What to know before your move from Toronto to Montreal

7 Things to know and do before moving from Toronto to Montreal

Toronto is Canada’s most populous city, boasting a population of over six million people. In the late 1800s, the city experienced significant economic growth, marked by the opening of the Toronto Stock Exchange and the expansion of railways. As the largest city, Toronto is known for its towering skyscrapers, some reaching heights of up to 500 feet, which you’ll encounter as you explore the city.

On the other hand, Montreal, Quebec’s largest city and Canada’s second-most populous metropolis, hosts a thriving community of over four million people. For those seeking a North American city with a distinct European ambiance, Montreal stands as an ideal choice. Immersed in history and culture, a visit to the Old Port can easily transport you to a European setting, even with your eyes closed.

For those curious about finding the right place to live in Montreal and seeking guidance on what to do before making the move, read on for more information.

Get Ready for Your Move to Montreal

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1. First steps before moving to Montreal

Finding a job

The city of Montreal offers a diverse job market across multiple sectors, from technology and healthcare to tourism and sustainability. With a multicultural vibe and strong demand for skilled workers, jobseekers in Montreal have various avenues for career success through online platforms such as indeed, networking, government employment support, and career counseling.

Getting there 

To travel from Toronto to Montreal, the quickest option is to take a direct flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL). The flight duration is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.

Alternatively, you can choose VIA Rail, which offers train services between Toronto and Montreal. The train provides a comfortable and scenic way to travel but takes an average of 5 hours for the journey. You can check their schedules and book tickets online.

Another option is to select a bus journey with companies like Greyhound or Megabus. Buses typically depart from Toronto’s main bus terminal, Union Station. Or you can drive by car, and the road trip takes approximately 5 to 7 hours.

What are the Best Movers From Toronto to Montreal?

Moving to a new city entails more than just packing your belongings; it also involves transporting them efficiently. Fortunately, the best Toronto to Montreal moving companies offer truck rental services, allowing you to move your possessions to your new neighborhood. Some of these providers go a step further, providing comprehensive moving solutions like packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, custom crate creation, as well as short-term and long-term storage options. This ensures a safe and convenient moving experience. Many of these companies also offer online tracking, allowing you to monitor your packages in transit. You also have the option to rent a moving truck and handle the entire process yourself.

When selecting a long-distance moving company, make sure they have accreditations from organizations such as the Canadian Movers Association and the Better Business Bureau. Additionally, they should offer insurance coverage for your peace of mind.

Must dos before your arrival in Montreal

  1. Update Your Address: Changing your address is a crucial step when moving. You can easily complete this process using our free change of address service. To ensure you don’t miss any essential information, refer to our comprehensive change of address checklist in Quebec.
  2. Housing Arrangements: Ensure a smooth relocation by securing temporary lodging and exploring long-term housing options.
  3. Cost of Living Analysis: Make informed decisions by conducting thorough research on living expenses, including housing, groceries, transportation, and healthcare in advance.
  4. Weather Preparedness: Be ready for a wide range of temperatures throughout the year, from hot summers to freezing winters with snowfall.

2. Upon your arrival in Montreal

Must dos right upon your arrival

  1. Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood and make note of important emergency numbers.
  2. Locate essential facilities such as the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department to ensure safety during emergencies.
  3. French Language Proficiency can enhance your integration into Québécois culture and daily life by learning the official language, even if it’s just the basics.
  4. If you plan to move around the city of Montreal for work or leisure, consider purchasing a monthly transit pass to save money.

Montreal’s primary public transportation system is the STM (Société de transport de Montréal), facilitating transportation for residents and visitors alike. Tickets can be obtained on buses with exact change or at metro stations, vending machines, authorized retailers, or online. The metro consists of four lines with distinct routes: Green, Orange, Yellow, and Blue lines.

Here are Montreal’s public transport rates:

Type of fare

Rate

Single ticket

$3.75

Daily pass

$11.00

Weekly pass

$30.00

Monthly pass

$97.00

747

Trudeau Airport/Downtown

S11.00

STM (Sept 2023)

Exchanging your driver’s license

When relocating to Montreal, it’s crucial to promptly update your driver’s license and vehicle registration through the Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ). 

This address change is mandatory as it is required by law. Failure to update your address on your driver’s license could result in a fine. For more detailed information, please refer to our article on how to change your address on your driver’s license in Quebec.

Setting up a bank account 

When moving from Toronto to Montreal, it’s crucial to establish a local presence by setting up a bank account. Before selecting a bank, compare institutions for the best returns, lowest administration costs, and the option to open your account remotely before arriving in Montreal. 

Some banks have a presence in both cities. To make this transition smoother, inquire in advance about how to change your home branch with the bank. You should also inform your bank of your new mailing address to receive any statements or other communications. 

To do this, visit the bank you wish to select as your new home branch. Some banks with a presence in both cities include the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

Getting health insurance

Having health insurance is like having a safety cushion for your health. It prevents you from being burdened with significant bills during medical emergencies. If you are a permanent resident in Quebec, you have access to the RAMQ (la Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec), which offers public health insurance that covers basic medical expenses.

However, it does not include comprehensive services such as those provided by private clinics, paramedical treatments, dental and ophthalmological care, and some diagnostic services. 

For comprehensive coverage, you can opt to purchase private health insurance or use the one sponsored by your employer.

Type of healthcare

Cost

Employer-sponsored health insurance

$63.00

Non-employer-sponsored health insurance (average cheapest)

$50.00-$166.70

Gym

$41.14

Numbeo (Sept 2023), Hellosafe (2023) & Insurance Business (Apr 2023)

3. Best places to live in Montreal

Montreal offers a variety of neighborhoods, each with its unique charm. Selecting the right neighborhood in this vibrant city can be a bit challenging, given that it is Canada’s second-largest city, teeming with opportunities. To help you make an informed choice, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best neighborhoods to consider when moving to Montreal.

