Moving to Montpellier, France
Montpellier, is the hidden gem of the french south coast. Even though it is the seventh biggest city it is fairly unknown. It is a bustling city of 250 000 inhabitants (more than double that if you count the Montpellier metropole) with a big part being students. Montpellier has the oldest still active medical faculty in the world, it celebrated its 800th birthday in 2020. The city has a rich history and the fully pedestrian city-center consists of a mix of medieval and haussmannian buildings. No matter if you are moving to Montpellier for work, for studies or just for your pleasure. This guide will help you get settled in.
How to find a place to live when moving to Montpellier?
The first decision to make is to decide if you are purchasing or renting. If you purchase, look here for our complete guide on how to buy a house in the south of france. However if you are planning on renting here is our four step guide in to finding a rental apartment:
Before starting the search you have to figure out where you would like to live when moving to Montpellier. For this you need to discover the city. The best way to do it is by foot and tramway. Take your time and visit the different neighborhoods. Sit down at a café and talk to the people around you, ask them what they think of their neighborhood. If there is a neighborhood you like in particular make sure to visit it both during day and night time. A neighborhood that is calm and quiet during the day could turn out to be quite the opposite during the evening or night. Especially if there are bars or nightclubs. Same goes for an area that is calm in the evening, during the day it could be quite the opposite. This because of trafic or construction.
A great way to be able to discover Montpellier and how your life would be here is to during your search rent a furnished short term rental apartment, this is better than a hotel since you are actually able to live your normal life. We at la comédie de vanneau offer in total 8 furnished apartments in montpellier and palavas. To read more about renting furnished short term rentals look here.
Once you have narrowed down the neighborhood or town it is time to make a list of what you need. Divide it into two categories: essentials and nice to have.
Once this is done the fun can commence.
Once you have decided where in Montpellier you want to move, you should start looking for your rental home. There are several ways to find a rental home. The most common is via internet:
Searching a rental home online
This is easiest done either on leboncoin, PAP, seloger or bien’ici. Le bon coin is a platform with a mix of professional and private landlords. Same goes for seloger but it has a majority of professionals. PAP (Particulier à Particulier) is as the name suggests a website with only private landlords. While on Bien’ici you’ll only find professionals.
Searching a rental home through your network
This is easier when you have settled in. How ever do not hesitate to hear with the people around you. For example at your place of work or with parents at your children’s school etc.. They might be aware of something up for rent.
Searching a rental home with the help of an estate agent
You can of course take help from an estate agent to find a rental apartment. This might be an easier and more straightforward approach. You don’t have to deal directly with a landlord. But on the other hand you have to pay the agent a fee, often equivalent to one month of rent.
Taking help from an english speaking professional
There are companies specialized in helping expats finding a home in France, one of them is renestance. They will practically do the job for you and take you on visits. They will as well help you put together the documentation needed to rent.
Once you have found an apartment or house that fits your needs you have to get a Rendez-vous (appointment) to visit.
If you have chosen to take on the search yourself, now it is time to start to call to get appointments but before doing so, prepare a few questions, this will show that you are interested in the offer. If you don’t speak french take help from someone who does, the french are known for not having a lot of patience with people who don’t speak their language.
Be prepared to take appointments as soon as possible, the longer you wait the bigger the risk to miss out.
Once in place for the visit, make sure you are prepared, cause it is very possible that you will be interrogated as well. You will receive questions about your income, your job etc. and once again if you are not fully comfortable with your french level take someone with you that can help you.
Come prepared with all the documents needed, you will most probably be asked to provide the following documents:
- ID / Passport
- Proof of income (at least 3x higher than the rent)
- Last tax declaration
- Resident permit (if non european, a signed employment contract or a letter from your employer could do, or if you are a student, your admission to the university)
Now all you can do is to cross your fingers and hope that the landlord chooses you.
If you are chosen now it’s time to sign the lease. Leases in France are in general for a 3 year period, unless you are renting furnished that are usually one year leases. You are of course able to leave earlier, but unless you don’t pay your rent or in any other way dishonor the lease agreement you can’t get « kicked out » any earlier than after three years. If you wish to leave the apartment earlier, the general notice in france is three months, however in bigger cities or metropoles, this notice can be lowered to one month. This is the case in Montpellier.
What to do in Montpellier?
Moving to montpellier you should know that being the bustling city that it is you will always have something to do. The art scene is quite developed, there are quite some theaters, a handful of cinemas and uncountable sports clubs. In Montpellier there is something to do for everyone.
For a full list of activities in montpellier see our earlier articles here and here and here.
Learn french in Montpellier
To really get settled into the french lifestyle when moving to Montpellier you have to learn the language, even though it is quite an international city, you won’t get far without knowing french. If you don’t already speak french you are in luck, cause language schools there are quite a few.
The biggest schools are Accent francais, LSF, IEF and ILA, but you have as well smaller schools and even private one on one classes in places such as : , Yo read more please check out our article on the different language schools here.
Transportation in and around Montpellier
In Montpellier the main mode of transportation is the tramway. There are currently 4 lines with a fifth in development, there are as well numerous bus lines linking the different neighborhoods. Some regional trains are linking the surrounding cities and smaller villages, especially on the east – west axis, with the city center.
Outside of the city center you have a train station for the high speed trains linking Montpellier with Paris and Barcelona. Not far there is the international airport with flight to more or less the whole of Europe and northern africa.
Clubs and associations for expats in and around Montpellier
There are several clubs and associations for expats in and around Montpellier, here are a few:
- BCA – British cultural association
- Womens international club
- Brits’nimes – british association based in Nimes
- Midi cricket club – based in Pezenas, with this club you can play the cassic cricket.
- Scand’oc – scandinavian association
- Cercle pays bas – dutch association.
And of course many others.
There are also several language exchange events in different bars and cafés, this is a great way to get to know other expats and start creating your network all while improving your french. Another way to get to know expats (and locals for that matter) is to join any of the events organized by Internations.