Whether you’ve come to Nice to learn French, work a “serious” job or just flip flop around for six months, here are the websites and insider tips that will get you started – for the important stuff, at least.
Finding a job
I’m a firm believer in “taking your passion and making it happen,” “thinking about the joy in your heart as much as the money in your pocket,” and all sorts of other nomadic self-employed clichés. You want to do something other than leave the office at 5pm to sit on a train, get home and eat some pre-heated crap. But how do you live the good life in Nice without spending your life savings or having to sleep on the beach? Here are a few options to get you started.
1. A lot of expats work at Amadeus based in Sophia Antipolis. They provide technology for the travel sector, or something like that. Ask someone at Amadeus to explain and try to look interested. With around 4000 people at the Sophia office, it recruits people from all over the world – the universal language being English. Bonus! Technically, yes, it’s still 9-5. But with pretty palm trees on your lunch break.
2. Keep an eye out on AngloInfo and you may be lucky enough to spot a job that interests you such as sales & marketing in the yachting industry, property management, reception work or teaching.
Arriving from abroad and looking for a place to rent has its challenges. Firstly, if you’ve never lived in France before, do not have a credit history, and even worse, are self-employed without French tax returns to show, you are pretty much treated like a housing leper. Unfortunately your “dossier” (items listed below) is your secret weapon to renting an apartment and may the best dossier win. If, like many foreigners, it’s impossible for you to produce these documents, then don’t panic – you still have options. First, we’ll start with the standard French route, and then show dossier-deprived people how to cut corners.
Determine your budget
If you take the French route, you’ll be looking at around 500€/month for a studio apartment (or “1 pièce”) 700-800€ for a 1 bedroom (or “2 pièces”) or 900-1200€ for a 2 bedroom (or “3 pièces”).
Compile your dossier
These are the items you will likely need in order to convince a French owner to rent to you. You should have several copies ready to hand over at viewings that meet your criteria.
1. RIB: the document from your French bank detailing your account numbers
2. Photo ID
3. Proof of Income: normally tax returns from the previous two years
4. Fiche Locataire: Provided to you by the agent
5. Previous rental references – not obligatory but why not strengthen your case?
Visit lots of agents
Nice is certainly not short of real estate agents. You can’t walk far without being lured to a shop window by a dream property with a drool-worthy infinity pool. The thing is, a lot of these agents are, well, just a bit lazy. So visit as many as possible in your chosen area of Nice and follow up with an email recapping your search criteria.
The following websites have many many rental listings. Most are listed through an agent, but even if the apartment doesn’t turn out to be great, you’ll at least be on the agent’s radar.
Offer a “caution bancaire”
If you have never worked in France, are self-employed or cannot produce many of the dossier documents, you can offer to set up a caution bancaire. This is a year’s rent (sometimes more, sometimes less) locked in your own bank account that you cannot touch for the duration of the lease. It acts as a guarantee to the owner that they will receive your monthly payment even if your income declines or you do a runner! It’s certainly a hefty investment up front but has saved many an expats ass, including my own. Ask your bank manager for further details.
Search on AngloInfo
The Riviera version of AngloInfo is like your Craigslist or Gumtree full of classifieds, directories and discussion boards. Here you can search for rentals with Anglophone landlords, many of whom are way more lenient when it comes to the dreaded dossier. You may even be able to rent on a month-by-month basis without a contract commitment – the downside being that monthly rent may set you back a little more. You can also use Angloinfo to look for work!
Book a short-term rental
For those looking to rent a holiday apartment for a few months, short-term rentals offer flexibility – at a price. These websites will get you started:
Leave it to the experts
If dealing with ghastly French paperwork is giving you migraines, you might want to leave it in the capable hands of Mon Ami Andy – otherwise known as your guardian angels! From housing to immigration, they deal with the day-to-day red tape so you can focus on more important things, like your tan.
Fly: Nice’s (slightly more expensive) answer to Ikea, just opposite Gare Riquier.
Ikea: The nearest is in Toulon and they don’t deliver. Take a road trip?
Habitat: Of course you know Habitat. It’s in the Nice Etoile on Avenue Jean Médecin.
Maisons du Monde: Also in the Nice Etoile. Shabby chic-industiral-vintage heaven.
Westwing.fr: This website will have you drooling over Scandinavian-inspired armchairs and decorative throws. Sign up for the daily newsletter and your inbox will be full of stunning inspiration from “ambiance néo-factory” to “art nouveau à Bruxelles” or “soirée chic a Beverly Hills.” Every theme is accompanied by a vente privée so you can purchase the “look” online.
Antique shops & markets: Lovers of dusty used objects will find brocantes at Place Garibaldi on the 3rd Saturday of the month and on the Cours Saleya on Mondays from 7h-18h. You’ll also find the Marché aux Puces at Nice Port full of private collectors selling armoires to cover their nursing home bills.
Finding buddies to sunbathe with, Vélo Bleu with and drink rosé with has never been easier. Simply sign up to a Meet Up group such as this one, make one friend and grow your posse from there. You can also attend various party nights organised by Internations where you will drink too much and amass hundreds of business cards from people you can’t remember the next day. The main thing is to never stop believing in yourself – unless you’re absolutely sure you’re a loser.
Parlay-voo francay? If not, oh dear. How are you going to complain about your missing parcel at La Poste or explain to the guy from EDF that you have no idea where your electrical cupboard is? These über friendly professeurs and social events will have you gargling your R’s and French twisting your hair in no time. Failing that, a little pillow talk never hurts.
If you work from home, it’s not unusual to compensate for a lack of human contact by being stupidly friendly to the person at the bank, the supermarket or anyone who’s forced to stand face to face with you and listen to the saved up sentences come vomiting out of your mouth. If you want to break out of the rut, try one of these sociable worky things.
At Les Satellites, you can pretend to have a real job without being obliged to show up at 9am or have an annual appraisal. It’s based at 6, rue de Congres, it’s a super nice space and allows you to get your work done in an office environment while surrounded by other freelancers and entrepreneurs from all fields. They organise brainstormings, social events, all sorts. At the very least you’ll have people to spend your birthday with while all your other friends are at work.
Tap into a network of entrepreneurs through a Meet Up group like this one, which currently has several hundred members and organises talks from “How to improve your WordPress site” to “How to shamelessly promote yourself.” Or this monthly social club which hosts around 700 creative individuals.
Freelance with friends
Why not invite a couple of fellow work-from-homers to work from a café with you once a week? You can soak up the creative energy, run ideas by each other and not have to time your lunch break for the start of a daytime TV show. Here are the best Nice cafés to take your laptop.