Last Updated on August 21, 2022 by Nina Ahmedow
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Do you know what I miss about living in Montreal?
I spent some time there as a student but had to leave again after my visa expired. While I hated the cold winter, there’s no denying that I had a great time living in Montreal. And since a friend of mine moved to Vancouver some years ago I have often looked back on my time in Canada. There are so many things about Montreal that made my time there extraordinary. And while I didn’t get the chance to explore much of the rest of Canada, I do have posts about my trips to Toronto and Ottawa.
So now I live in Athens, Greece. A city with a climate that’s pretty much the complete opposite of Montreal. I’m also in the process of moving somewhere else soon (more on that when the time is right). And yet, ever so often I think back on my time as a student in Canada’s second-largest city. And it’s not only because I look back on my youth.
If you’re considering a move to Montreal (universities are so much cheaper than in the US) you may want to know if that’s a good idea. (For a book about a young woman moving to Montreal to attend McGill University, read Nellcott Is My Darling by Golda Fried.) The long winters may put you off. But to see the good side of the city, here are ten things I miss about living in Montreal.
1. Le Plateau
The unique architecture of the Plateau is absolutely gorgeous. You don’t have to be an architecture enthusiast to appreciate this scenic residential neighborhood. And yes, gentrification is an issue here, but you can still find restaurants that serve good and cheap ethnic food.
If you’re thinking about visiting Montreal check out these places in the city.
2. The Beautiful Architecture
From skyscrapers to cute old buildings you can find everything in Montreal.
3. The Food Scene
Disclaimer: I was vegetarian and not vegan when I lived in Montreal. The food scene in Montreal was amazing. Montreal is actually the North American city with the most restaurants per capita! And as of March 2020, there are over 100 entirely vegan businesses in the city!
4. The Amazing Service
Along with the sheer number of restaurants, the service is absolutely outstanding. This may be a given if you live in North America, but in Europe, and especially in Greece, the service can be unbelievably bad.
5. The Malls
Now, hear me out. I’m not into shopping. At all. But what I loved about Montreal’s malls was that you could spend an entire day there. There are shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and everything in Montreal’s malls. And they connect to the metro stations – so necessary when it’s -30°C.
6. Downtown Montreal
As a student at McGill University, I obviously spent a lot of time in downtown Montreal. From the above-mentioned malls that are connected underground to the beautiful McGill campus, you can walk around the area for hours. Downtown Montreal is where you’ll find churches, museums, and shopping opportunities, as well as sports stadiums. If you’re going to live in Montreal you’ll definitely spend a lot of time here.
If you’re visiting Montreal and want to stay near downtown there are several hotels you can choose from.
7. The Diversity
Montreal is a very ethnically diverse city. More than 20% of the population’s native language isn’t French or English. That’s something I really miss here in Greece.
8. The Bilingual Character
Speaking of diversity, there aren’t many cities in the world that are officially bilingual. But having learned French in school, I struggled with Quebec French. That’s why I was relieved to find out that most people, especially downtown, are bilingual. Although this fact meant that I didn’t get to improve my French at all. But I always enjoyed the bilingual street signs, etc.
9. The Bizarre Orientation
Before you move to Montreal you need to know that over there, the sun rises in the south. What do I mean by that? Well, Montrealers use the St. Lawrence River and Mount Royal as their main orientation points. But St. Lawrence River is not in the south and Mount Royal is not in the north so the maps are actually not accurate.
10. Living in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges Neighborhood
Côte-des-Neiges is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Canada and also has a large student population. So it was the perfect place for me to live. There was so much good food and such a relaxed atmosphere, and I highly recommend the area if you’re thinking about moving to Montreal. Côte-des-Neiges is also one of the few Montreal neighborhoods where neither English nor French is dominant.
So those are the ten reasons I sometimes miss living in Montreal. Have you ever been to Montreal? What did you like most about the city?
KatrinaMarch 21, 2020 at 9:33 pm
Montreal looks so beautiful! I live in Canada, but have never travelled to Montreal. The buildings look so beautiful and historic.
Nina AhmedowMarch 22, 2020 at 3:34 pm
It’s a lovely city, you have to visit when you get the chance!
allen bujnoMarch 24, 2020 at 9:51 pm
Would love to vsit
Nina AhmedowMarch 25, 2020 at 12:00 pm
TaylorMarch 24, 2020 at 10:04 pm
I live in Alberta, Canada, but have never visited Montreal. It sounds like a lovey place though, thanks for sharing 🙂
Nina AhmedowMarch 25, 2020 at 12:01 pm
Canada is such a vast country that it’s really not easy to visit everywhere, but I hope one day you can spend a few days in Montreal.
LaurenMarch 30, 2020 at 8:16 pm
I visited Montreal in 2018 and want to go back! I’m going to Quebec City later this year so hopefully we can spend a day in Montreal, too. Such a wonderful city!
Nina AhmedowMarch 31, 2020 at 11:56 am
Sadly, I haven’t been to Quebec City yet, it must be so amazing! Have a good time!
