The sea, sports cars, yachts, and palm trees, these are the things you think of when you hear someone talk about “Monaco.” This place can be easily called a paradise for millionaires and celebrities. The Principality of Monaco is a tiny but very prosperous country. Besides, it has a rich history, a variety of entertainment, and excellent weather almost all year round. But what is hidden behind such a beautiful and alluring “façade”?
At threesixtywords, we decided to find out what life is like in this tiny and luxurious country.
Monaco has been governed under a constitutional monarchy since 1911, with the Sovereign Prince of Monaco as head of state. Currently, Monaco is ruled by the House of Grimaldi, with Prince Albert II, the son of Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly, as its head. For a long time, Albert was not officially married, although he did have children. However, he married Charlene Wittstock, a former South African swimmer, in 2011. 3 years later, the couple had twins – a girl and a boy, who became the heir to the throne.
In 2002, a new treaty between France and Monaco specified that, should there be no heirs to carry on the Grimaldi dynasty, the principality would still remain an independent nation rather than revert to France. Monaco’s military defense, however, is still the responsibility of France.
Today the principality is divided into 3 municipalities: Monaco-Ville, the old city and the seat of the government of the principality that is on a rocky promontory extending into the Mediterranean, Monte Carlo, the principal residential and resort area with the Monte Carlo Casino in the east and northeast, and La Condamine, the southwestern section that includes the port area, Port Hercules.
Monaco has the world’s highest GDP nominal per capita and the world’s lowest poverty rate. It also has an unemployment rate of 2%, with over 48,000 workers who commute from France and Italy each day. Also, the country has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world.
The principality attracts wealthy people from all over the world because there is no income tax and low taxes on business. However, things are not that simple. Currently, there are about 38 thousand residents living in Monaco, while, according to 2020 data, only 9,573 people were citizens of this tiny country.
The fact is that it’s really difficult to gain citizenship and a passport from Monaco. The majority of people living there have residence permits. The subjects of the principality are called Monegasques. There are quite a few famous people among the Monegasques. For example, brothers Charles and Arthur Leclerc, who are Formula One racing drivers (see the photo below).
A foreign woman that has been married to a Monegasque for 10 years is allowed to apply for citizenship, provided they still live with their spouse. In cases of widowhood, a woman can apply if she proves she didn’t remarry.
If you have lived in the territory of the principality for at least 10 years after turning 18, then you can also apply to the prince with a request for naturalization. People doing this must also give up any foreign nationality and no longer be tasked with performing national service abroad.
He will then decide whether the applicant’s personality is worthy of this favor. To do this, he must receive recommendations from 3 government sources: the Mayor of Monaco, the Minister of State, and the President of the National Council. At the same time, neither the applicant’s wealth nor their status can guarantee citizenship. However, if a candidate is actively involved in charity work, this can work in their favor.
To reside in Monaco, you must have an account with a local bank, and an impressive deposit is required to open it. But before you open an account, a bank employee will carefully check the sources of your funds. Without a bank account, you won’t be able to rent an apartment or get a SIM card.
Moreover, there are no classic bank branches: their doors are always closed, and to get inside, you need to ring a special bell. The bank’s clients have a personal banker who performs the responsibilities of a financial advisor and manages their accounts. For example, they can pay apartment bills at your request. But you won’t be able to receive SMS notifications about the operations performed, since funds are debited with delays of up to several weeks.
By the way, if someone sends you a certain amount of money, it won’t be credited immediately. First, you will have to provide the bank with information about the source of this money, the sender, etc. For example, if you sold a car, you have to show a sales contract. If you received a payment, you will be asked to attach an employment contract.
Many people pay attention to how a person looks. There is a certain dress code in the principality. For example, you can only wear a swimsuit or walk shirtless on the beach. You can also only remove your shoes on the beach, otherwise you will be fined. You’re prohibited to wear shorts in some hotels and other public places. Also, you may not be allowed into many places when wearing a backpack or sneakers.
By the way, all students study the Monegasque dialect. The problem is that there are much fewer Monegasques living in the country than there are French, and only the older generation speaks Monegasque now. So, if children don’t study it at school, the language may disappear.
There is one university in Monaco. The teaching is conducted in English there. It specializes in training managers for international premium companies. One of the most popular areas is Luxury Management. After graduation, you can become a manager in a premium car dealership, a manager of a 5-star hotel, or a specialist in the procurement of luxury clothing or jewelry.
The minimum salary in Monaco is €1,300 per month, the median salary is €4,410 per month. This is not a lot, considering the fact that real estate prices in 2018 reached €100,000 per 1 square meter.
When children turn 18, they are entitled to their own housing. To do this, they need to make a request and wait a few years.
Of course, you can always rent an apartment. However, this can only be done through an agency. A tenant wouldn’t communicate or meet with the owner of the apartment – all issues would be resolved through an agent. The agency will take up to 3 monthly payments for their services, and you will also need to make a deposit. In general, it’s customary to pay a year’s rent in advance, but you can agree on regular payments every 3 months. Monthly payments are not accepted here. On average, renting an apartment costs about €3,500 per month.
There is a very low percentage of crime there: 1 car theft per year, 1 murder every 10 years. And the most sensational case was the theft of a jeweler’s painting, which, of course, was quickly found.
At the same time, you will have to interact with the police in rather unexpected situations in Monaco. For example, if you need to buy medicine after 8 p.m., you must call the police first to be escorted to the pharmacy. The country has a system of duty pharmacies, and to open them, you need the presence of a law enforcement officer.
Monaco exhibits a wide range of architecture, but the principality’s signature style, particularly in Monte Carlo, is that of the Belle Époque, which is characterized by the presence of a large number of decorative elements including turrets, balconies, pinnacles, multi-colored ceramics, and caryatids. In the 1970s, Prince Rainier III banned high-rise development in the principality. His successor, Prince Albert II, overturned this Sovereign Order.