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Moving to Montreal

Located at the confluence of the St Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers in the southwest of Quebec province, Montreal is a microcosm of Canada while encapsulating a charming French atmosphere. Expats moving to Canada's second-most populous city will enjoy a gentle cost of living and vibrant lifestyle. Add to that thriving social development programmes and it’s easy to see why many expats take the plunge and relocate to the city. 

Living in Montreal as an expat

Montreal is one of the most culturally rich cities in Canada. Historic architecture, cobblestone streets, a long-standing tradition of jazz and rock music, and countless distinguished theatre, music and art-performance centres are all part of the city's powerful allure. 

As is the case in most Canadian cities, sports and outdoor activities are an important part of the lifestyle in Montreal. With an abundance of green spaces and ice rinks, entertainment is always available regardless of the weather. Revellers will be happy to know that the nightlife in Montreal is one of the best in Canada, with a wide variety to suit all preferences, from student bars to jazz clubs and European-style nightclubs.

Being a Francophone city, everyday life in Montreal can prove tricky for non-French-speaking expats. It's not to say that non-French speakers can't get by at all, but there may be limitations in terms of their work opportunities and social life. In fact, to immigrate and legally work in Montreal, expats must pass provincial requirements, which include French-language proficiency. 

Montreal’s economy is one of the biggest in Canada. Skilled expats will be able to find opportunities in the engineering, ICT, textile manufacturing and service as well as education industries.

The good news for commuters is that the city’s public transport system is warm, efficient and extensive. It links some of Montreal’s far-flung areas and suburbs with its central backbone, making car ownership largely unnecessary.

Cost of living in Montreal

The cost of living in Montreal is fairly modest. Accommodation in the metropolis is generally more affordable and easier to find than in major Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. Eating out and groceries are also relatively affordable. That said, education is a big expense expat parents may have to budget for, as many expat parents choose English-medium international or non-subsidised private schools for their children, and these certainly don't come cheap.

Expat families and children in Montreal

Public schools in Montreal are free to attend for all citizens and expats on permanent residence and work visas, though, as mentioned, most public schools in the city are French-speaking and many expat parents choose to enrol their children in one of the city’s international or private schools. Fortunately, some of the city’s private schools receive government subsidies, which reduces tuition fees. 

Montreal also boasts exciting theme parks, museums and cultural attractions for the whole family to enjoy during their leisure time. The city’s parks and walking and jogging routes are also lovely spots for the children to experience the great outdoors. 

Climate in Montreal

A downside to living in Montreal is the frigid winters. Summers can be hot, humid and generally pleasant, but from December to March temperatures dip well below freezing with snow, sleet, rain and ice occurring regularly.

Overall, expats moving to Montreal may find that the distinctly Quebecois brand takes time to get used to. Once they do, though, newcomers can look forward to a rewarding life in one of Canada’s most culturally-rich regions.

Weather in Montreal

Montreal has a semi-continental climate with warm, humid summers and blistering cold winters. The harsh Canadian winters will likely be the biggest adjustment for expats moving to Montreal. Temperatures can drop to -4°F (-20°C), and it can feel even colder with the wind chill. The coldest month is January when the temperature averages at 14°F (-10°C). Expats will see a lot of snow in winter with instances of rain and sleet.

The suburbs tend to be a few degrees colder than the city centre in winter, so expats should be aware of ice on the roads and sidewalks.

Summers in Montreal are warm and rainy with high humidity levels. The mercury in July usually averages around 77°F (25°C), and expats can expect lots of sunshine.


Pros and cons of moving to Montreal

The island city of Montreal is a unique melting pot of Canadian and European cultures, with French being its official language. Many expats are attracted to the affordable cost of living and the city's lively nature. Like any area, though, living in Montreal does come with some drawbacks. Be that as it may, most expats will agree that the good far outweighs the bad. 

Check out our pros and cons of living in Montreal below.

Working in Montreal

+ PRO: Strong job market

Montreal's economy is one of the biggest in Canada, with a robust and thriving job market. Estimates suggest that the city’s economy will, over the next decade, add more than a million vacancies in industries such as IT, healthcare, education and engineering. 