City

Characteristics 

Plateau Mont-Royal

Vibrant, “Little Paris” ideal for families.

Old Montreal

Major tourist attraction borough with higher rent, suited for young professionals.

Ville-Marie

With Victorian houses and a business hub, it offers professionals job opportunities, cultural amenities, and educational options.

Griffintown

Southwestern Montreal area, family-friendly, revitalized with parks, condos, and dining.

Setting up home services 

Whether you own a house or rent in Montreal, utility costs are a part of your budget. The good news is that Montreal offers highly affordable electricity rates, with Hydro-Québec’s rates being about half of Toronto’s. Additionally, when managing your expenses, don’t forget to consider your internet services.  

Utilities

Cost

Basic

(Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment

$110.21

Internet

(60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)

$59.54

Total

$169.75

Numbeo (Sept 2023) &Hydroquebec (2022)

Should you rent or buy?

In 2023, on average, a house in Montreal costs around $521,600. If you’re considering renting, a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center will cost you about $1,221.81.

Montreal is often regarded as a more budget-friendly choice for purchasing a home when compared to major Canadian cities such as Toronto. However, despite its overall affordability, house buying in Montreal can still be relatively costly, particularly in certain neighborhoods and for specific property types.

Cost of rent in Montreal

Area/Neighborhood

1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

Montreal (Outside of Center)

$1,221.81

$1,979.26

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

Cost of buying a property in Montreal

Area/Neighborhood

Average home price 

Montreal

$521,600

CREA (Aug 2023)

4. Cost of living in Montreal vs. Toronto

Montreal’s cost of living

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$1,221.81

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list ($82.64 multiplied by 4)

 $330.56

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$110.21

Internet with 60 Mbps

$59.54

Transit pass

$97.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$116.75

Gym membership 

$41.14

Total

$1,977.01

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

Toronto’s cost of living

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$2,280.60

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list ($88.59 multiplied by 4)

 $354.36

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

 $208.67

Internet with 60 Mbps

$76.09

Transit pass

$156.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$104.00

Gym membership 

$72.73

Total

$3,252.45

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

5. The weather in Montreal

The city of Montreal experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year, each with its own weather conditions. Summers, which run from June to August, are the favored time to visit because there are plenty of festivals. The weather can be warm and sometimes quite hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 20 °C to 30 °C. 

Winters, running from December to February, are cold and snowy, with temperatures often dipping below freezing. Snowfall can be heavy, making it a popular destination for winter sports like skiing and ice skating.

Montreal’s weather can be quite changeable, so it’s a good idea to check the local forecast when planning your move.

6. What to do as a local in Montreal

As a Montreal local, your intimate knowledge of the city opens the door to a world of diverse experiences. Explore neighborhoods like Plateau-Mont-Royal, Mile End, Little Italy, and the Old Port, each offering unique shops and restaurants. Delight in Montreal’s culinary scene by savoring local favorites like poutine, bagels, and smoked meat sandwiches.

Visit vibrant markets such as Jean-Talon and Atwater Market, where you can find fresh local products. In the summer, you can also enjoy festivals like the Montreal Jazz Festival and Just for Laughs. During the winter, don’t miss festivals such as Montreal en Lumière, and Nuit Blanche. You can also indulge in outdoor activities at Mont Royal Park, including ice skating and snowshoeing.

Montreal is a bike-friendly city with an extensive network of paths. Consider renting or buying a bike for city exploration; you’ll love it.

7. Fun facts about Montreal

  • Montreal stands out as Canada’s largest bilingual city, where both French and English are widely spoken. While French is the official language, English speakers are also abundant.
  • Montreal features an extensive underground network known as the “Réso” Crossing over 33 km. It seamlessly connects various buildings, shopping centers, and restaurants, providing a convenient winter escape.
  • Renowned for its diverse and delectable cuisine, Montreal is a must-visit for local specialties like poutine, bagels, and smoked meat sandwiches.
  • Montreal is celebrated for its festivals, from the internationally famous Montreal Jazz Festival to the humor-filled Just for Laughs Festival. The city hosts a constant stream of cultural events, concerts, and festivals.

What Are the Benefits of Moving to Montreal From Toronto?

Even though Montreal’s home prices are rising, the prices remain less expensive than in Toronto. Moreover, the car insurance rates and the public transportation networks are cheaper in Montreal. You can opt to use its public transportation networks. 

Montreal takes a slightly slower pace with cobbled streets, French cafés, botanical gardens, and scenic architecture. On the other hand, Toronto has a fast-paced type of life with busy metropolitan areas.

Pros and Cons in Moving to Montreal from Toronto

Pros

Cons

  • Housing, insurance, transportation, entertainment, and communication are cheaper in Montreal compared to Toronto. 
  • Montreal is a very green city. With its Mount Royal in the middle of the city, it is easily accessible year round.
  • If you are looking for a city with European features in North America, Montreal is perfect for you.
  • Being a smaller city compared to Toronto, Montreal holds less head offices. 
  • Toronto is more multiculturally diverse than Montreal. 
  • Keep in mind that French is the primary language in the province of Quebec. You will probably have to learn some French.

Conclusion

Montreal is an excellent choice for relocation if you seek a more affordable cost of living. While the excitement of starting fresh in a new neighborhood is appealing, it’s crucial to prepare for budgeting, comparing mobility plans, finding the right place, and choosing the best movers, among other factors.

Weighing all these factors will help ensure a seamless transition and allow you to embark on a fresh start in this vibrant city. Montreal, with its rich cultural tapestry and diverse neighborhoods, offers an appealing scenery for this new chapter in your life.

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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