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9 Pros and cons of living in Montreal

Have you ever wondered if living in Montreal would be the right next step for your life? Or at least spend a few consecutive months in the city to see if it’s the right place for you.

Montreal, the largest city in the province of Quebec, has a unique blend that can appeal to many! Renowned for its vibrant arts and entertainment scene, attracting talented artists and performers from all around the globe to multicultural neighborhoods. With its picturesque architecture, beautiful parks, and lively social scene, Montreal has something for everyone.

However, it’s important to consider the lifestyle and potential challenges as well. Some individuals may have regrets about moving to Montreal, primarily due to the harsh winter weather and the language barrier for non-French speakers. The Montreal lifestyle can be fast-paced, with traffic and congestion that can be bothersome.

So, why not consider packing your bags and experiencing the unique charm of Montreal for yourself?

Pros of living in Montreal

I can never praise the city enough, given that I have lived here for the majority of my life. Call me biased! There are so many advantages to living in Montreal, Canada, that make this place feel like home for numerous reasons. Montreal truly embodies the essence of home and offers its residents an exceptional quality of life.

World-Class Cultural diversity and Vibrant Atmosphere

Montreal truly has something for everyone. Regardless of your background, you’ll find like-minded individuals to connect with. Whether you crave a taste of Italy or want to indulge in Asian cuisine, Montreal offers diverse neighborhoods like Little Italy and Chinatown to cater to your preferences. If you are longing for a French ambiance, look no further than the Plateau Mount Royal. And if you wish to experience the flavors of the Maghreb, Saint-Laurent is the place to explore. One of the remarkable aspects of Montreal is its acceptance and celebration of differences instead of assimilation.

Each neighborhood in Montreal has its unique atmosphere and vibe, allowing you to discover a piece of home away from home. This cultural diversity also translates into a myriad of options for entertainment and socializing. Montreal hosts numerous festivals all year long, ranging from music to arts, ensuring there is always something exciting happening. Parks and streets transform into lively gathering places, providing endless opportunities for memorable experiences.

With its inclusive and vibrant atmosphere, Montreal offers a welcoming and diverse social scene that embraces people from all walks of life whether it’s a single person, a couple, or a family!

Thriving Arts and Entertainment Scene

Montreal is renowned for being a student city, and one of the ways it attracts students is through a wide range of entertainment options. Whether you are a sports lover, a techno enthusiast, a LatinX culture fanatic, or simply enjoy a good laugh, Montreal offers something for everyone.

From the exhilarating F1 festival to the electrifying Piknic Électronik and the lively Fuego Fuego festival, the city caters to a wide range of interests. Additionally, events like L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, Just For Laughs comedy festival, and Osheaga provide abundant opportunities for entertainment and cultural exploration. And let’s not forget the Fantasia Film Festival or the International Jazz Festival! Montreal truly transforms into a playground of experiences for students and residents alike.

During the summer months, Montreal truly comes alive, offering lots of activities and events. Every weekend, you can find something exciting to do, ensuring that you never have a dull moment. The arts scene, the live music performances in public spaces, captivating art exhibitions, and murals and graffiti on the city’s walls, your eyes will appreciate it. Whatever your passion may be, Montreal embraces and celebrates it, making it a haven for art and culture enthusiasts.

Food and Culinary Delights

The best thing that comes from all the diversity you can find in Montreal is the reach your taste buds can get! This is literally a food lover’s paradise! The amount of food festivals in the city is insane, and you will always find something you like. Here is a full list of this year’s festivals (26 total) but the list gets updated every time a new festival gets announced.

I have been to the Vietnamese street food market called Cho Ðêm MTL  which was held for the first time in Montreal to celebrate and shed some light on their gastronomy! But other than that I personally love the Caribbean festival, the poutineFest, the Italian Festival, and Yatai, the Japanese festival! Montreal truly spoils you with choices when it comes to satisfying your culinary cravings.

Bilingualism and Language Opportunities

Living in Montreal, you get the unique chance to be bilingual without even trying. French and English coexist here, which is awesome for socializing. When we immigrated to Montreal, we started living in a French neighborhood, which meant that French became the language of my education and what I heard the most. Slowly, as I entered high school and with the rising presence of social media in our lives, English quickly followed.

That’s the beauty of Montreal—you can embrace bilingualism at your own pace. Everyone here speaks both languages (maybe not fluently, but they are Canadian, so they will make the effort to accommodate you as long as you make the effort as well!). It’s not uncommon for being bilingual to give you a professional advantage, adding to the unique charm of this multicultural city.