- CON: Knowledge of French is essential

While job opportunities in Montreal abound, expats with little to no knowledge of French may experience challenges finding work. The official language of business in Quebec is French, so fluency in the language is essential for securing a role or running a business. That said, the city offers support programmes for non-French-speaking jobseekers.

Lifestyle in Montreal

+ PRO: Vibrant food culture

With heavy French influences and a wide range of cuisines, Montreal’s culinary scene is a haven for gourmands. Expats can tour the world through their palate with everything from Italian and Asian to the Canadian favourite, poutine, available in Montreal’s many eateries. 

+ PRO: Incredible arts and culture scene

Montreal is a wonderland for art, theatre and music buffs looking to take in the city’s exciting and rich cultural offerings. It is home to the Cirque du Soleil, and thriving performing-arts- and graffiti scenes.

- CON: Challenging weather

The climate is probably one of the most pointed downsides to living in Montreal. Summers are pleasant and warm yet short-lived. During the winter months, the mercury often drops below zero, while snowfall and rain are common.

Raising children in Montreal

+ PRO: Broad schooling options

Since most public schools in Montreal are French-speaking, the city has developed a comprehensive and exceptional education system, with private and international schools largely serving English-speaking students. 

+ PRO: A range of fun activities

Thanks to Montreal's various attractions, expat parents will have plenty to see and do with their little ones. The city boasts a world-famous amusement park, educational museums and historical sites.

- CON: International schools are expensive

Expat parents with non-French-speaking children may have to enrol their kids in the exorbitant international schools that offer instruction in English, significantly increasing their expenses.

Cost of living in Montreal

+ PRO: The city is relatively affordable

Montreal has a fairly low cost of living for a Western metropolis. Accommodation, groceries and eating out in the city are surprisingly quite affordable.

- CON: Lower salaries

While the cost of living is relatively low, Montrealers draw slightly lower salaries and pay higher taxes. On the flipside, Montreal's residents enjoy more state benefits than in other Canadian provinces, which somewhat offsets the reduced earnings and inflated tax.

Accommodation in Montreal

+ PRO: Great selection of neighbourhoods

Montreal’s sprawling nature means residents can choose from a wide range of areas and suburbs, each with its own atmosphere and unique amenities. Homes outside the city centre are also reasonably priced, so new arrivals will definitely find something suited to their budget and lifestyle.

Getting around in Montreal

+ PRO: Efficient and heated public transport

The highly regarded Montreal Metro is renowned for its architecture, art and heated Underground Pedestrian Network, and is often featured on the lists of the best public transit in the world. The city also has an integrated travel pass for accessing all modes of public transport across Greater Montreal.

- CON: Traffic congestion

Expats living off the Island of Montreal will have to contend with terrible traffic conditions and long commutes, especially during peak times.

Healthcare in Montreal

+ PRO: Publicly funded healthcare

Most expats who live in Quebec, except those on short-term employer-specific work visas, qualify for government subsidised health insurance that provides access to first-rate healthcare practitioners and facilities at no cost or relatively low prices. 

Working in Montreal

It’s important for expats intending to work in Montreal to keep in mind that the official language of business and daily life in the city is Quebec French. While the city does have a significant number of English-speaking residents, they only account for a small portion of its population.

Prospective Montrealers will be happy to note that the city’s residents generally have access to more state benefits than elsewhere in Canada, though with the caveat of slightly lower salaries and high taxes. Expats interested in starting a business in Montreal will also have to contend with more government intervention and bureaucracy, thanks to Quebec’s unique culture and politics.

Job market in Montreal

Montreal’s economy remains one of the largest among Canadian cities. Some of its main industries include electronics, aerospace, civil and mechanical engineering, information and communications technology (ICT), and textile manufacturing. The city also has a strong service industry. 

Montreal strives for innovation and creativity. Higher education is another key sector, with multiple universities serving the city, as well as research and development of artificial intelligence. The city is a cultural hub and is well known as a centre for film and video-game production.

Finding a job in Montreal

Most expats who relocate to Montreal do so through an intra-company transfer. Expats who have yet to find a job should start the search online. Company websites, social networking sites and job portals are great resources that offer access to plenty of job listings.

