What are the pros and cons of living in Nice, France? After living there for a year, leaving for a year, and then finding myself moving back…I have a lot of thoughts on this subject! Here is everything you need to know about living in Nice, France.
Like I mentioned before, my husband and I moved back to Nice, France. But why did we leave in the first place? First, let’s go over the pros that got us to come back.
The Pros of Living in Nice
Obviously, since I decided to move back here, I think there are way more pros than cons when it comes to living in Nice.
I also wrote the pros and cons of living in Europe for a more broad perspective if you wanna check that out!
So here are all the pros of living in Nice:
1. Close to the Beach
Nice has one of the best beaches in the world, with incredibly clear blue water that you can never get sick of seeing.
And the best part about this beach is just how accessible it is no matter which part of the city you live in.
It stretches all the way to Old Town and then it’s just a short walk away from the Port of Nice and the Riquier neighborhood where we lived and want to move back to.
It’s a super clean beach that looks amazing year-round (Mexico, I’m looking at you!) and it’s free.
Living near the beach is literally one of the main reasons we started living abroad in the first place since we realized there was almost NO chance of us being able to afford to live near the ocean in the USA.
We were both raised in California but definitely don’t make California money lol.
Believe it or not, living by the beach in Nice, France is cheaper than living in a disgusting studio apartment in Utah.
2. Close to Great Hiking Trails & Mountains
This one is the most important for my husband, who is a trail runner and ultra-marathoner. Nice actually has a TON of beautiful hiking trails and it is super close to some great hikes like the GR52, Cime de Baudon, and Mont Chauve.
So if you are a big hiker, Nice is a great location for you!
3. Perfect Weather Year-Round
The weather in Nice is comparable to San Diego, with warm summers and mild winters.
Although I used to be someone who couldn’t tolerate even the slightest bit of cold, living in Europe made me learn to love cuddling up on the couch with a blanket while I write.
The coldest months are January and February with lows of 45 degrees Fahrenheit (sorry, I’m American!) or 7 degrees Celsius.
The warmest months in Nice are July and August with highs of 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 26 degrees Celsius (although in 2020, it definitely got a bit hotter than that!)
Since we’ve been nomadic since 2017 and were just chasing summer around the world, it was a bit hard to come to terms with living through the winter months instead of just moving somewhere else.
However, having a home is definitely worth a bit of cold weather! Even Bali has a rainy season.
4. It’s Just SO Beautiful
Maybe I’m biased, but I think Nice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
It has colorful buildings lined along the coastline with the cutest shutters and little balconies you’ve ever seen.
Yellow buildings with green shutters and pink buildings with blue shutters are the main types of apartment buildings in the Old Town and Port and I seriously never get sick of looking at them.
And are you kidding me with that water?
Honestly, I haven’t seen a day that I didn’t think Nice looked beautiful. When it’s dark and rainy, the colors of the buildings pop even more against the sky.
When it’s windy, the waves get bigger and the air is a bit clearer, making it possible to see the snowy mountains behind Nice.
When it’s bright and sunny, you can get a tan even in February and the light that hits the streets in the Old Town makes it look even more magical than usual.
Basically, this is my love letter to Nice lol. Don’t worry, the rest of this post is a lot more data-driven and less gushing about the city.
5. Cheaper Than the USA
This one should be obvious, but it’s not! So many people think that moving to the capital of the South of France would be incredibly expensive.
After all, isn’t that where celebrities go for vacation?
But it turns out that living in Nice isn’t that expensive at all! In fact, we averaged $1500 per month including rent!
I broke down all the costs of living in Nice in this post.
Basically, living in Nice is still cheaper than living in a boring town in the USA and WAY cheaper than living on the coast of California.
6. Great Public Transport System (Cheap, too!)
Living abroad and then visiting the USA makes you realize one thing for sure: Americans rely WAY too much on cars for transportation.
In the rest of the world, everything is connected by bus routes, trains, metros, etc. I don’t miss having a car at all!
So one of the most important things to look at when you move somewhere and you don’t want to own a car is how well-connected the city is by public transport.
