Living in Montreal, Quebec

Living in Montreal:

Montreal’s Location

Environment – Transport – Where to Live – Business – Jobs – Pros and Cons


Guide to Living in Montreal

With a metropolitan area population of just over 4 million, Montreal is Canada’s second biggest city, after Toronto.

Montreal has been overtaken by Toronto as Canada’s commercial capital, but it is still an important hub for commerce, arts, culture and architecture.

Montreal’s province, Quebec, is culturally distinct from the rest of Canada because its sole official language is French.

In fact, Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the world, after Paris.

Montreal’s climate varies wildly from season to season.

Quebec winters are known throughout Canada as being cold, wet and icy – similar to Ottawa’s, and harsher than Toronto’s.

Thankfully, the municipal snow clearing system is surprisingly fast and efficient for the city’s size.

Summers are warm by Canadian standards. The average daily temperature ranges between 23 – 27 degrees Celsius, but can reach lows of 13 and highs of 35 degrees.


Homes in St Louis Square
Montreal’s Flag

Montreal West, Brock Street
Schulich Library of Science and Engineering on
the McGill University downtown campus:
Photo credit: Beltz

Montreal rates as one of the world’s most livable cities, and was named “Canada’s Cultural Capital” by Monocle Magazine and a UNESCO “City of Design”.

The Lonely Planet travel guide includes Montreal in its “10 happiest places in the World” list: in second place. “Clean, welcoming and refreshingly multicultural, Montreal is happy enough year-round,” says the guide. “Come July, though, it’s downright hilarious. Just For Laughs takes over the city in summer, packing venues with the best in both Anglo and Francophone comedy.”

Montreal is the business centre of Quebec and, taking its metropolitan area into account, is Canada’s second largest city. As a result, it is ethnically diverse; a fact reflected in the city’s various neighbourhoods.

Montreal features a China Town, a Little Italy, a Little Portugal and various other neighbourhoods adopted by immigrants as their own.

These enclaves give Montreal a taste of many world foods, cultures and music.

The dominant language spoken in Montreal is French, with 73 percent of residents using it as their primary language. According to the most recent census (2016) only 11 percent of Greater Montreal’s population have English as their mother tongue.

There are a number of areas of the city where English is the mother tongue of the majority. All street signs and public notices are posted in French, so it is best to learn some key phrases before arriving.

Montreal highlights its arts and culture scene as a key feature. The city is known for its many art galleries; and public art installations appear in the streets throughout downtown and residential areas. Main arteries like St. Laurent Boulevard and St. Catherine Street are frequently blocked to car traffic to accommodate street festivals like Just for Laughs, the world’s largest comedy festival; the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Montreal World Film Festival, Montreal Fireworks Festival and many other world class events.

Where to live in Montreal

Homes in St Louis Square
Homes in St Louis Square:
Photo credit: Alexcaban

Snowy Street Scene, Montreal
Snowy Street Scene in Montreal:
Photo credit: Olivpouk

Montreal West, Brock Street
Montreal West, Brock Street:
Photo credit: Chicoutimi

Each borough of Montreal has its own atmosphere and character.

Before choosing your neighbourhood, it’s best to balance your ability to speak French with your area.

Some areas of Montreal, like Hampstead, Notre Dame de Grace and Westmount are predominantly English, but others like Rosemont, are very French. You will find fewer English signs, newspapers in corner stores, and neighbours with whom you can converse.

Some immigrants have found that living in a predominantly French neighbourhood forces them to practice using the language daily, and actually improves their skills.

Closer to downtown, Plateau or Mount Royal, most of the residents are English, or at least highly bilingual, and can converse comfortably in either language.

Renting is the most popular option for those looking to live near downtown. Montreal has the lowest rental costs of any major Canadian city.

Neighbourhoods like the Plateau, Mount Royal and Rosemont have both low and high rise buildings, and operate like tiny self contained cities.

They all offer affordable housing and low crime. The average rental price for an apartment in these areas can range from $1,000 to $2,000 per month for a 2 bedroom apartment.

These areas features all of the necessary amenities for their residents, such as grocery stores, hardware and home wares stores, hospitals and clinics, boutiques and cafes, bars and restaurants. These areas also offer easy access to bus and metro transit lines.

Neighbourhoods like Westmount and the Outremont have rental rates of approximately $1,400 to $3,000 for a 2 bedroom apartment, and are considered Montreal’s high-end areas. Police foot patrols are frequent, and these areas tend to have more small boutique style food markets and fewer large grocery stores.

For those interested in buying a home, the average price for a single family home is approximately $386,000 (2020), which is $108,000 less than the Canadian average, but higher than the provincial average of $350,000.

Popular moderately priced neighbourhoods to buy homes are outlining areas like Notre Dame de Grace, Laval and Kirkland. The average condominium/apartment in early 2020 costs around $275,000 in Laval, a two story home would average around $250,000.

For those looking for a more expensive home, the Westmount borough features homes costing between $1,000,000 and $5 million.

Montreal on the whole is safe, but you should use your instincts when traveling the city on foot at night.

Some less desirable neighbourhoods are St. Michel, Park Extension and Montreal North. These areas are some of the most impoverished in the city, and have been subject to occasional gang violence.

Business and Jobs

Montreal Stock Exchange
Montreal Stock Exchange
Photo credit: Pierre Vignau

Montreal Biodome
Montreal Biodome:
Photo credit: PtitLutin

Until the late 1970s, Montreal was Canada’s business hub, but it was surpassed in both population and economic strength by Toronto.

Montreal continues to be an important player in industries including aerospace, software, electronics, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and transportation.

