I read about everyone moving to Toronto or Vancouver. Is anyone planning to move to Ottawa or Montreal or know anyone that did? What are the pros and cons in moving to Ottawa or Montreal as a Software Engineer?
Hi th1ru, I live in Montreal and am very experienced with multiple people being transferred here by their multi-national employers.
Montreal has significant advantages to offer over Vancouver or Toronto including considerably less expensive housing, a great public education system and a booming IT industry in general, but with particular emphasis on the AI, Gaming and SFX sectors.
The cons mostly relate to the fact that your children, if you plan to be here long term. will need to study in French rather than English, or attend private schools unless the child has at least one parent who was educated, in grade school, in English, in Canada. If you are transferred here by an employer under a work permit valid for up to five years the French schooling requirement is waived. Generally though, this is a very safe, enjoyable and rewarding place to live with possibly the lowest cost of living of any major Canadian city, great government health care and a vibrant and entertaining street life.
@hslawd Thanks. I don’t know any French though I certainly will if I move there. How difficult is it to conduct day to day activities with respect to dealing with the government (say getting a driver’s license, getting the health card) or visiting restaurants or shops or hospitals with no French? Do you see English speakers with no French struggling or managing fine during the first year? Is Montreal as bilingual as they say even outside the tourist areas?
Montreal is a bilingual city (Despite the fact that the Quebec government will never say that openly.) and you can function easily in the English language on a day-to-day basis, but of course you should learn at least basic French if you live here … and why wouldn’t you. Government services to individuals (As opposed to services to business, which are only in French.) are conducted in French or English as you wish. Your drivers’ license, health care card and SIN number are all processed in either language. Most restaurant staff are bilingual, there’s a public English language school system and there is an English speaking hospital network.
The working language in international business generally and in the IT sector in particular, is generally English.
I’m a big fan of Montreal we drive down there from Toronto multiple times in a year. The Mt. Royal neighbourhood is my favourite and the hike up that hill is so magical. Also love the food, cafes and parks in that city. Also lots of great Indian food. Hindu Thali on St. Denis is so great. It’s a very friendly and accepting city the people are very nice and we get everywhere without a word of French. Honestly it does not feel like any place in North America all of Qubec has such a European vibe. My biggest gripe might be all the construction across the city.
Thanks for sharing your experience on Montreal. We received our PR card and are hashing out on places to live when we move from US. We have visited many apartments/homes in Toronto to guage the atmosphere and neighborhoods. Also have visited Montreal briefly. While we have yet to make a decision on what place to move to, Any help from you would be great for the below questions:-
So French is mandatory in all the public schools? The only way to get it waived is based on employer based work visa? Is there no alternative to that based on your experience?
What neighborhoods have good reviews? I have been browsing the pros and cons but any update from you will be helpful.
- Re French education requirement; Quebec regulations re the language of public education are bizarrely complicated. Any outline here regarding the language rules will necessarily be oversimplified … but here’s a brief summary;
Quebec has two public school systems; one French and one English. There is a public Day Care system for 4 and 5 year olds. Grade school is from grade one through grade six. High school runs from grade seven through grade 11, following which children attend college. A child must have attained his/her sixth birthday by September 1st to be enrolled in grade one. Subsequent years follow suit.
If you’re coming on a PR or immigrant basis your children will be obliged to attend a French school from Kindergarten through grade 11, if they attend public school. If the attend a private school however, the regulations do not apply. There are no language restrictions on admission to college or university.
If you’re moving here on a work permit basis, most work permits are limited to three years duration. Occasionally, they may be extended to a maximum of five years. Children of parents who are resident based on a work permit may attend English language public school.
