Canada's second-largest city, Montreal, has often been rated one of the most livable cities in the world. This Quebecois city is famed as a cultural and design hub, with some of the most interesting museums, galleries and old-world architecture. If you're considering a move to this Quebec wonder, take some time to go through our Montreal City Guide.
Montreal is one of Canada's most vibrant cities. It was originally known as Hochelaga to the indigenous Huron people who inhabited the area at the time of French navigator and explorer Jacques Cartier's arrival in 1535–36. This was his second voyage to the "New World." He was reportedly welcomed by over a thousand indigenous people on the slope of the mountain and christened it Mont-Royal (Mont Réal). Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec city, set foot in the region 50 years later.
The city started as a missionary station and transformed into a fur-trading centre. Then came the conquest of New France by the Brits in 1763. The city's setting on the St. Lawrence River provided favourable transportation, manufacturing, and financial hub development conditions.
At the time of the establishment of the confederation, it was the country's biggest city. This, however, changed when Toronto took over the top spot in the 1970s.
Where is Montreal on the Map?
At the time of the establishment of the confederation, Montreal was the country's biggest city. This, however, changed when Toronto took over the top spot in the 197os. Today this Quebec city in South Eastern Canada is the country's second most populous city and the most densely populated metropolis in the province, with a population of 1,762,949 people.
The city takes up around three-quarters of Montreal Island (Île de Montréal), the largest of just over 230 islands in the Hochelaga Archipelago. This archipelago is one of three that join where the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers meet. The city has an area of 141 square miles (365 square km).
Climate/Weather in Montreal
Montreal is your answer if you're looking for a place in Canada where you'll find a decent amount of warmer weather. July is the city's hottest month, averaging 21°C (70°F). January is its coldest month, with temperatures that can plummet to -9°C (16°F). The city receives the most rain in August.
Summers are fun in Montreal, with various festivals and outdoor activities. The fall is charmful, with a wonderfully warm aesthetic of rust-coloured leaves being the main attraction for international visitors. To experience the city in its full winter wonderland glory, visit in January and February.
Work and Jobs in Montreal
Montreal is the hub for many companies in the Finance, Manufacturing, Tech, Design, Art, Film, Tourism, and education sectors. The city, therefore, has plenty of opportunities for foreign nationals who wish to establish roots there. Look at Job Bank's projection of the city's in-demand jobs below.
- Chartered Professional Account / Certified Management Accountant - Average Salary: $65,000 to $78,000
- Software engineer / Software Developer - Average Salary: $70,000 to $90,000
- University Professor- Average Salary: $120,000 to $150,000
- Web Developer - Average Salary: $60,000 to $80,000
- Assistant Nurse - Average Salary: $60,000 to $70,000
- Project Manager - Average Salary: $75,000 to $90,000
- Game Developer - Average Salary: $65,000 to $72,000
- Data Scientist - Average Salary: $80,000 to $130,000
- Marketing Manager - Average Salary: $55,000 to $75,000
- Doctor and Surgeon - Average Salary: $150,000 to $250,000
- HR manager - Average Salary: $65,000 to $96,000
- Electrical Engineer - Average Salary: $60,000 to $71,000
- Driver - Average Salary: $54,000 to $67,000
- Cook - Average Salary: $56,000 to $68,000
Cost of Living
Canada isn’t untouched by skyrocketing inflation that is affecting most countries across the globe. This means that the cost of living in the country is impacted - even in Montreal. However, it should be noted that the city is much cheaper than many other Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Toronto and even Calgary.
Here is an estimate of the cost of living in Montreal, according to Numbeo:
- For a Family of four: 4,238.81C$ per month without rent
- A single person: 1,149.77C$ Per month without rent
- Between 850C$ to 1800C$ per month for an apartment
- Around 107.46C$ for Basic utilities ((Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for a small apartment. (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for an 85m2 apartment
- 90C$ per month for a monthly transport pass
- Around 497C$ for monthly groceries
- If you dine out often, dinner for two can add up to around 90C$ to 120C$, which is considered relatively low.
Neighborhoods in Montreal
One of North America's top cosmopolitan cities, Montreal has, over the years, attracted many foreign nationals. The city's streets reflect a rich history, particularly in the city centre, called Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal). Think cobblestone streets and architecture from as far back as the 16th century.
Neighborhoods in Montreal are no different from the city in this regard. They are rich in character. You'll find tons of three-story townhouses subdivided into smaller apartments. The eighties saw certain working-class areas like the Plateau Mont-Royal transform into trendy areas. You'll find the 400,000-square-metre (40-hectare) Lafontaine Park at the center of "the Plateau," a tree-filled area with two ponds, an outdoor theatre, and paths for bike rides.
In the Southeast sections of the Plateau, there's the Latin Quarter, which has been popular with students since the 18th century. Then close by, you'll find the Village known as the "Gay Village" - the city's LGBTQ hub. Settling in this Quebecois city, you can access the best farmers' markets, fine dining, museums and galleries.
