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Montreal
  • $650   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1182   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1779   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of  Canada)

Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
deer, bicycle theft
festivals, Francophones, ice hockey 6
nice place to take pictures, rich boomers, attempted deer murder, all french people, engineering school aka sausage party, construction from hell, micro ecosystem of mcmansions, UdeM students, indians and greeks, secret hood, the bridge that lights up, hip but still poor, aliens, and more italians are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Montreal roommate rundown:

Montreal has been nicknamed "the city of a hundred steeples," for their number of churches. There are about 650 churches, with most dating back to the 1800s or earlier. And Old Montreal (Le Vieux-Montreal) is richly textured with a lot of historical landmarks from the 17th and 18th centuries. Take a walk along their waterfront (Le Vieux-Port), and feel very Old Europe.

Ice hockey is an overwhelming favorite, with the Montreal Canadiens the most important. If you'd like to get along with most Montrealers, they should be important to you too, at least insofar as avoiding insulting them. They've won the Stanley Cup more than any other team!

When it's not winter and the waterways thaw, Montrealers love river surfing and kayaking.

There are also four major universities and several smaller schools. Montreal is lousy with college students that could be potential roommates . . . some of whom consider themselves more Quebecois than Canadian. They may be offended if you assume otherwise.

It's a surprisingly eclectic range, the merging of multiple cultures and the very old with the new.

And they adore festing together. A lot of festivals, all through summer and fall, at least 100. They're trying to bring them to winter too, but that's still in progress.

One of the most popular is the Montreal International Fireworks Competition, with teams competing from all over the world. You could buy tickets to get closer to the orchestral music, or sit on any rooftop or balcony with a view of the center of the city and watch the whole thing for free. The Montreal International Jazz Festival is the world's largest jazz festival! It excitingly attracts internationally-ranked artists, while less excitingly closing off a number of downtown streets. The jazz festival also offers quite a few free outdoor shows, but Montrealers are probably happiest NOT driving to them.

You also might get confused if a local shows you their map or compass, and yours is from outside Montreal. They like to assume north = Mount Royal, even though that's not exactly true. "Montreal north" might not be the same as compass or pole north. Just keep this in mind in event of confusion.

Biking is extremely popular, particularly in the most densely populated neighborhoods. The city has become one of the best for urban cycling, rapidly increasing its number of separated bike lanes in the last several years. Bike lanes are also located in key locations and traverse the city, connecting to popular sites, not just around. For the most efficient routes you should consult the Montreal City Council interactive map. The only serious drawback to biking is winter, or that while Montreal clears snow from its most popular bike lanes, that won't be all of them, and the remaining ones could get icy.

Also unfortunately, in those very same delightfully bike-friendly neighborhoods, bike theft has become popular too. Never forget to secure your bike to a bike rack, then loop in anything else detachable as well (seat, basket, wheels). Then secure the entire situation with a u-lock or some other cable that definitely can't be cut quickly by a thief.

And if you really want to maximize your cheaper transportation options? Bikes are also allowed inside metro trains, as long as it's not too crowded (people take priority). But don't ride around inside the stations, and keep in mind your bike could be temporarily denied at a station near a major event during a huge rush. But likely you could just take a later train.

Walking is also extremely popular in most neighborhoods, but beware of ice on any uncleared sidewalk. Winter boots with soles that grip are highly recommended after a snow storm.

Driving is too popular, most Montrealers would say, because it's chock full of both literal and metaphorical hazards. Right turns on red are not permitted. Popular roadways tend to pothole, because the weather plus the snow-melting salt destroys them. Some potholes are deep enough to cause real damage if driven over quickly, and repair is difficult until spring. The stop lights are less obvious than many in America, which could cause a collision if you're not very careful. Street parking is hard to find, and tickets are expensive. The symbols on road signs are the same as in English-speaking Canada and the US, but the words are usually in French.

Last but not least . . . sort of? Never leave your car parked on a street that might soon be experience snow removal! There's actually a siren! But if you don't move your car almost immediately after it goes off, you'll be very expensively and inconveniently towed.

Some Montrealers feel they're both Quebecois and Canadian, while others would prefer to separate from Canada. No one other than a Montrealer should assume they're adequately informed on this issue to contest any Montrealer's opinion. Locals advise the most respectful and considerate thing would be to avoid the subject yourself, but feel free to listen and learn if others discuss around you.

Locals also say many Montrealers consider it more respectful to at least attempt a few words in French even if you're primarily Anglophone. They'll probably hear your accent and reply in English, but will appreciate the effort anyway.

And lots of adult language-immersion programs are available if you do want to learn French, some from non profits, some from the government, and many are free. Locals report the ability to speak at least beginner-level French is preferred for many jobs. If you're not from Canada, do not already speak French, would like to immigrate to Montreal, and you're not already sponsored as a skilled worker, learning French in advance would likely help.

