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Grenoble, France

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 17, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees discuss what it is like to live in Grenoble, France: Cost of living, Finding a home, Meeting People and more.

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What do I need to know about living in Grenoble?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Grenoble, they said:

"Be aware of the housing costs - extremely high by French standards, and most companies base their salaries and relocation offers on the standard French cost of living index. That might be fine in rural France, but housing and food costs here are astronomical by comparison with everywhere except Paris and Lyon. Be sure of what you're accepting before you accept it! The city is great if you like cities! The surrounding areas are beautiful and inspiring, and much less polluted. If you have children, I would avoid the city as it's unpleasantly hot and polluted in the summer. Don't go too high up the mountains into the middle of nowhere, though, or you will feel pretty isolated when the snows come. There's a reason why the towns of Meylan, Biviers, St Ismier etc are the most expensive - they're pretty, less polluted, good schools, and still completely accessible when the bad weather takes hold. The French take a while to get used to, and the bureaucracy can be overwhelming at first. Once you've got everything sorted, though, their systems are very efficient and the health care is excellent," explained one expat.

"If you've never lived in France, get ready for the red tape for everything. Grenoble has great public transport and is a very liveable city," said another person in Grenoble.

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How do I meet people in Grenoble?

When we asked people living in Grenoble about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"For English speakers of any nationality, try Open House which offers activities of many sorts (from the cerebral to the just plain silly!) It aims to cater for all. The majority of members are American so activities are perhaps a little biased that way, but the aim is to welcome everyone. For French speakers, or those aspiring to speak French, don't forget AVF (Accueil Villes Francaises). This is actually an organisation for French people moving to a new town (the name means New Town Welcome), but they are very welcoming to all newcomers," said another expat in Grenoble.

"In Grenoble, Open House is nothing short of fantastic. They are English-speakers of all nationalities and French joining together for varied activities. All ages and interests are served. From hiking to book clubs to baby and toddler groups, there is something for everyone. They maintain lists of recommendations and services with English speaking providers. Find more info at http://www.geocities.com/open_house_grenoble/," remarked another in Grenoble.

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Will I be able to find a job in Grenoble?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Grenoble, they reponded:

"It's hard to be unemployed here, such is the availability of work. Main industries are semiconductor research and fabrication, nuclear research, hydroelectric power, IT, bulldozer production etc. There are many industrial parks with myriad smaller companies supporting these and other industries. Career opportunities always seem good," explained one expat living in Grenoble.

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What is life like in Grenoble?

When we asked people living in Grenoble what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Depends on the person! Many people are here as expats working for semiconductor-based companies (there is a large fab at Crolles which is supported by many ancillary companies). There is also a nuclear research establishment, plus computing and other industries. The university is enormous, with something like 50000 students, so there is a good social scene for younger people too. At weekends in particular, the whole area becomes a mecca for snowsport fanatics and lovers of other outdoor activities. If you like the big outdoors, this is the big outdoors! Families are well catered for at the ski resorts, and there are plenty of pools and other activities for those with young kids. A warning though - for stay-at-home parents of young children, be aware that - like everywhere in France - activities tend to open much later than we would expect in the UK, for example, so don't imagine you can go to a library or swimming pool just when it suits you! From an education perspective, there is already an "International School" of sorts from age 6 to 18, but this follows the French curriculum with some emphasis on international matters. Reports vary on how good they are. There are also plans for a "real international school" (with fees to match) following the British education system. This is due to open Sept 2005. French schools are good in this area, so if you want your child to integrate quickly, this is probably the quickest way although obviously their lessons will be entirely in French and will follow the French curriculum exclusively," said another person in Grenoble.

"Grenoble is very outdoors oriented. Skiing and hiking are big, since it's in the mountains. There are many cultural-music, dance, theatre-opportunities as well," remarked another expat in Grenoble.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Grenoble accepting of differences?

"The town is a huge mish-mash of people. As with all French towns, there is an ethnic quarter where the less fortunate (financially) often end up living. However, I've never seen or heard of any religious tension per se. During the Iraq war, there was talk of American houses being daubed with paint, but these tended to be the ones with the stars and stripes painted on their garage doors, so maybe they asked for it. Grenoble is basically an affluent city, with pretty much everyone accepted. Like the man said - trouble is like a snake. If you don't go looking for it, it won't come looking for you," remarked another expat in Grenoble.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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