The city is one of the largest aerospace centres in North America; over 40,000 people are employed in Quebec’s aerospace industry at companies like Bell Helicopter Textron, Bombardier Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, and CAE.

The three largest industries in Montreal are business services, manufacturing and retail. Nearly half of all people employed in Montreal reported in the last census that their occupation was in the sales and service industry.

From the latest figures (2018), the average household income in Montreal is $81,800 yearly, which is 9.8 percent below the Canadian average.

Montreal is currently suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy has been introduced lasting to August 2020 to help employers retain staff. The unemployment rate, which in Canada means the number of people actively searching for work but unable to find a job, is 14.0 percent in Montreal (May 2020), higher than the Quebec and Canadian averages at 12.9 and 11.5 percent respectively.

Montreal’s language laws require employees working with the public to be able to speak French competently, but most employers look to hire people who can speak both French and English to serve a broader public.

Montreal is home to the world’s largest inland port, the Port of Montreal. More than 26 million tonnes of cargo pass through this busy port yearly. It is a hub for shipments of sugar, grain and oil products destined for world markets.

As a result, Montreal is also one of Canada’s largest railway hubs and home to the headquarters of the Canadian National Railway. The Port of Montreal’s activities generate $1.5 billion in economic spin-offs a year and over 18,000 jobs.

The majority of Canada’s French language film, television and radio production takes place in Montreal. Many streets in the neighbourhood of Old Montreal feature the original buildings and cobblestone roads of early settlement. This neighbourhood is often used in period pieces and films set in Europe.

It is not unusual to pass several film crews working on different films as you pass through the city on a summer day.

Education – Primary, Secondary and Tertiary

McGill University Main Quad
McGill University Main Quad

Living in Montreal is easy if you wish French to be the language of instruction.

For schools with lessons taught in English, you may have to look harder.

In fact, depending on your background, public schooling in English may not be available at all.

More about education in Montreal

Environment and Getting Around

Getting around Montreal without a car is quick and easy. The city has a robust transit system of 185 bus lines and 4 subway lines, called the Metro, with 68 stations.

While often crowded during the morning and evening rush hours, most bus stops operate once every 15 minutes, and the metro lines once every 6 minutes. Montreal’s subway system is also visually interesting. Each station was designed by a different architect, and feature original artwork and themes.

Montreal Metro
Lionel-Groulx metro station:
Photo credit: Montrealais

Many vehicle owners use public transit to commute to work, and park their cars to use on the weekends.

As most residents own vehicles, and few apartments feature on-site parking, owning a vehicle in Montreal is often tedious.

Montreal is smoggy in summer, and the main entries to the city are generally congested at rush hour.

A commuter rail system serves the outlying parts of Montreal, and serves 15.7 million riders yearly.

Cycling in popular in Montreal, and the city is often held up as a Canadian example of a bike friendly city.

Main streets often feature bike-only lanes, making cycling during heavy traffic safer and less stressful.

What to do in Montreal

Montreal Oratoire St Joseph
Montreal Oratoire St. Joseph:
Photo credit: mompes

Skating in the city
Skating in the city

Montreal Botanic Gardens
Montreal Botanic Gardens:
Photo credit: GarrettRock

As Canada’s largest French city, Montreal has literally thousands of cultural attractions.

From museums to art galleries, historic sites to beautiful architecture, Montreal has something for everyone.

Mount Royal offers one of the best known vistas in Canada.

Located in the heart of the city, this urban park features popular hiking and cycling trails in the summer, and cross country skiing and tobogganing in the winter. The 233 metre summit offers an outstanding view of the entire city.

For those who enjoy a more guided approach, museums like the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Montreal Contemporary Art Museum), the Biodome and the Olympic Park offer reasonably priced guided tours of some of Montreal’s landmarks.

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is home to works by notable Quebecois, Canadian and international contemporary artists.

The Biodome, Botanical Gardens, Insectarium and Planetarium make up the Montreal Nature Museums, the largest natural science museum in Canada.

The Biodome is a particularly popular destination.

It allows patrons to travel the four different eco-systems of the Americas, complete with plants, animals, climate and environment.

It is one of the few places in Canada you can visit with colourful tropical butterflies and subarctic dwelling penguins in the same afternoon.

A visit to the Olympic Park will take you back in time to 1976.

Originally built for the Summer Olympics, the park is now open to the public and professional athletes alike. A guided tour explains the history of the construction of the stadium, and no visit is complete without a trip to the top of the observation tower, the largest inclined tower in the world.

A walking tour of the Old Port is a view of the evolution of Montreal. The Port features architecture from the 17th century to the 20th century, often right next to each other.

Many of the small cobbled streets are barely wide enough for one lane of traffic so driving the Old Port is difficult, but small restos and cafes dot the corners offering many places to stop for a rest, lunch or even a glass of wine for those on foot.

Montreal is also home to major sports teams including the National Hockey League team, the Canadiens; Canadian Football League team, the Alouettes; and more recently the Major League Soccer team, the Impact.


Molson Stadium
McGill’s Molson Stadium
Photo credit: Frosty34

Montreal is unique in Canada as it is the only French metropolitan city. While this makes it a difficult relocation point for those who speak little or no French, its wide range of cultures offers excellent opportunities to meet people from around the world and participate in a diverse range of activities.

Montreal’s transit system is far reaching, quick and one of the most affordable in Canada.

Major enterprises in the city are business services, manufacturing and retail sales. The city is also a hub for students as it has the most universities and schools per capita in the country.

While the average yearly family income is slightly lower than the national average, rental and housing prices are significantly lower than those of other major cities.

