groceries Cost?

We have a variety of chain grocery stores such as Monoprix, Carrefour, Casino, Super U, Lidl and others, which makes the cost of living in Nice France beneficial. They range in quality and price. There are also a variety of special stores where you get specific items.

The freshest bread, cakes and croissant come the Boulangerie or bakery. You get meats from the Boucherie or butcher, and some butchers specialize in their meat. There are dedicated butchers for pork, beef, and poultry, Halal…. You can certainly get those items at the chain stores, but you often find better quality at the specialty shops.

Butter – $2 for two sticks

Milk – $0.92 for around a quart

Baguette – $0.45 from a chain grocery store, $1 from a bakery

Eggs – $2.15 a dozen

Philly Cream Cheese – $1.70

Cheese slices – $1.25. Think ‘Kraft singles’. Pack of 10 slices

Potatoes – $2.15. Roughly 1.65 pounds. Red Potatoes – $3.40 for 5.5 pounds

Onions – $2.25 for 4.5 pounds of yellow onions. Red Onion – $3 for about 1 pound

Chicken whole – $4.50 for 3 pound bird

Ready-Roasted Chicken from Butcher – $4.50

Pound of hamburger – $6.95/pound

As I’ve mentioned we have a couple of decent fruit and vegetable markets in Nice, namely Liberation Market at the Liberation Tram stop, and Cours Saleya Market in Old Town.

Vegetables at Liberation will be much cheaper than old town and the quality will be far superior. There’s also a good stretch of fish vendors at Liberation.

Fish is generally quite pricey in Nice, and it’s surprising given its location on the sea. I often take day trips from Nice to Italy and shop at their local markets. They are even cheaper.

Going to the Cinema in Nice, France

If you go to the Mercury cinema, you can get decent deals on cinema tickets. The Mercury, in Place Garibaldi, shows films in all sorts of languages. It’s a great place because you can see films in English, Japanese, Korean, French… you name it.

The ticket price is $8.35 per film, but you can also buy a ‘carnet’ or a group of 10 tickets, for $50, so you pay $5 a movie. On Mondays, movies are $5.70 for everyone. It’s a great cinema that was renovated a few years ago.

Cost of Coffee and Croissants in Nice

Americano or a typical Black coffee will cost $2.50. This clearly depends on where you are.

There’s a place in Place St Francois, called Nomad Bar, that has coffee for $1.15 up until 5pm. They even have music in the evening and decent WiFi if Fabian gives you the Wifi code… Their French Fries are to die for at $3.50. They are skinny fries and just lovely.

Coffee is pricey What's the cost of living in Nice France

Surprisingly, cappuccinos can be quite pricey in Nice.

Surprisingly, a cappuccino or Cafe au Lait will cost you much more than it should. If an espresso will cost you $2 a cappuccino will cost you nearly $4. It can be quite a rip off. To be honest, Italy has cheaper prices on coffee with milk than France does…

Croissants – $1.00 for plain and $1.10 for chocolate filled.

What does it Cost to Dine in a Restaurant in Nice?

Many restaurants will have a ‘Plat du Jour’ or the ‘plate of the day,’ at noon. These will cost around $13.50 for their special and that will be simply the main course with bread. You can also get a ‘set menu’, which is a starter and a main, or a main and a dessert, and this will cost around $17.

There is another little hole in the wall near me in Place St. Francois, called Bar de la Bourse, that has their plat du jour for $10.00. It’s not a huge plate, but you’ll have a lovely, homemade, simple plate served with bread for a reasonable price. This locale has been around for a long time. Seating is limited and you need to get there around noon to 12:30pm or there are no more spaces.

There’s also a Portuguese Restaurant next door to the Bourse, called Le Barbecue, that offers a Plat du Jour for $14.50, but they also have on their menu a 1/4 roasted chicken with grilled vegetables every day for $10.60. That’s day or night!

They have a lot of options that are less expensive than the Plat du Jour and their portions are big! You can easily order something to share.

This is my go-to place for great food and the owners are lovely. While the couple are Portuguese, the wife was born in France and the husband in Portugal.

How much does it cost to stay in a Hostel in Nice?

Nice has a variety of good quality hostels. You can easily find a place for $25-$35 a night, per person in the heart of town. A good place to look is Hostelworld. They have the best options for cheap hostels everywhere.

Let me know if there are other things I missed on the cost of living in Nice France list.  I’m happy to provide further details.


What's the cost of living in Nice France

What's the cost of living in Nice France pin

13 thought on “What’s the Cost of Living In Nice France 2021?”

  1. Great article. I am looking for an expert in Nice to help me relocate from USA.

    1. Hi Erik,

      It’s not as easy as a desire to relocate someplace. You need either a work contract from a French employer or one of a number of Visas that allow you to live in France. Check the French embassy website in your area for the Visas you may be eligible for.

  2. Hi Maureen,

    What a super helpful post. I lived in Nice from 1999-2012 and also loved its proximity to Italy like you (I taught myself Italian while living in Nice). The past ten years I have been in NYC and San Francisco but sadly my visa is running out and I am looking for jobs back in southern Europe, and Nice has one possibility, so it was great to get an update on the cost of living. Maybe I will see you around in the Vieux Nice.