Montreal has its own free public extensive wireless network (MTLWiFi). It's one of the world's largest, with 825 access points, including many public buildings, libraries, and parks! Even many major intersections have free WiFi. However, they need you to keep in mind that it's meant for you to use while out and about, not longer-term from your house. Also, while you may be using passwords various ways for various things on your own device, MTLWiFi itself is not encrypted.

Montreal shares the rest of Canada's lower violent crime rate, with some spikes in property crime. So like any large city, keep an eye on your valuables, don't leave anything in your car, and beware of pickpockets, especially in touristy areas.

Specifically Montreal safety tips are that the streets are most dangerous, particularly for driving, at 3 a.m. That's the magic moment when all the clubs close and their drinkers empty out. A few might be unruly. Also, metro cars are usually safe, but just to make sure, ride the first car with the driver late at night or anytime your station seems substantially less crowded.

Montreal has some of the best budget dining in North America. Lots of cheaper but still great Indian food, a lot of kosher restaurants with less expensive dishes, as much smoked meat as you could possibly consume, and a lot of vegetarian-friendly (probably without the corned beef on top) plus economical poutine!

(Poutine is squeaky. And it definitely squeaks in French, with or without smoked meat.)

The rest of the Montreal roommate lowdown:

  • largest city in Quebec, with 1.7 million in the city, about 4 million in the greater metro
  • Basically an island in the middle of Saint Laurence River, accessible by bridge only, with the Laurentian Mountains to the north, and the Appalachians to the south and southeast
  • Montreal is the largest "Francophone" city, meaning most Montrealers speak French. However, about 10% speak English as their first language, and over 60% consider themselves fully bilingual. Which language is predominantly spoken depends on the neighborhood.
  • Montreal features severe temperature differentials between summer and winter, very hot and very cold weather annually, wet throughout the year, with 4 distinct seasons - snow is moderate, more days are sunny than not, but summer tends to be stormy.
  • Montreal's cost of living is low for a city this size with this many cultural amenities.
  • The Port of Montreal is one of the largest inland ports in the world.
  • NYC is an approximately six-hour drive south.
  • NYC is about 12 hours away by train. It's quicker by bus, but a nicer journey by train, as you can get up and walk around, and there's a cafe car.
  • home to Ecole de Technologie Superieure, Concordia University, Ecole des Haves Etudes Commerciales, Ecole Polytechnique, McGill University, Universite de Montreal, and Universite du Quebec



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Montreal's:

  • Smoked meat sandwiches: Heaping, usually beef brisket or corned beef. Probably not pastrami, maybe mustard.
  • Poutine: French fries with gravy and squeaky curds of white cheddar on top. Smoked meat, chicken, sausage, vegetables or tomato sauce may or may not be added as well.
  • Spaghetti: Montrealers really love spaghetti too, and it's not that different here, except you can often order it with corned beef on top.
  • Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique de Notre-Dame): Lavishly decorated in the Gothic Revival style, it's the most famous and most toured church in Montreal. We could say don't miss the stained glass windows, but if you do go that's probably impossible.
  • Parc du Mont-Royal: While it's technically a hill, this massive park designed by the same architect as Central Park in NYC is on top of a "mountain" that's 232m/761ft tall. It overlooks Montreal and shares the name. Many trails and lovely views.
  • Mount Royal (Mont-Royal): Great view of the downtown core. Multiple routes to the top, including steeper staircases for those wanting a workout, more sloping paths for the lower key, and a cross-country ski path. You and your roommates should select according to your athletic interests.
  • Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musee be beaux-arts de Montreal): Over 44,000 works plus many traveling exhibits, it's the oldest and most visited museum in Canada.
  • Montreal Symphony Orchestra: It's the only orchestra in the world with an octobass.
  • Insectarium of Montreal: Largest museum dedicated to insects in North America. Over 160,000 bugs, some alive! There's an anthill and multiple bee hives. You can also sample some protein-rich creepers at an "Insect Tasting." Or they could teach you how to make a Monarch Oasis.
  • The Underground: 30 kilometers of underground shopping, eating, and gaming. If you're anywhere nearby, you can avoid the weather when it menaces but still go out. And when you want to leave, you can also pop back up and out at the McGill University campus or a few different museums.


Here's the city of Montreal's interactive bike map, featuring all the routes plus helpful tips and suggestions.





Notes

1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.


2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.


3.   From zumper.com.


5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.


6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.


7.   From hoodmaps.com: a collaborative map where residents use tags describing social situations you're likely to find. Other users can thumb up or down, so the largest tags have been thumbed up the most.