Nice is one of the most beautiful beach destinations I’ve ever visited in Europe. And while the relaxing seaside and friendly locals make for a great holiday, would this glitzy seaside town make for a great long-term home? Here are the pros and cons of living in Nice.
It’s rare to find a coastal town that doesn’t feel like a coastal town – the seasonal equivalent of a Sunday, one that feels kind of depressing when you remember that all the fun lasts only as long as summer does. But Nice is one of those rare seaside gems – it has all the cultural cachet of Paris with the added bonus of being on a stunning scenic coast. If you wander away from the ocean, the meandering alleys and lively sidewalk cafes feel like your average adorable European town. It’s obvious that unlike its many counterparts on the Mediterranean, Nice doesn’t exist for tourists. Though it’s undoubtedly busier in the summer, people live here year round and go to farmer’s markets, wine tastings, and brunch. Few cities boast such a warm and vibrant atmosphere along with beautiful beaches. A huge bonus is that while most European cities see long and harsh winters, the average temperature in Nice never gets below 7°C (45°F).
The only thing warmer than the temperature in Nice is the people. Even though we visited in August, the peak of summer travel season, people everywhere seemed friendly, unbothered by the crowds, and welcoming. If more people visited Nice instead of Paris, the French would not have a bad reputation for being rude and impatient. Everyone in Nice walks around like they live where you vacation, like there is nothing better in the world than being in the sun all day serving mimosas or having a cigarette outside the café where you’re a barista.
The food in Nice didn’t bowl me over. It’s not quite French and it’s not quite Italian. It’s a weird third thing that is a combination of both but ends up not being an amazing version of either. The pizza and pasta are good, but not like Greek good where I would kill to have pizza in Corfu or carbonara in Santorini again. The French food is good but not Paris good. And Niçoise cuisine doesn’t appeal to me very much. I almost never want a salad when I go out, no matter how famous, nor one of the many varieties of soup that are Provencal specialties. While we generally ate well, I wouldn’t necessarily say that the food is a big selling point for living in Nice.
The cost is definitely the biggest disadvantage of living in Nice. The Côte d’Azur is widely perceived as a luxury summer destination and its prices reflect that. I imagine that tourism has gutted the real estate and rental market. Who wants to rent out their flat for €600 a month when they can command €200 a night as a vacation rental for at least half the year? Worse than that, the cost of eating out is similarly inflated. While I don’t necessarily mind shelling out half a month’s rent on a spectacular meal, I don’t love the idea of paying a lot for dining experiences that are perfectly mediocre. Compared to the rest of Europe, anything from a beer to a cappuccino is at least 20% more expensive but there’s nothing special about it to warrant to the higher cost. So it’s not a great value.
Nice has really efficient and useful public transportation. The network of tram lines and buses is cheap, easy to use, and not only does it easily get you around Nice but up and down the French Riviera as a whole. So it’s an incredible city to live in if you want a lot of weekend getaway possibilities nearby. Getting from the airport to city center is also simple and direct, which is one of the best things you can possibly ask for if you frequently travel. Though I have to admit, the airport is a bit of a mess, and there’s nothing more unsettling than flying in and out of an airport that is surrounded by water.
Total Livability Score 6/10
Nice is absolutely fabulous, but I need to go up at least two tax brackets to be able to enjoy living there.