Montreal’s Negatives

There are many laws governing who can attend English schools.
It is difficult for those without a good base in French to find employment.
There are 1.8 cars for every resident, which makes commuting by car, and parking, difficult.
Winters in the city are colder than the Canadian average.
Due to a doctor shortage, only 65 percent of Montreal residents report having a family doctor.

Montreal’s Positives

The city rated in the Top 50 Most Livable cities and the Top 50 Eco-Cities according to the 2010 Mercer Quality of Living city ratings.
Low rental and housing prices make Montreal an affordable major city.
High public transit usage and investment in bicycle infrastructure make the city easy to navigate without a car.
Quebec offers bursaries for immigrants wishing to take French immersion classes, and university tuition costs are lower for Quebec residents than for people from other provinces.
Montreal is a hub of cultural and social engagement.
According to Statistics Canada, 94 percent of residents report being satisfied with their lives, higher than the Canadian average. More than 80 percent reported that they consider themselves to be in good health.
The Lonely Planet travel guide includes Montreal in its “10 happiest places in the World” list, in second place.

48 thoughts on “Living in Montreal, Quebec”

  1. After traveling hours from US we found Montreal being a very nice and animated city. We were pleased with the hotel we stayed in , but we had two bad experinces in the same day. The first one was in a souvenir store, where the owner was very rude( no friendly welcoming, looked very bothered by our presence, and told my seven years old daughter to find a souvenir at the next store because he has to take his break). The second one was in the waiting line at a famous restaurant. We were 7 persons, out of which 4 were kids, cold and hungry, we took uber to this famous restaurant, saw a waiting line, and tried to get in and find out the waiting time. There was a little hallway packed with people and as soon I opened the door I was cursed by some man over the age of 50 who told me to “ to shut the f….g door because is cold”. I was with a 5,7,8, and 10 years old kids. I asked him to watch his language in front of the kids thinking that he may have not noticed them, but he did not care. His friend even pushed me out to close that door. After all this the man that cursed had the courage to ask me “ by the way what country are you from” noticing my accent. Totally irrelevant , but that made be belive that those people were not very “ multicultural welcoming”. I felt very frustrated and sad at the same time because I choose this location as my vacation place, spend a good amount of money, and got cursed and pushed because I was visibly not a local. I truly believe that not all the locals act in this manner and are true at their heart. Those were some “ weeds” that make others look bad. But this experience left a very sour taste in my mouth and I will never come visit Montreal or recomend to any of my friends.
    Best regards!

    1. I’m really sad to hear that you had that terrible experience. Please believe me as an American citizen, permanent Canadian resident, living in Montreal for 6 years now, that that is definitely not the typical attitude of average Montrealers. On the contrary, I have most often found the locals to very welcoming and even very accommodating to my not-so-perfect French. (Usually when they hear my accent, they switch to English just for me. I usually tell them they don’t have to, but often they insist.
      I hope you will visit again. There are so many wonderful places to visit and things to see. :0)

  2. As an english speaking Canadian that’s lived in other Canadian cities such as Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax, Winnipeg and now Montreal, I can truly say I find living in this particular city to be a mixed experience, filled with many microaggressions that can ruin the experience.

    I’ll start off by saying the people here are quite friendly and warm, and I’ve never experienced any major language issues, despite only having a tentative grasp of french. As a tourist, you’re not going to have a problem here as most anyone will happily speak english if you ask. That being said, if you move here and only speak english, prepare to have a really tough time finding a job. As mentioned above, bilingualism is a must for any customer-facing job here, which you would expect of any mixed language region.

    In terms of quality of life, rent is average, public transit is really good, and the cultural aspects of the city compare well to that of Toronto. If an event is in Toronto, it’s probably going to be in Montreal too. In terms of parking and driving, things go badly quickly. Local parking is scarce and often restricted, and further to this, it is very obvious that the city fines aggressively as a means of raising capital. Additionally, the parking signs are often confusing. There is also large police presence compared to other Canadian cities, and while some may find this comforting, I personally find it oppressive. That being said, Montreal is a very safe city, so do not think the heightened police presence implies otherwise.

    Also worth noting, The city’s infrastructure is undergoing a massive refurbishment and upgrading. Expect a lot of “rue barrée” (local closures) and detours. Also, Quebec’s infrastructure is based on the european road standard, not the north american road standard. This means highway merging lanes are shorter, lanes are narrower, and in general, there is a different road “feel” (this is the root cause of the maligned “Montreal driver”). Rush hour traffic is nowhere near Toronto’s levels, though it is a major city, so do expect delays.

    Finally, for those thinking of moving here, official document integration is a laborious, unpleasant process. I have moved between 4 provinces, and it is my experience that Quebec’s various governments are the most demanding of any province. While most provinces will readily accept another province’s official documents at face value, Quebec does not. Be prepared to contact your previous province for driver’s histories, records, and anything else you might need to support whatever document you are seeking. Also, keep in mind that Quebec’s sole official language is French, and all that entails.

    So! To sum it all up rather poetically; Montreal is a city I love that I can’t wait to leave.

