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Montreal

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 02, 2023

Summary: People often describe Montreal, Canada as a vibrant, multicultural city with a unique blend of French and English cultures. Expats love the city's diverse cultural offerings, its vibrant nightlife, and its beautiful parks and outdoor spaces. The weather in Montreal is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from an average low of -2°F in January to an average high of 79°F in July. The average cost of living for an expat is estimated to be around $2,000 USD per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment in Montreal is around $1,000 USD per month, while a two bedroom apartment can cost around $1,500 USD per month. The approximate population of Montreal is 1.7 million people.

What do I need to know about living in Montreal?

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

"Before retiring in Montreal, you should familiarize yourself with the language and culture of the region. Montreal is a majority French speaking city, so knowing some French can be beneficial. When it comes to budgeting for retirement, it is important to research the cost of living in Montreal to understand what expenses you may incur. Montreal has a low crime rate compared to other Canadian cities however it is wise to research the different neighbourhoods you may be considering and their safety statistics before making a decision. Additionally, Montreal is the largest Canadian city with a mild climate, so if you are considering outdoor activities, Montreal offers many activities such as cycling, swimming, skating, skiing and more. Finally, consider using public transportation which can save you money as well as reduce your environmental impact," added another expat in Montreal.

"Before retiring in Montreal, it is important to familiarize yourself with the cost of living in the city. Prices may differ depending on your preferred activities. Montreal also features an extensive public transportation system that allows you to get around the city quickly and easily. Additionally, it is important to research taxes, healthcare, and other key financial details so you have a full understanding of the costs associated with retiring in Montreal. Furthermore, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations for new immigrants in order to ensure a smooth transition into retirement. Finally, you may want to explore the city and its offerings to get a better idea of its culture, attractions, and resources," remarked another expat who made the move to Montreal.

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What do I need to know before moving to Montreal?

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

"Before moving to Montreal, it is important to become familiar with the local language and culture. The official languages of Montreal are French and English, so it is important for newcomers to learn French to ensure easier integration. It is also important to understand the local culture, customs and laws. This will help to ensure that newcomers are in compliance with local regulations. Additionally, housing in Montreal can be expensive, so it is important to research the different neighborhoods and understand the cost of living prior to moving. It is also important to consider if Montreal is the right city for you in terms of climate and amenities. The city can have cold winters and hot summers, so it is important to be aware of the expected weather conditions. In addition, it is important to become familiar with the necessary documentation for living in Montreal, such as valid identification and visas. Acquiring healthcare coverage is also a key factor when preparing to move to Montreal," commented one expat who made the move to Montreal.

"The most important thing is to ask advice from someone independent of the real estate sector. Real estate agents have a huge interest in selling you houses in the area they work and are rarely independent. Locals tend to be biased toward their own neighborhoods. The best advice will come from a relocation agent who is not tied to realtor who can show you all the good neighborhoods for a day, or ask other expats. TAKE YOUR TIME! Act in haste repent at leisure," remarked another expat living in Montreal, Canada.

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How do I find a place to live in Montreal?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"Montreal is a very popular place to live, and finding a place to live can be a daunting task. Researching neighbourhoods and searching websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, or PadMapper, are great resources to find a place to live. CIRANO, CCUL, and UQAM all have rental listings suitable for students and newcomers. You can also contact real estate agents or local letting companies for assistance. Additionally, most universities and colleges offer off-campus housing services to help students find a place to live for their studies," commented one expat who made the move to Montreal.

"We are in our 4th home in 8 years, moving from rental to rental until buying 5 years ago. Our neighborhood was really decided upon by the schools available to us with Quebec's language laws. If we could use any schools we would live more downtown rather than in the burbs," remarked another expat living in Montreal, Canada.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Montreal?

"A typical expat home or apartment in Montreal tend to have modern, updated amenities, often with spacious and open floor plans. The amenities vary depending on the neighbourhood and building, with some providing luxury options such as fireplaces, gyms, terraces and convenient laundry services. Some buildings also provide secure lobbies and gated access. Many of the apartments have balconies with views of the lively streetscape, while some of the larger homes feature private courtyards. Most apartments come with a fully equipped, modern kitchen and bathrooms. As with the rest of Canada, many of the homes in Montreal come with all the standard appliances, including dishwashers and washers/dryers. Generally, apartments come unfurnished, however, some landlords may provide furniture," wrote a member in Montreal.

"We live in a suburban estate not typical for expats as we have been here a while now. Most expats live near downtown or out on the West of the island," commented one expat who made the move to Montreal.

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What is the average cost of housing in Montreal?

