The Ultimate Guide to Living and Working in Montreal: Tips, Tricks, and Must-Knows

NomadHer
8 min readFeb 23, 2023

I spent a year in Montreal in the Quebec region of Canada. My first expat experience was rich in life lessons and a total success. If you plan to settle there, here are the tips I can give you for living, working, and enjoying.

Since I was little, I always told myself that what I wanted in life was to travel and live abroad. I traveled whenever possible, alone, with friends, to meet friends, for work, and for events. But it took me some time before my first expatriation.

I hadn’t necessarily thought of Quebec at first, because I didn’t want to be in a French-speaking environment. I wanted to be in a country that moves away from my culture, to be immersed, and to improve my English. But one evening, I made my WHV (Working Holiday Visa) request. I was accepted within days. My destination was therefore chosen, it was going to be Canada. After a one-year sabbatical accepted by my former company, I landed in the middle of January in Montreal.

I arrived at my reserved accommodation for three days, which brings me to the first piece of advice I can give about finding accommodation.

The panoramic view of Montreal

How to Find an Apartment in Montreal

✅ Step 1. Book accommodation

When I told a friend who has been living in Quebec for over 10 years that I had only booked accommodation for three days, she thought I was crazy! I should have measured the speed of finding accommodation there. I would advise you to book accommodation for at least one week.

Step 2. Check & Answer ads

Before leaving, I had already sent messages in response to ads published on the Kijiji website to let them know that I wanted to visit the apartment, when I would be arriving, and what I would need to rent it.

✅Step 3. Credit Ratings are Important

I had answers, and it was the first time that I had heard of credit scores. Unknown to me in France, I concluded that it’s a system used in North America whereas a bank shows that you can pay your bills and pay them on time. A lot of Canadians and Americans use credit cards. In some cases, you can’t rent an apartment, or buy a car or a house without first showing your credit score. As I had just arrived from France and had not yet created my Canadian bank account, I didn’t have this. But the owners are generally accommodating.

Step 4. Apartment Rental Requirements

It’s important to know that when renting a place, you are usually required to pay a 2-month security deposit for furnished accommodation, and you have to give 1 month’s notice to leave the accommodation. Also, don’t be surprised if the apartment you are moving into is not perfectly clean, as outgoing tenants are not obliged to leave the place clean. However, I was lucky that my apartment was clean when I moved in. Once you’ve secured your apartment, opening an account for water and electricity bills is quite simple.

During my first apartment visit, I discussed with the owner's bank statements, bank details, and specimen cheques. This leads me to my second tip for opening a bank account.

Old Montreal harbor

Opening Your Bank Account

Step 1. Choosing a bank

For the choice of bank, I relied on the advice of my apartment owners. Some banks have offers for newcomers to Canada, which you can check on their websites or forums.

Step 2. Opening Your Account

You can visit a branch to open your account in just a few minutes. You can also take advantage of this opportunity to take out home insurance, which your owners may require.

Step 3. Supporting Documents to Provide

You must present an original identity document and a document indicating your name and address. This can be a bill or letter that you can ask from your water or electricity supplier/company.

And yes, you can probably guess my next step in Montreal: finding a job.

Montreal World Trade Centre

How to get a job in Montreal, Canada

Step 1. Get Your Social Insurance Number

I had no idea about this because I had missed this information on the forums and blogs, but you have to apply for a SIN (Social Insurance Number). You need it to be allowed to work and only share this number with your employer. I should specify that you have to know your address because when the person from the administration asked me for it, I no longer remembered the name of the street where I was staying for a few days. This number is precious and will help you in finding a job.

Step 2. Visit a temporary employment agency

You can visit a temporary employment agency and have an interview. Even if you don’t get a job right away, you can get an idea of how much you can expect to earn with your experience. You will also receive tips for your resume. For your information, in Canada, a CV can be very long because you have to include all of your experiences.

Step 3. Make business contacts

The majority of job offers are hidden. So you need to start responding to job postings on LinkedIn, and Facebook and start making contacts to eventually find the job of your dreams.

Step 4. Work Environment in Montreal

Montreal’s work culture is known for its welcoming and trusting atmosphere. You’ll find that you are quickly integrated into the team and that colleagues are friendly and talkative, often sharing stories about their families and personal lives. Additionally, Montreal workplaces offer flexibility in terms of work hours and remote work arrangements.

