The Beginners Guide to Moving to Montréal

Montreal is one of the best cities in the world. That may sound like a generalization, but actually, Montreal was voted the #6 best city in the world by Time Out. And we really agree! Montreal is a beautiful, diverse, happy city to call home.

We are two Americans that spent the last decade perfecting the art of moving. We’ve called tiny towns and mega cities home. Each move taught us something new, but Montréal was by far the most unique and complex of our moves so far. So, we want to help others who are going to make the same move! We love calling Montréal home and hope you will too.

What does Moving to Montréal entail?

Moving to Montréal includes everything from the proper documentation to getting all your belongings here to figuring out what the heck you do with a bag of milk. (Seriously, what is up with Montréal’s bagged milk?!)

How to get started with Moving to Montréal

If you already know you are moving to Montréal, congratulations! Or rather, félicitations! Check out the blog for updates and helpful advice on getting started with moving to Montreal.

Tips for Success in Moving to Montréal

I know moving can be stressful! There are so many unknowns when moving to a new city – and definitely when moving to a whole new country! Canada might share a border with the United States, but we found that Montréal especially felt much more foreign than any other Canadian city we visited before.

  • Prepare to do all the legal stuff correctly.

    • You can avoid frustration and stress by preparing all the legal documentation you will need to move to Montreal. If you are starting a new job or starting school here, use your resources through your employer or school. There will certainly be people there that will be happy to help you with specific questions. You can also rely on the government sites for good information, including The Quebec Immigration Site and Canadian Immigration and Citizenship page.
  • Embrace the cultural differences in Montreal.

    Montreal is a uniquely diverse city with a culture all its own. Though it is one of the major Canadian cities, it has its own culture that can be quite different from the rest of the country. Get involved by meeting new people, talking to your neighbors, and attending the many festivals and cool activities Montreal has to offer.

  • Begin learning a few basic phrases in French to get around.

    • We really enjoy learning French with Duolingo. You can also use Google Translate to translate specific phrases that you know you will need.

Common Questions/FAQ About Montréal

  • Do I need to speak French?

Well… yes and no. Do you need to speak French to survive? I mean no, but you’re not moving to Montréal to survive. You want to thrive! And learning French is the only way to get the most out of your experience here. Also, if you plan to work in Montréal, you will very likely need to know French.

You don’t need to be fluent to communicate in French. In fact, we recommend learning a few key phrases and start using them from day one. Start using tools like Duolingo to work on the basics, and consider enrolling in a course when you get here. Montréalers will all appreciate your willingness to make the effort to learn even a little French, so why not do something to enrich your Montréal experience.

We also highly recommend the book, Fluent in 3 Months by Benny Lewis. His practical language learning advice will make French so much more accessible.

  • Are Montréalers nice?

I will say, customer service here is no American Chik-Fil-A. I had a couple negative experiences when I first came. (People being impolite, nothing dangerous!) When I googled this question, I found a lot of very defensive Montrealers saying, “We are so nice! Shut up and stop asking questions.”😂 I love it. To answer the question, yes! Most people here are incredibly nice. From people I’ve met at parks to neighbors to market workers, people have all been very kind. 

  • Will I need a car in Montréal?

You definitely do not need a car in Montreal. The public transportation is very extensive, easy to use, and affordable. There are also communal car options like Communauto, similar to ZipCar in the United States.

  • Is living in Montréal expensive?

Montreal was once known for its inexpensive rent, but AirBnb and generally increased demands on housing in Montreal have changed that somewhat. We moved here from the Bay Area in California, so housing is still extremely affordable compared to California, just not as good as it once was. Depending on the quality of the apartment, you could expect to pay less than $1,000 (CAD) for a 1 bedroom apartment.

Of course, you don’t only need a place to live. While rent continues to be very affordable, food and clothing are relatively pricey. Our grocery prices seem similar to Manhattan and the Bay Area. For clothing, I’ve talked to many American expats that say they wait until a trip home to the States to purchase clothing.

  • Do they really eat fries with gravy and cheese curds?

Well, it is called poutine, but… yes. Yes, they do.

  • Isn’t it freaking cold in Montréal?

Yes. Please pray for us.

  • Is there anything fun to do in Montreal?

Yes! One of our favorite things about Montreal is how much there is to do here. MTL Blog is great for finding great things to do in the city. There is always something going on.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Moving to Montréal

Montréal is amazing! Come and see for yourself. There are so many wonderful people and incredible places to see here.

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