City residents have a legal right to be served in French, making it more difficult for non-French-speaking expats to find a job in Montreal. English-speaking expats with no networks in the city should be sure to start their French lessons as soon as possible to assist with the job search. That said, Montreal offers programmes aimed at migrants who are unable to speak French.

Several non-profit organisations, such as YES Employment + Entrepreneurship, assist with finding employment and starting businesses.

Expats looking to work in Montreal must have permanent residence or a work permit for Canada, as well as meet the selection criteria of the Government of Quebec.

Work culture in Montreal

Montreal is an interesting melting pot of Canadian working culture and European influences. People in the city tend to be fairly fashion conscious both at work and in their personal lives. The more creative workplaces tend to have casual dress codes but, even then, collared shirts remain common. In more formal business environments, people opt for a conservative yet stylish dress code.

There is a widespread emphasis on individualism and equality in Montreal, but some firms closely resemble the elaborate hierarchies found in larger, more traditional European corporations.

Typical business hours in the city are Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and sometimes as late as 7pm. By law, local stores are allowed to open between 9am and 9pm during the week and from 9am to 5pm on weekends.

Cost of Living in Montreal

The cost of living in Montreal is lower than in the likes of Vancouver and Toronto but higher than in Calgary and Ottawa. Montreal placed 135th out of 227 cities surveyed in Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living Survey, making it the third most expensive Canadian city.

While the cost of living in Montreal is reasonable, earnings in the city are also slightly lower than in the rest of Canada, but this varies across different sectors.

Cost of accommodation in Montreal 

Many expats who move to Montreal find the city's accommodation affordable. The housing market is also much less competitive than in Calgary, Vancouver or Toronto, so expats should have little problem finding their ideal home.

Utilities, which can add up during the Canadian winter months, are another consideration for expats, as they are typically not included in rental agreements in the city. Those looking to stretch their earnings should consider living outside the city centre, as housing prices in these areas and suburbs are usually cooler.

Cost of transport in Montreal

Montreal has an effective and inexpensive public transport system. To save even more, regular commuters can purchase and top up an OPUS smart card to access major public transport in and around Greater Montreal and Quebec City.

Cost of groceries in Montreal

Gourmands looking to explore the culinary scene in Montreal will be delighted to find that groceries and eating out are both relatively affordable. Expats will find a great variety of restaurants, with something to suit any budget and palate. However, newcomers should note that alcohol and tobacco are expensive.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Montreal

Expats moving to Montreal are in for a treat when it comes to entertainment, eating out and lifestyle opportunities. Bars and clubs in Montreal stay open much later than anywhere else in Canada, so revellers who are always ready for a night out on the town will have no problem finding a spot. That said, expats should budget carefully as it can get fairly expensive. 

Foodies will find everything from classic French cuisine to upscale bistros and quirky sandwich shops, while arts and culture lovers will also find events and performances to suit every budget. Finally, Montreal also has plenty of free or low-cost outdoor activities for nature and sports enthusiasts. 

Cost of healthcare in Montreal

Healthcare in Montreal is subsided, and most expats living in the city will be eligible for coverage. Quebec requires its residents to take out health insurance to cover their prescription medication, and expats can choose between a public or private policy, with the former being the most affordable option. 

Cost of education and schooling in Montreal

Public schools in Montreal are free for residents, but most are French-speaking, which may be a barrier for English-speaking students. English public schools are also available, but admission requirements can be strict.

As such, many expats opt to send their children to private or international schools that teach their home country's curriculum. While the facilities and teaching standards at these schools are usually superb, both of these options are pricey.

Cost of living in Montreal chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for June 2023.

Accommodation (monthly)


One-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 1,500

One-bedroom apartment outside of centre

CAD 1,125

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

CAD 2,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside of centre

CAD 1,900



Milk (1 litre)

CAD 2.90

Loaf of white bread

CAD 3.91

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CAD 16

 Rice (1kg)

CAD 4.28

Dozen eggs

CAD 4.17

Pack of cigarettes

CAD 15

Eating out


Big Mac meal 

CAD 14

Coca-Cola (330ml)

CAD 2.57


CAD 4.71

Bottle of local beer

CAD 7.50

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant 

CAD 100



Mobile phone monthly plan with data

CAD 57

Internet (Uncapped ADSL or Cable – average per month) 

CAD 60

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment) 

CAD 101



Taxi rate/km 

CAD 1.75

City centre bus fare/train fare 

CAD 3.50

Petrol/gasoline (per litre) 

CAD 1.63

Accommodation in Montreal

Property in Montreal tends to be less expensive and the market is also less competitive than in other major Canadian cities, such as Toronto or Vancouver.