I have to say, hands down, that Nice has one of the best public transport systems I’ve ever seen.
The buses and metros are clean, the system is easy to understand, and it’s cheap! If you buy 10 tickets at once, you get each ticket for just one euro and that will get you anywhere in Nice.
This brings me to the next SUPER important point if you are car-less…
7. Easy & Affordable Access to the Airport
Something you may notice while traveling around Europe is that the airports for major cities are not very close to the cities themselves.
In fact, we had to pay 28 euros to get from the Rome airport into the center of Rome. And it was NOT a long train ride.
In Genova, we had to take a bus and then walk 30 minutes with all of our stuff because there isn’t a direct route to the airport by public transport (to be fair, there is an airport shuttle, but it doesn’t operate all the time).
Since we travel pretty often, getting to the airport easily and without adding a ton of extra expense is super important (I’m sure I’ll be budget-crazy for life!)
In Nice, you can take the metro DIRECTLY to the terminal for 1 euro. Literally, straight there.
Did I mention that there are machines all over the city that accept credit cards so you can buy your tickets before you get on the metro? Love that!
8. International Airport with Affordable Flights
Of course, getting to the airport wouldn’t matter much if you couldn’t go anywhere.
The Nice Airport is an International Airport (woohoo!!) but how do I check if it has affordable flights?
I play one of my favorite games! (seriously, sometimes I spend hours doing this to avoid working lol)
Hop on Skyscanner, type the city you want to move to, then choose “Everywhere” as your destination.
After that, for the Depart and Return choose “Cheapest Month.”
From there, you can see all the places that you can go from that airport and how much it’ll cost:
I get excited just seeing the names of all these countries together with such insanely low prices next to them. Ahh!!
But I’m getting a bit older and I’m a bit tired from all my years of being nomadic, so the next thing to make this game even better is to check “non-stop flights only.”
And what do I see in the beautiful city of Nice? Over 37 different destinations from 19 different countries with non-stop round-trip flights for under $100 per person.
Do you see why I like this Skyscanner game? It’s a huge reason why we gave up on living in Mexico!
9. Safe City for Long Walks & Runs
Nice, France definitely still has crime, however, you can tell that the city was built for outside activity.
The Promenade is super wide and welcoming, which makes walking at any time of day as a female a much more enjoyable activity.
The city has bike lanes all throughout as well, which really shows how seriously France cares about the environment.
Just the whole city feels like it was built for pedestrians, not for cars. There are alleys in the Old Town, but they are brightly lit and not too narrow so you feel safer walking through them.
I never realized how important having a safe place to walk was until we spent some time in Mexico and Italy.
In both places, I was harassed a lot and since there were limited walking areas, I found myself walking around streets that probably weren’t safe for me to be alone.
For me, there’s always safety in numbers, and in Nice, EVERYONE is outside on a walk or a run or a bike ride.
10. Nice Has Domino’s & Starbucks
Okay, don’t hate me for this one! I don’t go out to eat often, but if I do I often crave things I could get in the USA.
It’s super hard to find iced coffees in Europe, and I got addicted to those so it’s just super nice that they have a couple of Starbucks here!
Although I LOVE Italian pizza, it can get a bit pricey here in Nice, and sometimes I just crave the crappy American pizza instead.
When we lived in Nice before, there was only one Domino’s, but now there are two! It’s comfort food, don’t come at me!
11. Only a Bus Ride Away from a Ski Resort
Did you know that you can take public transport in Nice all the way to the Isola 2000 ski resort? (It’s super safe, too!)!
But not only that, you are NOT going to believe these prices.
For an afternoon ski pass at Isola 2000, it’s only 28.80 euros!!
And for a full day, just 36 euros!
Should we compare that to some ski pass prices in the USA?
- Mammoth, California: $169 for a day pass
- Grand Targhee, Wyoming: $115 for a day pass
- Snowbasin, Utah: $155 for a day pass
I rest my case.
