Transport, accommodation and living costs in Marseille
For British expatriates hunting for a truly French experience combined with excellent career opportunities, Marseille offers a good balance. As the second-largest city in France and a major international trading port, Marseille attracts many professional expats to its cobbled streets. It’s also steeped in culture and tradition, uniquely different to the rest of the country.
In this guide, we explore some of the key factors that affect day-to-day life in the French city for expatriates: transportation, accommodation and living costs.
As with any major city, Marseille is easy to navigate thanks to an efficient and modern transport network. Between the Metro system, tram lines and buses, many expatriates opt to commute using these services rather than drive. Both the Metro and the trams run late at weekends, and are a practical option for travelling after-hours.
All of the public transport options are fairly priced, making it far more economical than running a car in rush hour. Car parking in the city is expensive and limited, though there are private garages and parking spaces that can be hired if a car is required regularly.
Many locals and expatriates alike makes the most of the Mediterranean climate – Marseille is the sunniest major city in France after all. It’s not uncommon to walk or cycle to work, especially in summer. A city-wide bike-sharing scheme is in operation and is well used.
It’s easy to travel to and from the main airport and train station, connecting Marseille to the rest of France, Europe and beyond. It takes just three hours to get to Paris on the high-speed train, and there are swift connections to Brussels, Brittany, Lile and Burgundy too.
There is plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation in Marseille, depending on your specific requirements. If proximity to the urban centre is a priority, there are luxury apartments available that come with shared amenities. Many of these complexes are set up for families and come with play areas, swimming pools or outside space. They are usually located within easy reach of the many fine international schools in the city.
There are also townhouses in the city centre, which have a quaint charm. Many have retained their original feature,s so they are worth considering if you prefer something more traditional. They may require some renovation work to bring them up to your preferred standard. There are more modern townhouses too, which have the latest facilities but are in-keeping with the aesthetics of the region. Many of these townhouses will offer some outside space, which is always a bonus in a city centre.
If you’re happy to live on the outskirts, then the suburbs of Marseille are attractive and family friendly. Here you will find luxurious villas with plenty of land. They often come with private pools, parking, gardens and a courtyard.
While the cost of living here is less than in Paris, it is on a par with many European major cities. For expatriates moving from London, it can work out slightly more economic, although expat salaries are fairly similar to the UK for comparable roles. An article by Expatica.com suggests that the cost of living in Marseille is about 38% cheaper than the cost of living in London.
For example, a three-bedroom property in the city centre can start from around €950 a month, though more typically you would expect to pay €1,100 or more for prime locations.
While many expatriates do rent in the city to start off with, there is a good incentive to buy here. Property tax in France is lower than in the UK, which can make a significant difference.
Groceries are quite reasonably priced if you buy local ingredients, and certainly no more expensive than an average monthly shop in London. Utilities are also fairly standardised. The biggest costs, as with any international relocation, will be your choice of accommodation, international school fees and healthcare.
If you’re moving to France, find out how our international removals team can help to arrange packing, storage and transportation on your behalf.