When investigating the areas and suburbs in Montreal, expats should consider factors such as location, safety and proximity to schools and places of work. Fortunately, the public transport system is extensive and efficient, so expats should be able to commute easily from anywhere in the city.

Most expats choose to rent property in Canada rather than purchase, but those planning on staying in Montreal long-term might opt to buy instead.

Types of accommodation in Montreal

There is a range of accommodation options available at different price points in Montreal. Expats will generally find apartments and condos in modern complexes in the city centre, but the cost of housing in central areas is high and space is limited. For this reason, many locals live outside the city centre, where they have access to spacious properties at more affordable rates.

Home security in most properties is also reliable, with most houses offering burglar alarms and secure door locks. Most rented houses are partially furnished and will have air conditioning and central heating installed.

Utilities are not usually included in the monthly rent and heating and air-conditioning costs can add up quickly, so expats should budget accordingly.

Finding accommodation in Montreal

Finding accommodation in Montreal is relatively painless. The only overwhelming aspect is deciding on one of the city's many neighbourhoods. Expats can enlist the services of a real-estate agent to help with the process. Online property listings are also a great way to start the house hunt.

An interesting quirk of renting a property in Montreal is that moving day is traditionally the first of July. It's not unusual to see hundreds of moving trucks around the city on this day.

While most people stick to this tradition as it ties in with the end of the school year, smaller apartments are typically available to rent all year. Expats should keep in mind that the best time to look for a place to live in Montreal is usually around March when many landlords start advertising.

Renting accommodation in Montreal

When deciding on a house to rent in Montreal, there are a few factors house hunters should consider. Expats should compare the cost of the property with its size and location. We also recommend that they complete a full inspection of the building and confirm the details of the last renovation, as well as the average heating costs during the winter months with the landlord.


Most leases in Montreal are valid for one year. Expats who sign a lease must provide their banking information and prepare themselves to undergo a credit check.

Additionally, expats living in the city centre should try to negotiate for a parking space, as parking is limited. 


Deposits in Montreal are one month's rent. If the property is left in an acceptable condition upon the tenant's departure, the deposit should be returned. 


Utilities are not usually included in the rental prices of houses in Montreal, but when renting an apartment, some utilities will likely be included in the monthly rent. If possible, expats should negotiate for their heating costs to be included in their rent.

Areas and suburbs in Montreal

The best places to live in Montreal

Montreal is home to many areas and suburbs, each with its own unique culture and atmosphere. Some have large English-speaking and multicultural populations, while others are almost entirely French.

Depending on their lifestyle and preferences, expats have the choice to live on or off the Island of Montreal. The commute off the Island of Montreal tends to be quite long and congested, so expats moving into the neighbourhoods off the Island should consider this.

Below are some most popular areas and suburbs in and around Montreal.

Island of Montreal

Parc de la Cité-du-Havre, Montreal

City centre

Expats looking to live in the city centre will find a wide range of accommodation available. Most of the housing in the city centre is in the form of apartments and lofts. The prices are equally varied, from some relatively affordable buildings to exorbitantly priced deluxe apartments.

Plateau Mont-Royal

Plateau Mont-Royal is a predominantly French-speaking neighbourhood, and expats keen on learning the language quickly would do well to find an apartment here. The area is popular among students and young working professionals, thanks to its proximity to some of the city's best restaurants and cafes.

Old Montreal

Old Montreal is an exciting cultural hub, with beautiful architectural buildings dating back to the early colonial days of New France. Expats can find exquisite upmarket lofts in this area, while Notre-Dame Basilica and the Montreal City Hall contribute to its sense of grandeur.

Île Notre-Dame, Montreal


Westmount is an affluent suburb with grand, pricey homes and access to highly sought-after amenities. Many wealthy individuals live in this enclave and enjoy the area's exceptional schools, Westmount Park and the public library.


