Wondering about the pros and cons of living in Dijon?
With its charming small-town vibe, incredible food and wine, and rich cultural heritage, it’s no wonder so many people consider moving to Dijon.
But don’t start your visa application yet. There are a lot of things you’ll want to think about before relocating.
I’ve been an expat for more than 10 years with six of those in France. So, I know what to consider when looking into a new place. I’m also an expert on living in France and I know all that Dijon has to offer.
So, today, I want to share with you 27 pros and cons of living in Dijon so that you can decide if it’s the right fit for you.
Pros of Living in Dijon
There are a ton of advantages to moving to Dijon. The city is full of history and culture. From its medieval streets to its renowned wineries, it has an idyllic small-town vibe.
Below I’ll cover all the pros of living here so you know what to expect.
Let’s dive in.
One of the standout advantages of choosing Dijon as your home is its affordability. While other French cities may catch your eye with their glamour and fame, the cost of living here is hard to beat.
Whether you’re renting an apartment downtown or dining out, you’ll find most things are reasonably priced.
Imagine savoring a delicious, locally-sourced meal without the worry of a hefty bill. You can even visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Rude Museum for free! In Dijon, such experiences are not luxuries, but everyday occurrences.
As a stark contrast, life in Lyon, Paris, or Marseille, would not be this affordable.
So, if you’re looking to experience the French lifestyle without the cost, then this is the place to be.
2. Amazing Healthcare
The French healthcare system is ranked among the best in the world, and Dijon is no exception to this rule. The city boasts a top-notch healthcare system and is renowned for its high standards. So, you’ll have complete peace of mind when it comes to health and wellness.
From routine check-ups to specialized treatment, you’ll have access to excellent facilities and well-trained doctors.
For me, this is the number one pro of living here. I’ve never paid more than €6 to see a specialist. It’s even less for a general practitioner. And, best of all, there’s a new online scheduling platform called Doctolib. You can find a doctor in your area and even filter by languages spoken. It makes the process easy and hassle-free.
Useful Tip: France have a universal healthcare system. So, you’ll have good care no matter what city you live in. The only exception is in Alsace, where healthcare coverage is even better!
3. Good Traffic Conditions
Unlike many urban centers where gridlock is a daily reality, Dijon offers a more relaxed commuting experience. The city’s road network is fast and effective, making driving a hassle-free experience.
Real-time traffic data shows that residents can navigate the streets without any stress. Even during peak travel times, the traffic in Dijon is very low, which only adds to the quality of life.
And, best of all, cars are forbidden in the city’s center. The area around Place de la Liberation is a pedestrian-only zone. So, you can expect to enjoy the city’s many attractions without worrying about traffic.
4. Clean Environment
One of the remarkable benefits of living in Dijon is its commendable air quality.
It consistently ranks well for its outdoor air quality in France and even adheres to daily air quality standards.
When I lived in Paris, the air quality was so low it was difficult to breathe sometimes. And when pollution was at its peak, it was even forbidden to go outside.
Living in a city like Dijon means you don’t have to worry about breathing in toxic fumes. And, best of all, you’ll be able to enjoy the city’s beauty without a layer of smog.
5. Less Crowded
While many may flock to bustling hubs like Paris, Dijon offers a refreshing respite with its calm and serene atmosphere. And it makes it one of the biggest advantages of living here.
The city’s streets are not choked with traffic, nor are its sidewalks full of hurried crowds. Instead, you’ll find spacious parks, quiet cafés, and tranquil neighborhoods where you can enjoy life at your leisure.
It also means there’s less noise and air pollution, so you’ll be better off mentally and physically.
For those who prefer a less frenetic lifestyle, you’ll find Dijon to be an attractive option.
6. Rich Cultural Heritage
Drawing from a wealth of cultural heritage, Dijon is a city that captivates and enchants. It’s a treasure trove of architectural gems that tell tales from the Neolithic period to the Roman settlement and beyond.
As the capital of Burgundy, it serves as a testament to the grandeur of the Dukes of Burgundy. And under their reign, from the 11th to the 15th century, it was a beacon of art, learning, and science. Its cobbled streets and medieval buildings are more than mere aesthetics. These are chapters in a rich narrative that continues to unfold.
It’s also renowned for its gastronomic heritage. This is after all where Dijon mustard comes from. And let’s not forget about the wine, it’s world-famous.
Needless to say, living here is like having a front-row seat to a tapestry of history and culture. And I can guarantee that you’ll never get bored.
7. Friendly City
Dijon is celebrated for its friendliness and warm hospitality. It makes it easy for newcomers to settle in and feel right at home.
