Monaco is a city-state with a wonderful location on the French Riviera close to the Italian region of Liguria and is largely known for being a playground for the rich and famous. While this aspect of the country is certainly at the forefront of its culture, it's also possible to live a 'normal' middle-class existence here. Whether expats are moving to Monaco to start a business, retire in the peaceful countryside or work in the luxury industry, Monaco has plenty to offer.
Living in Monaco as an expat
Monaco has long been an attractive destination for those seeking a life of luxury. Its temperate Mediterranean climate and favourable income tax laws have made the state a haven for wealthy expats and businesses.
The economy is largely based on tourism, financial services, gambling and real estate. There is an abundance of golf courses, stunning beaches, yachts and ski resorts, while a host of international cultural and sporting events occur all year round. The famous casino of Monte Carlo attracts many tourists each year.
Monaco covers just less than two square kilometres and is almost entirely urban, squeezed into a strip between the Mediterranean and French mountains across the border. Walking is by far the easiest way to get around, but expats can also rely on taxis or the extensive bus system.
Although it has been ruled almost without interruption by the House of Grimaldi for 800 years, the state is surrounded by France and has similar laws and a similar culture. Expats from all over Europe and the US intermingle with the local population to create an international, cosmopolitan community and culturally diverse experience. Although French is the official language, expats will hear other languages, such as English and German, spoken widely throughout Monaco.
Cost of living in Monaco
Expats might be pleasantly surprised to know that the cost of living is not as high as one may expect, given Monaco's reputation for grandeur. Still, the cost of living in Monaco is higher than in the US and the UK.
Although it's possible to spend astronomical amounts of money in Monaco's high-end fashion boutiques, restaurants and casinos, the price of day-to-day goods and services is comparable to large French cities like Paris.
Expat families and children in Monaco
For those moving to Monaco with a family, the state has a selection of French-speaking state schools and a private international school, which is highly popular with the expat community.
There is also plenty to see and do, and there are getaways of every kind to entertain people from all walks. Monaco offers a fantastic variety of family-friendly annual events to attend at the weekend.
Climate in Monaco
Monaco enjoys a mild, pleasant Mediterranean climate, with an average of 300 days of amazing sunshine a year. Summer temperatures are usually in the 80°F to 84°F (26°C to 29°C) range, while winter temperatures rarely dip below 48°F (8°C).
July and August are the hottest months, while spring and autumn are probably the most popular, as temperatures are at their mildest. The winter months of January and February tend to be the coldest and also receive the most rainfall.
For wealthy expats, Monaco is the place to see and be seen, but there is also scope for middle-class families moving to Monaco to carve out a wholesome existence in this idyllic city-state.
Population: About 40,000
Capital city: Monaco
Geography: Monaco is a sovereign city-state located on the French Riviera. It's bordered by France's Alps on three sides, with one side bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Political system: Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy.
Major religion: Catholicism
Main language: French
Currency: Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. ATMs are readily available throughout Monaco, and major credit cards are accepted in most places.
Tipping: Prices in Monaco often include a service charge. In cases where it isn't, one should tip about 10 to 15 percent.
Time: GMT+1 (GMT+2 from late March to late October)
Electricity: 230 V, 50 Hz. Plugs with two round pins are used.
International dialling code: +377
Internet domain: .mc
Emergency numbers: 17 (police), 18 (ambulance and fire). The general emergency number for the EU is 112, and is also in operation in Monaco. Monaco's emergency services are efficient and offer an extremely professional service in line with Western European standards.
Driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Monaco has an extensive bus network which covers a large area. Boats and taxis are also excellent transport options.
Are you an expat living in Monaco?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Monaco. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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