This article contains general information needed to smoothly transition for your move to Montreal Canada.
Information included here tackles the requirements for acquiring a visa, healthcare insurance, a driver’s license, as well as information on education and the general background of Montreal.
Planning to move to Montreal, Canada?
While it’s always fun to just pack your bags and go it is a smarter move to prepare yourself for what’s to come.
Montreal is a beautiful place to live in but there are a few things you’ll want to know to make your transition smooth and easy.
Securing Your Visa Before Your Move to Montreal Canada
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The first thing you’ll want is to secure your visa for legal entry.
The common visa is for professional/skilled workers and to qualify for this you need to complete the forms proving you will not be a problem to the region of Quebec (the governing province over Montreal City).
There is an examination that generalizes your eligibility, with things such as your occupation and age taken into account as well as your number of dependents and you want to score 67 or higher to attain a valid visa.
Other than the eligibility examination you will also be required to undergo and pass a medical examination.
You must also prove you can financially support yourself and your dependents while in Montreal.
To further check if you are eligible for visa application you will want to visit the official website for Canadian Immigration.
When you’re ready, it’s time to learn a bit more about your destination.
Basic Information About Montreal
Montreal is not the capital of the Quebec province of Canada; that honor goes to Quebec City but there are many astounding facts about the city.
For one thing, it is the second city where its main language is French, succeeded only by Paris itself.
As a matter of fact, the whole region of Quebec is primarily French and it is the only region of Canada where French is the sole official language.
This means you will find it difficult to get around – and get a job – if you do not have some previous experience in speaking French.
If you have plans to move to Montreal soon you will find it to your benefit to pick up basic lessons in the language, especially if you are hoping to get a job or to go to public schools.
It is also the Canadian city with the highest rate of bi-lingual residents. Over 56% speak both English and French.
Unfortunately, most employers and public schools prioritize French over English despite of this. Population-wise, Montreal is the 2nd largest city of the country, right after Toronto.
According to the 2011 census, the city had a population of a little over 1.6 Million while the metropolitan area reached just a little over 3.8 Million people, totaling to a little over 4 Million people.
Economy of Montreal
For the longest time Montreal was Canada’s financial centre until it was overtaken by the rapidly growing city of Toronto.
It is still recognized as having the 2nd largest economy in the country and it focuses primarily on:
- Commerce and finance
- Industrial work
- World affairs
In the city is one of the largest sea ports of the world, Port of Montreal, and the city is also home to Canadian Space Agency and the International Civil Aviation Organization among others.
Montreal is a centre for film and entertainment as well, hosting the HQ of Alliance Films as well as different film studios and centers for numerous film festivals.
One of the booming industries in the country is the video game industry.
Ubisoft Montreal opened its doors in 1997 and since then this has been followed by THQ Montreal, Bioware, EA (Electronic Arts), Gameloft, and more recently Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
Cost of Living Montreal Canada
To put this into contrast, the indices used in this portion are in relation to the cost of living index of New York City, USA.
Therefore if an index is 115% it means that the average cost for that prospect is 15% more expensive than in NYC.
If the index is 90%, it means that the cost is 10% below the costs of NYC.
With that in mind here is a look at the basic costs of living in Montreal, Canada as of 2014:
- Consumer Price Index, Excluding Rent Costs – 81.09
- Consumer Price Index, Including Rent Costs – 55.39
- Rent Index – 28.37
- Groceries Index – 89.33
- Restaurants Index – 74.49
- Local Purchasing Power – 105.08
In general, the cost of living in Montreal is very affordable when compared to other high-economy cities in the world, such as New York City (which was used as the primary basis for comparison here).
As a matter of fact, the Montreal is booming with many option for apartments, condominiums, and low-budget housing.
Obtaining Work in Montreal
Working in Montreal will require you to have either one of two different documents:
- A residence permit
- A temporary working permit
Many foreign nationals moving to the country interchange the two but they are very different and are used for different occasions, as well as different types of working contracts.
Here’s a little insight on their differences and uses.
A residence permit is for any expat planning to reside permanently in Montreal or has plans to live and work for a long period of time (several years).
