Living in Lyon – An Expats Guide

Living in Lyon – An Expats Guide

Is living in Lyon an appealing prospect to you?

France is packed with exciting cities and Paris is probably the first one most people think of.

But not everyone is interested in moving to such a busy location. Lyon for example is much smaller, almost a quarter of the size.

Located in central France around 300 miles south of Paris, Lyon is renowned for its cultural scene, numerous museums, art galleries, theatres, and music venues.

Inhabitants of the city are called Lyonnais. – like the potatoes!

Living in Lyon provides expats with many benefits.

Often considered the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon has a rich culinary heritage and a plethora of restaurants, bistros, and cafés serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.

The city also hosts the Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse indoor food market, where you can sample a wide range of gourmet delights

Perhaps most importantly, although still a city, the cost of living in Lyon is much more affordable and the atmosphere is altogether more relaxed.

Lyon was placed 38th out of 241 cities in the “Mercer Annual Quality of Living Rankings” in 2023.

Overall, this makes Lyon an attractive prospect for expats seeking a vibrant yet manageable city to call home.

This Living in Lyon – An Expats Guide will hopefully give you an insight into what it is like should you choose to relocate to the city.

Historical Facts About Lyon

Lyon Church

Lyon is a city with a rich history. Image credit: Unsplash

Knowing a little about the background history of a new location is important.

It also provides you with some interesting titbits you can share when family and friends come to visit.

The name of the city has taken the forms Lugdon, Luon, and since the 13th century, it has been known as Lyon.

Historically Lyon was an important area for the production and weaving of silk.

The city also played a significant role in cinema history: it is where Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematograph.

During the Roman era, they recognised that Lugdunum’s strategic location at the convergence of two navigable rivers made it a natural communications hub.

Being the starting point of the main Roman roads in the area, Lyon quickly became the capital of the province; Gallia Lugdunensis.

Two Emperors were born in this city: Claudius, whose speech is preserved in the Lyon Tablet in which he justifies the nomination of Gallic Senators.

There are thousands of secret passageways throughout the city.

Lyon’s Old Town is entirely listed as a UNESCO site.

On Sunday mornings you will hear the town crier shouting his messages in the “plateau de la Croix-Rousse” an event which has been happening for hundreds of years.

The Lyon Lifestyle

Lyon Nature

Lyon is renowned for its excellent lifestyle. Image credit: Pixabay

Lifestyle in the city is characterised by a relaxed yet vibrant community atmosphere.

A scenic location sitting between the Rhône and Saône rivers Lyon’s proximity to the Alps and Provence make it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Residents can enjoy activities such as hiking, cycling, boating, and picnicking in the city’s parks, riverside promenades, and surrounding countryside.

Well-known for its friendly and sociable atmosphere, there are plenty of opportunities for residents to socialise and connect with others.

Whether it’s meeting friends for a café au lait in a cosy bistro or joining community events and clubs.

There are so many ways you can connect with other people as an expat in Lyon.

Having such a laid-back lifestyle offers a much better opportunity to balance work and leisure effectively.

Cost of Living in Lyon

There is no such thing as a cheap city.

That said, although Lyon provides its inhabitants with all the major city amenities, attractions, and services it comes without Paris prices.

Almost everything is cheaper in Lyon when compared to the French capital city.

Everyone is keen to live as cost-effectively as possible these days and every penny counts.

Here are some price comparisons between Lyon and Paris provided by Numbeo, the cost-of-living website:

Mid-range meal for two                          Lyon €15 – Paris €18

Bottled water (0.33 litre)                        Lyon €1.45 – Paris €2.73

Cappuccino (regular size)                       Lyon €3.06 – Paris €4.32

12 medium eggs                                        Lyon €3.82 – Paris €4.45

Onions                                                        Lyon €1.91 – Paris €2.45

Cigarettes (pack of 20)                            Lyon €11 – Paris €12

Imported Beer (0.33 litre)                      Lyon €2.31 – Paris €3.38

Just like all cities, Lyon hosts many outdoor food markets.

These are ideal places to shop for groceries at cut prices.

With some clever budgeting and planning, there is no reason why you need to spend a fortune on your grocery shop when living in Lyon.

Retail Shopping in Lyon

Confluence Shopping Centre

The Confluence Shopping Centre. Image credit: Unsplash

Everything you could ever want is at your fingertips when you are shopping for fashion in Lyon.

From small intimate boutiques on cobbled streets to major brands in malls or around the vibrant Rue de la République area.

Here, you’ll find a mix of high-street brands like FNAC, H&M, and Brandy Melville, along with other popular retailers and department stores.