12. The People in Nice are Nice
You hear a lot that the French aren’t the nicest people, so I came to France prepared. I read a ton of books and worked on my French.
But you know what I found when I got here? At least here in Nice, the people are very nice and just normal! Of course, I say “Bonjour” when I walk into every store and I only speak French, which I’m sure helps!
However, I’ve only had a few people in my whole time here be even the slightest bit rude to me at all. Everyone else has been incredibly kind and the customer service so far has been great as well.
I’ve been to the doctor, the dentist, and dozens of bakeries without any problems. In fact, against what a lot of people have said, people smile at me often here!
Expat Events on Meetup
I was discouraged the first time we lived here because we couldn’t go out and do anything or meet anyone like I had planned.
Then, I checked Facebook and couldn’t find a good expat group for Nice and concluded that there must not be that many here.
Since then, I’ve found the app “Meetup” and found a ton of groups of people! I love language learning and there seem to be language meetups going on every week!
I’m signed up to go to my first Meetup next Friday, so I’ll report back on how it goes!
13. It’s France, So You Speak French!
This is a huge pro for me, although it may be considered a con for others. But French is beautiful! Hearing it and reading it every day is AMAZING!
14. Updating the City (Bike Lanes)
The city is constantly being updated with new things, including bike lanes! In 2020, the city of Nice added a yellow bike lane that goes along the Promenade, Port, and down some of the main streets in Nice.
Instead of just saying that we should encourage people to use fewer cars and more public transport and bikes, Nice actually does something about it! It’s super easy and safe to bike around the city here.
In fact, along most streets, there’s the same amount of room for walking and biking as there is for cars.
So I would definitely say that this is not a “car city.”
If you move here, definitely think about buying a bike! Facebook Marketplace and LeBonCoin are great places to find cheap used bikes.
15. Green Buses & Greener Culture
Like I said before, Nice is actually trying to do something to help the environment. Trams are cheap and clean and really connect the city, which keeps more people using public transport instead of driving.
But they even went a step further and made the buses in Nice electric! Maybe I’m alone on this, but I think that’s the coolest thing ever.
There’s definitely a culture here that promotes caring for the environment and making real changes to keep Nice green.
16. The Nice Carnaval
Every February, Nice holds its own Carnaval with giant floats, flower parades, fireworks, etc. It’s a giant week-long party with an insane amount of confetti and streamers.
Adults and kids alike dress up like it’s Halloween and head to Carnaval to dance and sing and watch the floats pass by. It’s super fun and not too expensive either!
Each year has a different theme for the floats. In 2022, it was “King of the Animals” and all of the floats were animal-themed.
They even have a night where they set the King Float on fire and it’s quite the sight to see!
17. Close to Menton’s Fete du Citron and Cannes Film Festival
If you love events like the Nice Carnaval, Nice is a great base to see a bunch of other fun events in the area like the “Fete du Citron” in Menton where they create sculptures out of citrus fruit.
You’re also super close to Cannes, where you can go celebrity-spotting at the annual Cannes Film Festival.
18. Nice Christmas Markets
After going to a ton of the best Christmas markets in Europe (here’s the itinerary!!), I didn’t expect a lot when going to the Nice Christmas Markets.
But I was very pleasantly surprised! It was adorable and there were a lot more stalls than I expected there to be.
Not only did they have a really cute setup, with plenty of vin chaud to go around(hot wine, so good, you have to try it! I don’t even like wine, but this is a lot sweeter than normal wine!)but they also transformed the nearby park into a magical Christmas path.
Head there at sunset and you might get Christmas lights plus an incredibly colorful sunset that you’ll never forget! It’s all free as well!
The dates for the markets change every year, but generally, they start the first week of December and end the first week of January.
19. Easy Access to Clean Water
Another great thing about Nice is that there are water fountains in many parts of the city providing clean water.
As someone who is chronically thirsty and can’t go anywhere without water, this is a huge plus for me!
20. Lots of Sitting Areas
Coming from America, this is a huge difference that I noticed when we moved to France. In America, loitering is actually against the law! Which is super lame if you think about it.
