So, you're moving to Montreal for school. Right now you're probably racked with equal parts excitement and nerves and there's an overwhelming uncertainty of what to expect. Well fear not Torontonians, for I am here to help. As a student who made the move just a few short years ago from the GTA to Montreal, I'd like to give back a bit of advice that, had I had it, would have made the transition a bit more smooth.
If you're like me, you're probably most worried about things like whether or not you'll need to be able to speak French to get by in the city, which for the record, you don't. And while that's a very valid concern, what you really should focus on the most is your living situation, because that can make or break your time in the 514. With that in mind, here are 10 things you should consider before you make the move to Montreal, and a recommendation for a student residence that will solve all of your problems.
1. How Much Cheaper The Rent Is
The first thing you'll notice about living in Montreal is how amazingly cheap the rent is compared to Toronto prices. If you're lucky, you'll also be able to find an apartment that's all inclusive, so you're not stuck having to pay separate bills for hydro, heating, internet, etc. In Montreal, you get the experience of living in a major city, at a fraction of the cost. And that just means that you'll have a little extra money every month to spend on things like dining out and drinks.
2. The Landlords
While the rent in Montreal may be cheaper overall, and that's really great, there's also quite the mixed bag of landlords in this city - you never know what you're going to get. Some are great and will fix that leaky faucet the same day you tell them about it, while others will pretend that your extremely steep front stairs "never had a railing" in the first place. Try to find out as much about them as you can before signing a lease.
3. The Neighbourhood
Just because an area in Montreal is known as a "student area" doesn't mean that there's going to be exclusively students there. Find somewhere where you know you'll have student neighbours so that you don't end up with noise complaints from the middle-aged professionals who live below you, who don't have the luxury of skipping their early Friday morning lecture.
4. Trekking Your Furniture There
Hauling furniture, bedding and kitchenware, on top of all of your personal belongings, from Toronto to Montreal is a serious hassle. That 5 hour trip is no joke. If you're able to find an apartment in Montreal that comes fully furnished, I highly recommend it because it'll save you a lot of time and effort.
5. The Amenities
Montreal is filled with multiples of everything. Gyms, libraries, laundry mats, restaurants, you name it, there are probably 20 of it. Going to all of these different places, especially if they're not all close by, can be both time-consuming and expensive. And not to mention confusing trying to navigate the Montreal streets as a newcomer. You'll want to check that where you're living is central and equipped with everything you're going to need.
I remember signing my first lease in Montreal and it being simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Exciting because I'd finally gotten my own place in the city, and terrifying because you're locked into staying there for 12 months - even if you're not going to be in Montreal for a third of the year because you're going home for the summer. Flexible leases aren't very common in Montreal, so with most apartments, you're going to have to be prepared to pay for a full year of rent.
7. The Night Life
When people think Montreal, they think party city - and they're certainly not wrong there. The night life in Montreal is epic, and one of the best in Canada, if not North America. Navigating it can be a little tricky and you'll probably end up visiting a bar or two that you'd never go back to no matter how much someone paid you, but don't stress. Take your lead from someone who's more familiar with the scene in Montreal and feel free to ask around about the best places to go.
8. Dining Out Gets Expensive
The food in Montreal is amazing, and you're going to find yourself eating out more than you ever thought possible. I mean, how else are you going to try every delicious variation of poutine? Those bills do start to add up, however, so make sure you have access to a decent kitchen so that you can cook yourself some meals and save a bit of cash.
Photo Cred - Daryo Ayala
9. The Cold
The winter in Montreal is brutal. Every horrifying detail that you've ever heard about it has not been exaggerated. Imagine having to walk to class in the coldest cold you've ever felt. Doesn't seem too fun, does it? I've lived both close to and far away from campus, so let me tell you that you want to make sure where you're living is near campus. Not only is it convenient, but you also spare yourself from losing feeling in both of your legs by the time you get to class.
Photo Cred - Gerard Donnelley
10. Public Transit
In Montreal the STM is just as notoriously bad as the TTC. It's essentially the opposite of reliable. Living somewhere that's going to require you to take the bus or metro to school is a risky situation, because the chances of you actually getting there on time are pretty low. Finding an apartment that's walking distance to campus is going to save you a lot of time and stress.
With everything that goes into finding that 100% perfect place to live in Montreal, the whole experience can be exhausting, and at times seem like an impossible mission. Luckily for us Montreal students, there's Evo, which is about as near perfect as you can get. Evo, Montreal's premiere student residence, knows what students need and is all about giving you the best possible experience and full peace of mind when it comes to your living arrangement.
Their conveniently located buildings are minutes from Montreal campuses and feature move-in ready apartments with flexible all-inclusive leases; the heating, hot water, electricity, Cable TV, air conditioning, and 24/7 security are all included in the rent. Their buildings also offer every amenity that you could possibly need. There's a pool, a gym, a game room, a lounge, a library, laundry room, and a theatre. Not too shabby if you ask me.
Evo knows that students want to experience Montreal's night life scene, so through partnerships with local brands and events, they're able to help you maximize your time in one of the most entertaining cities in the world. On top of this they'll help you meet new people by matching you with a roommate, if you want one, and organizing activities for you and your fellow residents to get acquainted with each other and Montreal.
Check out Evo’s Facebook page and website to get more info and set up a visit.