This permit will not only allow them to legally work in Montreal but will also entitle them to several of Canada’s social systems.
These include entitlements to healthcare, education programs, and others.
This is quite different from the temporary work permit because this permit is only for a specific type of job to be done on a short-term basis.
This is for a one-time and it will expire after a short period of time.
This permit also does not entitle the holder to the different social systems of Canada and you will have to look for other means to attain a traveler’s health insurance or auto-insurance during your stay.
To get a temporary work permit you will need to provide the following:
- A completed Temporary Work Permit application form
- Completed form for temporary residence
- 2 (passport size) photos
- Valid copy of passport information page but only if the employee is not applying for temporary residence
- Valid copy of original passport but only if applying for temporary residence
- Valid copy of contract form – this must come from the Canadian employer
- Proof of job requirements satisfaction (certification of employment, transcript of records, character references)
- Bank statements
- Proof of pay
Take note that the visa application official might require additional documents such as a police clearance or a medical examination certificate.
This process will also be required for any relatives that are coming to stay with the employee as well.
Obtaining a Driver’s License and Driving Basics in Montreal
If you are an expat coming from the UK then your international driver’s license valid for the United Kingdom will be valid in Montreal, Canada.
After some time, however, it will be more convenient to transfer to a local Montreal driver’s license.
For holders of a British Driver’s License you can easily transfer without having to take a driver’s test although you might have to provide recent medical certificates.
Whether a British expat or not, you will need to acquire a driver’s license after some time at the SAAQ or Societe de l’Assurance Automobile du Quebec.
For the most part, the rules of the road are quite similar to those found in the US or in the UK; no driving under the influence, seatbelts must be worn at all times, and child passengers must be seated in appropriately sized seats for their age and height.
There is one key difference in driving a vehicle in Montreal than in other countries under the United Kingdom; driving is on the right-hand lane and not the left.
This makes driving much easier to transition to for Americans but not so easily for British nationals.
There is also a key difference when it comes to vehicle insurance.
Unlike countries such as the United States there is no “fault” coverage when it comes to an accident.
In Montreal’s case, the damage on your vehicle will be covered by your insurance company even when the accident was caused by the other party.
Getting Around Montreal
Public transportation is also a viable means of getting around the city.
There are a total of 185 different bus lines as well as 4 subway rails, referred to locally as Metro.
The subway lines cover a total of 68 stations or stops.
Public transportation is, in general, governed by the STM or Societe de Transport de Montreal.
Although rare, if by happenstance you find yourself in a spot not serviceable by bus or tram then the STM also provides the taxibus as an affordable and reliable mode of transport.
To really learn your way around with the different public transportation it is highly recommended to visit the official website of the STM.
There you will find maps, fare rates, locations of different bus and metro stations, as well as an in-depth travel planner.
Montreal’s Healthcare and Taxes
In comparison to other countries, the tax rate of Montreal – Quebec in general – is only rated on the average line meaning it isn’t too high or too low, despite the fact that residents and citizens alike pay both regional and federal taxes.
Sales taxes have hiked to 14% and annual taxes are seeing slight increases since 2008.
However, the effects of these paid taxes also reflect on the numerous benefits given to the people.
- Women may avail of up to 52 weeks of maternity leave and still receive up to 70% of their complete annual salary
- Public healthcare is provided at no additional charge (more on this in the section below)
- Public education is 100% free of charge all the way from kindergarten to college; do take note that most public educational institutions use French as their primary language and not English
Healthcare in Montreal is governed by the Regie de l’Assurance Maladie du Quebec or RAMQ and this is the general healthcare system of the entire region of Quebec.
However, Quebec still follows the Universal healthcare system of all Canada, ensuring everyone – expats included – can enjoy free or low-cost health insurances.
For people still moving in, you simply have to register at the RAMQ office and get yourself a medical insurance card.
This is then followed by a waiting period that lasts about three months.
During this time you will be responsible for medical expenses with the only exceptions being for: pregnancy emergencies, childbirth, patients with contagious diseases deemed dangerous to the society, and victims of violence.
