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A Comprehensive Guide on Moving to Monaco

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  • Gustavo De faz

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Relocating to Monaco

At a Glance:

  • With the highest real estate prices in the world, be prepared to dig deep into your pockets.
  • Explore the many methods of transport available to get to the principality.
  • The principality has a variety of wards in which one can live in and commute from.
  • Discover the many traditional and modern shopping facilities to be found in different areas of the principality.
  • There are many options and permits to consider when applying for a visa, depending on how long you wish to stay in Monaco.

Finding affordable accommodation is going to be one of the biggest challenges for expats who are planning on moving to Monaco. The Principality of Monaco is, after Vatican City, the second smallest country worldwide and only about the same size as the Central Park in New York City. Add to that a population of around 37,900 people in 2016, and you get the most densely populated independent country in the world, as well as a consequently competitive housing market, with the average property only changing hands every 37 years.

A Costly Rental Market

Expats moving to Monaco will find that there are three different rental markets in Monaco, which are fully, partly, or not at all controlled by the state.

The State Housing and Liberalized Sectors

Dwellings in the state housing sector are owned by the state government and controlled by the State Property Authority. There are about 3,300 such dwellings available, with rents fixed in accordance to their location and area in Monaco.

The purpose of the state housing sector is to offer affordable accommodation for Monegasque citizens, and allocations are made based on a number of different criteria. It is therefore extremely unlikely that expats moving to Monaco will end up in one of these buildings.

Rents in the liberalized sector are similarly controlled, and apartments are given out with a priority for so-called “protected persons”. These are first and foremost Monegasque nationals, close family members (e.g. spouses or children) of citizens, or residents who have lived in Monaco for forty consecutive years or more.

The Free Rental Market

When you are moving to Monaco but aren’t looking to buy, your best if not only option is thus the free rental market. You can try looking for rental listings online or get some help for your move to Monaco from a local real estate agent.

Regardless of how you find your accommodation, be prepared for steep rental costs! Rental prices typically start at about 60 EUR/m², depending on the area and on what is included, from swimming pools to fully furnished rooms.

Buying Real Estate (If You Can Afford It)

There are no legal barriers that hinder foreigners from buying property in Monaco.However, not everybody is able to afford real estate in this city-state by the sea. In 2015, for instance, official statistics on re-sales showed a purchase price on apartments in Monaco of 36,000 EUR per square meter.

For newly built properties, the mean selling price was 4.5 million EUR in 2015 and a staggering 13 million EUR in 2014. However, the Monegasque Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies already takes care to point out that these sales averages heavily depend on the type of property typically sold in the respective years.

If you do decide to buy real estate when moving to Monaco, there are numerous listing sites you can browse and agents you can get in touch with. In regard to the actual transaction, a notary needs to execute and authenticate it, so be prepared for notary fees.

Those who have used the services of a real estate agent have to cover the agent’s fee, which is typically around 3% (plus VAT) of the purchase price. Furthermore, one-off registration fees apply, normally at 4.5% of the property’s market value. The seller, on the other hand, has to pay Real Estate Value Added Tax, as well as the fees of the listing agency.

Economical Alternatives to Living in Monaco

If such costs are a bit much for your budget, you might want to think about living in France, or maybe even Italy, instead of moving to Monaco directly. Nearby Nice, for instance, is only a 25-minute train ride away from Monte Carlo. There are some French towns situated even closer than that, so commuting to work in Monaco should not take long.

Keep in mind, however, that you will have to sort out your visa and residence accordingly and that you might then have to pay e.g. French income tax.

Getting There and Back Again

By Car

Expats who are moving to Monaco can do so via the A8 motorway, which passes the principality to the north and enables easy access to Nice, as well as other French and Italian cities. More scenic alternatives are the M6098 and the D6007, which run along the coast.

By Train

Monaco’s one and only train station is the Gare de Monaco-Monte-Carlo. At peak times, Regional Express Trains (TER) to nearby Italian or French cities depart every 15 minutes. Connections to more remote destinations can be found in Nice.

By Plane

Most expats move to Monaco via Nice’s Côte d’Azur International Airport. Situated 22 km to the west of Monaco, the airport is only about half an hour’s drive away, for example via the direct motorway shuttle service which links airport and principality. With a flight time of seven minutes, the journey is even shorter via Monaco’s Heliport.

By Boat

For those who can afford to travel in style, Monaco provides two ports, the Port de Fontvieille and the Port Hercule in the quarter of La Condamine.

Different Areas in Monaco

Monaco used to be subdivided into three municipalities, also known as quarters. However, in 1917 these quarters were merged and the borders of the City of Monaco equaled with those of the State of Monaco.

Nowadays, the city-state is divided into ten different wards. The names of the former municipalities are often still used to refer to their formerly bigger areas, though.

Magical Monte Carlo

Monaco’s best-known ward, Monte Carlo, has reached international fame as a luxury resort with its Casino de Monte-Carlo and the Hôtel de Paris. So if you are looking for some big designer names, it’s best to head over to Monte Carlo’s Carré d’Or, where you will find the likes of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Chanel.

Just as famous is the yearly repurpose of Monte Carlo’s (and La Condamine’s) streets as a Formula One race track, which has brought Monte Carlo even further acclaim and draws in numerous tourists every year.

However, when talking about Monte Carlo, many people actually still refer to the former municipally of Monte Carlo. This includes, apart from the ward of Monte Carlo / Spélugues, also the following wards:

  • La Rousse / Saint Roman
  • Larvotto / Bas Moulins
  • Saint Michel

Together, these four wards make up more than 47% of the principality’s surface area and include nearly half of all of Monaco’s residential building areas. You can also find more than 64% of Monaco’s hotels in the Monte Carlo quarter.

