Struggles English People Face When They First Move To Montreal

Photo cred - Michael G.

One of the greatest things about Montreal is that it’s a multi-lingual city. The blend of french and english makes you feel like you’re in a highly cultured and progressive metropolis. Unfortunately for those who only speak english, getting by in Montreal can be a little bit of a struggle.

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The panic of what to respond to “Bonjour/Hi”

Almost every cashier, sales assistant, or teller will greet you with the classic “bonjour/hi”, leaving you with the horrible, panic stricken decision of having to decide which one to respond with. If you say “hi”, they might just think you’re a lazy anglophone that’s not even trying. But if you say “bonjour”, they may keep speaking in French and leave you having absolutely no clue what they’re saying.


You keep hearing people talking about these things called Deps, but all you want is to find out where the closest convenience store is. And then you finally realize that they’re the same thing expect with alcohol.


On almost every breakfast menu in Montreal you see this thing called “creton", so you figure it must be pretty great if it's served everywhere, right? So you decide to give it a try, and take a bite, only to realize that it’s essentially lard with some onion and spices.

5 à 7

When you move to Montreal there’s a very good chance that you’ll be invited to a 5 à 7 by one friend or another, which may leave you in the awkward position of having to ask what this very basic thing is. For anyone that still doesn’t know: it’s just what Montrealers call happy hour.

Dealing with government employees

Trying to do something as simple as getting a Quebec health card can be very difficult for those who don’t speak French, especially when the government employees refuse to speak to you in english.

Not realizing that leases renew automatically

In almost every other province, once your lease is done it either won’t renew automatically or switches to a month-to-month lease. But not in Quebec. If you forget to tell your landlord that you don’t want to renew, they can lock you in for another full year.

Butchering names of french things

Your attempts to pronounce words in french may leave your francophone friends with a little second-hand embarrassment, or just an inability to understand you all together.

Understanding the signage

Almost every sign in Montreal is in French, which can make navigating the city a bit of a struggle for an anglophone - especially if you’re trying to find a parking spot.

Finding a job

Unless you know how to speak French, your chances of getting a job in Montreal are pretty slim. So if you’re an anglophone student planning on getting a part-time job to help pay for school, Montreal may not be the place for that.