22 Pros and Cons of Living in Montpellier, France

Montpellier is a vibrant and culturally rich city located in the southern region of Occitanie, France.

With its Mediterranean climate, bustling student population, and historical landmarks, Montpellier has become a popular destination for expats.

However, like any city, there are both pros and cons to living in Montpellier.

I’ve been an expat living in France for more than six years. I know and understand the French language, culture, and way of life.

I’ve also spent the last 12 years abroad, splitting my time between four countries, so I know what to look for in a new city.

In this post, I’ll share everything you need to know about life in Montpellier so you can decide whether it’s the right fit for you.

Here is your complete guide to the pros and cons of living in Montpellier France.
Pros and Cons of Moving to Montpellier

22 Pros and Cons of Living in Montpellier

Montpellier offers a wonderful mix of culture, history, and modern amenities. But, like any city, there are advantages and disadvantages to living here.

Below is a list of the things you should consider before making the move.

1. Pro: Beautiful Old Town

This is a photo of Rue du Bras de Far, specifically the Escalier Arc en Ciel Belvédère. It's a set of stairs that is colored like a rainbow. Each step is painted a different color of the rainbow. Then, above the stairs there are triangle shaped flags that are painted in the same colors as the stairs.
Rue du Bras de Fer

Montpellier’s Old Town, or historical center, is one of my favorite neighborhoods.

With narrow streets, charming squares, and stunning architecture, it’s a delightful place to explore and live in.

It’s also home to many of the city’s main attractions, such as Place de la Comédie, which houses the famous opera house.

Other notable landmarks include the Montpellier Cathedral, Promenade du Peyrou, and Jardin des Plantes.

Living in this part of town, or even in Montpellier, means you can access and appreciate these beautiful sights daily.

I, personally, loved wandering around early in the morning. There are so many beautiful streets, like Rue du Bras de Fer. That’s where I took the photo above.

2. Con: Tourist Crowds

This is a photo of the summer tourist crowds at Place Castellane in Montpellier. There are tons of people on the terrace eating lunch.
Tourist Crowds at Place Castellane

While Montpellier is not the most popular city in southern France, it still attracts a considerable number of tourists every year.

During the peak summer season, it can get overcrowded. This can make it difficult to navigate through the city or to find seating at your favorite restaurants.

If you’re a tourist you probably wouldn’t mind, but as a resident, it can be suffocating.

Businesses, like restaurants, also tend to increase their prices during peak tourist season. And, as a resident, you’ll have to pay for it.

Over the years, I’ve lived in some of the busiest cities in France, including Paris, and I know how annoying tourists can be.

If you want to live in Montpellier and avoid the crowds, I recommend living in a quieter neighborhood like Beaux-Arts.

3. Pro: Variety of Neighborhoods

This is Esplanade de l’Europe in the Antigone neighborhood of Montpellier. It's one of the best areas to live. In the photo there are kids playing and in the back there is the shopping center.
Esplanade de l’Europe in Antigone

Despite its size, Montpellier offers a variety of neighborhoods to choose from.

Whether you’re looking for a bustling city center or a quieter residential area, there’s something for everyone.

Some popular options include the Old Town, Beaux-Art with its bobo vibe, and the up-and-coming Port Marianne district.

My personal favorite was Antigone (for living).

This newer neighborhood has a modern, almost surreal feel with its grand architecture and wide-open spaces.

It’s near the Old Town, but far enough away to escape the tourist crowds. It has lots of tram stops, grocery stores, and restaurants. It’s the perfect mix of busy and calm.

But no matter your preferences, there’s a neighborhood that suits your needs and lifestyle here.

4. Con: Lack of Green Spaces

This is Esplanade Charles de Gaulle. It's one of the few green spaces in Montpellier. In this photo, there is a body of water surrounded by trees and walking paths.
Esplanade Charles de Gaulle

One downside to life in this southern gem is the lack of green spaces.

While there are some lovely parks, like Esplanade Charles de Gaulle and Jardin des Plantes, they are few and far between or next to busy tourist areas.

And, unlike Paris or Marseille, parks and gardens outside the city center are difficult to visit without a car.

For someone like me who loves spending time outdoors, the lack of green spaces is a major drawback.

But, if you prefer a more urban lifestyle, this may not be an issue for you.