If you are thinking about moving to Montreal, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in Montreal varies depending on the location and type of property. Generally, rental rates for apartments and houses range from around CAD 800/month for a one-bedroom apartment to around CAD 2000/month for a three-bedroom house. The cost of a single-family home or townhouse can range from around CAD 300,000 to CAD 600,000," said another expat in Montreal.

"Housing costs are roughly half those of the UK. an average 2 storey house costs $226,000 dollars but is of course bigger than a similar house in the UK as they usually have finished basements," added another expat who made the move to Montreal.

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How do I meet people in Montreal?

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

"Montreal is a great city to meet new people, both local and visitors alike. One of the best ways to meet people is to get involved in an activity, such as a club, class, sports league, or volunteer organization. There are plenty of activities, particularly those related to music, food, and art, that offer great opportunities to meet people. Additionally, there are numerous local events, from festivals to stand-up comedy nights, that provide a great way to meet exciting new people. Finally, another great way to meet people is to socialize in the city's many cafes, theaters, and pubs," explained one expat living in Montreal, Canada.

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What should I bring when moving to Montreal?

People living in Montreal were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"Essential items to pack for a move to Montreal include warm clothing for cold weather, comfortable shoes, toiletries, phone and laptop chargers, kitchen supplies, bedding, and cleaning supplies. Depending on the accommodation, you may also need to bring furniture items such as a bed, couch, and dining table. It's also important to think about personal items such as your favorite books, photos, music, and memorabilia. Finally, consider packing any winter accessories you may need such as a snow shovel and ice scraper," said another expat in Montreal.

"1. My mother
2. More of my dinner service
3. The BBC 1. Our stereo equipment
2. VHS tapes
3. Most of our furniture," added another expat who made the move to Montreal.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Montreal?

We asked expats in Montreal what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"1. You can set up a bank account at any of the following major Canadian banks that have branches in Montreal: Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Bank of Nova Scotia, and National Bank of Canada. Additionally, many other financial institution have branches in Montreal, including the Credit Unions, Desjardins, and TD Canada Trust. Be sure to do your research to ensure you pick the financial institution that best suits your financial needs. 2. When setting up your bank account in Montreal, you will need to provide the following documents: a valid Canadian photo identification (such as a driver's license or passport), proof of Montreal address (such as a lease or utility bill), proof of residency in Canada (such as a work permit or resident card), and proof of income (such as a pay stub). Additionally, some banks may ask for other documents, such as an opening deposit. 3. Before you open a bank account in Montreal, it is important to consider any banking fees that may be associated with the account. It is also important to compare different financial institutions to find the one that best meets your needs. Most banks offer a variety of account types and features, so be sure to find the one that works best for your needs," added another expat who made the move to Montreal.

"If you are looking for a bank to set up an account in Montreal, there are numerous options available. You can look into the big banks including RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal (BMO), TD Canada Trust and CIBC Bank, or you may opt to use a smaller, online branch such as Organicact, Alterna Savings, Oaken Financial or Tangerine. Regardless of which bank you choose, you will need to bring some form of identification (such as a passport, driver’s licence or permanent resident card) and may be required to show proof of address," explained one expat living in Montreal, Canada.

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Will I be able to find a job in Montreal?

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

"Finding a job in Montreal depends on many factors, such as your qualifications, experience, type of job, and availability of openings. However, Montreal is a large and diverse city with a number of different industries and employers, so there is potential to find a job in many fields. Montreal is known for its bilingual population, so it may be beneficial to be able to speak both French and English. Additionally, there are many resources available online to assist you in your job search, such as communities and online job boards," added another expat who made the move to Montreal.

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What is life like in Montreal?

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

"Living as an expat in the area can be a rewarding experience. You’ll have the opportunity to appreciate a new culture, meet people from around the world, and explore the area. There are plenty of activities to do and places to explore, such as historic sites, beaches, stunning nature spots and traditional villages. Most locals are friendly, open to meeting and getting to know foreign residents. There are various international schools in the area offering a great education and expats may also benefit from the affordable healthcare. The area offers wonderful culinary experiences, with a range of western and traditional dishes, anyone can find something to savor. Living in this area is particularly attractive to those who enjoy mild weather and easy access to both coastal and mountain lifestyles," explained one expat living in Montreal, Canada.

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What do expats in Montreal appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expatriates in Montreal often appreciate the city's vibrant culture, including its lush natural landscapes, lively music and art scenes, diverse culinary offerings, and international flair. The city offers plenty of museums, galleries, and events to explore, as well as a diverse selection of restaurants offering cuisines from around the world. Expats also enjoy Montreal's friendly, multicultural atmosphere, and appreciate the city's charm and quality of life. Montreal is a great place to live, work and raise a family, and many expats are drawn to it because of its quality of life and family-friendly atmosphere," remarked another expat living in Montreal, Canada.