Thanks to the variety of property types and sizes, Ahuntsic is the perfect suburb for families from all walks. This area has beautiful parks and good schools, and the commute to the city centre is also fairly reasonable.

West Island

The West Island is the unofficial name for the area that includes the suburbs of St-Anne-de-Bellevue, Beaconsfield, Lakeshore, Pointe-Claire, Dorval, Kirkland and Dollard-Des-Ormeaux. These are all family-friendly neighbourhoods, and accommodation is usually in the form of detached single-family homes and townhouses.

Most houses in this area have spacious gardens, and the neighbourhoods boast plenty of parks and playgrounds. With the Ecomuseum Zoo and Bois-de-la-Roche Agricultural Park around the corner, expat families will never run out of exciting things to do.

The West Island is also home to one of Quebec's largest English-speaking populations. The commute to the city centre is about 40 minutes by train, but the trip is well worth it for the tranquil, suburban lifestyle.


Located 15 minutes from the city centre, Notre-Dame-de-Grace is a multicultural family-friendly neighbourhood chock-full of indie shops, playgrounds and long-running restaurants. Although, housing in the area tends to be quite expensive. Those looking to settle in the suburb need to budget well for this cost.

Off the Island of Montreal

Longueuil, Canada

There are two main cities off the Island of Montreal: Laval sits to the west and Longueuil to the east. These neighbourhoods are perfect for expats who value tranquillity but still want to be within a cosmopolitan area. The only downside to living off the Island of Montreal is the long and stressful daily commute across the bridge and into the city, which is inevitable as most expats work in Montreal's centre.

North Shore

Situated in the Laval area, North Shore offers a large variety of accommodation options for expats. Laval also has good schools and plenty of green spaces for children to enjoy.

South Shore

Known for its good schools, security and outdoor lifestyle, The South Shore is a haven for families. The area consists of several suburbs, including Longueuil, St Hubert and Brossard.

The only downside to living in the South Shore area is the long commute into the city. On a bad day, it can take over two hours, expats should therefore carefully consider the proximity of their chosen suburb to their place of work.

Healthcare in Montreal

Healthcare in Montreal is of an excellent standard, and expats will have access to first-class doctors and facilities in the city.

The language barrier won't be much of a concern either, as most doctors in Montreal are multilingual.

Health insurance in Montreal

Universal healthcare in Canada means all residents receive free or low-cost medical care, though expats should note that each province’s healthcare system differs slightly.

In Quebec, the system is administered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ). Under the RAMQ, most expats who live in the region qualify for subsidised healthcare. However, expats with employer-specific work permits valid for less than six months will likely be ineligible. We recommend expats visit the official RAMQ website to determine their eligibility.

To receive subsidised healthcare in Montreal, expats must first register with RAMQ and receive a medical insurance card. It’s important to note that there is then a three-month waiting period, during which expats should take out private health insurance. The exceptions to this are cases of pregnancy, childbirth, victims of violence and patients with infectious diseases, which pose a danger to public health.

Expats from countries with a healthcare agreement with Quebec will also be exempt from the waiting period. These countries include Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Sweden.

In addition to regular health insurance, it is required for every resident of Quebec to have prescription drug insurance, as the province’s universal healthcare system does not cover this. Expats can choose between taking out public or private prescription drug insurance through RAMQ or a policy arranged by their employer.

Hospitals in Montreal

Below are some of the most prominent hospitals in Montreal.

Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal

Address: 1000 Rue Saint-Denis

Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine

Address: 3175 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine

Hôpital de Réadaptation Villa Medica

Address: 225 Rue Sherbrooke Est

Hôpital Marie-Clarac

Address: 3530 Boulevard Gouin E

Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal

Address: 7401 Rue Hochelaga

Education and Schools in Montreal

Expat parents should note that the main language of instruction in most of Montreal’s schools is French. While this language barrier might prove difficult for some new arrivals, parents should rest assured that children whose first language is not French will receive adequate support.

Public schools in Montreal

Children in Montreal start school at the age of five in a maternelle and usually finish at 17. Grade 1 to 6 is école primaire and école secondaire is from grade 7 to 11.

