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Montreal is a great place for expats to rent or buy accommodation, offering a wide range of options and price points. Property in Montreal tends to be less expensive and easier to find than in other major cities in Canada.
When investigating areas and suburbs in Montreal, expats should consider factors such as location, proximity to schools and places of work, and how safe the area is. Fortunately, the public transport system is extensive and efficient, and expats should be able to commute easily.
Most expats choose to rent property in Canada rather than purchase it, but those planning on staying in Montreal for an extended period of time might opt to buy property instead.
Types of accommodation in Montreal
There is a range of accommodation options available in Montreal. In the city centre, expats will find apartments and condos in modern complexes. As is the case in most metropolitan cities, the cost of housing in central areas comes at a premium and space tends to be limited. For this reason, many Montrealers live outside of the city centre where they have access to larger properties. Most rented houses are partially furnished and will have air conditioning and central heating installed.
Expats in Montreal will find that accommodation outside of the city centre is relatively affordable. It should be noted, though, that utilities aren't usually included in the monthly rent and heating and air-conditioning costs can add up.
Finding accommodation in Montreal
Expats should not have a problem finding housing in Montreal. The only overwhelming aspect of finding accommodation is deciding on one of the many neighbourhoods. Expats can enlist a real-estate agent to help them with this. Online property listings are also a great way to kickstart the accommodation search.
An interesting quirk of renting property in Montreal is that moving day is traditionally the first of July. It's not unusual to see hundreds of moving trucks around the city on this day of the year, with people moving their furniture out onto the street.
While most people stick to this tradition as it fits in with the end of the school year, smaller apartments are usually available to rent all year round. Expats should keep in mind that the best time to look for a place to live in Montreal is in March, when many people start advertising.
Renting accommodation in Montreal
When deciding on a house to rent in Montreal there are a number of factors to consider. Expats should compare the cost of the house or apartment with its size and location. The condition of the building should be inspected both on the inside and outside, and the landlord should also be asked when the building was last renovated, as well as how much heating would cost during the winter months.
Most leases in Montreal are valid for one year. Expats who sign a lease must provide their banking information and undergo a credit check.
Expats living in the city centre should try and negotiate for a parking space, as parking can be a problem in the city.
Tenants will be expected to pay their first month’s rent in advance as a deposit. If the property is left in an acceptable condition at the termination of the lease, the deposit is returned to the tenant.
Utilities are not usually included in the rental price of a house in Montreal, but when renting an apartment, it is more likely that some utilities will be included in the monthly rent. Heating costs are something to consider when moving to Montreal. If possible, expats should try and arrange for their heating costs to be included in their rent.
In terms of home security, most houses have secure door locks and burglar alarms. Many areas in Montreal also have neighbourhood-watch programmes that keep an eye on the area and report any unusual activity.
Buying property in Montreal
There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Canada. The housing market is large, and expats should not have a problem finding a property to purchase. Prospective buyers should note that property taxes are high in Canada.
The process of buying a property in Montreal is not a complicated one. Nevertheless, expats are advised to use a real-estate agency to guide them through the process, especially in Quebec where French is the official language and laws tend to be slightly different. Agencies should always be accredited by the Appraisal Institute of Canada.
An estate agent will assist expats in liaising with the seller and will accompany them to the house inspection.
If the buyer is happy with the condition of the house, the real-estate agent will recommend an estate lawyer to oversee the purchase of the property. Real-estate agents and lawyers will speak both French and English, which will give expats a huge advantage and help make the process of buying property in Montreal a smooth one.
►For more general information on renting and buying property, see Accommodation in Canada
►Education and Schools in Montreal is useful for expats with children
Are you an expat living in Montreal?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Montreal. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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