New Yorkers moving to Montreal- HELP!!!
August 1, 2006 2:46 PM   Subscribe

Hello My partner and I are moving to Montreal from NYC in the winter of 2007 and need some advice on great neighbourhoods to look into and the possibilities of finding an apt around that time. Any suggestions?
posted by Dmart to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You shouldn't have any trouble finding a place, as you won't really be competing with students.

If you're youngish and like nice neighbourhoods that are in the middle of things, look at The Plateau and Mile End. Maybe the southeastern edge of Outremont as well.
posted by Marquis at 3:08 PM on August 1, 2006

That said, do note that Moving Day in Quebec is July 1st, and that's when leases traditionally begin and end. So if you find the selection more limited than you expect -- that's why. Expect to see a lot more coming available leading up to July 1st (and maybe your own lease to end then too).
posted by mendel at 3:25 PM on August 1, 2006

For some reason the site isn't working right now, but Craigslist is a great resource. of course, the site doesn't only cover montreal but that link does.
for some reason all the craigslist sites don't seem to be working right now, but i'd give that one a try in a few hours, maybe they'll get things up again, i really don't know what's wrong with it.
posted by alon at 3:42 PM on August 1, 2006

Some more info would be helpful if you want specific recommendations (approx. rent budget? desired kind of neighbourhood? proximity to metro? how is your French? what NY neighbourhoods do you like? etc.).

In general:

- mendel makes an important point re: Moving Day.

- you may or may not be aware of this, but Montreal apartments are generally not advertised as bachelor/studio, 1 bedroom, etc., but rather by total number of rooms. See this link for an explantion (scroll down to "Apartment Sizes").

- in addition to the usual sources (newspapers, craigslist), you can find some apartment listings (with photos) here.

- basic descriptions of some central neighbourhoods can be found here.
posted by Urban Hermit at 4:59 PM on August 1, 2006

I think a big part of your decisionmaking will be related to the question of what kinds of things you like to do for fun and relaxation and what kind of lifestyle you are interested in pursuing. In addition, where you'll be working is significant as well. Montreal has a very good transit system by North American standards, so you can live in many 'hoods and get to other areas relatively easily in most cases - but in many areas you can settle in and find almost everything (including your work) in that same area or very nearby.

If we are to assume (and these aren't insane assumptions) that you live in Manhattan now and enjoy that and that one or both of you are working at McGill or Concordia (particularly the downtown campus), then the Plateau, or Mile End would be great choices. Both feature lots of apartments, lots of culture, a vibrant bar and restaurant scene and are also home to many others with whom you will likely find a lot in common.

But if you can pass along more info, there are quite few current and recent Montrealers here who can help.
posted by mikel at 5:20 PM on August 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you all for your insight and suggestions- this definately helps us out! I work in the fashion industry and though I will be bouncing back and fourth to NYC, we're mostly looking for a better quality of life that is still quite urban and cool- we're in our early 30's so suburbia is out of the question!
You all rock- thanks again!
posted by Dmart at 9:26 PM on August 1, 2006

Response by poster: Oh shit I forgot- Is it insane to ask if its possible to find a 2 bedroom ( 4.5 rooms I guess) for around $800-$1000.00 CA in Mile End or the Plateau area? Whats the skinny on Little Italy as well?
posted by Dmart at 9:32 PM on August 1, 2006

Haha - you can certainly find a nice 2 bedrm for less than $800, I'd think...
posted by Marquis at 1:13 AM on August 2, 2006

You'd be looking for a large 4 1/2 or a 5 1/2 and I think that would be the price range you'd find it at. In the Plateau and Mile End you'll find lots of choice in that price range; in Little Italy (around St Laurent North of Rosemont/Van Horne up to about Jean Talon) that amount might even be a little high though I'm not 100% certain what rents are like in that area.

For listings, Hour magazine has (slightly dated) free classifieds and (fresher) pay-for-access classifieds that have a lot of entries.

Many apartments are never advertised except by a sign at the apartment itself, so getting to Montreal and poking around the area you like can be the best way to go about it.

A couple of other things:

--It is not uncommon for apartments in Montreal to be rented without appliances. Don't let this worry you too much though it is a pain - there is a thriving used appliance market, so you can address that relatively easily (though it is an added expense).

--Some apartments will be advertised as "heated" - this generally means the place is in a larger building with a central boiler. "Unheated" is nothing to be afraid of - it just means that the heating is electric (baseboards) and you pay for it via the power (hydro) company.

--sometimes the "room count" includes a "double salon" or "Double living room" and counts that as 2 rooms. It's not strictly proper to do so, I don't think, but it throws things off in that a 2 bedroom apt might be advertised as a 5 1/2 or even a 6 1/2.

--On the Plateau (and in Montreal in general), the further East you go the more francophone the area is. This isn't at all a big deal though you may prefer to get your bearings closer to the St-Laurent side of the area than over near Papineau.
posted by mikel at 4:58 AM on August 2, 2006

Little Italy is nice because it's right next to the Jean-Talon market. If you use that end of St-Laurent/Jean-Talon as a base then no doubt you can find an appartment of the size you asked for and within your budget. If you head south from there on the west side of St-Laurent it's Mile-End until about Mt-Royal where it becomes the Plateau, all nice places there and all should be within your budget. You can also go east and find nice places up to and beyond Parc Lafontaine.

