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Living in Montreal

Living in Montréal is among the top choices for expats interested in Canada — although life in Montréal is still very different to life in, say, Toronto, due to Québec’s unique identity within the country. Our expatriate guide to Montréal gives you a first glimpse of what to expect!
Although Montréal and Quebec are important parts of Canada, the culture here is still distinct.

At a Glance:

  • Québec is a primarily French-speaking part of Canada and it is essential to have some grasp of the language.
  • A three-month waiting period is required before you can access all medical services, except for emergencies.
  • Montréal’s roads can be highly congested, particularly on bridges connecting the island to the mainland.
  • You are only allowed to use your original driver’s license for a period of six months after arrival.


Montréal, or rather, the Island of Montréal, has been inhabited for close to 2,500 years now. The first European settlements in the area were established around the middle of the 17th century. Since then, the number of inhabitants in Montréal — which was but a fur-trading post named Ville-Marie in its first years — has risen steadily, eventually making it the world-renowned metropolis it is today, with approximately 1.95 million inhabitants.

In Québec, Things Are a Little Bit Different

You might already be familiar with the fact that Canada has two official languages — English and French. Québec is the only one of the nation’s provinces in which French is the main language — this obviously also affects Montréal. While you will be able to maneuver your way through your daily routine with only English, you should definitely have at least somewhat of a grasp of the French language to really make the most of your time living in Montréal. After all, it is not only the main language of business and everyday life, but also an important symbol of community and belonging for the people of Montréal and the rest of Québec.

Québec has had a special status within Canada for quite some time now, with the French settlement of the region leaving marks that can still be felt today. The language and cultural heritage have formed a strong sense of Québécois identity which is, although still an important part of Canadian identity, nevertheless distinct. As hospitable as people living in Montréal and the rest of Québec — which welcomes close to 50,000 immigrants a year — may be in regard to immigrants and expats, you will still be expected to integrate at least to some extent during your time in Montréal.

Diverse and Multicultural: The People in Montréal

The number of people living in Montréal has been on a steady rise ever since the first census was conducted in the city. Seeing how the city not only attracts people from abroad, but also from within Québec and Canada due to the countless cultural and economic reasons that make Montréal so attractive, this is not in the least surprising. While the rate of growth in population was slightly higher in Canada’s other main cities, namely Toronto and Vancouver, living in Montréal is still one of the most popular options for immigrants and expats interested in relocating to the True North. The Montréal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) has a population of 4.06 million.

About a third of the inhabitants of Montréal are members of a so-called visible minority, some of the largest of which are Blacks, Arabs, South Asians, Latin Americans, and Chinese. But also the many different countries of origin that can be found among the Caucasian groups give life in Montréal a very multicultural edge.

High Standard of Living and Safety

The quality of life in Montréal is generally very high — annual survey series conducted by, for example, Mercer placed the city at 23rd in the world in 2017 , surpassing bigger expat magnets such as Rome, New York, or Paris. The criteria for determining the quality of life range from infrastructure such as schools and hospitals to socioeconomic and cultural aspects, all of which are up to international standards, as you will surely notice within days of living in Montréal.

In terms of personal safety, expats in Montréal get to enjoy the same feeling of security that makes life in Canada’s other leading cities so compelling for expats. In Montréal, you’ll experience all the perks of a very modern North American metropolis, but without the problems of criminal activity apparent in some expat-heavy areas in, for example, the United States.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

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