Confluence Shopping Centre has become the shopping destination in the city.

Situated at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, hence its name.

The centre offers a wide range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, contributing to the vibrant lifestyle of Lyon.

For those with a taste for luxury and haute couture, the area around Place Bellecour also boasts several upscale boutiques and designer stores.

Local streets in Lyon offer a dynamic shopping experience, combining the convenience of high street brands with the charm of boutique shops and the allure of luxury fashion.

Renting a Property in Lyon

When you move to Lyon, you need to find somewhere to live.

Unlike some large cities where the race for housing is a dreaded ordeal for everyone, it is possible to find suitable accommodation quickly in Lyon.

Whether you buy or rent you are going to pay significantly less for somewhere to live in Lyon than you would compared to either London or Paris.

As an example, the cost to buy a home in the centre of Paris is currently €11,960 compared to the equivalent in Lyon €5,748. A huge saving by anyone’s standards.

For those looking to rent, a one-bedroom apartment in central Paris will set you back €1,443 per month compared to Lyon’s €895 per month.

Renting for a time will provide you the opportunity to get to know an area. The whole rental system in France is different to the UK and plenty of research is necessary.

There are some very informative websites offering comprehensive guides about how you can find your ideal rental property in Lyon.

Buying a Home in Lyon

Lyon Properties

Lyon has a range of excellent properties for sale. Image credit: Pexels

If you are ready to start looking for a home to buy, it is even more imperative that you do your research thoroughly before committing to a purchase.

Currently, there are no restrictions on foreigners purchasing property in France.

Whether you’re an expat, investor, or non-resident, you have the right to buy real estate.

When it comes to buying French property, foreign nationals are treated on par with citizens of France.

As there are some major differences compared to buying a home in the UK it is wise to enrol the services of an English-speaking notaire (solicitor) before embarking on a sale.

Process Overview:

  • Set a Budget: Determine your budget based on similar properties in the region.
  • Real Estate Agent: Hire a real estate agent who specializes in assisting foreigners.
  • View Properties: Visit properties in person and choose your dream home.
  • Due Diligence: Review the property’s diagnostic report (DDT) and make an offer.
  • Preliminary Agreement: Sign a preliminary agreement (compromis de vente) and provide a deposit (usually 10% of the total price).
  • Notaire: Engage a notaire (a public official handling property transactions) to finalise the sale.

The process is much faster than the UK with typically an 8–10-week duration.

As a general guide, homes for sale in Lyon can be bought for as little as €125,000. You can expect to pay upward of €213,000 for a larger three-bedroom property.

Properstar has a very detailed explanation of how to buy a property in Lyon. 

Job Opportunities in Lyon

Chances are you want to move to Lyon to find work.

Why not? Lyon is a fantastic place to find a job and a major economic centre in France.

As France’s third-largest city, Lyon has a bustling economy with various industries.

Lyon’s diverse economic landscape, includes industries such as technology, banking, pharmaceuticals, and biotech, providing expatriates with a range of job opportunities.

The city’s thriving start-up scene and the presence of international organisations like Interpol add to its appeal as a destination for professional growth.

Because the city is a melting pot of so many different nationalities, speaking French would be a bonus but it is not seen as a necessity.

Although salaries will of course depend on your area of expertise and experience, you can expect to earn more in Lyon.

Average salary estimates in Lyon are approximately €61,059 (£52,205) per year.

However, the most typical earning is slightly lower at €42,556 (£49,773) per year.

The average earning for UK workers stands at £34,963 (€40,892).

Getting Around Lyon

Lyon Train Station

There are plenty of excellent ways to get around Lyon. Image credit: Pixabay

There is excellent public transport.

Combined, buses the metro, and a central train station are available to ensure getting around Lyon is easy and efficient.

Bus, metro, and trams operate all over the city providing hundreds of possible routes to all parts.

Lyon is also a very pedestrian-friendly location. The compact city centre and streets make walking a convenient and enjoyable way to get around the city.

Additionally, like most cities these days, there are plenty of dedicated cycle lanes and bike-sharing schemes such as Vélo’v.

Plus, the best thing is you get the first 30 minutes free!

To find out more about the public transport system including cost, visit the “This is Lyon” website.

When you live in Lyon you can also take full advantage of its strategic location.

It is simple to travel around the region by train to other cities such as Paris (2 hours) and Marseille (2 hours 15 mins).

Further afield you can reach, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Switzerland. The sky is the limit.

Attending University in Lyon

Not everyone moving to Lyon or thinking about it, is coming for work purposes.

Many people travel to this region of France to study. In fact, as many as 23,000 students choose to study in Lyon.

