Montreal at a Glance
Living in MontrealiStockphoto
Although Montreal and Quebec are important parts of Canada, the culture here is still distinct.
Montreal, or rather, the Island of Montreal, 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 Montreal – 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.
Language and Identity
You might be already familiar with the fact that Canada has two official languages – English and French. Quebec is the only one of the nation’s provinces in which French is the main language – this obviously also affects Montreal. 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 Montreal. 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 Montreal and the rest of Quebec.
Quebec 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 Quebecois identity which is, although still being an important part of Canadian identity, nevertheless distinct. As hospitable as people living in Montreal and the rest of Quebec – which welcomes close to 45,000 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 Montreal.
The number of people living in Montreal 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 Quebec and Canada due to the countless cultural and economic reasons that make Montreal 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 Montreal is still one of the most popular options for immigrants and expats interested in relocating to the True North. 1,650,000 people called Montreal proper home –2 million more the metro area - at the time of the latest census, conducted in 2011.
About a quarter of inhabitants of Montreal are members of a so-called visible minority, some of the largest of which are Blacks, 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 Montreal a very multicultural edge.
Quality of Life in Montreal
The quality of life in Montreal is generally very high – annual survey series conducted by, for example, Mercer consistently place the city among the top five in the Americas, often 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 Montreal.
In terms of personal safety, expats in Montreal get to enjoy the same feeling of security that makes life in Canada’s other leading cities so compelling for expats. In Montreal, you’ll experience all the perks of a very modern North American metropolis, but without the problems with criminal activity apparent in some expat-heavy areas in, for example, the United States.