The city’s compact street scene, adorned with half-timbered medieval houses, is also inviting.
Whether you’re exploring the city or enjoying a day at Lac Kir, you’ll find welcoming locals around every corner. It’s easy to immerse yourself in French culture and feel like you’re part of a close-knit community.
8. Tons of Outdoor Activities
Living here means having access to tons of outdoor activities. So, it’s perfect for anyone who has an active lifestyle, from adventurers to nature lovers.
The city is surrounded by the Route des Grands Crus, a paradise for both cyclists and wine lovers. You can even go on a gourmet bike tour and combine your love for food, wine, and the outdoors.
In the town itself, there are tons of parks and gardens. My favorite was Jardin Botanique de l’Arquebuse. The varieties of flowers mixed with towering trees made it feel like an isolated oasis. It was so peaceful that I forgot that I was in a city.
Then, there’s Lac Kir. Perfect for runners, bikers, and walkers! You can even go swimming in the summer at the Dijon Plage.
9. Fun Student Life
Home to the University of Burgundy, Dijon offers an enriching experience for students. Not only that but the city is bustling with a youthful energy. And there are tons of bars and cafés that cater to its student population.
Moreover, the city’s compact size makes it easy for students to get around. There are even student discounts for attractions and public transport! It makes it easy to live a well-balanced life while pursuing a degree.
10. Quality Food and Wine
Dijon is the gateway to the renowned Burgundy wine region. And is home to some of the most celebrated wines in the world. The city itself is steeped in viticultural tradition. And its wine heritage dates back over 2,000 years.
Not only that but vineyards like Côte de Beaune are very close, so you’ll always have access to the best wines. There are also tons of wine tastings and festivals throughout the year.
Beyond mere consumption, Dijon offers an immersive wine experience. The Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin is a perfect place to learn more about the region’s food and wine. Moreover, the city’s wine shops and cellars, make it easy to enjoy a good glass of wine at any time.
Living in a walkable city comes with a plethora of benefits that enhance the quality of life. And Dijon’s compact and pedestrian-friendly layout makes it easy to navigate on foot. So, it’s very easy to get your steps in here.
As an avid walker, I loved being able to walk from one incredible site to another. And with beautiful streets like Rue des Forges, I never got tired of walking around.
There are so many benefits to living in a city that is walkable. So, for me, this is one of Dijon’s biggest advantages.
I was able to take my time and appreciate my surroundings, something that is less doable in bigger cities.
Useful Tip: Parcours de la Chouette is fun walking trail in Dijon. It goes past all the main attractions.
12. Historic Architecture
Dijon has done an excellent job of preserving its historic architecture. And residing here is like living within the pages of a history book.
As the former capital of the Duchy of Burgundy, it boasts a wealth of architectural treasures that span centuries. From the Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Philippe le Bon Tower, the city is a feast for history buffs.
Living amidst such historic grandeur provides a unique connection to the past. And serves as a daily reminder of the rich cultural tapestry that has shaped Dijon over the years.
Moreover, many of these historic buildings also house museums and art galleries. As an example, the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy is also home to the Musée des Beaux-Arts. And this kind of integration only adds to the character and charm of this beautiful city.
13. Peaceful Living
In Dijon, peaceful living isn’t an option—it’s a way of life. This charming city offers relief from the chaos of larger metropolitan areas. Not only that but its reasonable cost of living, coupled with its walkability, makes it ideal for anyone who wants a relaxed lifestyle.
There are also several peaceful spots throughout the city like Jardin Darcy. And with Dijon’s architecture, you won’t find a more picturesque backdrop to daily life.
I walked around Dijon at night and during the day and never felt in danger. In fact, it’s known for its safety, making it a desirable city to live in for both young people and families.
And, while every French city is prone to protests, in smaller cities, it’s hardly noticeable.
As with anywhere you live, it’s important to stay aware and vigilant. Don’t carry wads of cash or flash fancy camera equipment and you won’t have a problem. That said, I walked around Dijon with my camera around my neck and I didn’t have any problems. It goes to show how safe this city is.
15. Public Transportation
Public transportation in Dijon is efficient and well-connected. It serves the main districts of the city and its surrounding areas.
The public transport network is known as Divia and it includes bus, tram, bike rental, and car-sharing services.
And for the most part, buses and trams are clean, efficient, and frequent. You can buy tickets on the app, at station stops, online, or onboard. If you’re a resident, you can buy up to ten tickets at once, saving you tons of money.
So, whether you’re using public transport or walking, getting around Dijon is hassle-free. It’s definitely a pro of living here.
