If you are going to spend a season in Canada to learn French, consider living in Montreal! As the second-largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris, Montreal is a popular destination for many international students. Known for its culture and impressive architecture, Montreal is a vibrant cosmopolitan with plenty to do and explore. 

Whether you plan to  study abroad in Montreal or make it your second home, you’re in the right place. In this guide, you will learn everything there is to know about living in Montreal. Discover the best places to visit, explore, and experience all the city has to offer!

Style and Quality of Life in Montreal

woman with a bike in Montreal

Montreal is the second-largest city in Canada and the commercial capital in the province of Québec. Ranking in the top 10 North American cities for quality of living, Montreal is a bustling metropolitan area known for hosting events and festivals. The majority of its citizens are bilingual, speaking both French and English, and enjoy the upbeat, urban lifestyle. 

Withlow crime rates and a multicultural atmosphere, international students will feel comfortable living in Montreal. The city is known to be welcoming and one of the cleanest cities in the country. There is a strong international influence in Montreal, where you will find predominantly immigrant areas such as Little Italy and Chinatown. Citizens and tourists alike experience city diversity through its restaurants, art, and history. 

The city has beautiful landscapes and architecture mixed with a European flair. Living in Montreal, you will always find something to do!

Montreal Climate 

people in a park in Quebec

Weather in Montreal changes by the season. Summers here occur between June and August and are mild and sunny. The temperature usually ranges between 20ºC and 26 ºC. Winter, on the other hand, can be harsh and freezing. The cold season occurs between December and February, where temperatures can drop as low as -36°C. You will also experience a lot of snow this time of the year. 

If you plan to live in Montreal for longer than a year, pack a variety of clothes to suit the seasons and varying temperatures. During the winter, you will need to wear layers of clothing, preferably water-proof with good insulation.

Cost of Living in Montreal

downtown Montreal

While not as expensive as Toronto, the cost of living in Montreal is considerably high. Excluding rent, the average person in Montreal spends around 1,000 CAD per monthRental prices can range from 800 to 1,400 CAD, depending on the side of town and amenities.

How to Save in Montreal

To save extra cash while living in Montreal, here are helpful tips:

  • Stick to a budget. After learning the cost of living in Montreal, make sure to rent within your means. Account for transportation, groceries, and personal necessities in your monthly expenses.  
  • Move outside the city. As in most metropolitan cities, housing is generally more expensive downtown near major attractions and businesses. A rental outside of the city will more than likely be cheaper.
  • Avoid taking taxis. If you rely on public transportation daily, try to take the bus or subway more often, since these are cheaper than taxis. You can also walk or ride a bike to locations in proximity to your home.
  • Get a roommate. Without a doubt, sharing a rental with a roommate will help cut your rent and utility bills in half. Roommates can also keep you company and make friends in a new city.

Work While Living in Montreal

young man working in an office

If you find it difficult to save money, you can work during your stay. Over half of the job opportunities in Montreal are within the service industry. Most students here can easily find jobs> in local restaurants, cafes, and hotels.

Requirements to Work in Montreal

Working in Montreal has many of the same requirements listed to work in Canada

  1. Obtain a Visa. To work, study, or live in Montreal (and Canada in general), you will need a visa for Canada. There is one main visa, the Visitor Visa, which you will need to apply for a working permit for your specific job.
  2. Language Proficiency. Though not mandatory, French is the official language, since Montreal is in the province of Quebec. English is the second official language, which is helpful. If French is not your strong suit, don’t worry! We will explain in a later section the French language classes available in Montreal through our GrowPro program. 
  3. Additional Requirements. Depending on the job, you may need a special permit to perform the work. Someone working in hospitality or food service, for example, may need an alcohol sales permit.

Tips for Finding a Job in Montreal

Finding work in a new country is not always easy, especially if you are not fluent in the official language. Below are a few tips to help you find and secure a job in Montreal:

Temp agencies

An excellent alternative to get a job while living in Montreal is to visit temporary work agencies. These agencies function as intermediaries between employers and potential candidates.

Check social networks

If you want to work in Montreal, social networks can be great allies. Twitter and Facebook, for example, list ads for job offers in nearby areas. You can also create a profile on Linkedin to make yourself available to Canadian employers and recruiters. Make sure to prepare an attractive profile where you highlight your work experience and professional skills.

Use online job boards

Websites like Canada JobsIndeed, and Monster post hundreds of open job positions in Canada daily. You can subscribe to receive email alerts from the job boards for positions in your city.

Hand out resumes

Passing out resumes may be old fashioned, but it is still an effective method. Prepare many CVs or resumes to have on hand while out on the town. When you are preparing your CV, we recommend that you do not exceed one page. Highlight your previous work experience, skills, and include verifiable references. It is not necessary to include a photo on your resume, as this is uncommon in Canada.

Ask your friends and acquaintances

Networking can open many doors. Be sure to tell your friends and acquaintances that you are looking for a job. They may know of some available vacancies at their current employer and can put in a word on your behalf.

Accommodation in Montreal

houses in Montreal

Montreal has plenty of housing options from which you can choose. If you are only living in Montreal short-term, a is convenient and affordable, costing only about 20 to 30 CAD per night. You can also rent an apartment, which can cost between 450 and 600 CAD per month if you are sharing with a roommate outside of the metro area. If you are attending college in Montreal, you have the option of staying on campus in student housing. Campus apartments generally come furnished with school amenities and utilities included in your tuition.