Here in Europe, there are plenty of spaces so that you can spend more time comfortably outside.
There are benches all along the Promenade, tons of space on the beach, green areas for picnics, parks filled with benches, etc.
You can even drink outside in France, which is illegal in the USA. So grab a drink and a pizza and find a place to chill around the city!
The Cons of Living in Nice, France
21. Impossible to Find an Apartment
Having just gone through this process for the second time, I can say that it is still insanely difficult to find an apartment in France.
Both times we hired the Adrian Leeds Group to make the process easier, although it is possible to do it on your own.
I wrote out the whole terrible process here of how to find an apartment in France, and why I ended up hiring ALG after a month of fruitless efforts.
There are a ton of reasons why finding an apartment is so freaking hard, but the main ones are that we don’t have French job contracts (known as CDI’s) and that the laws in France favor the renter.
The best way to explain it is that squatter’s rights are extremely strict here.
Meaning that if you rent an apartment, decide not to pay your rent, and then just don’t leave, you are protected by the law. Not your landlord.
They are basically screwed and have to go through a ton of legal proceedings to get you out. So they are VERY cautious when choosing who to rent to. Understandably.
My Italian teacher told me a story about when her friend let some people stay at her rental home when they lost their jobs and were desperate for a place to stay.
They weren’t supposed to stay very long but ended up staying months. They weren’t paying for utilities, so those bills started to pile up and her friend couldn’t afford to keep paying them.
Eventually, my teacher stepped in and had them move to her vacation home instead, where they did the same thing for a year or so.
Basically, that has happened a lot here in France and every landlord is scared of it.
22. Impossible to Open a Bank Account
Opening a bank account in France is more like applying for a job. They aren’t trying to attract YOU as the customer, you are trying to convince them that you are worthy of that bank account.
Plus, thanks to laws in the USA, if you’re American, opening a foreign bank account is especially difficult and requires a lot more paperwork.
Both times I’ve opened a French bank account is thanks to ALG having connections with the bank. I applied to basically every bank I could before I had their help and got rejected every time.
However, once you have been in France for 3 months with your residency, you have a right to a bank account. I’ve never gone that route, but I know that if no one opens an account for you, the government will choose a bank and require them to do it.
The problem with that is that it takes 3 months, and you can basically do nothing in France without a bank account. So you wouldn’t be able to find an apartment, pay your bills, etc.
That’s another thing that takes a bit of getting used to. You need your “RIB” to pay your bills here, which is basically a paper with your bank account number on it.
I’m used to paying with a credit card since that is safer, I don’t really love allowing companies to take money directly out of my debit account. But that’s the way it’s done here!
I can still pay for groceries, etc. with my credit card though, just not my phone, water, rent, and electricity bills.
23. You Need to Make an Effort to Learn the Language
This is a huge pro for me, but if you’re someone who hates learning languages and wants to move somewhere where you can get away with only using English, France is not the place for you.
You must learn French to live here, even if it’s just the basics to get by at the grocery store, bank, etc.
Even my simple French has made my life insanely easier here than if I didn’t speak a lick of French and it has saved me many times.
24. No air conditioning
If you are an air conditioning addict, then probably steer clear of Europe altogether. It’s not just a Nice thing!
25. Dog Poop on the Ground
It’s a problem throughout all of France that dog owners don’t pick up dog poop. However, in the last few years there has been more of a push to clean up this problem and you will see signs around encouraging owners to clean up after their dogs.
It’s still a huge problem and I would never recommend walking outside without keeping an eye on the ground. My husband is always looking up at buildings while I’m dodging poop and yelling “watch out!”
I haven’t stepped in poop yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
26. Hard to Find Parking
I don’t have a car, but my friends who do have cars say that it’s a nightmare. Now that I have a balcony near some really popular restaurants in Nice, I get to watch the drama up-front and center.
Yesterday, a car parked in front of a boulangerie and came back out to see that another car parked directly parallel to him blocking them completely in.