16. Not a Tourist Hub
Living in one of the lesser-known cities comes with the advantage of not being a massive tourist hub. This means that you can enjoy all the city’s charm without the crowds and commercialization. And the streets have kept their original character, offering a true taste of the Burgundian lifestyle.
You’ll be able to experience the French joie de vivre at its best.
And together this fosters a closer community feel, where residents form the core of the city’s social fabric.
The lack of mass tourism also means that you can enjoy Dijon’s treasures at leisure. There’s no pressure of long queues or crowded venues.
Cons of Living in Dijon
Despite the many pros, there are a few cons worth mentioning. From high rent prices to limited job opportunities, life here isn’t perfect. But that will be true of any city.
So, I’ve put together the downsides of living in Dijon, so you have all the information to make your decision.
Let’s get started.
17. Opening a Bank Account is Difficult
Opening a bank account in Dijon can be quite difficult. To start, most banks need proof of address to open an account. Some even want proof of income. So, if you just arrived you won’t have any of these documents.
French banks are also very expensive and have exorbitant fees. And, if you’re coming from outside the European Union, you’ll no doubt need to do a currency exchange.
I recommend using an international online banking service in the beginning.
I used and continue to use Wise and Revolut. Both have Android and IOS apps for your phone. I have accounts in several currencies and exchange them when I need to. The fees are minimal, and both are very easy to use.
Useful Tip: CIC and BNP Paribas are two excellent French banks for expats. When you have the necessary paperwork, I recommend looking into either one. Currently, I’m with CIC. And I use it in combination with Revolut and Wise.
18. Social Atmosphere
While Dijon is generally a charming city, the social atmosphere may be challenging for some.
If you’re not fluent in French, you may find it difficult to integrate into local life. You’ll only be able to interact and make friends with people who speak the same language. And with Dijon’s smaller size, the expat community is not as big as Paris or Lyon.
This could make your social life more difficult. And, if you’re used to a multicultural environment, you won’t find Dijon very diverse.
For me, smaller cities are more difficult, even if I appreciate their slower pace. I’ve been an expat for more than 10 years, so I know how important building a social network is. If you plan on moving to Dijon, be ready to work harder at developing this part of your life.
19. Limited Nightlife
If there’s one thing Dijon lacks, it’s a vibrant nightlife scene. As a smaller city, it doesn’t offer the same breadth of late-night entertainment options as larger metropolitan areas. The nightlife here is more subdued, with a focus on quiet wine bars and cozy bistros rather than large clubs.
While the city does have a few late-night bars, they are few and far between. Some of the most popular spots are Les BerThoM Dijon, Flannery’s, and Péniche Cancale. Each of these is open well past midnight. But, if you want to live in a city with a more bustling nightlife scene, Dijon might not be the place for you.
20. Language Barrier
One of the biggest challenges expats face when moving to France is the language barrier. It was the hardest part for me. The primary language is French, and locals are reluctant to speak anything else.
On the one hand, it provides an excellent opportunity for language learning. While, on the other, it can pose difficulties for those who do not already speak French.
It’s worth noting that many locals, especially in tourist areas, do speak English. But for everyday tasks like visa renewals and doctor visits, you’ll need more than a simple “bonjour.”
So, if you’re considering a move to Dijon, you should know that learning French will be a crucial part of the transition.
21. Fewer Job Opportunities
One of the hardest things I’ve had to accept as an expat in France is the limited job opportunities. Before I started working for myself, I struggled to find something that aligned with my career plans. Most jobs required extra diplomas (or formations) that don’t seem to be necessary. Experience isn’t enough, you need a degree!
And Dijon is not an exception to these fallbacks. It’s a small city, so there are even fewer options than larger cities like Paris or Lyon. Most of the jobs here are centered on food production, wine, and tourism. So, if you have specific career aspirations you may want to consider living somewhere else.
22. Limited International Community
Dijon may not be the first choice for someone who needs a vibrant international community. While there are expats, there are not a lot. And that means fewer resources and support networks.
You’ll have to make more effort to meet people and build a circle of friends. So, if you’re more introverted, you might feel overwhelmed at the beginning.
When I first moved abroad, I was not good at building my support network. It took me a lot of time to find communities and groups of people that shared my interests. And I felt isolated at the beginning.
While you might not think it can happen to you, it’s something you should be aware of.
23. Distance from Major Cities
While Dijon’s sits in the heart of Burgundy, it’s very far from major cities. It’s about 315 kilometers (195 miles) from Paris and 197 kilometers (122 miles) from Lyon. And keep in mind Dijon doesn’t have an international airport. So, you’ll have to travel to one of these places to fly outside the country.
