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There are many different areas and suburbs in Montreal, each with their own unique culture. Some have a large English-speaking population while others are almost entirely French.
There are more multicultural and vibrant areas such as Mile End, the Plateau or the Latin Quarter, and then there are more family-friendly, suburban areas like Westmount. Each area has its own charm, with attractions in Montreal spread across the city.
Expats can choose to live on or off the Island of Montreal, depending on their needs, where they work and how far and for how long they are willing to use public transport. Below is a breakdown of some of the more popular areas and suburbs in and around the city of Montreal.
Island of Montreal
Expats looking to live in the city centre will find a wide range of accommodation available. Most housing in the city centre is in the form of apartments and lofts, and the standard ranges from basic to luxurious. The prices are equally varied, from some relatively affordable places to deluxe apartments with exorbitantly high prices.
This is a predominantly French-speaking neighbourhood and expats who want to learn the language quickly would do well to find an apartment here. Plateau Mont-Royal is within walking distance of some of Montreal’s best restaurants and cafes and is popular among students and young working professionals.
This area of Montreal is interesting and cultural. Most of the buildings are old and expats can find beautiful upmarket lofts in this area of the city. Some structures date back to the early colony days of New France, while Notre-Dame Basilica and the Montreal City Hall really add a sense of grandeur.
Westmount is an upmarket area of Montreal where homes are large and can be very expensive. Many wealthy businessmen and politicians live in this area. Westmount is like its own little world within the city of Montreal, an enclave home to the rich and the famous.
Ahuntsic is a family-friendly neighbourhood where the houses range in size, allowing expats to find something to suit their family perfectly. This area has beautiful parks, good schools and is not far from the city centre.
The West Island is the unofficial name for the area that includes the suburbs of St-Anne-de-Bellevue, Beaconsfield, Lakeshore, Pointe-Claire, Dorval, Kirkland and Dollard-Des-Ormeaux. These are all family-friendly neighbourhoods and accommodation is usually in the form of houses and townhouses.
Most houses in this area have gardens and there are also plenty of parks and playgrounds for kids to enjoy, making it a great place for expats with children. Expat families can enjoy a range of activities, with the Ecomuseum Zoo and Bois-de-la-Roche Agricultural Park around the corner.
The West Island has a large English-speaking population and is one of the most anglophone areas in the province of Quebec. The commute to the city centre is about 40 minutes by train, but the trip is well worth it for a tranquil, suburban lifestyle.
This suburb of Montreal is about 15 minutes from the city centre and has a large English-speaking population. Notre-Dame-de-Grace is a good option for families, but housing can be expensive.
Off the Island of Montreal
There are two main cities off the Island of Montreal: Laval sits to the west and Longueuil to the east. These areas are perfect for expats who want to live in a cosmopolitan area but not be so close to the hustle and bustle of Montreal itself. The only downside to living off the Island of Montreal is the inevitable daily commute across the bridge and into the city, as most expats will work in Montreal itself. This commute can be a long and stressful experience.
The North Shore is in the Laval area and offers a large variety of accommodation for expats. Laval also has good schools and green parks for children.
The South Shore is made up of Longueil, St Hubert and Brossard, and is a popular area for families. The South Shore also offers good schools and other amenities.
The only issue with the South Shore area is the lengthy and busy commute across the bridge into the city. On a bad day it can take over two hours, so expats should carefully consider the proximity of their suburb to their place of work.
►Getting Around in Montreal gives information on transport options for commuting to and travelling around the city
►Education and Schools in Montreal helps expat families find what's best for their children
Photo credits: Parc de la Cité-du-Havre by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash; Île Notre-Dame by Olivier Collet on Unsplash; Longueuil, Canada on Wikimedia Commons.
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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