You have just arrived in the paradise that is Montreal. For many coming from outside of Quebec it will come with a fair helping of culture shock adjusting to a city that is in many ways very different from the rest of the continent. You could be forgiven for thinking that you had moved to another country all together because settling into life in Montreal means adapting to the struggles that your mind will face on a daily basis as you compare your new utopia to your old home.
Here are some of the top "struggles" that out of towners will notice upon arrival.
1. Beer is crazy cheap
If you're from anywhere else in Canada you will be likely find yourself at the dep just about every day because beer is so cheap. Many supermarkets and dépanneurs have excellent varieties of beer for sale and bars often have pitchers on special for reduced rates. Drink up.
2. Bars are open late
A lot of people move to Montreal from cities like Toronto and Vancouver and are pleasantly surprised to discover that the city's nightly activities wrap up much later than back home. Bars close at 3am but there are many underground venues and clubs that stay open all night to indulge those who don't really feel the need to sleep.
3. Drinking in public is basically legal
What better summer activity than a picnic? The rules around public drinking in Montreal are a tad foggy and it is generally acceptable to have booze with you as long as you're also having food. As a result summer sees parks transformed into wonderful picnic grounds where you can enjoy a cold one (or many) with that gourmet poutine.
Photo cred - monty
4. Strip Clubs
Let's face it, Montreal has a ton of strip clubs. If you're into that that type of entertainment then you've come to the right place as just about every major street in the city proper features a collection of clubs to suite even the most discerning tastes. Many of the city's strip clubs are conveniently located next to grocery stores, cafes and other places that you will frequent during the week so you will never be at a loss to discover new spots.
5. Rent is dirt cheap
Montreal is a cheap city to live in. It is legitimately feasible to survive on $1000 a month and that is largely thanks to rental prices that are much lower than many other major cities in North America. Artists are able to exist here in such large numbers in part because a full time reliable income is not necessary just to pay for the essentials. People arriving from Toronto or Vancouver can basically expect to cut their rental costs in half while also getting more space for the price. Montreal houses generally have a lot of "character" but that usually just adds to the charm.
6. Montreal protests everything
The ongoing student and anti austerity protests are a poignant reminder that people in Montreal are passionate about social issues and are not afraid to voice their opinions. Taking part in a large scale public demonstration is pretty much a right of passage for living here because the generally peaceful nature of protests in the city invites anyone and everyone to take part. Frequent displays of protest are effective and have lead to legislative change in many instances. Newcomers may be taken aback by the shear number of demonstrations in any given year but one can't deny that it is refreshing to see a citizenry that is so engaged with important issues.
7. Music and art are everywhere
Montreal is a city of art in all four seasons. Beautiful murals are visible on just about every building and outdoor pianos are a staple of the summer season. Busking is legal in many places without a permit and the number of bars that offer live music is staggering. Fireworks at La Ronde and ever changing installations at Place des Arts allow anyone to view for free while walking around. For anyone serious about formal art, the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal offers a year's membership to residents at the unbelievably low price of $30.
8. There are festivals for everything
Every month in Montreal there are multiple festivals celebrating everything from music to food to yoga and just about anything else. The city boasts massive amounts of public space dedicated to the arts and there are also a staggering number of private spaces offering creative exhibitions. Chances are if you live in Montreal and have a hobby or significant interest there is a festival for it. There is even a website dedicated just to listing the ever increasing number of festivals that take place year round.
Photo cred - Anita Hart
9. No security deposits
A shock to many newcomers, landlords cannot legally charge security deposits in Québec. It's always a pain to come up with security deposits while coordinating all of the other million steps involved in a move so newcomers can rest a little easier knowing that they don't have to fork over a bunch of dough up front. The flip side of not having security deposits is that many buildings in Montreal are in less than picturesque condition but the low rental costs definitely make up for it.