5. Pro: Mediterranean Climate

This is the Bassin Jacques Cœur on a hot summer day. The sun is shinning and there is a man-made body of water surrounded by walking paths and modern-style buildings. There's also a big fountain spitting out water in the center of the body of water.
Bassin Jacques Cœur in Summer

One of the biggest advantages of choosing to live in Montpellier is its Mediterranean climate.

In summer, temperatures hover around 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). Then, in winter, temperatures seldom dip below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).

It rarely snows and the number of days with sunshine per month is around 20. The lowest month is November with about 14 days of sun.

So, if you’re like me and love sunshine throughout the year, Montpellier is a great option.

6. Con: High Humidity

The only downside to the weather is the humidity, which is about 70% year-round.

This can make the summers feel hotter and the winters feel colder. That also means a lot of rain in fall and spring.

Before I experienced winter in Montpellier, I hadn’t realized how cold it could feel.

I’m originally from a suburb of Chicago, where winters are cold but dry. In Montpellier, the humidity makes it feel much colder than it actually is. The cold pierced through my clothes and chilled me to the bone.

So, you’ll have to wait for summer to start before you can feel the heat on your skin again.

7. Pro: Cost of Living

This is the Apart-Hotel I stayed in when I was in Montpellier. There is a couch and two tables. One of the tables has a lamp that is turned on.
Inside My Apart-Hotel

Usually, southern cities in France have a higher cost of living than the northern ones. And it’s mostly due to tourism and popularity.

However, Montpellier is surprisingly affordable.

For example, the rent for my one-bedroom apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris was €1500 per month.

In Montpellier’s Old Town, the city’s most expensive district, a similar-sized apartment is around €740 per month.

That means you’ll have more money to spend on enjoying the city and its amenities.

Plus, with a large student population, there are plenty of affordable restaurants, bars, and activities. You can have a great quality of life without breaking the bank.

8. Con: Job Market

This is a photo of me, Jen Ciesielski, working at my computer on my website. I'm wearing jeans and a jacket. I'm sitting in a chair and there is a computer behind me. Jobs are difficult to find in France so I decided to work for myself.
Me Working on My Blog

While Montpellier is a growing city, the job market can be challenging.

With a large number of students and young professionals, competition for jobs in certain industries can be fierce.

Additionally, speaking French is essential for most jobs, so if you can’t have a conversation in French, you’ll have a hard time finding work.

The biggest industries here are health and education, making up for 28% of the jobs in Montpellier. That means you’ll need a high-level degree in either of these fields.

If you plan on moving here for work, you’ll need a solid job prospect with an employer who will support your visa application.

I, personally, opted to create my own business. Most jobs in Montpellier, and the rest of France, are underpaid and have a lot of administrative tasks. So, I decided to work for myself and couldn’t be happier.

9. Pro: Cultural Scene

This is one of the pieces in Jérôme Mesnager's collection called L’Homme Blanc. There are two white silhouettes dancing together on a blue canvas. I took this photo at Parcelle 473 in Montpellier.
A Piece from Jérôme Mesnager’s L’Homme Blanc Collection

For a city of its size, Montpellier has an impressive cultural scene.

There are several theaters, museums, and galleries that cater to all tastes. The Opéra Comédie and Le Corum are two main venues for dance performances, operas, and concerts.

There are also tons of museums.

The most famous is the Musée Fabre, which showcases a vast collection of European art. There is also the Musée Art Brut, which focuses on raw art, and the Pavillon Populaire, which features photography.

But my favorite museum was Parcelle 473. It showcases street art and contemporary urban art with thought-provoking pieces. On my last visit, they highlighted works from artists like Sandrot and Jérôme Mesnager.

Helpful Tip: The photo above is from Jérôme Mesnager’s collection “L’Homme Blanc.” This infamous white silhouette was created in the 1980s and represents peace.

10. Con: Language Barrier

This is a sign written in French. It says votez pour votre futur, which means vote for your future. If you want to move to Montpellier, you'll need to learn French to get by.
Learning French is a Must

The biggest challenge I faced when I first moved to France was the language barrier. Daily tasks like grocery shopping and communicating with colleagues were much more difficult.

While most people in larger cities like Montpellier speak English, they don’t know enough to understand complex situations.

It can also be frustrating when trying to make friends, see a doctor, or renew a visa.

If you plan on moving to Montpellier, I recommend having a basic knowledge of French before you arrive.