Foreign nationals coming from countries that have a standing healthcare agreement with the region of Quebec will also be exempted from the three month waiting period.
These countries include:
Do take note that the general subsidized healthcare is only valid for expats who move to Montreal and are staying at least 21 days and longer.
For foreign nationals only visiting for less than three weeks separate travel insurances, not universal Canadian healthcare, must be applied for.
Education in Montreal
There are a total of four major universities, seven multi-award degree-certifying academies/colleges, and twelve pre-university institutions within an 8km radius of the city center.
The most prestigious of these educational institutions is the Universite de Montreal – also known for being the 2nd largest research university in the country – and Universite du Quebec a Montreal, an institution prioritizing in the liberal arts.
There are only two major universities that prioritize in English rather than in French. These are the McGill University and the Concordia University.
The aforementioned pre-university institutions are for a unique education level seated between secondary (high school) and university levels.
In Montreal they are referred to as CEGEP institutions (formerly stands for College d’Enseignement General et Professionnel) and are designed to be preparatory establishments before college.
Taking the Step – Move to Montreal Canada
Montreal has been listed among the Top 10 Happiest Places as according to Lonely Planet and it is also one of the richest places in terms of diverse culture and art.
The economy is booming with low prices for housing and rentals despite the average income rate per house/per family.
If you have any plans on moving to this beautiful and historically rich city then this guide will help prepare you to get on your way smoothly.
What To Eat In Montreal
Montreal was recently named the second best city to eat out in North America, after San Francisco and ahead of New York which came in third place.
But you don’t have to visit Michelin star restaurants or fancy fine dining places to get a taste of what makes Montreal such a great food city.
The many cafes and street side stalls are also reasons why Montreal is a city loved by foodies from all over the world.
It is also my favorite Romantic Things to Do in Montreal and Great Reasons to Visit Montreal This Summer.
Here are a few foods to try when visiting Montreal…
Ever since the 19th century, smoked meat has been a traditional staple in Montreal and can be found almost everywhere in the city.
The most popular and authentic place however is Schwartz, a Jewish deli that has been serving smoked meat (with a secret recipe of spices) since 1928.
The large local Jewish population contributed with these as well as the traditional Bagels.
Montreal claims to have the best bagels in the world, and they sell them in a variety of styles and flavors.
The Montreal-style bagels are smaller and sweeter than the New York bagels, and are baked in wood-fired ovens which give the bagels a slight hint of a woody taste.
Before they’re baked, they’re boiled in water sweetened with honey – the most classic bagel places are Fairmount Bagels and St-Viateur’s.
Montreal is often nicknamed Europe of North America thanks to its many European influences – one area in particular is great for European food; little Italy.
Little Italy has some truly spectacular Italian restaurants, but a tip is to try the Gelato.
The Gelato scene in Montreal is huge, and Little Italy is the place to go for a scoop of freshly made, original Italian Gelato.
If you prefer some Chinese, you can always head to Chinatown.
Minutes away from the Palais des congrès, a world renowned convention center in Canada, you can find many authentic Chinese restaurants and shops.
Consisting of a bowl or plate of french fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy, the popular Poutine is the perfect dish when you’re craving for some comfort food.
Poutine can be found just about anywhere in Montreal, and some have mixed them up a bit.
Italian poutine has can have spaghetti sauce and sausage bits rather than brown gravy, and other restaurants offer custom made poutine where you can choose add-ons like beef, chicken, different types of cheeses and sauces
A traditional dessert of Montreal is the sugar pie, a decadent dish made with vanilla, butter, salt, sugar, flour and cream.
The pie has a delicious caramel flavor, and some bakers use local maple syrup instead of brown sugar.
These are just a few of many food sensations you can find on the streets in Montreal – some other foods worth mentioning are “full dressed pizzas”.
These are just some of many delicious foods to try in Montreal, and a great time to explore the cuisine is during one of the food events and festivals that are held in the city every year.
One of the most popular events for foodies, however, is “The Omnivore Food Festival” and “Street Food Montreal”.