  3. Everybody talks about Montreal but there’s a lot of nice cities too in the north of Montreal like Laval, Mirabel (there’s Premium outlets), Rosemère (city with a lot of English people), Fontainebleau (rich city with beautiful house, golf) Ste-Therese (quiet and cute little city), St-Sauveur (touristic city with Ski and Outlets factory), Mont-Tremblant (Michael Douglas has a house there, touristic city with an European style with the village in mountain, ski) and more. Cities in the north of Montreal is cheaper than Montreal, you will find the same house to buy for 280 000$ VS 450 000$ at Montreal and 700 000$ at Toronto. The municipal tax is 60% cheaper than Montreal. You don’t have any problems of parking in the cities in the north of Montreal and parking it’s free, good restaurant, and the cities are so clean VS Montreal. And it’s better to live outside of Montreal in terms of life quality: about 90% of the criminals problems in the province of Quebec are done at Montreal (murder, drugs traffic, prostitution, etc.) It’s very rare there’s criminals problems outside of Montreal. Montreal it’s a nice cities for activities (to see a Hockey games, football, soccer, Formule 1, to see some shows, nightclub, bar, going to attraction park, etc.) but not a place to live. If you like security, green space, family environnement with no stress and if you search a life quality and a cheaper place to live (all is more expensive in Montreal: tax, house, rent, gas) you will find it outside of Montreal.

  4. Montreal is like most cities….in that it’s crowded and the people are not friendly. I moved here having never lived in a city and this experience is making me loath cities even more. Visiting here is fun. Living here is hell. The winters are cold and it makes the locals bitter. I love winter camping and living in a city in winter is possibly the worst experience i have ever had. The metro breaks down quite often. In the summer, if you have a car, you will have to move it twice a week so they can clean the streets. The only reason to live in the city is if you are a true consumer of things. I don’t consume, so I’m finding it hard to do anything without consuming huge amounts of time, energy and money. I find that most people are either affluent & arrogant or hipster….how is this welcoming? Immigrating to Quebec is also complex. I do not see the return on investment for all the tax dollars. The streets are a mess, the parking fines are a scam, the metro won’t be expanded until 2026. There is no connection to local officials or the ministry. People just seem to fall in line and pay taxes though the nose without demanding anything in return. The CBC coverage of local issues is non-existent. This town .blows

    1. The last comment from Andy is very accurate.
      I personally really like much of Quebec outsider of Montreal, yet wihtin the city…..
      There is the rancid smell of rotting garbage and dirty diapers in the summer air as you walk the sidewalks, large heeps of garbade bags full of putrifying food scraps lay out in the open for all to see. Even in fast food and restaurant areas. Of all the 3 provinces and the many cities I’ve lived in Canada, Montreal has the worst trash disposal system I’ve ever seen, very much akin to ”Just chuck it out the front door” . As for the street sweeping system and high fines for parking in sweeping zones, especially when there are limited places to park in the first place. With tickets at $80 , I am rather fed up with this service, not to mention all the debris it leaves behind, the high cost of maintainence on these machines, it is actually worse for the environment and creates more pollution than it solves. It’s simply not sustainable in the grand scheme of things. It would be more efficient to schedule the sweeping days only for when its actually needed like in the spring and fall instead of weekly and instead improve upon waste management and systems of composting and more renewable practices. And how about those high taxes and low paying jobs! Rent is not actually cheap considering the qulaity of what you get is certainly not that great. Living in a building full of people, some who smoke cigarettes indoors and landlords who could care less about the implications it has on quality of life and health. Hey, who needs clean oxygen when you can be a second hand smoker for $1100 per month plus utilities with no washing machines available on site. I’ve had good and bad experiences eating out and ordering in from restaurants. . The bad was so bad that the good became not worth gambling for it anymore.
      Needless to say, I will be making my way back west as soon as possible.

  5. How do they treat visitors? We will be coming from Alabama and we know very little French. I thought it would be a neat experience for our 10 year old… but now I’m not sure.

    1. I am personally a Québécois and I have worked in multiple tourist agencies and been to the U.S. before. from my experience and comments I have received over the time, I would say that there are no issues with visitors, as many have stated before, visiting usually does not result in negative experiences. However with that being said, the language is not an issue, everybody does speak English unless they’ve just arrived or are visiting themselves. At worst someone might force an accent through their English, however you are guaranteed service in English by law so just ignore this arrogant minority, though be aware that they do exist. Should it happen, just apologize and say you are visiting, they should apologize. It is very safe and the thieving is very low. Cleanliness standards in both restaurants and hotels are very demanding therefore there should not be issue on that level.
      A lot of museums are free, there are usually several festivals going on at pretty much any given time. All banks accept american money and american credit should be accepted pretty much everywhere, however if you intend on using cash, please convert it as, by law, patrons are not required to accept american money. Credit and Debit should work, simply advise your bank of your trip abroad beforehand. Also, American express is greatly limited in Canada.

      A few behaviors to avoid for a best experience; like any good family dinner, avoid political discussions or issues as well as the language status of French, however, if you want to ask questions, that is certainly fine, however these tend to be a polarising topics. The legal age is 18, however alcohol and other substances are not permitted in public and cannot be sold past 9pm. Quebec is still technically in prohibition when it comes to alcohol. since you have a child this should not be an issue.

      For the best experience I would recommend to have an idea, an outline of your trip and where you want to visit to maximise your experience, there are various information centers that offer free services to orient you with activities and information should you need them.

    2. I have to say, I agree with a lot of your points about Montreal. I absolutely love this city. It’s being so French is one of my favourite things about it….and one of my least favourite at the same time. I do speak French at decent intermediate level. Even so, finding a job in my field (publications) has been extremely difficult. I’m in one of those professions that having a decent intermediate level of function in French is not enough to perform at job (say like at a French newspaper or other publication.)
      All in all, as much as I love the city for everything it has to offer, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to move here if the man I married wasn’t from here.
      This isn’t to discourage anyone from moving here. Just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.