High school in Montreal only goes up to grade 11 instead of grade 12, as is the case in the general Canadian education system. For this reason, students who wish to continue to university level must first complete grades 12 and 13 at a post-secondary college.

Public schools are best suited for very young expat children who tend to assimilate quicker, or those who have a good grasp of French already. 

Language in schools in Montreal

Children in Quebec are encouraged to attend French-language public schools, but English-language public schools are also available. 

Families must apply for their children to receive instruction in English and, fortunately, applications are normally processed within 10 working days. Eligible families can apply through the school board or the private schools where they plan on enrolling. Successful applicants will receive a Déclaration d’admissibilité à l’enseignement en Anglais (declaration of eligibility for instruction in English).

We advise that expat parents check their eligibility and research the application processes on the official Quebec Ministère de l'Éducation website.

In French-language schools, English is taught as a second language, while English-immersion programmes are also available. There are also fully bilingual schools in Quebec, with many private schools in Montreal offering bilingual instruction as well.

Private schools in Montreal

A large portion of Montreal’s student population attends private schools, as certified private schools receive government subsidies, which reduces fees. Most private schools are high schools, and many also have religious affiliations.

Children who want to attend a private high school must pass an entrance exam and demonstrate academic excellence throughout their primary schooling. 

Expats should note that non-subsidised private schools in Montreal are expensive.

International schools in Montreal 

Non-Francophone expats will be spoilt for choice when it comes to international schools in Montreal. The city has plenty of international schools catering to different languages and curricula, but tuition is notoriously expensive, so parents will need to budget carefully.

Application requirements vary between international schools in Montreal, but they are generally quite extensive across the board. Most institutions will require the student's previous schooling records and an application form. Expat parents must also submit a copy of the child’s Déclaration d’admissibilité à l’enseignement en Anglais.

Special-needs education in Montreal

Thanks to the rising popularity of inclusive education, children with physical, social, behavioural and learning disabilities can enter mainstream schools and receive the additional support necessary to succeed.

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB), one of five public school boards in the city, offers comprehensive services to support students with special needs. Services include specialised classes, adjusted curricula and access to learning resources. EMSB also gives families access to professional evaluation to determine the child’s needs.

Expats can also find specialised schools and education programmes for youth and adults with disabilities.

Homeschooling in Montreal

Parents and guardians have a legal right to educate their children at home rather than have them attend traditional schools. However, the law states that homeschooling must be rigorous and provides a framework of content standards families must meet.

Families must notify the Ministère de l'Éducation and the school board of their homeschooling plans on or before the first of July each year. There will also be regular meetings and evaluations to track the student’s progress.

As such, we strongly recommend that expat families intending to follow this stream of education do their research and follow the necessary procedures.

Tutors in Montreal

Finding a tutor in Montreal should be fairly easy for expats. Whether children require extra help with specific subjects or expats want to start learning French, tutors can be great resources.

Several reputable companies and websites, including Skooli, Superprof and FirstTutors: Canada, can connect expats with certified tutors.

International Schools in Montreal

Given that education in Quebec is primarily in French, many expats choose to send their children to an English-medium private school or an international school in Montreal.

While a significant number of the public schools in the city offer bilingual education, French is usually taught as the first language, which can be challenging for older children who don't speak the language.

Parents should note that competition for placements in Montreal's international schools is quite stiff, especially in the lower grades, so expats should apply well in advance as their children may find themselves on a long waiting list.

Private and international schools in Montreal

Beurling Academy

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian (Quebec) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 12 to 17

Centennial Academy

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian (Quebec)
Ages: 12 to 17

Kells Academy

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian (Quebec)
Ages: 5 to 17

Kuper Academy

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian (Quebec)
Ages: 5 to 17

Lower Canada College

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian (Quebec) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 5 to 18

St George's School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian (Quebec)
Ages: 5 to 17

Lifestyle in Montreal

Montreal is a Canadian city heavily influenced by French culture. That said, the city is still something of a melting pot of cultures and there is certainly something for everyone to enjoy, no matter their nationality or native tongue.

Hundreds of cafes and restaurants offer cuisine from all over the world. Asian supermarkets, Parisian boutiques and European nightclubs characterise Montreal’s roadsides. Expats moving to Montreal will find there's never a dull moment in this bustling city.