For someone like me, this poses a big problem. I love to travel, and my family is still in the United States. So, I need access to a well-served airport. I don’t want to travel before I start traveling. That adds to the cost and stress of the trip.
It’s worth noting that Dijon is well-connected by France’s high-speed train network, so you can get to Paris and Lyon in under two hours. But you’ll need to weave that into your itinerary and leave room for delays and strikes.
24. Limited Shopping Options
One drawback to living in Dijon is the limited shopping options. As a smaller city, it doesn’t have the amount of variety that larger French cities have.
There are a lot of boutiques and markets, but that won’t help you when you need to buy an external hard drive, for example. And the allure of shopping at local stores wears off when you see the price difference. These one-of-a-kind shops are often far more expensive than any online retailer.
Of course, shopping online is easier and more convenient. But when you need something simple, it’s annoying and time-consuming.
Like many French cities, Dijon is no stranger to bureaucracy.
The paperwork is overly complex, and the administrators are not always friendly. And to make matters worse, everything is always delayed, which can be very frustrating.
From visas to tax forms, there is no way around the French bureaucracy. It’s slow, horribly managed, and, at best, an annoyance.
When I first moved to France nothing was online. Everything took ages and it was a nightmare. But in recent years more and more services are online, so it is getting better.
I recommend putting your head down and bearing through it. Once you know the process for renewing your visa, how to do your taxes, and your carte vitale is set up, you won’t have a lot to deal with. The first year is always the worst and it gets better from there.
While Dijon offers many advantages, one downside is the weather. The city experiences a semi-continental climate, which can be quite unpredictable. Winters in Dijon can be cold and damp, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Even with my down jacket, I could feel the cold pierce my skin.
While spring and autumn offer beautiful colors and landscapes, they are somewhat inconsistent. One year it’s raining cats and dogs and the next year it’s sunny and warm.
Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year. So, there are about 8-10 rainy days per month, which can put a damper on outdoor activities.
Early summer is generally warm and pleasant. But July and August can be unbearably hot, especially if there is a heatwave. So, if you prefer living in a more stable, predictable climate, Dijon’s weather might take some getting used to.
27. Housing Availability
Finding appropriate housing in Dijon can be quite challenging. The city is highly sought after, yet the number of available apartments does not meet the demand.
As a result, rent prices are very high, which makes it difficult to find affordable housing. Rental contracts are also very strict with hefty security deposits.
And, to make matters worse, landlords are reluctant to rent to someone who doesn’t already live in France.
It’s not uncommon to take the first available apartment, sign a year contract, and then, look for something better. I’ve done this in every place I’ve lived in France, especially in university towns.
FAQs About Life in Dijon
Do you need a car in Dijon?
No, you do not need a car in Dijon. It has an extensive public transit system that operates in all areas of the city. Additionally, there are rental bikes available for a convenient and eco-friendly way to get around town. Walking is also a great option. If you want to explore further afield, then you might need to rent a car.
Can you drink tap water in Dijon France?
Yes, you can drink tap water in Dijon France. The city has a high-quality public drinking water supply that is safe to consume.
Is Dijon cheaper than Paris?
Yes, Dijon is generally cheaper than Paris. The cost of living is more affordable and rent prices tend to be far lower. Daily expenses like food are also less expensive in Dijon than in the French capital.
How safe is Dijon?
Dijon is safe for visitors and residents alike. For example, the city has a very low crime rate and public safety is generally good in most parts of the city. But it’s always important to remain aware of your surroundings and take precautions.
How do you get around in Dijon?
You can get around Dijon using the city’s public transit system. It’s reliable, affordable, and efficient. You can also rent a bike or walk. If you want to explore the region outside the city’s center, you might need a car. Some of the smaller villages don’t have reliable public transport options.
Is Dijon France a good place to live?
Yes, Dijon France is a great place to live! It has excellent public transport, a low crime rate, and an affordable cost of living. The city also has tons of cultural activities as well as outdoor adventures. Not to mention the surrounding countryside is stunning. So, if you’re looking for a safe and comfortable place to call home, Dijon is worth considering.
Conclusion: Moving to Dijon
Living in Dijon offers a unique experience that combines the best of city and rural life. With its low crime rate and stunning natural beauty, it’s an ideal place to live for anyone who loves small towns. It’s not for someone who needs the amenities of a big city like Paris or Marseille, however.
And now that you know the pros and cons, it’s time to make your decision. If you’re still stuck, I recommend planning a trip to Dijon and see it for yourself. It’s the best way to overcome any fears or reservations you may have.
You might organize a day here and find out that you love it so much that you make the move.
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