Commercial La Condamine

Similarly to Monte Carlo, La Condamine refers both to the current ward and to one of the former municipalities. As such, it is often still used as an umbrella term for the wards of:

  • La Condamine
  • La Colle
  • Les Révoires
  • Moneghetti / Boulevard de Belgique

It is the oldest commercial quarter and home to the Port Hercule, as well as the Condamine Market. Here, you will find over 200 shops to browse around in. The market is open every day, all year round, and is a brilliant place to discover the traditions of the principality. Princess Caroline pedestrian area is also a particularly pleasurable spot for window shopping and a stroll, due to the restriction on cars allowed to enter.

Thanks to the port, the actual ward of La Condamine is, after Monte Carlo, Monaco’s biggest commercial hub and a hive of activity. Moneghetti, La Colle, and Le Révoires, on the other hand, function mainly as residential areas.

Medieval Monaco-Ville

Le Rocher or the Rock, as Monaco-Ville is often referred to, is the oldest part of the city. Built up high on a rocky headland extending into the Mediterranean Sea, it houses the Prince’s Palace, as well as the Cathedral, and has stayed true to its medieval village character. As such, it is nowadays mostly a tourist destination, with a number of small boutiques, souvenir and crafts shops, as well as little cafés and restaurants to be found.

Reclaimed from the Sea: Fontvieille

Fontvieille is, for the most part, the result of a massive project undertaken in the 1970s and 80s to reclaim land from the sea. As such, it is the youngest ward and often referred to as the new, fourth quarter. Nowadays, it is the second largest ward in Monaco, as well as the city’s main industrial and economical area. However, you will also find a number of slightly cheaper residential buildings in this ward, as well as the famous Princess Grace Rose Garden.

Here you will also find the Fontvieille Shopping Centre, which offers various restaurants and shops, which are of a less expensive nature than in neighboring areas. The mall is open Monday to Saturday, from 10:00 to 20:00.

Due to the demands of a growing population and economy, there are also plans reclaim even more land from the sea, following the example of Fontvieille, with work on a 1-billion-euros, 6-hector project having been begun in 2016.

Monaco: Visas and Residence

What Visitors to Monaco Need to Know

You can stay in Monaco for up to three months without having to apply for any kind of residence permit. You will, however, need the correct travel documents. These are the same as for any short-term stay in a French territory.

You can read up on France’s visa regulations on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development. In short, France’s status as part of the Schengen Area means that:

  • Citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland and a number of other countries need no visa.
  • All others must apply for a Schengen Visa. It will allow them to travel freely in all states of the Schengen Area, as well as France’s European territories and Monaco, for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-days period.

Get in touch with your closest French General Consulate in order to apply for a visa.

For Longer Stays: Visa Options and Residence Permits

Long-Term Visa for Monaco

Expats who are planning on staying in Monaco for more than three months, with the exception of French citizens, need to apply for a long-term visa for Monaco. Again, your closest French Consulate will handle the visa application.

For your application, you typically need, among other things, the following documents:

  • completed application form
  • a valid passport
  • recent passport pictures
  • police clearance forms
  • travel itinerary
  • proof of property ownership in Monaco or rental lease
  • visa fees
  • documents supporting your reason for the application, for example marriage certificate, authorized work contract, proof of sufficient means to live in Monaco without work, etc.

Residence Permit: Carte de Séjour

Once you have arrived in Monaco, you need to head to the Foreigners’ Section of the Directorate of the Police Service within eight days of your arrival. There, everyone aged 16 or above must apply for a residence permit (carte de séjour). You will again be asked to bring along a number of required documents to prove you have suitable accommodation in Monaco, the financial means to support yourself, as well as a good character.

There are four different types of residence permit, depending on how long you have already lived in Monaco:

  • Temporary Permit: 1-year permit; two renewals possible.
  • Ordinary Permit: 3-year permit, available after three years of residence in Monaco; two renewals possible
  • Privileged Permit: 10-year permit, available after ten years of residence
  • Permit for Spouse of Monegasque National: 5-year permit, available to those foreigners who are married to a Monegasque national and who have resided in Monaco for a minimum of one year

The fee for a temporary permit is 10 EUR and goes up to 30 EUR for a privileged permit (as of 2016). Once you have obtained your residence permit, also keep in mind that you need a work permit if you are planning on taking up employment in Monaco.

Obtaining Permanent Residence

The Monegasque nationality may be acquired depending on the nationality of your parents, on your marriage to a Monegasque citizen, or on your eligibility for the process of naturalization.

Through Descent

Children born to a Monegasque father or a Monegasque-born mother, who is still a citizen of Monaco at the time of birth, are granted Monegasque nationality. In other cases, Monaco as the place of birth does not automatically grant the child the local nationality, except in circumstances where the parents are unknown.

Through Marriage

Spouses of Monegasque nationals may apply for citizenship after ten years of marriage, provided they are still living together and the spouse has not obtained their own Monegasque citizenship via marriage.

Through Naturalization

You may apply for citizenship via naturalization after having lived in Monaco as an adult for at least ten years. You must be prepared to renounce your current nationality, and you shouldn’t have any outstanding military service obligations in your country of origin.

The success of your application depends on such factors as your family ties in Monaco, your level of social, cultural and economic integration, as well as your individual “worthiness”. Whether or not your application is granted will furthermore be at the discretion of H.S.H the Sovereign Prince.

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  • Gustavo De faz

    Meeting international people from various cultures and personal backgrounds is what's InterNations all about!

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    Via InterNations, I quickly found other American expats at the French Riviera and immersed myself in Monaco's glamorous nightlife.

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