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Monaco

 

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Monaco bird's eye view
Monaco bird's eye view.

The main reason for coming to Monaco is the tax free status. This means living in Monaco which is incredibly expensive. If you live in France you are liable to UK or French tax. Depending on your taxable status and the rates being paid it can be worthwhile to live in Monaco. You have to balance the cost of accommodation and tax liabilities.

Legally, you need a work permit to work in Monaco (even if you are from the EEC). Our experience is that few ex-pat contractors have a work permit. It is the employer's responsibility to obtain the paperwork to allow this to be issued and some companies find the red tape involved in gaining this too complex and so employ people without the permit. If you live in France this is not a problem. If you live in Monaco it can cause some difficulties. Without the permit you cannot obtain a "Carte de Sejour" - a residence permit. Without this permit you cannot technically open a bank account. Also, you cannot register a vehicle. In reality you are living as an illegal immigrant. Generally, if you keep out of trouble, a blind eye is turned to your status (or lack of it). Neither the company we worked for nor the agent advised us of this. We found out when we applied for a Carte de Sejour and were denied it.

 

Language

French. Italian. Some English. Not everyone speaks English.

 

Money

Euros.

In Monaco most banks are private banks including the main UK High street banks. You cannot open an account in these without a minimum deposit in the region of £50000, so, the only options are the local French banks. Opening a general current account costs nothing and is quite simple although you will need to be able to speak some French.

Many people have had difficulties when transferring money from UK accounts to French accounts - money mysteriously going missing for 14 days or more is not unheard of. As far as we can find out this has nothing to do with the UK banks. The money generally turns up but the intervening weeks can be very difficult.

To use a credit card in many shops (but rarely restaurants) you will require your passport.

 

Accommodation

An unfurnished one bedroom apartment in Monaco will cost upwards of 2500 Euros per month, a studio around 1500 Euros per month. Estate agents charge 10% of the annual rent for managing the apartment. A deposit of 3 months rent is required plus 3 month's rent in advance. Rent is payable every three months. Rentals are generally for 1 year and no reduction in the time of tenancy is possible. So, in order to rent an apartment at 1500 Euros per month you will require to hand over 10800 Euros. The rules are different for furnished apartments - 10% fee plus one month's rent for deposit plus one month's rent. Finding a furnished apartment is not easy and the ones we saw had really horrid, very old junk furniture (and smelled awful) with a few chipped plates and cups thrown in. Most apartments are unfurnished so the cost of furnishings must be added to the initial cost. Many do not even have white goods in the kitchen. In addition, our experience is that the management agency will do no repairs without extreme pressure and even then only after many, many weeks. Others have had better experiences with management agencies. Asking about amongst ex-pats can be helpful here. Our particular experience was that it took many, many telephone calls and two months to secure the return of most of our deposit - there are always unexplained expenses deducted from your deposit, 10% -15% is not uncommon.

In contrast a furnished one bedroom apartment in France costs in the region of 1000 Euros per month and a deposit of two months rent is required. Rent is paid monthly.

Estate agents rates are negotiable. Reduction of rental period is possible. Many people working in Monaco live in Nice - one word of warning - Nice is currently known as the crime capital of the Cote d'Azur.

 

Medical Assistance

In Monaco you will need medical insurance if you are injured or sick - there is no NHS or agreement with the UK. We have heard that the hospitals are very good. Our one brush with a GP was not at all satisfactory but others may have had more luck.

In France you are covered by your Form E101 and can expect free treatment. We have heard good reports of A&E facilities in Nice and generally on the Cote d'Azur.

We have no experience of dentistry in Monaco. One brush with a local GP was enough to put us off trying dentistry. No experience or anecdote of French dentistry either.

Eye tests are virtually impossible to obtain. You must go to a specialist eye doctor to obtain a test. These seem few and overbooked. It can take as much as 3 months to get an appointment. Our recommendation would be to take advantage of cheap flights and go to Amsterdam for the weekend and get an eye test. There are numerous "opticians" in Monaco and France. These merely make lenses and sell frames and contact lenses to your prescription. They are not cheap but if you like labels (Gucci, Chanel, etc.) you have great choice.

 

Food

Great. Fantastic. There must be a law against selling bad food. Virtually everything is made in the restaurant from base ingredients including the pasta.

The cheapest way of eating out is to order the Plat du Jour (Daily Special) in a café. This costs around 10 to 12 Euros and is a generous helping of the main course of the day with veggies and bread.

Beef and steak are particularly good value for Brits and very, very high quality.

From the Plat du Jour you can spend as much as you like. Famous tourist places are the most expensive, although, unusually, restaurants in Vielle Ville - on the rock by the palace - are no more expensive than those in the main town areas.

In Monaco there are a couple of supermarkets. The biggest is in the Fontvieille district. In addition there are patisseries everywhere, buy bread as you need it - just before consumption.

Wine is incredibly cheap. It seems the French do not export the best (and who can blame them). If you are not label conscious a good wine can cost as little as 3 to 5 Euros.

The price of a pint is comparable to that in SE England. Soft drinks can be quite expensive though.

 

Transport

Buses - 6 routes running all round the principality. Be aware that they stop running at 2130. It is cheaper to buy a travel card for 8 trips. These can be purchased from the bus driver. Notes larger than 20 Euros are not accepted.

To get to Nice there are regular trains and buses and a helicopter service to the airport.

 

Entertainment

In Monaco there are numerous pubs, one cinema with limited films in English and night clubs (if you can afford entry - the Rascasse is free entry). There are also gyms and a large public sports complex in the Fontveille district. The public beach is pebble and only really fun in the summer. There is also a public swimming pool, which is converted into the ice rink during the winter months.

Monaco boasts its own zoo and numerous museums but after 6 months you will probably have seen all these at least once. The Musee Oceanographic is superb.

Of course - there is always the Casino.

Spouses have a really hard time in Monaco as there are no spouse clubs and spouses often find themselves very isolated.

Anecdotally, if you prefer a British (North European) style night out, Nice is more familiar but we cannot confirm that.

 

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Last modified: May 01, 2011