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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
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 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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
►Getting Around in Montreal gives information on transport options for commuting to and travelling around the city
►Education and Schools in Montreal helps expat families find what's best for their children
Photo credits: Parc de la Cité-du-Havre by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash; Île Notre-Dame by Olivier Collet on Unsplash; Longueuil, Canada on Wikimedia Commons.
"Vancouver and Toronto are the most expensive cities for housing, followed by Montreal and Ottawa. There are many options available—we have enough land!—but it depends on your budget and way of life."
Find out more about life in Canada in our interview with French expat Juliette.
Are you an expat living in Montreal?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Montreal. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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