  6. Canadians in general are the most accommodating people in the world. I migrated here 10 months back and lived a few days in Toronto. Then i found a job in Montreal and moved here. If you dont know French, then this is not the best place to be.
    There is language racism! Take my word for it. People will ignore you or be rude to you if you do not speak in French. So think again before coming in here.
    But not all people in Montreal are bad. I have met a few French Quebecois who are really nice people!

  7. Hi,
    My son wants to study French in high school starting next year (in Los Angeles) and, to help him, I was thinking of maybe taking him to Montreal for the summers for the next four year and enrolling him in French summer school. I reckon this would make him get a head start, give him practice opportunities, and put him in a natural, French-speaking environment for 2 months each summer.

    What I would like to know is the following: Are there any free summer schools that an American teenager can attend in Montreal or Quebec City?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Charlie,
      he will like montreal in the summer and it’s an enriching experience for french courses you can try the YMCA downtown , it’s not free… or contact the US consulate in Montreal to assist you

      All the best

  8. I couldn’t agree with Sheri more (and please don’t judge me). Anyone thinking about moving to Montreal, don’t. You’re going to regret it if you do. Although I have some wonderful friends who I still stay in touch with once in a while, it’s still not enough to make me want to stay here. I have lived here for seventeen years and I’m starting to have enough it. I don’t know why out of all the great cities that I know of in Canada, why my parents had to choose Montreal. I find some of the people can be such assholes, and we’re also known for one of the worst drivers. What troubles me the most about this city is the bilingualism. I sometimes get looked down upon because I am 98% English and have never been given the same respect as somebody whose first language is French. This is why sooner or later I’m moving up and out of here to Ontario.

  9. I have to agree with Sheri. I was looking forward to living here and now 3 years later I can’t wait to move out. I have never seen an entire (first world) city population look so miserable, and I’ve lived in third world countries as well as in several big cities in the States. I feel like I’m surrounded with bums, everyone is so lazy and shabby and generally degenerate looking. Always complaining about money or politics. It’s always someone else’s fault … but wait, let me take a nap and then sit on this bench all day, all while complaining how poor I am.

    I live in Westmount, the most expensive area supposedly. But aside from a few blocks here and there of prominent first world feel, you run into bums everywhere. The scary part is they are not bums, just regular locals. Yuk!

    And seriously, what is going on with people walking into you on sidewalks. It’s very easily felt and seen in the East side of town, not so much where I am thankfully. How hard is it to walk WITH the foot traffic and make room for oncoming people!?

    On the plus side, the city itself IS beautiful, clean and safe and there are parks everywhere, big and small. I like that. But the people are lazy and obnoxious with their cultural complexes and snobby attitudes. I am perfectly bilingual (5 lingual in fact) but after I moved here, I started telling people I don’t speak French most of the time because I find it offensive how close minded and rude their are to those who do not speak it.

    There are exceptions of course, as with everything. I have some wonderful friends who are from here and they feel the same way about things. It’s sad that I feel like I have to move because I would have liked to love it here and really don’t feel like moving again, but….

  10. Hey,

    I’m wondering what it’s like to find employment in Montreal knowing little to no French? I have heard that montreal has laws banning persons from undertaking employment that serves the public if you can’t speak French competently. I’m a bit worried about that. I will of course learn more french as time goes on there, I just need somewhere to start. I’m from Calgary but am wanting a change and wanting to learn another language, so I figured why not move to montreal?
    Where would you recommend a Non French speaking individual to live in Montreal?


  11. I haven’t been to Montreal but it seems like such an enthusiastic place. I really want to move there so badly but I have no knowledge in French. I’m still debating if it’s worth going there and spend hundreds of dollars for school and renting an apartment.

    Definitely going there for a visit and take a look what it’s like to be in Montreal. For now, I’m still doing a lot of research about Montreal etc.

    1. We just got back from Montreal and we loved it. The subway system is excellent, something the city of Toronto could only dream of. Well kept old and new buildings, friendly people where ever we went. Service and food in restaurants was great and everywhere we went people were bilingual. I found people to be confident and had the feeling they were real and not fake.
      We plan on going there again because we were so impressed with Montreal. Its a nice north American city with a lot of history and a European feel to it.

  12. I was born here and have lived here most of my life. It really is a unique city that combines the best of what amazing U.S.A cities offer and what you might find in Europe.

    It’s a very welcoming city. I’ve met many immigrants who always find the right groups to join and make friends. When you meet people they usually just assume you are from somewhere else. In my own social circle I don’t have any friends born in Montreal!

    The good things about this place: lot’s of great restaurants, nightlife, culture. It’s affordable. People are open and friendly. Lot’s of festivals. It’s safe. Beautiful architecture. Amazing biking networks. Hot summers.

    The bad things: Not a scenically beautiful city (unlike Vancouver). The ongoing French politics. Winters are long and terribly cold. Jobs. It is daunting to look for work when you aren’t perfectly bi-lingual.

    Ultimately, I think it’s a great place if you want to meet people, go out at night, are going to school enjoy art and festivals.

    1. Is Vancouver better then Montreal? I was in mtl for 16 years and I miss it. Now iam in Vancouver. What’s your opinion on both

  13. I’m thinking of moving to Montreal, and overall it seems like a good place to live. I don’t think the few comments suggesting it as a bad place to move are lying about their experience. It’s a big city, and with any big city, one part of town can be radically different from another.

    So certain parts of the city could be dangerous or have people with a bad attitude, while most parts of the city could be safe and have people with a friendly attitude. I wouldn’t listen to someone who says their city is perfect and has no problems whatsoever.

    Most parts of the city I currently live in, are pretty safe, but other parts everyone recognizes as the bad parts of town. Most or even all big cities will have bad parts of town.