For about 10 minutes they honked their horn until the owner finally came out and moved their car (no yelling or cursing, it was all very respectful).
Then they proceeded to try to get out of their parallel parking spot with the help of strangers (who weren’t much help at all) and they ran straight into one of the red cement posts with the front of their car.
I could see how frustrated they were and said “that’s why I never want a car in Nice.”
There’s not enough parking, so much so that on certain streets, the second lane just becomes more parking, blocking the cars in the actual parking spots.
The spots are also super small, so you better be a pro at parallel parking!
27. Guys Urinating in the Street
This is a problem all throughout France. Most corners smell like pee and it’s not uncommon to see a man peeing in a corner on a public street.
We went to Carnaval the other day and a man went to ask a Carnaval employee where to go to the bathroom, and he pointed to a large bush and said “just go behind there.” And he did!
I thought it was hilarious considering this was an official event. The main downside is the smell and the possibility of seeing something you don’t want to see.
It’s Saturday in France, so there will be protests. The yellow jackets have protests almost every Saturday, which cause traffic delays and sometimes stop public transport.
This can be annoying and inconvenient, but it’s a little French quirk that you’ll eventually get used to.
There are always strikes going on in France. Sometimes they’re for good reasons, like increasing the minimum wage or getting better healthcare benefits.
But sometimes the strikes just make life really hard and inconvenient.
For example, when we moved here the first time in January 2020, there was a public transport strike which mean that no trams or buses were running.
So when we arrived at the airport, there was a line of taxi drivers who knew they could charge whatever they wanted since we had no other choice.
Instead of a 1 euro tram ride to the center of Nice, we had to pay $50.
I’m still annoyed by that lol.
30. No Food in Nice Airport
There’s nothing in the Nice airport except for a small convenience store and a cafe.
So if you’re ever in the airport and need food, your only options are overpriced snacks or sandwiches.
Granted, it’s a very small airport and it’s not like you’re going to be there for very long, but it would still be nice to have more options.
31. Stores Closing at Random Times
This is actually something that I get a kick out of and don’t really mind, but if you like predictability and reliability, this could get frustrating.
If it’s not a big-name store like Carrefour or Decathlon, then the hours listed on Google Maps may not be accurate. You may show up and they’ve closed for the day, or even for a few months.
In France, there’s something called the congés payés, which are the required days off by law that an employer gives to its employees every year.
A lot of employers decide to take a “fermeture annuelle” (annual closing) to allow all their employees to take their required time off.
Usually, this is during the low season, but it does mean that a lot of restaurants and cafes are closed at the same time.
In my opinion, this is amazing and isn’t much of a con if you look at it from the perspective of an employee. In America, there isn’t a required number of days that an employer must give you off.
Here in France, there is a much healthier work-life balance, and yes, that means sometimes things are a little less convenient.
But life is so much better for all of us when we all get time off to actually live instead of working all the time!
32. Some People May Get Upset If You Don’t Say Bonjour
Saying Bonjour when you walk into a store is not optional and I’ve found that out the hard way at a Carrefour City when I was in a bit of a hurry.
Whenever you are starting a conversation online or in person, you better start by saying “bonjour.”
You hate to get that sinking feeling when you’ve forgotten to say “bonjour” and the person texts back with “bonjour” then on to answering your question.
It’s like a punch to the gut lol. But you’ll learn quickly!
33. Gray Water
If you’ve taken a bath or washed your clothes in France, you may have noticed that the water you used was pretty gray. Since a lot of buildings in France are very old, the water can turn gray and cause your clothes to change color.
You can avoid this by buying a Brita water filter, getting a water filter for your shower, and “decoloration” things to throw in with your laundry to avoid your clothes turning gray.
34. Getting Amazon Packages Can Be Chaotic
This is probably true for anywhere if you live in an apartment, but basically, if you order something off Amazon here, you cannot leave the house until it’s been delivered.
A lot of times, I order something and the window of delivery is 9 am to 10 pm! You could get a call at any time saying they’ll be there in a few minutes, so forget about leaving your house that day.
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Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.