I Lived In (& Loved) Vancouver, But Montreal Is Where I Feel At Home
There's no city like Montreal ❤️
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Many millennials dream about moving to New York or L.A., but I've always wanted to live in Vancouver. Growing up on the other side of the planet, I assumed the trendy city was the best of what Canada has to offer: mild winters, gorgeous landscapes, a wild nightlife as well as fit and cool city folks.
My wish came true in 2019 when I was accepted for a semester exchange at the University of British Columbia. For four months, I took in much of what the West Coast metropolis has to offer, and I swore that I would return for a permanent move post-pandemic.
But fast forward three years later, I'm happily residing and working in Montreal and not moving anytime soon.
What happened? I simply fell in love with Quebec's biggest city. Let me explain how Montreal deconstructed my perception of Vancouver as the ideal city to settle in.
It's Called Beautiful British Columbia For A Reason
Montreal is not an ugly city, but as far as beauty goes, Vancouver wins.
In addition to having some of the warmest but rainiest weather in all of Canada, the seaport is surrounded by forests and stunning mountains easily accessible by public transit.
Without a car, I was able to visit Grouse mountain and even Joffre Lakes Provincial Park further north.
At Stanley Park, I could ride a bike for hours by the water because it's mostly flat with gorgeous views.
I went to Mont-Royal just once and enjoyed my walk but thinking about the hike up just demotivates me to go back.
Plus, I grew up on an island so I really miss seeing the ocean here in Montreal. The market at Vancouver's Granville Island was my go-to place to relax, watch the boats and eat doughnuts.
What About The People?
I have some bittersweet memories of my interactions with a few West Coast Canadians. I heard racist comments towards black or indigenous people on several occasions, as well as xenophobic remarks towards French-speaking Canadians and Europeans.
I never experienced such incidents in Montreal. That being said, I've mostly met great people in both cities, and I like to think that those close-minded people I crossed paths with in 2019 are a minority in Raincouver.
I was also traumatized by the high homeless population living in Vancouver, on East Hastings more precisely. Walking down this street destroyed my preconceived idea of Vancouver as the "perfect city".
Arriving in Montreal with no expectations three years later allowed me to discover the city objectively and be surprised by all its wonders.
"The Paris Of North America" Has The Best Parties
The European touch is what makes Montreal so unique in North America.
Being able to switch from French to English, or even mix both, is a comfort I didn't know I needed until I moved here.
The city's architecture, history and café culture sometimes remind me of home too, whereas nothing in Vancouver seemed familiar.
On top of all that, I quickly discovered why Montreal earned the title of "Festival City".
Though I enjoy the nightlife on both Canadian coasts, our island has the best summer outdoor parties hands down.
I also attended great festivals in South Africa and several countries in Europe, but nothing like IleSoniq or Piknic Électronik.
I Can't Afford Vancouver
Vancouver's Chinatown. Right: Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
Last but not least, I wouldn't be able to afford the same lifestyle in the West.
Montreal's food scene is rich and diverse, and despite inflation, it's still possible to find cheap and tasty eats across the city.
Despite Richmond's Night Market and numerous Asian eateries, eating out in Vancouver is not particularly memorable yet too pricey, in my opinion.
Plus, I recently wrote a piece explaining how I manage to spend less than $500 in rent in Montreal. I challenge you to find something that low in B.C.
Montreal Is My Happy Place
Y'all get the point. Vancouver used to be my favourite city in Canada because I had never experienced Montreal before.
From the mix of languages to the friendly people and the vibrant party scene, the 514 just does as good as Vancouver — and sometimes better — for much cheaper!
Do you agree with me?