    I hear mostly good about Montreal though, so I just need to brush up on some French and moving there I feel will be a very good experience.

    1. If you are planning on living here in Montreal, don’t bring your car. Parking is next to nonexistant and the drivers are some of the worst in the world. Driving in Montreal is a liability.

  14. As I read Sheri comments, I can only say that this may be a deliberate attempt to set people off because I don’t know how you can possibly get all that negative things about Montreal. Believe me I tried. I may have to move there from San Diego due to my job. I love San Diego; my heart, my house, and soul are there and in my two-time visit to Montreal, I have tired to find something negative to justify me not moving there and I couldn’t. The only think I could think of was harsh winter, but so is NYC and NYC is awesome! Sorry Sheri, if you really experienced all that you wrote, then I say open your heart and mind and try your visit again. There were lots of wonderful things that I saw. My favorite was the beautiful people, especially the women. There were kind, educated, and real.

  15. Hello,
    Montreal is a great city-affordable to live in compared to most cities but in my opinion if you want to live in the hip and happening areas it won’t come cheap. I need to say that Montreal is a very clicky city-that is there are many organizations, groups, clubs and everyone is very “clicky”.It is really hard to make friends in this city. If you don’t speak french it is even worse.
    Montreal isn’t that cheap-it could be cheaper. The food used to be better and cheaper.
    The social programs here are good but not great. Montreal needs to improve it’s transportation system.
    I find allot of people here very selfish-I don’t mean selfish that they are not polite and hold the door open for you-but people care only about themselves yet talk about wanting to be part of a community.
    Most people in Montreal are warm and helpful. But be careful if your a woman-you can be attacked in broad day light and no one will come to your aid- not even the police.I guess it is like that in most cities. Also there is allot of discrimination against anglophones here.

  16. I got the opportunity to be in Montreal for 3 months last year as an on the job training from my company, and for someone like me with little to no french at all I can say that I loved the city!! The people is either nice and warm or they are very kept to themselves, none of them is even close to the aggressive nature that 2 people here commented. I loved the city so much that I actually moved in here on Feb 2014, now I have been here another 4 months and I have no complain with the city, transportation is awesome, I haven’t had the need to get a car…. Bus and Metro will take you everywhere! In short, I’m in love with this City, I love the positive things and I’m Ok with the negative points, but for someone who comes from a place where getting your Phone in the street is dangerous… this is Heaven!!!!!

  17. Montreal is just one of the best cities in the world. This is is my thirt time visiting, and all I can say is that it is amazing. This city reminds of lots of other cities:Berlin, New York City, Amsterdam, San Francisco! There are plenty of parcs everywhere, the Parc Mont-Royal is wonderful; there are always so many people there and a great energy,music, food, beers just like on avenue Saint-Laurent and street Saint-Denis. Museums, churches, parcs, the whole lot! The people are incredibly nice, always willing to help. There are young people everywhere, and the cops are not like in the US (much less stricter) Restaurants, bars, nigthclubs are all really good. And I have noticed, that the majority of the population was attractive (because of all the international people. (french, lebanese, spanish,algerian..) I am thinking of studying there and the rent is so cheap! However, one negative comment is that the high taxes is such a bummer, and let’s not talk about the weather in winter! Besides this, this city is wonderful! If you want to party,meet nice and attractive people, eat well, visit museums, parcs: GO TO MONTREAL!

    1. Emma montreal is one of the worst cities in the world like a third world country and unless you live here or spend several years you will have a different opinion. So if you are a tourist sure you will say it was great and breathtaking and what not! Try living the experience before visiting for a limited time only!

  18. Montreal is definitely a charming city, of which its residents have every reason to be proud, but when this pride is taken too far to boarder on radical provincialism and cultural exclusionism, it’s not hard to encounter some unfriendly Montrealers (quite some from my own experience). On a positive note, what we can always take away from this is even bad experience is part of the experience. Moreover, stop idealizing Montreal (or anything, anybody, any city). Take it all in, enjoy all the good things Montreal has to offer, tune out the bad ones? and see it as a piece of theater.

  19. People here are not so nice. Very hard to make friends. Nice place to look around but over all
    a very bad place to live. Rents are very high. Hard to find rental places that take pets in many areas.
    A real turd world country type of place. So many bad drivers. Courtesy is mostly dead. Don’t get sick. Hard to get into a hospital. The ongoing politics going no where for the past 40 years is sickening as well as all the corruption, mismanagement and BS. Nice place to visit but living here is limited. The truth.

  20. I’m glad I hadn’t read Sheri’s comment before my recent trip to Montreal as it would have worried me. I was there for three weeks at the end of winter, with my family, and found it to be the complete opposite of what Sheri is saying. I speak very little French and was surprised to find that most people in Montreal are bi-lingual, even if many prefer to speak only French. It’s a beautiful city with friendly, welcoming people. Service in restaurants and cafes, and in stores, was friendly and efficient. I walked everywhere and felt safe, even very late at night. Obviously, like any big city, you need to be aware of your surroundings and not engage in risky behaviour but I never felt any cause for alarm.

    The times I took the metro I had no problems-when metro staff couldn’t (or wouldn’t) speak English some kind local always stepped up and helped.

    Food was great, and reasonably priced, service great, locals friendly – what’s not to like? I’d go back in a heartbeat, I just love Montreal.

