8 reasons to move to Dunkirk
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8 reasons to move to Dunkirk

Aérienne large plage de dunkerque et ville

Located near the countryside and the sea, at the gateway to Flanders and at the crossroads of Europe, Dunkirk is a multi-faceted territory. With an extremely rich maritime- and port-based heritage, the town stands out for its vibrancy, but also its warm welcome and exceptional festival vibes. The famous “spirit of Dunkirk” is a unique blend of conviviality, authenticity, simplicity and sharing.

If you’re thinking about swapping Paris or a large city for life in the provinces, then chances are you’ll love the town of Dunkirk. Discover the 8 things you should know before you move to Dunkirk for professional or personal reasons.

1. A vibrant and closely knit city

The city of Dunkirk has over 86,000 inhabitants (in 2020). Nevertheless, its urban area has almost double that number (with a total of 162,000 inhabitants that same year according to the census[1]). This makes it the 5th largest urban hub in the Hauts-de-France.

The Dunkirk area benefits from a particularly young population. In 2018, 35.2% of inhabitants were under the age of thirty[2]. This is a major asset for all employers seeking an available and recently trained workforce.

In terms of culture, education and sport, Dunkirk has all the services and facilities of a major urban area, but in a closely knit city:

● Theatres

● Olympic-sized pool

● Skating rink

● Music academy

● Horse riding centres

● Golf

● Jazz club

● Water sports centres

● Marinas

● Engineering schools

● Universities and higher education institutes…

Young and dynamic, the city of Dunkirk has an unparalleled way of life, particularly when it comes to cuisine. In fact, Dunkirk has numerous local food delicacies worth trying. Your taste buds will be tantalised by “the Welsh” (melted cheddar, ham, bread and beer), “the waterzoï” (a fish or chicken stew in a seasoned stock thickened with cream and egg yolks), “carbonade flamande” (beef marinated in beer) and “potjevleesch” (potted meat). And why not quench your thirst with the endless varieties of beer while playing a traditional Flemish game in the pub?

2. Near the countryside and the sea

Dunkirk’s hinterland is a perfect representation of the charm of the Flemish countryside. Luscious green landscapes and typical architecture await passers-by. It’s the ideal place if you’re looking to enjoy a rural lifestyle just 15 minutes from Dunkirk city centre.

The Dunkirk area is also a coastal territory with 17 kilometres of sandy beaches that can be easily accessed by bike and has many nautical and sailing activities on offer.

The Grand Site des Dunes de Flandre stretches across Dunkirk and Malo-les-Bains right the way to Bray-Dunes. It covers over 1,000 hectares of protected dune areas[3] and also encompasses major historical sites. Why not stop off at the World War II memorial sites on your cycling trips? They include[4]

● The impressive Zuydcoote battery

● The Fort des Dunes museum in Leffrinckoucke

● The huge blockhouse (Second World War bunker) on the maritime plain

Dunkirk War Museum – Operation Dynamo

3. A vibrant city in one of Europe’s most attractive regions

The Hauts-de-France is characterised by its economic attractiveness. Every year, the region is ranked one of Europe’s top 20 most attractive territories[5]. 136 foreign companies successfully set up a business project there in 2021, creating 8,600 jobs[6]

More generally, the Hauts-de-France is characterised by its numerous advantages for professionals seeking a place to live[7] :

● A central geographical location, with quick and easy access to five European capitals (Paris, Brussels, Luxembourg, London and Amsterdam)

Attractive land prices and operational costs 24% lower than the European average[8].

● A huge employment pool, and the second largest student population in France [9]

● High level train, road, air and port transport infrastructures

Dunkirk is a cross-border territory located at the intersection of many European countries. There are 6 major European capitals and cities located within a radius of less than 350 kilometres[10].

Dunkirk is just 1 hour 50 mins from Brussels, 3 hours 15 minutes from Rotterdam, 3 and a half hours from Paris and the same from London[11].

More than 15 nationalities are represented throughout the companies in Dunkirk[12].

4. A land of opportunity with 20,000 jobs at stake

Thousands of jobs will be created over the next few years in the Dunkirk area, between new business start-ups and the expansion of existing companies. New opportunities are opening up for people of all ages and backgrounds! Here’s an update on the main recruitment projects.

To find out more about the various projects and to apply for jobs, visit the 16,000 to 20,000 jobs website.

5. Sports and culture aplenty

Dunkirk offers a diverse cultural line-up to entertain you in the evening and at the weekend.

The city has a theatre (the Bateau Feu Scène Nationale) and top-class performing arts theatres. These include the Kursaal, the Casino de Dunkerque and Les 4 Écluses…

Artists from the Paris and international scene perform at the Palais du Littoral at very reasonable prices.

There are many events happening in Dunkirk. Tonnes of festivals take place each year: La Bonne Aventure, la Mouette Rieuse, Allure folle…

Of course, Dunkirk Carnival remains the city’s annual flagship event. Held in February and March, it brings together thousands of carnival-goers attending its many parades and night dances.

The city offers a large range of activities for children and families. Some of these activities are highly sought after and practised at school:

● Sand yachting, water sports, stand up paddle boarding

● Skating rink, golf

● A very recent network of libraries and multimedia libraries that are free of charge

● Many parks and areas with good facilities for families (zipline, treetop adventure course, multi-sports terrains, etc).

● In the summer, there are multiple free activities at the beach run by community centres and youth centres.

In terms of sport, Dunkirk has countless facilities. To the point where 90% of the population live less than 15 minutes from a sports facility.

There is a wealth of opportunities for both traditional and more unusual sports activities (skydiving, scuba diving, climbing, etc).