A student-friendly city, Lyon’s amenities are tailored to the needs of students.  Libraries, study spaces, student discounts, and recreational facilities are all available to anyone coming here to study.

Home to several universities and higher education institutions Lyons universities offer a wide range of academic programs across various fields of study.

Some of the popular choices for international students include:

Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL): UCBL is one of the largest universities in Lyon and is known for its focus on science and technology. It offers programs in fields such as health sciences, natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Université Lumière Lyon 2: Lyon 2 is a comprehensive university offering programs in humanities, social sciences, arts, languages, and communication. It is known for its strong emphasis on research and its diverse range of academic offerings.

Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ENS Lyon): ENS Lyon is a highly selective institution offering advanced degrees in science and humanities. It is known for its rigorous academic programs and its focus on research and innovation.

Attending School in Lyon

Schools in Lyon

Schools in Lyon. Image credit: Pexels

Standards at university level have already been discussed.

However, arriving in a new country with younger children in tow creates another level of stress and worry.

It is important to understand how the French system of education operates.

You want to be sure your children get the best educational opportunities no matter what country you live in.

Schooling your children in Lyon will allay such fears.

France has a well-established education system with a strong emphasis on academic performance and excellence.

Lyon’s schools follow the French national curriculum, which is known for its comprehensive and structured approach to education.

Most parents opt to send their children to local international schools that lead to the internationally recognised IB (International Baccalaureate).

You will have plenty of choice in Lyon.

Boasting a diverse range of educational institutions, Lyon has public and private schools, international schools, and specialised schools.

Depending on the age of your child some notable international schools in Lyon, known for their quality education and reputation are available.

If you have not looked into exactly how the French education system operates.

For a comprehensive guide, you might be interested in visiting Fulbright France.  

Healthcare Provision in France

For those who are not yet permanent residents, you will need to arrange private health insurance.

Plenty of companies can offer you various cover options.

The cost will vary depending on several factors, including your age, health status, desired level of coverage, and the insurance provider you choose.

Additionally, the cost may also vary depending on whether you’re seeking coverage for just yourself or for your entire family.

It’s important to carefully review the details of private health insurance plans offered by different providers.

It pays to take the time to compare costs and coverage options and consider your individual healthcare needs and budget before choosing a plan.

AXA Global Healthcare, Cigna Global and Allianz Care are three of the most well-known health insurance companies and a good place to start.

Each insurer offers a range of international private medical insurance products, extra add-ons, and specialised services for you to think about.

Places to Visit in Lyon

Lyon’s natural landscape, including its hills and rivers, provides residents and visitors with a unique environment to explore, relax, and enjoy outdoor activities.

With the countries of Switzerland, Spain, and Italy relatively close by, living in Lyon offers a world of travel opportunities too.

One of the best natural locations is.

Dominating the city skyline visitors can take in the panoramic views from the hilltop.

Croix-Rousse Hill is  famous for its history of silk weaving and its vibrant neighbourhood known as the “Village des Canuts.”

Now it has become a bustling area with trendy boutiques, cafés, and art galleries.

The Rhône and Saône Rivers converge at the Confluence district, creating Lyon’s distinctive peninsula. Ideal areas for walking, exercising, cycling, and picnicking.

Parc de la Tête d’Or is the largest urban park in Europe. It features a large lake where visitors can rent boats, a beautiful rose garden, a zoo, and expansive lawns perfect for picnics and relaxation.

Located in the birthplace of cinema, the Institut Lumière celebrates the pioneering work of the Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière. Visitors can explore exhibits on the history of cinema, watch classic films, and visit the Lumière family home.

The Opéra de Lyon is a renowned opera house known for its world-class performances and innovative productions. Visitors can attend operas, ballets, and concerts in a beautifully restored historic theatre.

Of course, this is just a snapshot of what Lyon has to offer in the way of entertainment.

There is so much more to discover when living in Lyon.

Ready to Move to Lyon?

WACO Truck

White & Company Truck

To get your move to Lyon underway, you will need to contact a removal firm that deals with European removals.

For the best removals services, consider reaching out to professionals, White & Company.

With a strong reputation in the removal industry, we are known for providing dependable, trustworthy, and competitively-priced European removal services.

As members of prestigious organisations such as BAR, Omni, and FIDI, our services are approved by the most significant bodies in the removal industry.

Reach out to us today for a free, no-obligation home or virtual survey.

You can also fill out our online quick quote form or chat with our helpful chatbot to schedule your move.

Regardless of the method you decide on, we can assist you in realising your dream of relocating to Lyon.

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