  21. We visited Montreal lately and found it to be unfriendly and you get the feeling a civil war is about to break out. People are violent and aggressive (all nationalities) and smash right into you when walking by. The people are really uptight and looking for someone to unload on. We suggest avoiding congested areas and unsafe areas. We do not consider it to be a safe city at all, The people seem really miserable and depressed and there are a lot of political tensions and animosity between people. The food in restaurants used to be good, not any more.There are some interesting places to visit and things to do, but we found the city overpriced, including the transit system. Many drivers refuse to speak English so it is hard to get directions.They must lose passengers like that which means they lose money. The city could be cleaner too. We go by what we see, not by what a guide book or statistics say. That is heresay, not the real experience. There are better places to visit, and we would not live here.

    1. Previous comment is all ***. Sounds like bad humour noir. Go to New York City and you could write about positive or negative comments but above and beyond New York is an extraordinary place, so is Montreal.

      1. LOL!!! What wrong with those people??!!
        I love Montreal and and I’m from California. Wish I could live here!!

    2. Wow! What city did you visit? We just got back from Montreal and we had the most wonderful experience. The people were warm and friendly at each store and restaurant we visited (maybe with the exception of some tourist destinations). We don’t speak French, but we did make a whole-hearted attempt to communicate in French and the people we met were very appreciative of our efforts.

      We encountered tons of graffiti and at first, were concerned walking through these neighborhoods. Eventually, we realized that graffiti in Montreal was not necessarily territorial gang markers. In fact, we found much of it to be street art that enhanced the City’s colorful culture.

      The Metro system was amazing. We had to travel from the D.D.O area (about 30 min. by car) to the main city (downtown Montreal, Mont Royal, Latin Quarters, Jean Talon Market) everyday and the longest wait was 7 minutes (travel time 30 – 40 min door-to-door) Compared to San Francisco where you can wait up to 20 – 30 minutes just to get on a bus (no exaggeration there!)

      The food scene was incredible, much like San Francisco; A bit more expensive in Montreal due to the 15% tax. The services was friendly and welcoming without the “hipster” attitude.

      We’ve travel throughout 43 States and every major city in them including NYC, Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, LA and San Francisco. Many of them, wonderful. After visiting Montreal, we are now looking to move there.

      Cheap homes, great transit system, low crime rate, low violent crime, great health care system, low cost of living, wonderful art and food scene… hard not to love this city.

      In all my years of travel, I’ve learn one important lesson: A traveler’s experience is largely dictated by his/her choice of attitude.

      Happy Travels!

      1. AJ – that is so true. I used to live in SAn Francisco and people used to tell me it is this and that. Same goes for montreal. I am sure there are negatives but I loved it when I visited( very short visit, on transit) and I’m looking to move there as well.

    3. My Goodness, Sheri! What city did you visit? Montreal is such an amazing place and very, very friendly. Perhaps you are from Toronto or perhaps you were simply in a very bad mood for the duration of your visit? In any event; for anyone else reading the comments, please make certain that Sheri’s comments are not the only ones you review. Montreal is affordable, accommodating and full of Joie de vivre (that’s” joy of living”, Sheri).

    4. Sheri – you need to spend nearly 40 MISERABLE years in the United Kingdom as an immigrant and then you will realise how amazing Montreal is. From the minute we landed here in Montreal airport as new permanent residents (we have come as Skilled Workers) we have heard nothing other than Welcome to Canada. A phrase my family and I NEVER heard in the UK. In fact my mother was deported from the UK to our war-torn native country when I was only 12 years old because we didn`t have enough money as our country`s banking system had frozen our assets.
      As for racial or other types of tensions, in fact this is far less obvious than other major cities such as London or New York. Yes, recently I have met people who instantly strike up a conversation about the new legislation proposed here in Quebec to ban religions gear like headscarves, turbans, large Christian crosses, etc. New immigrants are specifically told that they must accept secular regulations and are expected to sign up to a secular system of government. Even if you disagree with banning religious dress or symbols, the issue needs to be DISCUSSED at least. In my experience, this is in sharp contrast to the UK. British people talk about a tolerant, non-racist society, yet UK governments still manage to get involved in wars, following the USA like lap dogs. The UK today, just like colonial, imperial Britain has been complicit in the support of dictatorships as well as the torture and murder of civilians AND they blatantly spy on the public, just like the USA.
      On the surface it seems that the UK with its long history of democracy is a benevolent state and that so-called English CHARM and tolerance are something to be admired. Underneath it all, you will find hypocrisy and political and social double-standards wherever you turn. I`m glad to be in Montreal, a truly cosmopolitan city that has welcomed my family and I with open arms. My 9 year old son has a far better, more liberal place to call his home and one day he will be proud to be a Canadian citizen. No country or state is perfect, but some are more perfect than others !

      1. …..and thank goodness…the good people of Quebec voted that silly charter down. 🙂

    5. Sheri – I completely agree with you. I have lived in many major cities in Europe as well as in North America; I have never seen anything like Montreal. As you said, people are very aggressive and full of animosity and they are ready to discharge on anybody that looked new to the place. The city is very depressed and some parts are scary and dangerous. Hard to say, what they want from you – on the streets or mall, they kind of want to smash into you, stalk you closely or make strange sound to make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, you could get away if you keep your mouth shut and if you speak in English esp in public places, you have put yourself in the soup. Always, try to be in a group when you are outside home.

    6. I’ve lived in Montreal for about 6 years now. Before, I’ve lived in US, and Europe and have travelled to many cities in East Asia, America, and Europe. I concur with almost all information given here. Even though, I myself, as an Anglophone, have been experiencing difficulties and the challenges exist but I can confidently say that Montreal is a lovely welcoming city to live overall.

