Moving to Nice
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What to know if you're moving to Nice
Moving to Nice allows you to settle in one of Europe’s most desired locations. However, the city can at times appear more concerned with its tourists than its residents. Our guide to Nice La Belle gives you the essential info on various visas, permits, and accommodation for successful expats.
All about France
Relocating to Nice
Moving to Nice will give you the chance to settle in a lively and beautiful city in the South of France. As Nice was the first French city to base its entire economy on tourism, it has a history of welcoming foreigners and allowing them to experience the city’s daily life. The English began holidaying there as early as the 18th century, and Nice was owned by Italy for some time prior to this, which has led to a significant Italian population in the city.
Relocating to Nice may therefore land you in a highly multicultural place, but settling for a significant period of time here is difficult: the city’s main priority is tourism. Housing for residents is mostly available in the suburbs of the city and can be difficult to obtain. This guide should give you some advice on what to consider before moving to Nice.
Taking Care of Your Visa
Initially, moving to Nice is straightforward if you are an EU/EEA (including Switzerland) national. You will not require a visa to enter France. However, everyone else must obtain a visa from their nearest French Embassy or Consulate before moving to the country.
There are various visas you can apply for: the Schengen visa, a work visa, or a different long-term visa. Which one you must obtain depends on your individual reasons for moving to Nice and the planned duration of your stay.
You should apply for a Schengen visa if you intend to stay in France for fewer than 90 days. If you are considering moving to Nice, this will therefore probably not be valid. As an expat, you will usually be staying for longer than three months, although it could be useful for an initial fact-finding visit to find work or housing.
However, the Schengen visa would be valid in all EU countries plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. A Schengen visa application is processed within two months and costs 60 EUR. A guide to completing the form can be found on the website of the Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et Européennes(Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs).
If you are going to France on a work assignment, your employer should get in touch with the relevant Direction Régionale des Entreprises, de la Concurrence, de la Consummation, du Travail et de l’Emploi(DIRECCTE, the regional Department of Labor). Once your case has been approved by DIRECCTE and the French immigration office — a process which the employer has to take care of, so you do not need to worry — a visa can be issued by a French consulate.
Long-term visas are necessary if you intend on moving to Nice for longer than 90 days. This is known as a visa de long séjour in France. Such visas are usually issued for professional, academic, or family reasons. Family members of expatriates who can apply for a long-term visa usually include the spouse, minor children, financially dependent children over the age of 21, or financially dependent parents.
If you want to come to the city for work, this visa will be based on the work permit your employer must file on your behalf. For more information about the various work permits necessary for moving to Nice, please see our article on working in Nice.
Most foreign residents moving to Nice for more than three months need to apply for a residency document. Nationals of EU/EEA countries, as well as Switzerland, are exempt from this requirement. This document is called a carte de séjour, and it is usually valid for (up to) one year, three years, or ten years.
The carte de séjour needs to be collected from the prefecture of the Départment Alpes-Maritimes upon moving to Nice. It generally needs to be renewed every year. However, there are certain exceptions. Some highly qualified expats or foreign entrepreneurs may be able to obtain a special carte compétences et talents, which is valid for three years and is then up for renewal. Moreover, expats who have been living in France for at least five consecutive years can apply for a carte de résident, which is valid for ten years.
The CIR, or Contrat d’Intégration Républicaine must be signed by any non-Europeans entering France with the intention to stay. This is a mutual contract ensuring the best possible integration of foreigners into French society. After an interview, the newcomer must attend a couple of information sessions and undergo an assessment of their French language skills at the nearest immigration office.
The immigration office for residents of the Départment Alpes-Maritimes is located here:
Immeuble Space B
208, route de Grenoble
Bâtiment B – 5e étage
+33 (0)4 92294900
If the language skills of a CAI immigrant are considered insufficient, compulsory language lessons are offered for two months by the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (Office of Immigration and Integration). Failure to comply with these CIR rules can result in the revocation of your residence permit.
Housing in Nice
There is a wide variety of housing available in Nice. Different districts cater for very different standards of living, from those with an average income to the rich and famous. The information below should give you some idea about where to settle after moving to the city, and how much to expect to pay once you are there.
High Housing Prices: Making the Right Choices
Unsurprisingly, moving to Nice can be very expensive. The city’s popularity as a tourist destination has caused housing prices to soar, as wealthy foreigners choose to buy vacation homes there. Many long-term residents choose to rent apartments, instead of buying them outright. Though apartments are available furnished, it is much more common to rent or buy unfurnished (larger) apartments in Nice. As of September 2017, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center was 743 EUR, rising to 1,341 EUR for a three-bedroom apartment.
Studio apartments and student rooms in Nice start from a monthly rent of about 450 EUR, but such accommodation is normally tiny and sparsely furnished. The further you move from the city center and/or the beach, the cheaper the rent will become. If you are sure that you want to buy property when you move to Nice, prizes for an apartment near the city center start at around 4,300 EUR per square meter to purchase, but the sky’s the limit!
Moving to the Best District
As space in the city center is generally reserved for hotels and tourist attractions, you should consider buying a home in the suburbs. Nice will seem much more pleasant if you opt to live away from the crazy hustle and bustle of the center and enjoy the relative peace and quiet of the surrounding areas.
A word of warning, though: pick your area carefully! You will find extortionate prices in some, such as the Mont Baron. This part of the city is where celebrities choose to live. Elton John famously has a house in this part of the Riviera. Consequently, it would be wise to steer clear of it completely, unless you are one of the few who could afford the extremely high prices.
A much more reasonable district to move to is that of Fabron. Situated fifteen minutes by car to the west of the city center, it is fairly secluded, safe — because generally devoid of tourists — and ideal for those with families. It is well served by public transportation and has splendid views of the sea, due to its hillside location. Prices are, however, still on the high side, with plenty of homes sold with attached pool and luxury garden.
The Cimiez district, on the other hand, is more of a modern and middle-class suburb. It is a residential neighborhood, located on the hillside above Vieux Nice. It is famous for its Roman antiquities and beautiful old villas and grand houses. Located between these, however, are more affordable modern apartments. The excellent public transportation links, and the area’s popularity among both French and Italian residents, make this an ideal home location for many expats.
If you can afford to spend a bit more on housing, there is the Carre d’Or district, which is closer to the city center and home to a mix of locals, tourists, and affluent expats. The nearby Musiciens district is slightly cheaper than the Carre d’Or, but retains a sense of grandeur and elegance.
Looking for Accommodation
Prices in the Nice real estate market are on the increase, so make sure to shop around between various agents before settling on one, because there is often a great variation between prices!
When looking for properties, try these popular real estate agents: