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!