11. Pro: It’s Safe

This is Promenade du Peyrou at sunrise. I took this photo while I was exploring the area alone and felt totally safe.
Exploring Promenade du Peyrou at Sunrise

Safety is one of my top priorities when I’m considering a new place to live. And, in that regard, Montpellier is an ideal choice.

Compared to other major cities in France like Paris or Marseille, Montpellier has relatively low crime rates. I never felt unsafe walking around the city alone at night.

I even traveled to the outskirts of Montpellier and felt just as secure.

Of course, there were some places I avoided, but, in general, I felt very comfortable.

12. Con: Traffic Congestion

This is the type of traffic congestion you can expect in Montpellier. This is a highway where cars going in each direction. In the distance you can see them all coming to a stop and waiting for things to start moving.
A Ton of Traffic Congestion

While Montpellier does have an efficient public transport system, it’s limited to the downtown.

So, if you work or study outside the city center, you will most likely need to drive.

Commuting by car often takes longer than expected, especially during peak hours. Then, once you arrive at your destination, finding parking is a nightmare (and it’s expensive).

The first time I drove through Montpellier was during rush hour. The traffic was at a complete standstill, and it took me over an hour to travel just a few kilometers (miles).

In fact, it was very similar to the traffic I experienced in Lyon.

The city is also notorious for its roundabouts, complicated intersections, and one-way streets.

Believe it or not, driving in Paris was much less stressful, at least for me.

13. Pro: Friendly Locals

Friendly locals I met while shopping at Halles Castellane. There are people standing next to a fruit and vegetable stand talking.
Friendly Local at Halles Castellane

Unlike other larger cities in France, where people are more reserved, you’ll find that locals in Montpellier are warm and welcoming.

They are genuinely curious to meet new people, making it easy for foreigners to feel at home.

On more than one occasion, I had a local recommend a favorite restaurant or hidden spot. Of course, it helped that I spoke French.

But even if you aren’t fluent, most people in Montpellier are willing to take their time to help you understand.

14. Pro: Outstanding Healthcare

These are healthcare products from a pharmacy in France. There is a bottle of mouthwash, a box of band aids, a box of ibuprofen, a box of doliprane, deodorant, and a box of tea. All of these products were affordable.
Healthcare is Affordable

France is known for having an excellent healthcare system, and Montpellier is no exception. The city has several state-of-the-art medical facilities as well as highly trained doctors.

It is, after all, home to the world’s oldest medical school.

As an expat from the United States, knowing that high-quality healthcare was readily available was reassuring to me.

Plus, the cost of healthcare in France is very affordable. I don’t have to worry about paying hundreds of dollars for a simple doctor’s visit like I did back home.

Helpful Tip: You must be a resident of France for three months before you can access the national healthcare system. This means you’ll have to pay the full price of about €25 for a general practitioner.

15. Con: High Taxes

While living in France has many benefits, one of the downsides is the high taxes. And that’s true of any city you live in, including Montpellier.

In fact, the tax rate is one of the highest in Europe and can take a significant chunk out of your salary.

The first time I saw my paycheck I was shocked at the amount taken out for taxes. But I soon realized these taxes go toward public services and healthcare.

That means I don’t have to worry about expensive medical or education bills.

While the high taxes may be a con for some, it’s important to consider the trade-off for access to quality public services.

15. Pro: Excellent University

This is the inside of Montpellier's Faculty of Medicine. It's a courtyard with tall green trees and a building for the anatomy center.
Inside of Montpellier’s Faculty of Medicine

If there’s one thing Montpellier is known for it’s the University of Montpellier.

With over 40,000 students, it’s one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world.

It offers a range of programs, from science and technology to humanities and social sciences.

In fact, US News ranks the University of Montpellier as one of the top 100 best global universities in Europe.

If you’re looking to study abroad or continue your education, then Montpellier is a great option.

Plus, with so many students, the city has a lively atmosphere where you can easily meet other expats.

17. Con: Far from Everything

This is the view of Montpellier from the Aqueduc Saint-Clément. It's a long aqueduct that stretches to the edge of the tree line. In general, it gives the impression of how far Montepellier is from everywhere else.
Montpellier from the Aqueduc Saint-Clément

While Montpellier has a lot to offer, it’s far from everything. And it doesn’t have a major international airport.

For most expats with family back home, like myself, this can be a major inconvenience.

