I moved to Montreal about 3 years ago from Toronto to attend university at Concordia. I lived in Toronto my whole life, and yes actually Toronto not a suburb in the GTA. I loved living in the city because everything was super accessible and it's just something I was always used to. I'm definitely a city kid at heart. Toronto was a great place to grow up but I wanted to get out of my home to experience something new for university, so I decided to go to the next biggest city, Montreal!
Since Montreal and Toronto are both huge Canadian cities I really didn't expect them to be all that different. But once I got here I realized they're both very different for many reasons. Having experienced both I feel like I should try to explain some of the differences I've noticed between the two!
1. The Subway Is Now Called The Metro, It May Be Confusing At First
Us Torontonian's are so used to calling it the subway that it can be a rough change to calling it the metro. It just doesn't make sense to us. The first few times I accidentally called it the subway people actually thought I was talking about Subway Sandwiches... That was a little bit awkward.
2. You'll Have To Put That Middle School Level French To Use Again
So, most Toronto kids only got up to middle school level french since it was only mandatory to take French classes until grade 9. Some of the lucky few who were enrolled in French Immersion don't have to worry about this but it can be scary moving to a city which speaks an entirely different language! But don't worry the amount of French you know will definitely be enough. Over half of Montreal speaks English so if you're really worried just avoid super French areas like Le Plateau.
3. You Can Drink At 18 Here, So You Don't Have To Worry About Fake IDs Anymore
When I came here for university I was a wee 18 year old and I couldn't legally drink in Toronto. But once I got to Montreal it was totally legal! It was honestly the best feeling to finally be able to go out to bars with my friends and not worry about whether my fake ID was going to fool the bouncer or not. (Sorry Mom)
4. You Can Actually Walk From The West Side Of The City To The East
This was one of the best things about Montreal when I first came here. It's literally impossible to walk anywhere in Toronto because the city is just too huge and spread out! It's great because downtown Toronto is so big and there's so much to see but you need to use the metro to get around. In Montreal you can walk across the entire downtown core in less than an hour! (If you're a fast walker like me)
5. The Night Life Is So Much Better
Montreal is known as a party city and it's so true. Everyone goes out all the time and that's just normal here. Sure, Toronto has some good clubs and bars but they just don't compare to Montreal. All the bars are unique and cool, you're bound to have a good time anytime you go out.
6. I Was At The Dep Every Week To Buy Wine Because It's Just That Easy
That's right, they sell beer and wine at Depanneur's here. If don't know already a Depanneur is their version of a corner store but obviously so much better! Being able to walk just up the street and buy a cheap bottle of wine is so convenient, you'll never need to go to the liquor store ever again!
7. There's Always Fun Events Happening In The City, And It's Easy To Discover Them
This city has so many amazing things happening all the time. Of course, Toronto does too but I find it's so much easier to discover these cool events in this city. They're always open to everyone and you're guaranteed a unique and fun experience.
8. You'll Meet People From All Over The World
The people in this city are so friendly it's impossible not to meet so many amazing and cool people. Since the city is so multicultural you're bound to meet people from all over the world. In my first year at Concordia, probably over half of the people staying in residence with me were from another country!
9. You'll Actually Want To Explore The City Because It's Just So Pretty
Montreal is such a gorgeous city with some insane street art. Turn around almost every corner in Montreal and you'll run into a stunning mural that you just have to stop and admire for a while. In Toronto, we just don't have this sort of thing. There is some street art but not in the abundance that Montreal offers.
10. It's Not Just A Business City, There's Actually A Lot Of Culture Here
Toronto is a very business-oriented city and that's great! But Montreal is more than that, it's filled with culture. It's known as a European-style city but is also very multicultural allowing for some amazing cuisines and authentic areas of the city. Take Montreal's Chinatown, for example!
11. If You Call It Shoppers No One Will Understand You, It's Called Pharmaprix Now
This is another one of those French/English mishaps that happen when you first move here. It took me an embarrassingly long time to stop calling it Shoppers and start calling it Pharmaprix. People really didn't know what I was talking about for a while.
12. People Will Make Fun Of You For Pronouncing It "Turonno"
When people ask you where you're from and you respond normally Toronto, people will think it's hilarious because apparently we all pronounce it "Turonno" without even realizing it. After the last couple years of getting made fun of over this, I've come to realize it's true I do pronounce it like that, but true Torontonian's should be proud of it!
13. The Food Is Literally Amazing Here, Especially Brunch Food
I don't know what it is, but the brunch food in Montreal is so amazing! Brunch is it's own culture here, people live for the weekends just so they can survive on brunch food alone and it's totally acceptable. I've definitely become one of these people and I just can't help it! There's so many amazing brunch spots in Montreal you'll never run out of new places to try.
14. Winter Here Is Like A Frozen Hell, It's So Horrible
Sure, Montreal is pretty in the winter but it's so freaking cold you'll never want to leave your house. I'm not sure what it is, but Montreal is so much colder than Toronto is during the winters. I was definitely not prepared for this when I moved here!
15. The Coffee Culture Here Is So Great, Spending Your Entire Day At A Cafe Is 100% Acceptable
Montreal's coffee culture is like no other. Before I came to Montreal I never really knew about independent cafes, I only knew about Starbucks and Second Cup. That makes me sound really lame I know, but moving to Montreal really helped open my eyes to the culture that is amazing coffee and cute and cozy cafes. I spend almost everyday doing work at cafes and it's my favourite thing.
16. People Will Definitely Fight With You If You Admit You're A Leaf's Fan
Montreal is very serious about their hockey, maybe even more than Toronto is. Their loyalty to their home team the Habs is unbelievable at times. I'm not necessarily a hockey person but I do feel a small sense of loyalty to the Toronto Maple Leafs, I have to admit. But admit that to any Montrealers and you're in for a long argument!
17. You'll Pay 1/2 The Price For Your Metro Card That You Would Have To Pay In Toronto
This is so true. The price of a monthly pass for a student in Montreal is $49.75 and in Toronto it's $112.00! That's a huge difference and it's even bigger for non-student pricing. It's pretty crazy considering Toronto is a much larger city and you can't avoid taking transit ever. Definitely not fair, but at least Montrealers have it good!
18. Montrealers Really Care About Neighborhood Segregation
I definitely don't mean this in a bad way, I just find it funny how specific Montrealers are about their neighborhoods. There's a difference between people living in the West Island compared to RDP or people living in the South Shore and those living in Laval. This sort of thing comes up a lot in conversation here and everyone has their own opinions about each separate 'hood.
19. University Life Here Is The Best Experience You'll Ever Have
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Montreal has so many amazing universities and colleges, making it a young person's city. A bonus is that Montreal's two English universities, McGill and Concordia, both sit right in the heart of downtown, making everything accessible for us students. The university experience is so unique from Toronto's, but I can't say that it's better since I never experience Toronto university life myself.
20. After Living In Both Cities You'll Love Them Equally, Because Even Though They're Different They're Both Amazing
This is definitely true. I've now had the pleasure of living in both Montreal and Toronto and can I can assure you that neither one is better than the other. They are both amazing for their own reasons and I've loved living in each of them. If you're considering a move from Toronto to Montreal or vice versa, I promise you won't be disappointed either way!