  3. Bonjour Maureen!
    Wow! Your insanely informative blog is deeply appreciated! I am a retired single American woman trying to get in the know as much as possible in preparation for moving to Nice.. preferably the Old Town. I am trying to learn French as well. And I am full of wonder about how easy it is to meet and make friends there? I am an artist and am hoping that there are plenty of like minded people residing in the Old Town section??
    If I may ask…What has been your experience with garnering a social life? And do you have any suggestions for where to go to meet English folks? I plan on assimilating into the French culture but don’t want to get too lonely while Im trying to get proficient with speaking French.
    Thank you sooo much for your invaluable contribution to all of us whom are trying to follow in your foot steps!!!

    1. Hi Regina,
      You’ll find many like-minded artists in Nice. There are a variety of gallery openings (when Covid’s not a factor) where you can meet people who speak all languages. I also got involved with Meetup groups. There are language groups, Sunday coffee meetups in Old Town and a variety of groups in other towns and villages nearby. Check out that website. You’ll find most in Nice speak some English. I remember my first Christmas here – I only knew a few people. I put a notice up on Meetup for a Christmas get-together for the first 20 people. I had 20 people and most I’m still in contact with today. While that might seem risky, I did vet people a bit and monitored their comments and participation in the groups they attended.

  4. Hi Maureen,
    Thanks so much for kindly sharing your helpful insight and tips! My husband and I have been planning for years to retire in France, and we think Nice is the place, at least to start. (I have dual American-Italian citizenship, and my husband will need to go the visa long séjour route.) We still have four years to go and lots to learn! We plan to rent, not buy, and I’m a bit perplexed as to how one navigates the furnished-unfurnished question… We’d eventually like to be able to get a lease for a year or longer, so we understand that means unfurnished. But do I understand correctly that “unfurnished” in France means we’ll need to furnish a refrigerator, window coverings, and even light fixtures? If so– that means not only purchasing those items, but having them installed, then having to have them removed and then lug them around when/if you relocate? Are there not “unfurnished” apartments that come with what we’d consider these “basics?” I imagine that we’ll want to try out a few locations for the first several years before finding a spot to settle down and go the “unfurnished” route, but the thought is already stressing me out. (-: I’d love your insight on this. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Carolyn,
      Thanks for your message. Glad you found the article of use. Yes, renting can be tricky with regard to what’s included. Also, trying to get a landlord that will give you a contract can also be tricky if you’re not gainfully employed with a French work contract. You are better off renting from an association that does rentals that are furnished. A couple I’d look at are Nice Pebbles and Sabbatical Homes (dot com). Sabbatical work with academics who get placed abroad and need a furnished apartment – but you don’t need to be an academic to sign up with them. It’s a brilliant site. You have a contract directly with the landlord and you see what the apartment looks like. That way, you could stay in one of those apartments while you navigate the real estate agencies. When you rent typically, you have the right to stay and renew 3, 6 and 9 years. That’s part of the reason apartments are quite empty. That landlord may not see that apartment again for 9 years, so he’s not going to invest in light covers or a refrigerator. Also, the legal requirement for what is IN an apartment is quite scarce as well. Working directly with landlords can be a pain, and sometimes risky unless you understand French, and French tenant rights. It’s best to go through an agency until you know your way around. The agency will also help you if you have issues with your landlord. An agency that has a rental arm that is good is Palais Immobilier in Nice. They offer great service and I recommend them all the time. Hope that helps!

  5. Hello Maureen: I am planning on 6 months (at first) and then maybe stay for 1 year. If I decide to stay for 1 year would I have to exit and re-enter the country of can I simply extend my rental for an additional 6 months??? Also, I plan on maintaining my current job and working remotely from Nice (at least that’s my plan). Finally, do you work as an apartment-finder (for a small fee, of course) or can you recommend an apartment-finder???
    Thanks in advance for your feedback.

  6. I would like to relocate to an area near Monte Carlo. The least expensive place possible as long as it is reasonably safe. I’d like to explore France and Italy but mostly to concentrate on creating art I will be spending most of my time indoors painting. I won’t need a lot of space to begin with but I will need access to purchase art supplies???. I am from the US and have had art in galleries here so I will be looking for galleries Etc in order to Showcase my art . Also do you know very much about selling art on streets?? I’m praying it will work out as long term. Hopefully it will become my permanent home. Initially I will not purchase a vehicle so I need to be in a position to get to transportation and I will be going into Monaco at least once a month. Do you have any suggestions for me. I am really enjoying your blogs thank you so much for all of your great information and your kindness and sharing

    1. Hi Lejean, Thanks for your comment. I would highly recommend Nice simply for access to everything. You can find a varying range of prices for rentals, but it’s the access to stores for art supplies, plus the foot-fall for market days or selling your art on the street. I believe you need to be registered as an auto-entrepreneur and be registered as an artist to sell your items on streets. There a great company I work with who helped do all the paperwork for my blog business called LBS in France. Monaco is only a 20-minute train ride away, or about 40 minutes on the bus. Having a car is a nightmare for parking, and unless you come from one of about 12 States that will allow you to transfer your licence to a French one, you’ll have to take the driving test all over again. You’re better off getting a Twizy and wizzing around in that. Hope that helps.

  7. Maureen this is fantastic, thank you! Planning on moving to Nice next May for six months or so and this is exactly what I needed. Thanks!

  8. Thanks Maureen! This was a very informative and well written post! I’m looking to run away from winter in the Rockies and Nice seems to be calling to me.

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