Interestingly, Montreal has been greatly influenced by different cultures and immigration waves, and you can hear it in the language. Whether it’s words borrowed from the Arabic language, Spanish, Haitian, French from France, or English from England, Montreal has created its own little slang; the Montreal Slang.

It’s really fun to hear Montrealers speak together as they flip-flop between different dialects, probably not even noticing. I remember it happening to my friends and me at Copenhagen airport, creating such a funny scene with people wondering where we were from.

Affordable Cost of Living

Now, let’s get real about the budget side of things. Montreal is one of the more affordable major cities in North America, especially when compared to the likes of Toronto or Vancouver.

I have to admit that prices have been on the rise ever since Covid, but it’s still affordable (depending on your salary, of course!).

You can check out this cost of living comparison between Montreal and Toronto, where you can see that Montreal is cheaper on most accounts; groceries, bedroom apartments, cheap rent, schools… As someone who travels often to Toronto, I can confirm that I spend a lot more in Toronto than I do in Montreal (not including the rent obviously!)

In a future edit of this article, I might have to put the cost of living as a con, but for now, it’s a definite advantage of living in Montreal. And with the uncertainty in the economy at the moment, it might even be more advantageous.

Cons of living in Montreal

Like any other place, Montreal doesn’t only have pros, unfortunately, but also some cons. Just thinking about them makes me want to punch a wall, but let’s get through this and hope it won’t discourage you too much!

Harsh Winter Weather

Now, let’s address the polar bear in the room; Montreal winters can be, well, a tad extreme. Don’t be fooled by the romantic notion of a snowy wonderland; it comes with a price. There’s a running joke here that goes, “We have two seasons: winter and construction.” That’s how significant the snow can be!

The number of times I slipped and fell, got stuck in my driveway, was late to work, or couldn’t even reach work can’t be counted on the fingers of one hand. A sunny day in plain winter gives me anxiety because I know it means the cold is killer. Forget about fashion during the winter. All you will want is layers!

It’s not uncommon to see temperatures as low as -40 degrees or a weekly snowstorm, even though some are more intense than others.

I find that the best way to deal with the cold is to try a few activities and always dress properly. To really give yourself a chance, here is a winter bucket list for you for inspiration!

Language Barrier for Non-French Speakers

Here’s a pro tip for living in Montreal: learn some French. While Montreal is bilingual, there’s no denying that French is the city’s heartbeat. The truth is, it’s easy to get by in English, but embracing the French language opens up doors to a more authentic Montreal experience.

Employers are increasingly requiring French proficiency, especially after the passage of Bill 96. It’s becoming more challenging for English speakers to secure offers from well-paying jobs that don’t require French. You obviously don’t need to be fluent, but being able to get by is crucial for navigating both professional and everyday situations.

Traffic Congestion and Public Transportation

Montreal traffic—it’s like a competitive sport here; there is no way around it. It takes me more than an hour to get to or away from work, and that is my most hated part of the day. Mix this with driving in winter; cold weather, people driving like savages, more traffic, dressed like a snowman under a hundred layers… you get the picture?

Public transit is not always a reliable option. If you live in a remote area, your bus might never show up. The bus is also almost always late. And because it doesn’t pass as often as it should, it’s always crowded. Now the metro or train is a better option; if you live near a metro station, you might not even feel the misery!

If I compare it to some states in the US or even Toronto, Montreal traffic is not so bad. But having to deal with this inconvenience on a daily basis can be harsh.

High Taxes and Cost of Services

Finally, let’s talk about the cost of services and taxes in Montreal. While the cost of living is affordable, taxes in Quebec are on the higher side—actually, the highest in Canada.

You have income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes, to name a few, which really add up in the end.

So, there you have it, the wild ride that is Montreal living, as told through my adventures. Whether you’re considering making this city your home or just planning a visit, Montreal is a place of endless charm, unexpected moments, and unforgettable experiences.

It’s been my home for over a decade, and I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything. The pros and cons of living in Montreal are all part of the story that makes this city so uniquely Montreal.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through my beloved Montreal.

Until next time,

Sofyah,

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Sofyah Ov is the founder of Sofyahscorner. Through her travels, she emphasizes the art of living comfortably while adventuring, showing readers how to strike a harmonious balance between world exploration and the soft life. Having lived in 3 different continents, the writer, passionate traveler, and lifestyle enthusiast would love to teach you how you can have it all!

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