Shopping in Montreal

Shopaholics will feel right at home in Montreal. The city offers a range of options, from big department stores to eccentric antique shops. 

Those looking for a more traditional shopping experience should head to the department stores on Rue St Catherine, with underground stores allowing shoppers to escape Montreal’s freezing winter temperatures. 

For quirky antique and indie outlets, expats should visit Rue Notre-dame, Avenue Mont-Royal, Rue Amherst and Rue St Viateur. Those with trendier tastes will find high-end stores on Rue St-Denis and Rue Sherbrooke. Expats looking for a touch of luxury can visit the affluent suburb of Westmount, which is home to many premium boutiques.

Eating out in Montreal

The French influence in Montreal is apparent in its many restaurants and bakeries, but there are plenty of foreign cuisines to enjoy as well.

Old Montreal is the best place to find classic French cuisine. Plateau Mont-Royal is popular with students and young professionals, and expats will find restaurants ranging from quaint sandwich shops to cheerful Italian eateries and upscale bistros. Saint Laurent Boulevard is where food lovers will probably have the most luck finding traditional favourites. 

Rue Crescent and Rue Bishop in central Montreal, otherwise known as Downtown, has many great bars and restaurants to explore.

Nightlife and entertainment in Montreal

Partygoers will be delighted to know that Montreal is the mecca of nightlife in Canada. The bars and clubs in Montreal stay open much later than anywhere else in the country. The variety of establishments is equally impressive, with an assortment of student watering holes, jazz haunts and all-out nightclubs lining Montreal’s streets.

Arts and culture lovers will be spoilt for choice in Montreal. The city has a brilliant symphony, numerous theatre companies and, of course, Cirque du Soleil. International bands and musicians also often include Montreal in their North American tours. City residents are also passionate about international and French cinema, which has led to the growth of Montreal's film industry.

Expats will find some linguistic divisions entrenched in Montreal's nightlife. English speakers usually frequent bars on Rue Crescent, Rue Bishop and Rue de la Montagne, while French speakers gather in the Quartier Latin. Expats seeking diverse experiences should visit Rue St Paul in Old Montreal, where they can listen to live music.

Sports and outdoor activities in Montreal

When it comes to sports, ice hockey is a favourite in Montreal as the city hosts the National Hockey League.

Expats will find numerous outdoor activities on offer in Montreal regardless of the weather. With diverse plant life, Montreal Botanical Gardens are a paradise for nature lovers. Expats looking to explore the great outdoors can enjoy one of the city’s numerous parks, such as the famous La Fontaine Park. The green space has ponds, water features, and an outdoor ice-skating rink that opens during the winter.

Fitness enthusiasts can find great jogging routes, such as Lachine Canal, around every area and suburb in Montreal.

See and do in Montreal

An island city with French charm, Montreal offers plenty to see and do, with a lively arts-and-culture scene and a plethora of outdoor spaces to explore. Below are some must-see sights in Montreal.

La Ronde

The world-famous La Ronde amusement park is open daily between June and August and on weekends in May, September and October. Thrill seekers will love the Ferris wheel, rollercoasters and daring rides at the park. 

Montreal Biosphere

Montreal Biosphere is an environmental and educational museum built in 1967 for the World Fair. Children can learn about the world's different climates and sustainability in the interactive exhibitions and the underwater observatory.

Notre-Dame Basilica

Notre-Dame Basilica is a breathtaking Gothic church dating back to the 1820s. History and architecture buffs will appreciate the building’s beautiful carvings, stained-glass windows and vaulted ceilings.

Old Montreal

With structures dating back to the 17th century, Old Montreal is a unique tourist attraction. The area is home to the Montreal City Hall, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel and Château Ramezay. Expats can also visit the nearby Vieux Port de Montreal for a fun-filled family afternoon.

Olympic Park

Locally known as, ‘Parc Olympique’, Olympic Park was built for the 1976 Olympic Games. Expats can visit the park to see the various exhibitions, concerts and sporting events. 

What's on in Montreal

No matter the time of year, Montreal is always buzzing with activity. These are some annual events expats can look forward to in the city.