Montreal's efficient public transport system is both easy on the pocket and accessible. The city’s integrated public transport system includes a metro high-speed train network, a bus network, and a shared taxibus service for those far-out regions. A single transit in Montreal will cost you $3.50 CAD. You can buy a pass for up to three days or a monthly one costing around $90 CAD. You can buy your pass at kiosks within metro stations or from a fare collector. TRAM fares may be bought for the Exo train, Metro, and bus travel. This will all be covered in one pass, which you can load onto an OPUS card. TRAIN fares will only cover travel on the Exo commuter train network.
Things to do in Montreal
Not only is Montreal packed with history - but it's also one of the most happening places in the Great White North. You'll find traces of its rich history woven into every element of the city, which can keep you in awe. Then there are the museums, tours, architecture, music and nightlife, jazz and food scene.
Be sure to check out the following attractions.
Mount Royal Park is considered to be Montreal's unofficial playground. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (of Central Park fame) and opened in 1876. With more than 692 acres to frolic in, it is a favourite for Montrealers and tourists alike.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts(MMFA)
Founded in 1860, the MMFA is one of the most frequented museums in North America. Expect to see around 43,000 antique and more modern spread out across the museum's pavilions.
You'll find Jean Talon Market nestled in the heart of Little Italy. It is one of the largest outdoor markets in Northern America. It is a foodie's paradise, with the best selection of bakers, fishmongers, butchers, fruit and vegetable growers and restaurateurs showcasing their offerings.
The Lachine Canal runs from the historic structures of Old Montreal through the glass condo buildings of Griffintown, as well as the trendy St. Henri area and into industrial Angrignon and Lasalle. With this canal flowing through a couple of residential areas, visitors get to see an authentic day in the life of a Montrealer.
Bota Bota, Spa-sur-l’eau
Spa enthusiasts, Bota Bota is a must! It is Montreal's top attraction for spa treatments and hydrotherapy circuits. You can look forward to relaxing in a mineral-rich hot tub while enjoying magnificent views of Mount Royal and the historic Old Port.
Education in Montreal
Montreal's public school system consists of French and English-speaking schools as a Quebecois city. It should, however, be noted that most of these educational institutions conduct lessons in french, which is the language of the majority in the province.
Regarding tertiary education, some prestigious universities exist. McGill University, Concordia University and Loyola College conduct most classes in English, while the University of Montreal and the University of Quebec at Montreal cater to French-speaking students.
Unique Immigration Visas to Montreal
Check out these immigration pathways for Montreal:
- The Quebec Experience Program (PEQ): The Quebec Experience Program (programme de l’expérience québécoise – PEQ) is ideal for you if you can speak French and have legally acquired work experience in the province of Quebec. PEQ is one of Quebec’s priority programs, meaning your application will be processed faster than others.
- The Quebec Business Immigration Program - Quebec Entrepreneur Program and the Quebec Investor Program: With the Quebec Entrepreneur Program you can Immigrate to the province to start or acquire a business. You must plan to run the business, and you will have to have a net worth of at least CDN$900,000. If you’re starting a business, you will have to own and control a minimum of 25% of the equity in the business. Should you acquire a business, you’ll have to own and control a minimum of 51% of the equity in the enterprise. If you apply to the Quebec Investor Program, you must plan to run the business and be eligible for the Investor Program. You must plan to live in Québec permanently. You will have a minimum net worth of around CDN$2,000,000. You will also have to have at least two years of experience in a management position.
- The Quebec Skilled Worker Program: Quebec’s Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP) allows you to immigrate to the province to work permanently. You will have to declare your interest in immigrating to work in Quebec. You’ll get an invitation to apply for permanent residency if your profile matches what’s needed in the province.
Pros and Cons
- You'll be immersed in rich history and culture: As the cultural capital of Quebec, communities are very much focused on arts and culture. You'll always have something interesting to do, from amazing festivals to live jazz shows and exhibitions.
- Low Rent - Rent per month in Montreal is lower than in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto.
- It is one of the most beautiful cities - Montreal is magical every season, from the fall amongst the rust-shaded to the winters, where you'll feel like a fixture in a beautiful snow globe.
- You’ll need to learn French: After Paris, Montreal has the second-largest French-speaking community in the world. So if you want to have the best experience in this city - and a well-paying job - it's a good idea to be able to speak the language.
- Cold Weather: If the cold is not your thing, don't settle in Montreal. Winters are quite harsh.
- Taxes are high: Expect higher tax rates in this city. Tax is generally higher across Quebec.
Is Montreal right for you? Take this quiz to find out!
Do I apply for immigration programs for Montreal online or using a paper application?
You will have to apply online. However, if you cannot do so due to disabilities or other factors, you can request an application in another format.
What other application formats are there?
You can request a paper, braille or large print application.
Which documents will allow me to study in Montreal?
You must get a Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) for studies and a Study permit.