- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Montreal Guide (PDF)
The island city of Montreal is a unique melting pot of Canadian and European cultures, with French being its official language. Many expats are attracted to the affordable cost of living and the city's lively nature. Like any area, though, living in Montreal does come with some drawbacks. Be that as it may, most expats will agree that the good far outweighs the bad.
Check out our pros and cons of living in Montreal below.
Working in Montreal
+ PRO: Strong job market
Montreal's economy is one of the biggest in Canada, with a robust and thriving job market. Estimates suggest that the city’s economy will, over the next decade, add more than a million vacancies in industries such as IT, healthcare, education and engineering.
- CON: Knowledge of French is essential
While job opportunities in Montreal abound, expats with little to no knowledge of French may experience challenges finding work. The official language of business in Quebec is French, so fluency in the language is essential for securing a role or running a business. That said, the city offers support programmes for non-French-speaking jobseekers.
Lifestyle in Montreal
+ PRO: Vibrant food culture
With heavy French influences and a wide range of cuisines, Montreal’s culinary scene is a haven for gourmands. Expats can tour the world through their palate with everything from Italian and Asian to the Canadian favourite, poutine, available in Montreal’s many eateries.
+ PRO: Incredible arts and culture scene
Montreal is a wonderland for art, theatre and music buffs looking to take in the city’s exciting and rich cultural offerings. It is home to the Cirque du Soleil, and thriving performing-arts- and graffiti scenes.
- CON: Challenging weather
The climate is probably one of the most pointed downsides to living in Montreal. Summers are pleasant and warm yet short-lived. During the winter months, the mercury often drops below zero, while snowfall and rain are common.
Raising children in Montreal
+ PRO: Broad schooling options
Since most public schools in Montreal are French-speaking, the city has developed a comprehensive and exceptional education system, with private and international schools largely serving English-speaking students.
+ PRO: A range of fun activities
Thanks to Montreal's various attractions, expat parents will have plenty to see and do with their little ones. The city boasts a world-famous amusement park, educational museums and historical sites.
- CON: International schools are expensive
Expat parents with non-French-speaking children may have to enrol their kids in the exorbitant international schools that offer instruction in English, significantly increasing their expenses.
Cost of living in Montreal
+ PRO: The city is relatively affordable
Montreal has a fairly low cost of living for a Western metropolis. Accommodation, groceries and eating out in the city are surprisingly quite affordable.
- CON: Lower salaries
While the cost of living is relatively low, Montrealers draw slightly lower salaries and pay higher taxes. On the flipside, Montreal's residents enjoy more state benefits than in other Canadian provinces, which somewhat offsets the reduced earnings and inflated tax.
Accommodation in Montreal
+ PRO: Great selection of neighbourhoods
Montreal’s sprawling nature means residents can choose from a wide range of areas and suburbs, each with its own atmosphere and unique amenities. Homes outside the city centre are also reasonably priced, so new arrivals will definitely find something suited to their budget and lifestyle.
Getting around in Montreal
+ PRO: Efficient and heated public transport
The highly regarded Montreal Metro is renowned for its architecture, art and heated Underground Pedestrian Network, and is often featured on the lists of the best public transit in the world. The city also has an integrated travel pass for accessing all modes of public transport across Greater Montreal.
- CON: Traffic congestion
Expats living off the Island of Montreal will have to contend with terrible traffic conditions and long commutes, especially during peak times.
Healthcare in Montreal
+ PRO: Publicly funded healthcare
Most expats who live in Quebec, except those on short-term employer-specific work visas, qualify for government subsidised health insurance that provides access to first-rate healthcare practitioners and facilities at no cost or relatively low prices.
►For more on expat life in the city, read Moving to Montreal
►Learn more about the attractions and activities in the city by reading our Lifestyle in Montreal page
"The positive sides of Canada will depend on your expectations. Overall, I find Canada is an easy country to live in. People are nice, it’s a very steady place, pretty safe by world standards, and we are a good mix of American and European cultures."
Learn more about French expat Juliette's experiences in Canada in our interview.
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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