"Expats in Montreal appreciate the city's unique blend of French and English culture, its vibrant nightlife, its strong sense of community and its mix of historical and modern architecture. They also enjoy the diversity of foods, taking in the incredible music and art scenes, the festivals, the scenic nature trails and the city's overall friendly atmosphere. Additionally, expats appreciate the ease of transportation and the numerous parks, festivals, theatres and cultural attractions throughout the city," added another expat in Montreal.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats often find adjusting to a new culture and language to be a significant challenge, as well as managing the paperwork associated with setting up a new residence in a foreign country. Difficulty making friends and feeling homesickness are also common challenges for expats. Furthermore, being away from family and support networks often adds to the challenge of living and working abroad. Financial challenges can also arise, such as securing appropriate insurance, banking, and navigating taxes between two governments. Despite the challenges, many expats find the experience rewarding," explained one expat living in Montreal, Canada.

"Expatriates may find adjusting to a new culture and language to be one of the most challenging aspects of relocating abroad. Other difficulties include dealing with the bureaucracy associated with obtaining visas and residency permits. Establishing a social circle can also be difficult, as is learning how to navigate the local customs, transportation, shops, and more," said another expat in Montreal.

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Is there a lot of crime in Montreal?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Montreal is generally a safe city, with crime rates lower than the Canadian average and comparable with other large cities in Canada. Criminal activities do occur in Montreal and the rate of crime is higher on its outskirts, so travelers should use caution when travelling through those areas," added another expat in Montreal.

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

"Montreal is one of Canada's most diverse cities, with over half of the population identifying as a visible minority. In 2016, the city had a population of 1,704,694, with 56.5% of the population identifying as a visible minority. Montreal is also home to a large and diverse immigrant population, with immigrants making up about one-third of the city's population. Montrealers are welcoming and accepting of people from various backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. The city celebrates diversity, with a variety of events and programs promoting acceptance of difference, such as Quebec’s Culture Days, Black History Month, and the Pluralisme Montreal Forum," remarked another expat who made the move to Montreal.

"Yes, there is a lot of diversity in Montreal. People are very accepting of differences and individuals from all kinds of backgrounds are welcomed, appreciated and celebrated. Montreal has always been a place that celebrates diversity, and that attitude has been around for generations. This can be seen in the different cultures, languages, religions and ethnicities that call the city home. There is also a strong sense of acceptance when it comes to gender, sexual orientation and all lifestyles. Montreal is one of the most open and accepting places to live," explained one expat living in Montreal, Canada.

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What are the schools in Montreal like?

"Montreal schools offer diverse, high-quality educational opportunities for their students. The public school system is made up of the English Montreal School Board, the English-language Lester B. Pearson School Board, and the French-language Commission scolaire de Montréal. There are also several private schools in the city, ranging from independent elementary and secondary schools to religious institutions and alternative schools. Along with Montreal universities such as McGill, Concordia and UQAM, the city offers a multitude of post-secondary institutions, including specialized programs and colleges," remarked another expat living in Montreal with children attending .

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Is the cost of living in Montreal high?

We asked people about the cost of living in Montreal, they wrote:

"Here are a few comparisons from numbeo - the cost of living in Montreal vs. New York City and the cost of living in Montreal vs. London and the cost of living in Montreal vs. Sydney, Australia," mentioned another expat inMontreal.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in Montreal?

" You can find extensive information about immigrating to Canada on their official website. There is a program where you may be able to apply as a Quebec Skilled Worker. ," said another expat.

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Why do people move to Montreal?

When we asked people why foreigners move to Montreal, they responded:

" Montreal is an international city that attracts people for a variety of reasons. Montreal's economy is the second largest in Canada. As far as expats that move there for work, the largest industries include aerospace, electronics, pharma, printed goods, software, telecom, textile and apparel manufacturing, tobacco, petrochemicals, and transportation. According to CanadaStop0100, Montreal's top employers include such international heavyweights as Bristol-Meyers Squibb (Jobs), Sandoz Jobs, Dassault Systemes (Jobs, and many, many more. There are retirees who will spend part of the year in Canada (U.S. expats who live there up to 180 days can be there without the need of a visa) - visit Travel.State.Gov's Canada Page for more information). Montreal, and other places in the Province of Quebec and its rich French heritage, such as Quebec City, have a lot to offer in terms of cultural experiences for expats. ," said an expat in Montreal.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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