Renting a Montreal Apartment
September 30, 2004 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Renting an apartment in downtown Montréal [plus à l'intérieur]

Is the rental market as bad as people say? I need to find a one-bedroom place by the end of October, preferably in the Plateau area, or somewhere within walking distance to the Peel metro station. I've been fed a lot of anecdotes about the place -- that it's impossible to find a lease starting on a date other than July 1, that the apartments in the Plateau are mostly crappy, that French landlords sometimes don't rent to the Anglos, demand in the Plateau is extremely high -- and am wondering which of these are true. Also, neighbourhood recommendations are welcome. Thanks.
posted by Succa to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
This will be of great help to you.

A simple check on the likelyhood of racism against Anglophones in Quebec in Motreal would be to find that area in this list and check the NON (Pro-Canada integration) vs. OUI (Pro-Separation from English Canada) votes. Sorry, I don't know the voting areas in Quebec and my French is too rusty to guess. It's a good guide, though.

Here's a couple of the old districts from my crappy Google-Fu: Chomedey (NON), Vaudreuil (NON), and Anjou (NON). There's probably plenty of others I couldn't find. Sorry. Looks like a good place for English speakers to live, well, good as far as Quebec is concerned. If you like to eat and buy things, you should probably learn some French.
posted by shepd at 11:13 AM on September 30, 2004

It's true that most leases expire around July 1st, and that the moving services make a killing around that time.

Although I've never lived there, I've been there several times, and I personally don't think that the racism situation is as bad as shepd makes it sound. Montreal is quite multicultural and I honestly don't think that French is a requirement to live there at all (full disclosure: I'm bilingual).

Here is a good general perspective of the situation, and part 2. Also, check out the Wikipedia entry for Montreal.
posted by mrgavins at 11:20 AM on September 30, 2004

I'm really interested in information on this too. My dream for a long time has been to move to Montreal...

Sorry I don't have any helpful info on the subject myself.
posted by soplerfo at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2004

It's true about the leases. They are almost all 1 year July 1 - July1. that being said, you should still be able to find a place... I haven't lived there for 8 years, when the rental market had enormous vacancy rates, but from what I've heard, you can still find good deals in Mile End (Parc Ave north of Mont-Royal). The Plateau is notoriously hard to get into.

I'd check the Gazette classifieds for anglo-friendly apartments, if that's important to you, or the Journal for a larger selection.

You're in Ottawa now right? So you at least speak some French?
posted by sauril at 11:54 AM on September 30, 2004

Er, his profile says Toronto. Unless I'm missing something.

And also, living in Ottawa does not necessarily mean that one speaks any amount of french.

From here: "[Ottawa] has 125,000 French-speaking and 600,000 English-speaking inhabitants. While nearly all the residents of Ottawa speak one of the two official languages, there are some 300,000 who speak both."
posted by mrgavins at 12:15 PM on September 30, 2004

A little offtopic, eh?
posted by mrgavins at 12:18 PM on September 30, 2004

I can't speak to rental racism (when I lived in Montreal, I lived in a large building on Sherbrooke where having a pulse and rent was the only requirement), but in general, some people *are* dicks about French (mine is passable, but vocab-lacking at times).

A Plateau tale: I was having breakfast at the St. Viateur bagel on Mount-Royal. I ordered in French but needed an ashtray, and not knowing the French (cindrier--like cinder) asked for that in English. The waitress stared at me uncomprehendingly and I found one on my own. I continued to eat breakfast there for the next five days, always ordering in French from the same waitress. On day six, she suddenly began speaking English to me. That pretty much sums up the French/English attitudes I've witnessed: prove you can do it in French, and then people will speak to you in English. Attempt English first, you will be treated rudely & people will pretend like they can't understand even when they can. Or the jerks will. Some people are nice from the first.
posted by dame at 12:19 PM on September 30, 2004

Response by poster: I'm from Ottawa, but living in Toronto. Fooled ya! My French is passable. I can certainly understand what's written in your typical classified ad, but some of the Montrealais spoken slang throws me off. I speak with an obvious Anglo accent. I don't think I'm fooling any tete-carré-hating landlords.

Does anyone know about the apartment quality there? I've heard all kinds of reports ranging from "awful" to "pretty damn great."
posted by Succa at 12:26 PM on September 30, 2004

The apartments I've been to in the Plateau ranged from awful to great just like any other neighborhood I've been to. Again, I don't know how hard they are to get though.
posted by dame at 1:18 PM on September 30, 2004

The Ottawa thing was because I thought I remembered you talking up the Sens over in Sportsfilter.

Apartment quality varies. I dated a girl who lived in a place heated by a wood stove. on the Plateau. I've also had a friend who lived iin a mansion* near McGill for less than $400/mo. So, just like any other city really.

Dame's experience re: english/french is pretty much identical to mine.

* literally. It used to be the embassy for some country that doesn't exhist anymore. It was really cool. There were quite a few others living there too, obviously
posted by sauril at 3:02 PM on September 30, 2004

mr gavins, I was referring to the sign language law. Yeah, you can order by pictures, but that gets boring awful fast.

As far as racism against Anglophones in Quebec goes, it's definately not an evenly spread thing. I can definately imagine Montreal is very welcoming of Anglophones being that city is a strong tourist attraction. However, I can also definately imagine cities where having an Ontario license plate will nearly guarantee an officer will find something to cite you for (in fact, I've read plenty of newspaper articles saying the same thing). In those cities, getting an English interpreter pretty much guarantees your guilt, and you require someone who passed the bar to defend you against a parking ticket, or you have to be present in court.

Don't get me wrong, similar incidents happen against other ethnic groups in parts of Canada outside Quebec.
posted by shepd at 3:31 PM on September 30, 2004

List of apartment-hunting links in Montreal here. The Montreal livejournal community can also be a useful source of apartments and local lore. The apartment market is tight but not impossible. Note that landlords are not supposed to be allowed to ask for deposits, but some do. If you look like a good prospect as a tenant there should be no racism against you as an anglo.
posted by zadcat at 6:30 PM on September 30, 2004

Oh, and with due respect to shepd, if Succa wants to be near downtown Montreal, he would not move to Chomedey, Vaudreuil or Anjou.

Mile End is a good neighbourhood handy to downtown, but Villeray and western Rosemont might have the best deals balancing affordable rents against proximity to downtown and conveniences. The Plateau is not overly gentrified - it's just got maximum central convenience and comfort. And yes, some of the apartments there are dumps.

Quebec nationalism is in a quiet cycle right now and should not affect the apartment issue - in fact, this is one of the reasons the rental market's been so hot.

Bienvenue à Montréal!
posted by zadcat at 8:22 PM on September 30, 2004

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