Tips on Finding Housing

You may have better luck at securing accommodation in person instead of searching online. We recommend that you >stay in a hostel or an Airbnb for a couple of weeks while visiting housing options. This helps prevent students from online rental scams, where the accommodation does not exist or is not as kept as in online photos. 

Transportation in Montreal

Montreal city bus

International students living in Montreal take advantage of public transportation to get around town. One of the most used means of transport in Montreal is the subway metro, which runs every day from 5:30 am to 1:00 am. If you want to move to the city outskirts, the Exo Commuter Train service is useful to travel to different suburbs such as Mont St-Hilaire or Vaudreuil-Dorion. Lastly,the bus system is very efficient since it runs every day and around the clock. 

The transportation system in Montreal has a rechargeable Opus cardin which you can use for each one. A single ticket costs 3.25 CAD, but you can buy a day pass for 10 CAD. If paying with cash or credit card, you will need to purchase a ticket or Opus card at a kiosk or metro station.

Last but not least, you can always save money (and get exercise) by renting a bicycle. You will find more than 500 stations of BIXI, the bicycle rental company. For 5.25 CAD, you can buy a day pass and ride a BIXI bike wherever you want.

Best Areas to Live in Montreal

residential neighborhood in Montreal

When living in Montreal, you want to choose a place that suits your lifestyle, more importantly in an area within your budget. Here are popular residential neighborhoods worth considering:

Ville Marie

Ville Marie is the well-known center of Montreal. As the main commercial and financial point of the city, living in this area of ​​Montreal is expensive. This neighborhood is has a cultural variety of gastronomy.

Griffintown

Griffintown is an area with a strong Irish flair. The variety of shops and restaurants make it an excellent area to explore on foot, especially if you are a food-lover.

La Salle

The La Salle suburb is located north of downtown and is considered a mini-city. Here, you will find many museums, cinemas, supermarkets, and parks to enjoy.

McGill

If you want to live in a student area in Montreal, McGill is the place for you. Also known as Milton Park, this suburb is near renowned McGill University and is located a few minutes from downtown.

Lachine

Located at the southwestern tip of downtown, Lachine is a quintessential residential area to live in Montreal. Here, you will find schools, hospitals, and beautiful parks.

Exciting Things to Do in Montreal 

people ice skating in Montreal

Living in Montreal means you will never become bored. Locals enjoy taking a boat out to visit the islands adjacent to St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers. Here, you can see historic ruins, watch birds, and have a picnic.

For more adventure, you can climb Mount Royale and take panoramic photos of the city. In the winter, take a snowboard or ski down the snowy slopes! You can also visit plenty of museums and galleries throughout the city. 

Summertime has the best weather to take a stroll through the Place Jacques-Cartier, a popular pedestrian street in Montreal. Here, you will experience the architecture marked with a European flair, most of which date back to the 17th century.

Places to Visit in Montreal

view of Clock Tower in Quebec

Living in Montreal also means limitless attractions to visit!

Notre-Dame Basilica

Framing the city skyline, this church is a must-see. The name honors its resemblance to the Notre Dame Cathedral located in Paris. 

Mount Royal

If you want to get some exercise and enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view, you cannot miss Mount Royal. From the top of this volcanic peak, you can take postcard-worthy photos with a backdrop of the city.

Olympic Tower

Without a doubt, another place to see while living in Montreal is the Olympic Tower. Over the years, this building has become an icon of the city and a viewpoint with a 360º view. Standing at 165 meters high at a 45º angle, Olympic Tower is the tallest inclined structure in the world!

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

If you are a lover of culture, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has an incredible collection of archaeological finds from around the world. The museum is also known for its exhibition of paintings by local artists and European masters

Study While Living in Montreal

college students in a classroom

Like many cities in Canada, Montreal has excellent study programs. To study in Montreal, you will need a visa and additional documents (check out the full list on our Study in Canada article). You can take advantage of the following courses we offer there through our GrowPro program:

French Courses

If you are planning to immerse yourself in this French-speaking city, these French courses help you learn the core aspects of the language: writing, reading, speaking and listening. Choose from general to Intensive level French courses to sharpen your comprehension and communication skills.

Vocational Courses | Career Programs

Our vocational programs cater to specific job sectors, where you can receive hands-on training and earn a professional certification in your desired field.

Live in Montreal With Help from GrowPro

woman overlooking city of Montreal

Now that you know everything about living in Montreal, it’s time to take the next step! Our team here at GrowPro Experience helps thousands of young adventurers study and live abroad. We will do the same for you!

Check out all of the incredible experiences and programs we offer in Canada. Using the filter, you can choose a program in Montreal that suits your interests. Simply fill out the form online and one of our Student Advisors will take it from there! They will reach out to answer any questions you may have and offer assistance on student visa applications.

Make sure you use websites like Trivago and Skyscanner to find and compare deals for flights. Once you arrive in Montreal, our GrowPro team can arrange to pick you up from the airport and provide Welcome Sessions to help you learn more about the city. 

Subscribe to our YouTube page for exciting videos from other students we’ve helped move to Canada. Who knows, maybe your video will be next!