6. Rich, diversified economic activity in a region that symbolizes the industry of the future

Dunkirk is France’s third largest seaport in terms of goods traffic. In 2022[13], the volume in transit reached 49 million tonnes.

The Grand Port Maritime of Dunkirk (GPMD) has multiple areas of specialisation: it is backed by Europe’s number one energy platform and a dense industrial fabric.

As a result, the Dunkirk urban area enjoys an excellent reputation in the field of industry. There are more than 450 industrial companies located in the territory[14].

Dunkirk is also setting a benchmark when it comes to low-carbon solutions in industry. Numerous initiatives have been taken over recent years to set Dunkirk up as a truly sustainable port, for example[15] :

● A Management and Sustainable Development Plan (PA2D) specific to the port area has been drawn up.

● The surrounding natural areas are being actively managed to preserve the flora and fauna.

● Solar parks have been built.

● An active commitment to industries producing green hydrogen[16] has been made.

● The first national CO2 hub is in the process of starting up and carbon capture processes are being rolled out.

7. Renowned historical heritage

Despite the trials and tribulations of its history, the city of Dunkirk has a remarkable heritage worth exploring. Beyond the boundaries of the city, many sites of regional or national interest can be easily accessed.

There are endless opportunities for walks or to explore a cultural element of the Dunkirk area. Examples of things to do include[17]

● A visit to the Gravelines fortifications and ramparts or the Vauban ramparts in Bergues.

● Checking out the bird’s eye view from 58 metres high, at the top of the belfry of Dunkirk.

● Admiring the town of Bergues from a height of 47 metres at the top of the belfry of Bergues, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

● Taking a hike through the dunes to explore the remains of the famous Atlantic Wall.

● Visiting the scary dungeons of Bourbourg town’s former prison, classed as a historical monument.

● Visiting the six storeys of the Grand-Large Hauts-de-France Regional Contemporary Art Collection where you’ll be filled with wonder, and taking a detour to the panoramic viewpoint from the rooftop belvedere.

● Spending an afternoon at the Drawing and Original Prints Museum in Gravelines, the only cultural facility in France entirely dedicated to printed works.

8. Fast, high-performance transport

Smooth journeys throughout the city

Public transport is provided by the DK’BUS network, managed by STDE. It has 5 regular lines, 13 connecting lines and 2 lines running at night. The bus network has been completely free of charge since 2018. This makes Dunkirk the largest urban area in Europe to have launched such an initiative. The town also has a taxibus service that can be booked for nights out.

Dunkirk boasts a well-developed network of bicycle lanes and provides financial support to help purchase a bike. This subsidy also goes towards repairing and registering bikes. Depending on their financial situation, students are also eligible to receive a free bike.

A city connected to all transport networks

If you wish to move to a province and still work in Paris on a regular basis, then Dunkirk is a great choice. In fact, Dunkirk’s train station has a high-speed train line that connects to Paris Nord in 1 hour 45 mins to 2 hours 30 mins (depending on the number of stops). With an average of nine trains departing Dunkirk and 7 departing Paris every day, the line is well served, meaning you can plan regular trips with complete peace of mind.

Lille Flandres train station is just 40 minutes away by the regional rail network.

Dunkirk is a key crossroads, located near two motorways. On one hand, there is the A25 linking the coast to Lille, and on the other, there is the A16/E40 connecting the Paris region to Belgium.

The nearest airport, Lille Lesquin, can be reached in about an hour by car.


Young, vibrant, welcoming and festival-loving, Dunkirk is not shy when it comes to revealing its wonderful strengths to those who have just arrived here. The urban area stands out for its unparalleled lifestyle and the numerous job opportunities available in the local area.

The economic development agency, Dunkerque Promotion, is here to support you with your job mobility in Maritime Flanders and the Dunkirk area.


[1] https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkerque

[2] https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunkerque#Population_et_soci%C3%A9t%C3%A9

[3] https://www.dunkerque-tourisme.fr/decouvrir/nature-et-randonnees/grand-site-des-dunes-de-flandre/

[4] https://www.dunkerque-tourisme.fr/decouvrir/nature-et-randonnees/grand-site-des-dunes-de-flandre/

[5] https://dunkerquepromotion.org/choisir-dunkerque/rejoindre-economie-forte/territoire-international/

[6] https://dunkerquepromotion.org/choisir-dunkerque/rejoindre-economie-forte/territoire-international/

[7] https://www.nordfranceinvest.fr/dossiers-thematiques/5-facteurs-dattractivite-de-la-region-hauts-de-france/

[8] https://www.nordfranceinvest.fr/dossiers-thematiques/5-facteurs-dattractivite-de-la-region-hauts-de-france/

[9] https://www.nordfranceinvest.fr/dossiers-thematiques/5-facteurs-dattractivite-de-la-region-hauts-de-france/

[10] https://dunkerquepromotion.org/choisir-dunkerque/rejoindre-economie-forte/territoire-international/

[11] https://dunkerquepromotion.org/choisir-dunkerque/offrir-qualite-de-vie/vivre-leurope/

[12] https://dunkerquepromotion.org/choisir-dunkerque/rejoindre-economie-forte/territoire-international/

[13] https://www.statistiques.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/publicationweb/442

[14] https://dunkerquepromotion.org/choisir-dunkerque/rejoindre-economie-forte/territoire-international/

[15] https://dunkerquepromotion.org/choisir-dunkerque/se-developper-aux-portes-de-leurope/grand-port-maritime-international/

[16] http://www.dunkerque-port.fr/fr/presse/actualites/2020-12-21-dunkerque-port-et-h2v-s-engagent-dans-l-hydrogene-vert-fr-67342.html

[17] https://www.dunkerque-tourisme.fr for the whole paragraph

8 reasons to move to Dunkirk

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