Moreover, companies in Montreal often organize various events, providing opportunities to get to know your colleagues and explore new places. These events can range from social gatherings to team-building activities, making for a vibrant and connected work community.

The Best Things to Do in Montreal

Here are some of the places I’ve visited and loved. If you’re planning a trip to Montreal, these will serve as a great travel guide for you. You can also find tips through the NomadHer app.

Art galleries

  • La Centrale is an artist-run center dedicated to the dissemination and development of multidisciplinary feminist practices.
  • MAC Montreal, located in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles, has been exhibiting contemporary art at the center of Montreal and Quebec life for over fifty years.
  • Société des Arts Technologiques, a cultural organization created in 1996 and dedicated to the promotion and conservation of artworks using new technologies.
“It’s Complicated”, Sara Erenthal mural

Bars

  • Le Réservoir was the first bar I went to after visiting my apartment. It has a microbrewery of draught beers, international tapas, and a rooftop terrace.
  • Club Pelicano, a poolside bar offering wine, cocktails, and DJ sets on vinyl, as well as “nikkei” cuisine, a blend of Peruvian and Japanese specialties.
  • Mc Kibbins is an Irish pub with a warm atmosphere where you can drink beer and taste dishes mixing Canadian and Irish cuisines.

Bookstores

Cafes

  • La Dépendance, live a Hygge moment in this café-boutique that will transport you to Copenhagen or Stockholm thanks to its Scandinavian-inspired experience in terms of both the menu and the interior atmosphere.
  • Chat L’Heureux, is a café-restaurant where one can enjoy the company of cats while tasting a selection of homemade meals and drinks.
  • La Graine Brûlée is a café with original decor reminiscent of a funfair with a coworking space and a terrace.

Camping

  • Lyster Lake, located in the municipality of Coaticook, can go kayaking and enjoy the view of Mount Pinnacle.
  • National Park of Jacques Cartier, the most beautiful national park I have ever visited, offers camping in complete nature. The valley is splendid and there are many hiking trails.
  • Memphremagog Lake, a lake shared between Canada and the United States, is, in my opinion, the most beautiful lake with nautical activities.
Lyster Lake

Concert halls

  • Le Ministère, I saw my first concert in Montreal there. the building is beautiful and the room is intimate.
  • La Sala Rossa, in a 1932 building, the programming is varied, ranging from Slam to Jazz or Indie Rock
  • Quai des Brumes is a cultural place offering numerous concerts and exhibitions.

Festivals

  • Mural Festival, is an urban art festival that takes place every year in the streets of Montreal.
  • Igloofest, the coldest music festival in the world, outdoors in winter with electronic music artists.
  • Montreal en Lumière, an annual winter festival held in the Quartier des spectacles in Montreal to promote the lights, art, and food.

Restaurants

  • Caribou Gourmand is a bistro that offers a great brunch on weekends.
  • Les Glaceurs, the best cupcakes and birthday cakes I’ve ever eaten!
  • Majestique, a festive atmosphere, quality products and dishes, and a kitchen open every day until 2 am.

In summary

  • Search for apartment rental ads on the Kijiji website and social networks
  • Open your bank account in a few minutes by going to an agency (some have offers for newcomers to Canada)
  • Ask for your SIN at a Service Canada center to have the right to work
  • Go to temporary work agencies, consult job offers on LinkedIn and Facebook, and start by making contacts
  • Register groups of expatriates, working holiday workers, and digital nomads on social networks/media.
  • Book your camping pitches in national parks in advance
  • Explore the city on foot or by transport and discover the different neighborhoods

I would say that what characterizes the city of Montreal is its cultural and artistic richness, its open-mindedness, and its human warmth. I have learned so much from my friends and my colleagues. Maybe one day I will come back, either for a visit or when I settle down. And maybe I will meet you, and you will tell me about your experience, which I hope will be as positive and enriching as mine.

Do you want to go on a solo trip this year? You can read more travel tips and find travel buddies through the NomadHer. Download the NomadHer app now!

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👩 Aurelie Verger, NomadHer article contributor, is a female traveler from France. She works as a consultant who has lived in many countries, including Canada. Living abroad was her childhood dream, and working in Montreal for a year with a Working Holiday Visa was a great chance to make that dream come true. Currently, She lives in South Korea to travel and work together.

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NomadHer

We Empower Women Through Travelling. NomadHer is the #1 app for female globetrotters, to encourage solo travelling safely.