What Does it Cost to Live in Nice, France?
Nice and I fell in love at first sight. At first, I thought she’d be too expensive for a long-term relationship, but I was totally wrong. Although she’s incredibly beautiful, she’s also quite laid back, down-to-earth, and affordable!
Like me, most people assume traveling to (or living in) the South of France must be incredibly expensive. And this reputation may be true of neighboring Monaco and Cannes, but I was shocked when I arrived and found the cost of living in Nice quite affordable. After I did the math, I found it was possible to live within my limited budget so I moved here!
My original trip to Nice was “just for a week” between house sits in the UK, but once I arrived I was drawn to Nice’s beautiful architecture, interesting history, and vibrant music scene. I was attracted to the vibe of the city; it just felt right.
My first morning of that short visit, I was sitting alone at an outdoor cafe sipping a cappuccino. Wherever I looked, there was a photo opportunity. I was surrounded by beautiful old historical buildings set along narrow streets and it felt like I’d stepped back in time. The architecture in Nice is very similar to neighboring Italy since Nice was actually a part of Italy until 1860. As a result, the Italian influence is everywhere. It can be seen in the architecture with the pastel-colored buildings and green shutters of the Old Town area. It’s also seen in the food with pizzerias and gelato stands scattered around like Starbucks in the US or 7-11’s in Taiwan.
Five months after that brief trip, I began living in Nice and have absolutely no regrets!
My Neighborhood in Nice
The neighboring towns of Cannes and Monaco have a much different, more glamorous, feel and are also a bit more expensive. Nice is the more laid-back Riviera beach town where “regular folks” like me fit in. The city is situated on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea with easy access to the surrounding mountains offering great winter skiing or summer hiking. And for a quick escape to another culture, Italy is just 17 miles away. I sometimes escape to Italy just to do some shopping at the local markets of Ventimiglia or Bordighera. Additionally, the Nice airport offers low-cost flights all across Europe thanks to Easy Jet, Ryan Air, and other low-cost carriers, which allows me to continue house sitting throughout Europe.
Cost of Accommodation in Nice
The biggest expense of living in Nice, and my biggest concern when debating whether to move here, is the cost of apartment rental in Nice. My goal was to find an apartment in the vibrant historical area of Old Town but I didn’t know if that dream was within my budget. Once I did my research, I found that studio apartments in Old Town start at about 450 EUR per month, which is quite affordable. Unfortunately, hunting for a place to live in Nice is not so easy! Many apartments are used for holiday rentals during the peak summer months and student rental the rest of the year. So finding a decent, long-term apartment rental can be a real challenge.
Fortunately for me, I managed to do it!
I found a perfect apartment in Old Town in a historic building dating back to the 1600’s (I think). It’s located in the oldest part of Old Town at the base of Castle Hill with a stunning view of Nice’s first town hall, a clock tower, and the back of an ancient monastery. The plaza outside my door was recently renovated and the old town hall is set to become a museum very soon. My building and the old convent across the plaza are the only buildings in the area that have NOT been renovated in the past 300 years. The stairway in my building is original and probably hasn’t been cleaned in the past century, but it just adds to the charm!
My apartment is small by US standards at only 23 square meters (about 230 square feet), but it’s a perfect size for living a minimalist lifestyle. The ceilings are high and have original wood beams running through the small living room. The windows are huge with traditional green shutters and let in tons of light as well as the amazing view. The best part is the price of only 510 EUR per month. In addition, I pay 55 EUR per month for electricity and 25 EUR for my cell plan which includes 100gb of data and serves as my wifi.
In summary, my fixed living expenses total 590 EUR per month (about $686 USD).
Cost of Transportation in Nice
When I first decided to live in Nice, I originally intended to buy a scooter for transportation since I had relied heavily on my scooter during my years in Taiwan. Luckily, public transportation in Nice is convenient and very affordable so a scooter is unnecessary. Plus, the cost of purchasing a scooter in Nice is about 4 times higher than scooter prices in Taiwan!
The tram runs in a big semi-circle through the main areas of the city and costs 1.50 EUR per ride or a card of 10 rides for 10 EUR. Work is nearly complete on another tram route from the airport into the city. Also, a tram line extension to the Port area is currently under construction. Trams run every 3 – 5 minutes during peaks times and operate daily from 4:30 am until 1:30 am.
