A lot of people ask me 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 – out of reach for most people. And there are others that think that it’s a simply process. That they can just rock up, find an apartment to rent and live here.
Here’s 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 blog 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 helpful.
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Where exactly is Nice, France
- 1 Where exactly is Nice, France
- 2 What is the Climate in Nice like?
- 3 Where to Rent in Nice
- 4 Renting in Nice
- 5 Know what your Charges include on top of Rent
- 6 Are you Eligible to Live in France?
- 7 Rental Prices in Nice
- 8 Health and Renter’s Insurance in Nice
- 9 Cost of Utilities in Nice
- 10 Phone/internet costs in nice
- 11 Transport Costs in Nice
- 12 Cost of Car Insurance, Gas, Garages and Parking in Nice
- 13 What do Groceries Cost
- 14 Going to the Cinema in Nice, France
- 15 Cost of Coffee and Croissants in Nice
- 16 Cost of Dining in a Restaurant in Nice
- 17 How much does it cost to stay in a Hostel in Nice
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.
Nice is a good-sized city with around 350,000 people, while the PACA Region has over a million. The Nice metropolitan area has more than 500,000 residents and it more than doubles in high season. It is 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!
What is the Climate in Nice like?
The climate on the Cote d’ Azur is one biggest reasons people choose to live here. The 300 days of sunshine a year and the turquoise blue of the sea are mesmerizing. That’s why I came. That, and the proximity to Italy and the fact there is an international airport.
While I loved living in London, I was dying for the sun. Even in the cold winters in Wisconsin, we had sun. We enjoy a Mediterranean climate here 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.
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.
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 in Cimiez or Mont Boron. These Nice neighborhoods are pricier, more distant from town and the sea, and frequently have sea views. These neighborhoods are some of the best places to stay 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.
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.
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…
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 up you go, 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.
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.
Are you Eligible to Live in France?
Not just anyone can move here and rent an apartment. This goes for Europe, in general. This is one of my bugaboos. 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.
I get quite incensed about this. I don’t know how many times I’ve read, ‘I’m planning on moving to France. Can someone help me find an apartment/job.’ It annoys the hell out of me. If it were only that easy, I would have done it years ago.
When I graduated college in ’87, I wanted to return to Italy, badly, but I couldn’t. I needed a work permit. I interviewed with a couple of companies, but they always came back declined, because there were, and still are, too many unemployed citizens. They couldn’t justify giving a job to an American. And I get that.
I understood it back then and I understand it still today. While I was defeated then, I persisted. I put my nose to the grindstone until the day came when one of my employers said they needed me to sort out their business in the UK.
They prepared my work permit and I was given the legal right to move to Europe. It took me a long time – 16 years in fact. Europe is a magical place that is dear to many people. I did things the legal way and never recommend bypassing the system.
Rental Prices in Nice
To give you an idea, rents for apartments in Nice as of April 2019 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
Health and Renter’s Insurance in Nice
There are numerous agencies that provide health and renter’s insurance, and AXA Agency has a full team of English speakers.
Top-up Health Insurance – $50/month. In France we are covered by government-sponsored health care, but we buy supplemental coverage 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.
Renter’s insurance – $45/month. This is for a 1-bed apartment, sea view, on the Promenade des Anglais. I pay $36 in Old Town Nice for a bigger apartment that looks at 300-year-old cracked walls! You are required to have renter’s insurance.
Cost of Utilities in Nice
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 was 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 studio is around $19.
Gas/Electric – $50/month. This is for a 1-bed with no gas. 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.
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 below.
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.
Transport Costs in Nice
We benefit from very good public transport here. 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 take 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. Train tickets 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 bus – $6.75. This is the bus going from T1 and T2 into the heart of Nice. 20 minute ride
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 more and more 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.
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.
What do Groceries Cost
We have a variety of chain grocery stores such as Monoprix, Carrefour, Casino, Super U, Lidl and others. 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. 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
Using as example a cinema near me, 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 Cafe, 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.
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.
Cost of Dining 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 $8.50. 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 you want the price of in Nice. I’m happy to provide further details.
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