Mikel gives good advice. I'd just like to add that you want to avoid electric heating if at all possible or else your winter electric bill will be astronomical. He's bang on about the double living rooms, especially in the area around St-Joseph and Laurier boulevards.
posted by furtive at 5:22 AM on August 2, 2006

Oh, and north of Jean-Talon is pretty much "out there" as far as us trendy area people think. But don't let that stop you!
posted by furtive at 5:23 AM on August 2, 2006

Montreal has a very good transit system by North American standards

. . . unless you're moving from New York. Then it's kinda mediocre. Remember, the Metro doesn't run 24 hours (and I found night buses very wanting), so be prepared to go out near your house/walk a lot/take a cab, if that matters to you.
posted by dame at 6:29 AM on August 2, 2006

dame, that is an extremely good point.
posted by mikel at 7:29 AM on August 2, 2006

Response by poster: You all have been amazingly generous- I cant thank you enough!
So we are visiting next month for 4 days where 2 of those days we have to pound the pavement. If you were to rate each neighbourhood in an order from best to least favourite, how would you rate them and could we hit all of them in that time.
Lets talk weather now. How cold does it REALLY get in Montreal? NY's weather has been pretty mild the last couple years because of global warming and maybe 2 really bad snowfalls each year. Does it snow alot there?
Also whats the deal regarding the underground city? So many questions, I'm sorry!
posted by Dmart at 7:45 AM on August 2, 2006

An "up and coming" neighborhood you might want to consider is Old Rosemont (just north east of the Plateau). Specifically, the quad between Iberville (W), St. Michel (E), Rosemont (N) and St. Joseph (S).

It's fast becoming the "overflow" for the Plateau and we get a lot of "refugees" from there (basically tired of the relatively low value for money you get there). For $800, don't expect to get much on the Plateau in terms of size or comfort. Rents in OR are still fairly affordable and Masson street (at the heart of OR) is slowly turning into a much nicer place in terms of stores, bars and restaurants. What's really neat (I find) is that just about everything you might need is within walking distance (even a few supermarkets). Public transportation is a very good, although not directly on a subway line. And don't worry too much about the language issue...

Concerning the weather, it has been getting warmer overall, but it's still much colder than NYC, and we get much more snow. This can be a drag if you have an old badly insulated place (a Plateau specialty) and if you have a car and have to park in the street (although snow removal is fairly fast). Winter tires are NOT an option.

Hope this helps...
posted by bluefrog at 8:07 AM on August 2, 2006

If I had two days to pound the pavement and wanted to maximize my chances of getting a decent first apartment in Montreal I would start at the corner of St Urbain and Duluth or so and move progressively North and East from there. The Northern limit would be St Joseph and the Eastern limit Parc Lafontaine. You might also check Mile End which is techically part of the Plateau but is quite distinct and that people really enjoy.

bluefrog is totally right that there are some terrific new areas to check, North and East of the Plateau, and that there are sketchy places in the Plateau... but for your first Montreal apartment I think most people would appreciate the established-ness of the Plateau. I lived there for almost 20 years and had some great apartments (and an even better house for a while).

It's tighter than things used to be, but not AS tight as it was 3 or 4 years ago in terms of the rental market. It is totally feasible to find a place and secure it's rental in 2-4 days.
posted by mikel at 10:10 AM on August 2, 2006

Response by poster: I really want you all to know that you all who have contributed to my questions have made this relocation seem so much easier! We needed this information and its GREATLY APPRECIATED!!
Since the public transportation seems like its pretty well, do you think there is a need for a car?
posted by Dmart at 2:37 PM on August 2, 2006

If you have a car, take it to Quebec and get it licenced and stuff, it's useful to have at the very least for runs to Ikea and other big box stores, which aren't usually that convenient (though there is a Home Depot on Beaubien which is very handy). It's also great to have if you want to do some exploring in the area outside the city on weekends.

That said, however, I lived without a car for many years in Montreal and it's very possible to do.
posted by mikel at 8:57 PM on August 2, 2006

Parking can be diabolical in Montreal as many of the older streets are narrow, many apartments are flats without parking spaces, and the rules for street parking are hard to understand and you have to do things like go out on winter nights to move your car from one side of the street to the other because of snow removal.

Luckily, the kind of neighborhood that appears to interest you does not require a car. if you can walk and/or cycle and don't mind public transit, you're set. (Unless you're hard-ass, don't expect to cycle here between November and March.)

I have several friends who have used the Communauto service and are happy with it. You can use a car at relatively short notice, but you don't have to stash it anywhere or pay for repairs.

We still have real winters here, don't imagine otherwise. Here is a picture on my street after a snowstorm last winter. The thing many folks don't grasp is that in Montreal, snow doesn't leave once it begins in late November or December. It sticks around and accumulates and becomes part of the landscape until it finally is mostly gone sometime in late March. Thaws do not help – in fact, they make everything worse. You will need boots, and if you get a typical Montreal flat with outdoor stairs, you will have to shovel.
posted by zadcat at 9:01 PM on August 2, 2006

Response by poster: Your Communauto is very similiar to what we have called ZipCar- which is pretty damn cool. Thats one thing I'm worried about are your winters- eeek!
I'm also curious to know what are the yearly salaries one can live comfortably with in Montreal? I hope I'm not asking too many questions here! I've never done Metafilter and it freakin rocks- you all have been awesome!
posted by Dmart at 8:15 AM on August 3, 2006

Montreal has been known as a place where one can live fairly well on a relatively low income, but that's been changing and I would hesitate to make blanket statements about something as individual and personal as financial comfort level. Apparent economic prestige is perhaps not as important here as in some parts of North America, but on the other hand, taxes are high and you don't get through winters like ours without heating bills, so to an extent it evens out.
posted by zadcat at 11:53 AM on August 4, 2006

It is difficult to find good websites that capture the character and appeal of Montreal so I created one with 39+ photos of the most popular neighborhoods:

Feedback from those who know the city is welcome.
posted by jlt1988 at 9:06 AM on March 4, 2007

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