Montreal International Auto Show (January)

Petrol heads will be in their element at the Montreal International Auto Show. The show generally takes place over 10 days in mid-January at the Palais des Congres de Montreal convention centre.

Montreal International Children’s Film Festival (February/March)

Perfect for expat families, the Montreal International Children's Film festival showcases international and local films featuring children. Kids also have an opportunity to meet the child actors appearing in the movies and attend various workshops.

Blue Metropolis (April)

Also known as The Blue Met, Blue Metropolis is Montreal’s international literary festival celebrating English, French and Spanish literature. The festival takes place over five days and attracts writers, actors, journalists and musicians from all over the world.

Montreal International Jazz Festival (June to July)

The Montreal International Jazz Festival is one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world. With around 3,000 jazz musicians and hundreds of shows, jazz lovers will be spoilt for choice. The best part? Many of these concerts are free and live-streamed performances.

Montreal Festival of Nouveau Cinema (October)

The Montreal Festival of Nouveau Cinema showcases the work of relatively unknown independent filmmakers and is a great way for new arrivals to discover the city's underground film industry.

Getting Around in Montreal

Getting around in Montreal is relatively straightforward thanks to the city’s excellent public transport system. Expats who live in the city centre or the surrounding areas and suburbs needn't worry about having a car.

Be that as it may, a vehicle may be a worthwhile purchase for those with tots or those looking to explore the greater Quebec area. Expats who choose to drive will find Montreal’s roads to be of exceptional quality, although heavy traffic and snowy conditions in winter can be problematic.

Public transport in Montreal

Public transit in Montreal is clean, safe and the most efficient way to move around the city. Montreal has an extensive bus and metro system, with regional trains available for intercity travel. Public transport in Montreal is run by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM).

Frequent commuters can purchase an OPUS card from the ticket booths at stations and approved retailers throughout the city. These reloadable smart cards can be used to access public transport across the Greater Montreal region. There are other single-card options available for pre-determined destinations.


Montreal has an efficient bus system that is easy to use, with plenty of routes throughout the city. Expats can identify bus stops by their numbers, and most are furnished with maps and bus schedules. Passengers can also call the STM info line for more information on the buses arriving at their stop.


The metro can be accessed conveniently via Montreal's Underground Pedestrian Network and is the most popular and extensive mode of transport in the city. Its four lines are easily identifiable by colour, while there are maps available at all metro stations.

Taxis in Montreal 

Taxis in Montreal are readily available, and can be called in advance, hailed off the street or found at taxi ranks across the city. Cabs in Montreal differ in appearance depending on the companies they represent, but they should always be clearly marked. Some taxi companies only operate in central Montreal, so expats should ask their local friends or colleagues about the services operational in their area.

Ride-hailing apps are also available in Montreal.

Driving in Montreal

Expats who choose to drive in Montreal will have to deal with the traffic congestion characteristic of most big cities. Those commuting from the suburbs off the main island bear the brunt of most of the terrible congestion. A car trip from the western part of the island to downtown takes about 45 minutes on a good day, but can be as long as 90 minutes during rush hour.

Non-residents can use their existing driving licences in Quebec for six consecutive months. During this period, they must either fill out an application for a Quebec licence or exchange their current foreign licence. Depending on where an expat obtained their licence, they may have to take a driving test. Driving licences from Western Europe, Canada, and America are eligible for a simple exchange.

Montreal boasts excellent road infrastructure, although drivers should look out for potholes, especially in spring when melting and thawing ice can cause holes and cracks in the road. The city does, however, attend to these fairly quickly.

Cycling in Montreal

An extensive network of bike paths runs through the city, making cycling in Montreal a pleasurable and healthy means of transit.

The city also has a bicycle rental programme called BIXI Montréal. Expats can rent a bike using an app or at automated pay stations using their OPUS or credit cards. Those who intend to use this service regularly should consider purchasing a weekly, monthly or annual pass.

Walking in Montreal

Walking is another eco-friendly and healthy way to move around Montreal. The Montreal Underground Pedestrian Network is a great way to explore the city, especially during the bitter winters. This network, commonly referred to as Underground City, spans 20 miles (32km) and is lined with shops and restaurants.