I, personally, prefer to live in a city where I don’t need multiple layovers or more than 24 hours to get home. (This is especially important when there’s a family emergency.)

To give you an idea, it takes about three hours by train to reach Paris.

And unlike Strasbourg, which has the advantage of a direct train to Paris-CDG airport, Montpellier does not. So, you’ll need at least another hour to get to the airport.

Helpful Tip: Montpellier’s main train station, Montpellier Saint-Roch, is well-connected and serves most major cities in France.

18. Pro: Public Transportation

This is a tram at the Place de l'Europe in Montpellier. It's stopped and people are getting on and off.
Place de l’Europe Tram Station

Despite not having a major international airport, Montpellier has an excellent public transport system.

The city has four tram lines that connect every corner of the city, making it easy to get around quickly and affordably.

There are also several bus routes that cover areas not accessible by tram, as well as a bike-sharing program.

While I prefer to walk, I found Montpellier’s public transportation system very convenient.

It was especially helpful when I needed to get to neighborhoods far from the city center like Hôpitaux-Facultés.

19. Con: Slow Pace of Life

As much as I loved the relaxed atmosphere of Montpellier, it lost its charm after a while. Things and people tend to move at a leisurely pace, which isn’t uncommon in southern cities in France.

In fact, it reminded me of a similar downside to life in Marseille.

I’m originally from Naperville, a suburb of Chicago, and I’ve lived in big cities like Paris and London, so I’m used to a fast-paced lifestyle.

I only enjoy a slower pace when I’m on vacation. So, living in a city where everything moves at a snail’s pace is more stressful than relaxing, at least for me.

20. Pro: Delicious Food

This is my order of Aligot from a restaurant in Montpellier called Restaurant l'Aveyronnais. It's a square plate with cheesy potatoes and a sausage. To the left, there is a small side salad and a bowl of sauce.
My order of Aligot from Restaurant l’Aveyronnais

French cuisine is famous worldwide, and Montpellier does not disappoint.

The city boasts restaurants serving traditional French dishes like aligot and cassoulet. And, since there is a large student population from all over the world, you’ll find tons of international restaurants as well.

I had some of the best Greek and Italian food in Montpellier (outside the actual countries).

Helpful Tip: Unlike Marseille, which has famous dishes like bouillabaisse, Montpellier doesn’t have a signature dish.

21. Con: Student Population

While the student population brings diversity to the city, it can also be overwhelming.

During peak periods like the beginning of the academic year in September, the streets and public transport become crowded with students.

Additionally, I found some areas around the university to be more like a college town, which is not my preference. It felt less authentic and very chaotic.

If you’re a student then that’s an advantage. But if you’re a young professional or want to retire then Montpellier might not be the best option.

22. Pro: Close to the Sea

This is a beach near Montpellier. There is a sandy road leading to the beach and in the back you can see the bright blue water.
Not Far from the Beach

Along with Montpellier’s Mediterranean climate comes beaches.

Within a 30-minute drive, you can find yourself soaking up the sun in places like Palavas-les-Flots.

But sunbathing isn’t the only thing to do. You can also enjoy swimming, water sports, or walking along the coast.

Then, there are the beachside restaurants, where you can eat some of the tastiest seafood I’ve ever had.

Helpful Tip: The first time I looked at Montpellier, I thought the city, itself, had beaches. I found out the hard way that it does not. If you don’t have a car it takes about an hour to reach the nearest beach.

Conclusion: Living in Montpellier, France

From its rich history and cultural offerings to its international influences and safety, Montpellier has a lot to offer as a place to live.

The biggest cons for me are the lack of an international airport and the overwhelming student population.

But, if these two criteria are not deal-breakers for you, I recommend considering Montpellier as your next home.

Overall, it’s a wonderful city with a ton to offer.

So, if the pros above outweigh the cons, it’s time to start planning your move. If not, there are tons of other cities in France that are perfect for expats.


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Jen Ciesielski
Jen Ciesielski

Jen Ciesielski is the creator of Dabbling in Jet Lag. She has lived abroad for over ten years, traveled to more than 50 countries, and speaks French and English fluently. Her areas of expertise include moving abroad, learning languages, and travel planning. Originally from the United States, she now lives in France, where she has been for more than six years. She has also traveled extensively around the country. She shares her experiences as an expat living in France and helps thousands of people plan their trips every month.

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