Guys, Montreal is an awesome place. I've been here my whole life, and I have absolutely no desire to get out. Sure, I love exploring other places, but this is my home, and I'm convinced it's the best place to live... even if it's not perfect.
I also happen to know quite a few people who have come from other places in the world, but have decided to make Montreal their new homes. There were a couple of common things they all did when they were first new to the city that they now agree might not have been the best decisions. And if you can relate to any of these, then sit back, have a little "let's not take ourselves too seriously" chuckle, and enjoy.
1. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can eat your first poutine in just one sitting.
Oh, friend. No.
2. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can find your way through Mount Royal on your first excursion.
I've been in Montreal for 25 years and I still get lost as all fuck trying to navigate my way down that mountain.
3. Don't make the mistake of cheaping out on boots during your first Montreal winter.
If you've never experienced on of our super icy, slushy, slippery winters, then consider this your formal warning: buy good winter boots. Buy. Good. Winter. Boots. The type with insulation and grippy soles so you don't go flying down a hill at 255 kilometers an hour. Trust, don't stick with your fall UGGs. They'll do you no good here.
4. Don't make the mistake of trusting the STM bus schedule.
Those schedules are more like loose guidelines. To be safe, always show up 5-10 minutes before a bus is scheduled to show up... and always leave the house 10 minutes earlier than you need to.
5. Don't make the mistake of not getting lost.
Sounds crazy, right? But not really. Montreal is so big that getting lost in the city will allow you to discover the parts you love most. As long as you're safe and you can find your way back, then don't be afraid to walk down the little streets or get off a metro stop or two too far.
6. Don't make the mistake of thinking traffic won't be terrible today.
It will be. But it's okay. You'll learn that in good time, and we love you anyway, Montreal.
7. Don't make the mistake of spending all your money on food.
Yes, Montreal's dining scene is seriously awesome. No, you shouldn't eat out for every single meal in a frantic attempt to sample all of Montreal's best restaurants. (Actually, I can't even judge anyone on this one, I do it myself, TBH).
8. Don't make the mistake of thinking that are summers are freezing AF.
If you're not from around here, then it might be pretty easy to assume that our summers are pretty mild. Well, friend, that's simply not true. We get heatwaves, our humidity levels are off the charts, we overwork or AC units, and we spend just as much time in the pool as we do digging our cars out of snow in the winter. (AKA, a lot).
9. Don't make the mistake of driving to the Old Port.
Finding parking? Oh. Haha. Yeah, that's not going to happen... At least not for cheap.
10. Don't make the mistake of thinking everyone either speaks French or English.
We're a bilingual city; most of us speak both languages, and if we don't, then most of us will at least attempt to communicate with you.
11. Don't make the mistake of buying in to the Fairmount Vs. St. Viateur bagel feud.
They're both awesome in their own ways. Don't be a bagelist.
12. Don't make the mistake of renting an apartment near Concordia or McGill.
If you can, then go for it. But if it's not in your budget, don't worry about it. Try going to other boroughs that are still relatively close to the downtown core and that offer cheaper rents (like NDG or Cote-Des-Neiges, for example).
13. Don't make the mistake of thinking you need a car to get around.
Sure, it's super convenient. But pretty much, you can get around the city just fine using the BMW method. (Bus, meto, walk, BTW).
14. Don't make the mistake of skipping out on your monthly Opus card.
At the same time, if you're not a driver, don't decide to pay for each bus trip by itself. Trust, it's a lot cheaper to just buy the bus pass if you rely on the bus to get around.
15. Don't make the mistake of eating $2 Chow after a night out on St. Laurent.
Those noodles are delicious, but they don't taste so good when you're puking them out on the corner of St. Laurent and Prince Arthur at 3 AM as people stare at you and judge. (Or, haha, is that just me?)
16. Don't make the mistake of only grabbing smoked meat at Schwartz's.
Don't get it twisted, Schwartz's is great. But don't make it your one and only smoked meat spot. There are tons of other awesome ones (Jarry Smoked Meat, Lester's Deli, Smoked Meat Pete etc) to discover.
17. Don't make the mistake of never venturing to Laval/The West Island.
You might get intimidated by places that aren't strictly on-island, but trust, you're doing yourself a huge disservice not to go exploring these places. Pointe-Claire is beautiful, and Centropolis in Laval is fun AF.
18. Don't make the mistake of taking the highways during rush hour.
When the sign says "congestion", take the scenic route. Which brings me to another point:
19. Don't make the mistake of taking the metro during rush hour.
Between the hours of like, 3 and 7 PM, the metros are PACKED as hell. Do yourself a favour and leave work an hour early, or go grab a coffee until 7:00.
20. Don't make the mistake of thinking that bikers, pedestrians, and drivers all love each other.
We do, don't get me wrong. But just... be extra careful whenever you're on the road, no matter what. Traffic lights are usually just a suggestion to most of us.
21. Don't make the mistake of going to Igloofest without gloves/a hat/a scarf/boots/a heated blanket.
If you're in Montreal, you're gooing to have a good time - no matter what. Even in the winter, we've got super fun festivals going down, like Igloofest, which is an outdoor fest with music, drinks, and good vibes. But trust, it gets freezing cold sometimes. I'm not even kidding about bringing the heated blanket part. Or am I?
22. Don't make the mistake of thinking the construction is finally over.
IT'S. NEVER. OVER.