- Re Montreal Neighborhoods; This is a very broad question, but speaking generally, Montrealers are predominantly bilingual however the further east the neighborhood the more predominantly French speaking it will be, the further west the more English. There are more English public schools and more English speaking people, and English organizations generally, in the West Island neighborhoods. (Dorval, Pointe Claire, Beaconsfield, Baie D’Urfé, Kirkland, Dollard des Ormeaux and Pierrefonds. ) Certain of these areas also have large pockets of Indian expatriates and the West Island is predominantly a multi-cultural community.
If you’re considering renting, Montreal apartment/house rents have risen considerably over the past couple of years but are still considerably less expensive than Toronto or Vancouver.
Appreciate the response! Thanks a ton!
Hi there movnorthers!
So I read this article about issue with drinking water which is probably worst than Flint issue(Michigan) couple of years ago. For the folks living in Montreal ,are you facing this problem with water?
Appreciate the response!
The public water supply in Montreal is not only perfectly safe and dependable but is as good as, if not better than, commercially bottled water. I often wonder why anyone buys bottled water when tap water is at least as good.
Thanks for the note! We are considering moving to Montreal next year however were concerned about the article ^ which mentioned about the water issue.
This misleading sensationalized article really relates to some 10% of very old houses in central Montreal which were originally built with lead pipes leading from the city water supply into the building. It’s unlikely, if you moved to Montreal, that you would live in one of those areas in any case. Structures built in the past 50 years would not have the problem and most houses built before that would have had the pipes replaced during renovation. My house was built in 1939 for example, and the water feed lines are copper, probably replaced in some long-ago renovation. It’s annoying when some irresponsible journalist goes for cheap clicks by reporting a misleading and spectacularized story.
Don’t be concerned about Montreal’s drinking water supply.
Thanks for the detailed response. Very much appreciated:)
Although seems like our move is extended until next year amidst the latest crisis around.
Appreciate your thorough answers on the topic. Had another request. Do you recommend any real estate finder for Montreal? I have looked into point2homes, Centris and realtors.ca so far.
Any specific suggestions from you would be great.
In Quebec it’s not the usual thing to engage a broker to find a residence … although it certainly is possible. The usual approach is to look through listings on realtor.ca or centris to get a feel for what’s out there and in which neighborhoods for starters. Most listings are bilingual. Also drive around town to see what you like, but in your case I assume that’s not practical since you’re not here yet.
The standard format is that the seller pays the realtor fees. The buyer does not. If you engage a realtor to find something for you he/she will take half of the listing agent’s commission. Buying/renting real estate, generally, in Montreal is quite easy and quite safe. Quebec has strong consumer protection regulations. I have had experiences in Europe and the US that are a nightmare …. here is quite easy.
What you might do if you’re interested is put together a brief outline of what you’re interested in: Move date, Family size and any children’s ages, rent/buy, rough price, garage/parking, appliances included (Fridge. Stove, washer, dryer, dishwasher are the normal inclusions.). Heating equipment is almost always included, air conditioning is optional but necessary in Montreal summers. How will you travel to work Car/Public Transit/Bike. Where will you work? Are both spouses employed and will day care or schooling be required.
Once I have an outline. I’ll be happy to introduce you to a relevant capable Realtor.
Most people moving from the US and possibly with an I.T. orientation would look at the West Island neighborhoods, or NDG/Westmount/Cote des Neiges, or the downtown/Griffintown area.
Thanks for the detailed explanation:
Good to know about the consumer protection act. So the buyer/seller break down seems to be comparable to US. In Texas the seller commission is 5-6% which is provided by the seller.
Yes, we initially will rent a place temporarily so that we can get a feel for the neighborhoods and liking of the place.
Thats very kind of you. We do have a basic outline except for the job situation. We are targeting April 2021 as of now to relocate if the current crisis downturn holds good.
One thing caught my eye was “Heating equipment is always included, Air-conditioning is optional…”.
I remember visiting Montreal sometime in Feb 2016 when the temp was -28 and it was freezing when we trekked Mont royal!! I am sure air- conditioner would be required in summers as you mentioned but we would definitely need heater in winters )
Thanks for the details!