The bus is also an affordable option at 1.50 EUR per ride and covers the territory all the way from Cannes in the west to Menton in the east, located right on the Italian border. Train transportation is slightly more expensive than the bus and varies depending on your route. Residents (and expats) have the option of purchasing a discount card costing 30 EUR per year which entitles you to discounts of up to 75% on train tickets.
Owning a car in Nice is not recommended unless you absolutely MUST! Parking in many areas of Nice can be a challenge and long-term parking is limited and quite expensive, especially in the Old Town area.
Taxis in Nice tend to be quite expensive. For example, a taxi from the airport to Old Town can run about 25 EUR for the 7-mile ride. Luckily, the airport bus into town is just 6 EUR per ride and very soon the new tramline will run directly from the airport into town.
Uber is widely available and is a good alternative to a taxi for your middle-of-the-night transportation needs when the trams and buses stop running. Uber is also quite helpful during those frequent French national transit strikes!
Other Travel Expenses in Nice
Since I’m a travel blogger, I naturally like to travel. I’m currently organizing some house sits throughout Europe over the next few months and here’s what I’ve found for flight prices to and from Nice:
- Nice to Budapest: $65 USD (purchased) Vienna to Nice: $49 USD (purchased) Nice to London: $20 USD
- Nice to Geneva: $46 USD
- Nice to Barcelona: $40 USD (purchased)
With prices like these, Nice makes a great home base for exploring the rest of Europe! Food and Wine
France is famous for its amazing wine production so, obviously, it’s quite cheap here. In the small supermarket near my house, I can get a decent bottle of local sauvignon for 3.54 EUR. Happy hour prices for wine are typically 2 – 2.50 EUR per glass while regular wine prices at local bars start at 3.50 – 4.50 EUR per glass. Beer is also affordable, though slightly more expensive, with a pint going for about 5 EUR during happy hour. Mixed drinks, on the other hand, are “Monaco-priced” at around 8 – 10 EUR per drink. (I avoid those!)
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Since I’m on a budget, I tend to eat at home much of the time. When I do go out for dinner, I usually hit the happy hour specials. One of my favorite bars (Akathor) offers 2 pizzas for 10 EUR during happy hour. They also have a delicious “surprise” burger with fries for 7 EUR. Normal prices for pizza around town (a staple here due to the Italian influence) range from 6.50 (for take-out) to 10 EUR for a basic cheese pizza at a sit-down restaurant. Most restaurants will offer a “Plat du Jour” at a fixed price of around 10 EUR for lunch or 15 EUR for dinner.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are available at the daily farmer’s market located near Liberation or along the Cours Saleya (flower market) in the Old Town area. Prices at the local markets tend to be lower than supermarket produce and a bit better quality. French bakeries are everywhere and sell freshly-baked baguettes for 1 EUR or delicious croissants for .85 EUR. The butcher shop located on the ground floor of my building sells freshly roasted chickens for only 3.99 EUR.
Ice cream, a favorite during the hot summer, is quite expensive in Nice with one scoop of the sweet deliciousness going for 2.50 EUR. Just across the border in Italy, the Italian gelato is half that price! That’s one thing I allow myself to indulge in on every trip to Italy!
Cost-of-living in Nice, France Summary
So, in summary, for those of you who are “math-challenged” like me, here’s a quick breakdown of MY monthly living expenses in Nice:
Housing: 590 EUR per month (including rent, electric, cell phone and internet)
Food and Entertainment Cost:
I typically budget about 100 EUR per week for all food and entertainment for living in Nice
Total: 990 EUR per month ($1152 USD)
Beautiful Nice is often misunderstood, with her reputation of being high-maintenance and outrageously expensive. As you can see, after living in Nice, I have found she’s really very down-to-earth and affordable when you get to know her better! Of course, after spending four years living in lower-priced Taiwan, I’ve had to find ways to economize to stay within my budget. Luckily, those small sacrifices certainly haven’t crimped my lifestyle at all!
Andrea Whitaker is the CEO/Head Writer of Andi on Adventure, a travel and expat lifestyle blog. After spending way too many years working in aviation, she fled the US in 2013 for a new life abroad and has never looked back.