SusanMarch 31, 2020 at 12:50 am
Montreal truly is an amazing city to travel to next. Shouldn’t miss that chance. Thanks for sharing.
Nina AhmedowMarch 31, 2020 at 11:57 am
Yes, you should definitely go!
KatieApril 3, 2020 at 5:19 pm
Sounds like a great place to live, and so pretty! I think I’d definitely struggle with the cold weather though.
Nina AhmedowApril 4, 2020 at 3:01 pm
Yes, the cold is a struggle for sure!!!
Jason ReidApril 19, 2020 at 7:34 pm
Looks like a wonderful city to have spent a bit of time living in. I think the only thing I’d struggle with would be the weather, the snow in those photos looks crazy haha. Definitely a city I want to visit though.
Nina AhmedowApril 20, 2020 at 12:01 pm
OMG, the weather! You have no idea!! It made me cry once, lol!
HazelMay 2, 2020 at 10:58 am
Thanks for sharing, Nina. I haven’t been to Montreal, only Toronto, but my experience of Canadian customer service was very positive. I’ve heard lots about Montreal’s cultural variety so I’ll look forward to that when I visit.
Nina AhmedowMay 3, 2020 at 4:28 pm
Toronto is also a lovely city!
JadeMay 2, 2020 at 11:39 am
I miss Montreal, too! I lived in the Northeast USA for most of my life and it was so easy to get to for a few days. Nothing like a big plate of poutine on a cold day! Thanks for sharing, beautiful post!
Nina AhmedowMay 3, 2020 at 4:28 pm
Aww, it must have been amazing to go there on a regular basis!
Katie | KatieGoesMay 2, 2020 at 1:57 pm
I’LL BE THERE FOR THE FOOD SCENE! Haha. Thank you for the inspiration.
Nina AhmedowMay 3, 2020 at 4:28 pm
Yes, do it!
BisolaMay 2, 2020 at 3:14 pm
I’ve always wanted to go to Montreal! And now I have even more reason to 💃🏾
Nina AhmedowMay 3, 2020 at 4:29 pm
You really should!
ChelseaMay 2, 2020 at 4:01 pm
I was very interested to read this as I just published a post myself about Montreal! Both posts overlap about the underground world; I currently live in Toronto and we have that here too! It’s a saviour in winter! We also both mention the food, wow I love food haha!
I also love the diversity, I find Canada as a whole is very diverse which I love.
Nina AhmedowMay 3, 2020 at 4:29 pm
Yes, Toronto is amazing as well and such a diverse city!
Kooky Loves to TravelMay 2, 2020 at 9:09 pm
It seems like a nice city. I hope at least to visit it!
Nina AhmedowMay 3, 2020 at 4:30 pm
I hope you get a chance!
BettinaMay 3, 2020 at 4:29 am
Montreal is such an incredible city and I could imagine living there myself! Love this list!
Nina AhmedowMay 3, 2020 at 4:31 pm
Thanks for stopping by, Bettina!
Lily | imperfect idealistMay 17, 2020 at 9:49 pm
I had the chance to visit Montreal in February, and it was so lovely! I would love to live there myself for a bit. I totally agree about the amazing vegan food – it was heavenly in Montreal. I really liked this one place – La Panthère Verte – and went there 3 times in the span of my 3 days in Montreal.
The language thing was also interesting, and I was actually a little disappointed that I didn’t get to practice as much French. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m Asian and people thought I didn’t speak French, or because Montreal is actually very bilingual. I just know that many people in shops assumed that I didn’t speak French and spoke to me first in English, when they spoke to white people first in French…
Still, I love Montreal as a city and definitely want to visit again!
Nina AhmedowMay 18, 2020 at 12:42 pm
That’s so interesting they didn’t speak French to you. Because if I remember correctly there’s actually a law that children from immigrant families have to go to French school. So many people from minority communities speak French as a first or at least second language whereas only Anglo-Canadians are allowed to send their children to anglophone schools. So if they were making assumptions about you it should be that you were francophone.
On the other hand, minorities would be less likely to complain about somebody speaking English to them. So there’s a chance that some of the people were anglophones and only spoke French to people they were worried might otherwise complain. Language is such a sensitive subject there, and I believe the percentage of francophones continues to drop in the city itself.
sophieOctober 12, 2020 at 12:40 am
hey !! i stumbled upon this article and i found it really interesting. im the daughter of german immigrants and i was born and lived my entire life in montreal (i’m in my last year of secondaire) and i found it very interesting to see someone else’s perspective of montreal, because i feel like since i grew up here, i never really realized the beauty it had. vancouver, toronto and the rest of the world always seemed more interesting to me, but i’ve come to appreciate the city. i agree with all of the points you made, you really summed up montreal. my favourite part, though, would be old montreal and the canal lachine, it’s so gorgeous. thank you for this article !!
Nina AhmedowOctober 12, 2020 at 11:33 am
Hi Sophie, it’s so nice to hear from you! I think it’s very true that we sometimes take our hometowns for granted, but others can help us see the beauty in them. I wish you all the best for the future and am glad I was able to rekindle your love for Montreal.