    7. Wow..none of what you are saying is true of what I know of Montreal….and I’m an American who LIVES here. I do speak French as a second language and I usually try to use my French when I’m out and about, but people are ALWAYS very willing to speak English with me …even if their English isn’t that advanced. That is so false about people keeping their mouth shut if they don`t speak French around here. As a matter of fact, if you walk down the street, you hear a variety of languages being spoken from passers by.
      Montreal is a relatively safe city, especially for its size, so I don’t know what the heck you are talking about by calling it dangerous.
      My city, Montreal, is a wonderful, culturally diverse city where many different kinds of people live in harmony..
      There is always something fun to do. ….unless , of course, you are grump with a sour attitude. Then, maybe you will only see the negative in the place…and even invent some negativity in our own head to fit your construct.

      Moi, j’aime Montréal! C`est ma ville preferée!

      1. Hi Rose,

        I’m coming to Montreal as an immigrant. I am a Filipino. I studied French, I can speak and understand French but not so fluently. As a Montréalaise, what do you think is the status of an immigrant in Montreal. Are they accepted? Do you think it is easy for us to find a job in your country? What about rental and food? I’ve read a lot of blogged some are inspiring but some are frustrating, talking about the weather and the taxes.
        What about English education? I have son who is 6 years old and he totally didn’t understand French. Are there any English public school in Montreal, do they accept immigrant children? What are the common policies before we can enroll to English school. I hope you can help me.


        1. Hello Angele!

          I’m born and raised in Montreal. I would suggest practicing your french, but you will have lots of opportunity to do so here. We’re a very bilingual population. I work in retail so I see lots of people every day. I see locals, lots are perfectly bilingual, some only speak french and some are anglophone. I’ll have you know that two of my coworkers are immigrants. One just moved here from France, but originally from Indonesia, and my other coworker from Indonesia, moved here 3 years ago. It was easy for them to find jobs so-long as they could communicate with the general public here. Immigrants do just fine here. My mother is an immigrant from Russia, and she turned out alright! Montreal is very culturally adept, with many communities for immigrants as well.

          As for your son, I believe he will have to go to French school if he does not have a parent who had gone to school in Canada… I’m actually not too sure what the rules are but all I know is that even if your family speaks English, if you are not born in Canada your children have to attend french school by law… There might be a couple exceptions. There were a couple immigrants who went to my high school but I’m not sure if both their parents were immigrants or not.

    8. I travelend around 12,000 kilometers in a motorcycle from Mexico City to Quebec City. I decided to pass tru many Cities like California, SF, Reno, SLC and cross Canada from Alberta to Quebec. Around 22 cities and 102 villages. The trip took me almost 6 weeks. I’ve lived in countries like Iceland, China, NYC, Kansas, Europe….Do you want to know what did I learn about Montreal and the other cities in Canada? First: as much village the place is as much friendly the place becomes (Almost general Rule). Second: Montreal is not the most friendly place, Winnipeg is. Montreal is the only place in Canada totally bilingual. What I really didn’t like of Montreal? 1/People is little bit Selfish (But they are not concient of it because for them it is like…-I must succed in life which make sence in a city controlled by young people), 2/ I like Canadians but people from Quebec they consider themself as a Quebecers instead as a Canadians….Really guys and Girls of Montreal think that the future of our civilization is not going into separations instead it is going into make smaller the differences. ¿were you first in Canada? Good!!!!!, speak French, Keep your proud of being first!!!!! No roblem at all but please. learn perfect English (Not like me haha!) and use it because it is a global attitude. What I like of Montreal is: 1/ Mostly of the city is clean and people is not too harsh like if you go to NYC or Paris but not too warm like if you go to any country from Mexico to Argentina. Weird things? Mostly of the people don’t have time. They are working always which is good in my opinion but please!!! Keep calm guys, someday you will realize that life doesn’t mean hard work in fact that is one of the reasons why night life in Montreal is awesome doubt people waiting for two days of heaven. My conclusion is that there are some facts of living in Montreal but mostly like 80% depend of the attitude you have and the people around you. People around you is what makes the city and you choose that people.

    9. I live in Montreal as an immigrant, I have to say that Montreal has some problem but unkindness and violence are not among them at all! people are all friendly and welcoming.

    10. Montreal its a fabulous city to live, its Europe in America, and thanks God we can hear others languages than only English. Its a fantastic cultural hub and the best foods in North America.
      Im still living there and after living in several cities around the world is the best one.Its a save and friendly place. I learn french and quite a fabulous language. I love québécois ,they are proud and have this incredible joie de vivre, I love it.its a sophisticate and fadhionable place and avant garde city.thanks to croissant and bagels ,shopping and well dress woman.Learn french and appreciate this lovely city.There no other place like Montreal .

      Πand they are right to be, the city is an international festival all year roud.

    11. Sheri I am very surprised to read what you wrote. I moved to Montreal from Washington, DC a few months ago and oh boy the difference is huge! I do not speak french yet but everyone i’ve met so far is absolutely helpful and welcoming (I am African), actually more helpful than DC so far. As for the public transport, this is like 100% better than the Metro and subway system in the states, in DC in particular the monthly rate is very expensive and on top of that stations are always closed for maintenance, trains take up to 30 mins to arrive, the trains are very old and always crashing and there are ALWAYS accidents and delays so you literally have to go out an hour and a half to get to a place that is supposed to be half an hour away, no exaggeration here. As opposed to the metro system in Montreal which is only $83 for a monthly pass and the maximum waiting time is 6 mins for trains and 15 mins for buses. It is really easy to commute around the city. So i am actually so surprised to read what you wrote! So far I really like Montreal!

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