Studying in Montréal: how to plan for your arrival

Studying in Montréal: navigate your new city, step by step

Montréal is a big city with a small-town feel. There’s always someone to reach out to for tips, advice and support. Locals will be more than happy to help you get to know your new home base.

From your arrival and the different seasons to work and daily essentials, here are some tools to help you prepare for your big move.

Montréal, explained: getting around and things to see and do

Montréal essentials

Dynamic, urban and green, Greater Montréal has endless fun and activities to offer, day and night. Like most major cities, getting to know Montréal can be tricky at first. Here’s a good place to start!

The geography of the city

If there’s a Greater Montréal, does that mean there’s a smaller version? To better understand how the city is divided, let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to live in Greater Montréal.

Your friend raves about the Plateau, your cousin’s in love with Hochelaga, but you’ve heard NDG is the place to find the best empanadas in town! Greater Montréal is made up of a range of diverse and friendly neighbourhoods. Learn more about the best neighbourhoods to live in here.

365 days of activities

Museums, parks, tourist attractions, restaurants, city beaches, festivals, winter activities… there’s so much more to Montréal than the iconic Olympic Stadium! Whether you arrive in the middle of a July heatwave or a January snowstorm, the Tourisme Montréal website has a host of ideas for things to see and do in the city all year round.

Ready to learn all of Montréal’s best kept secrets? To answer all your burning questions and get to know the city’s hidden gems, this Guide to Living in Montréal is a must-read. From what it’s like to study and work here to the city’s neighbourhoods and cultural scene, learn all the tips and tricks about Greater Montréal.

Settling in and finding a job in Montréal

Montréal is a city that will definitely keep you busy—taking classes, brainstorming in co-working spaces, sipping lattes in cute cafés, going out with friends and taking Bixi rides around town. But to fully experience life in a new city, nothing beats getting a job.

Working in Montréal is a great way to meet new people, build skills, learn about the culture, establish a sense of belonging and, most importantly, fund all your adventures! Working even a few hours a week will give you a sense of purpose while buying you more freedom.

So how do you find a job? Whether you’re looking to kick-start your professional career, explore a new field or top up your income, you’ll find plenty of job opportunities in Greater Montréal.

If you’re a student, be sure to check the job boards at your college or university. And to guide your search, take advantage of employment, career planning and networking websites.

Looking to improve your français?

As a French-speaking city, Montréal is home to a world of different cultures and languages. And it’s this cultural diversity that makes the city so special. It’s not unusual to find a couple speaking Portuguese, kids singing in Arabic, a hairdresser speaking with a Caribbean accent and a radio tuned into a Cantonese station, all on the same street!

In Greater Montréal, 140 different languages coexist in a city where 56% of the population is fluent in both French and English. If you’re looking to become bilingual too, or simply want to learn more about Québec’s official language, think about learning French before you arrive.

Here are some great online resources to help you learn French:

  • Duolingo
  • Babbel
  • Busuu
  • MosaLingua

The Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) also offers free online services.

A crash course in Québecois Since there’s no official app (yet!) to learn Québecois French, have fun immersing yourself in the local dialect once you’re here! Strike up conversations, join a language exchange group and you’ll be picking up the slang in no time!

What to pack in your suitcase before setting off for Montréal

Green in spring, blue in summer, red in fall and white in winter, Montréal is one of the most colourful cities in the world… and you’ll need a flexible wardrobe to match! Before your big move, try to set money aside for clothes so you’re prepared for every season.

But instead of hitting the stores at home, it’s best to wait until you get here. In Montréal, you can pick up all the clothes and accessories you need to brave the winter cold. In the meantime, make like an onion and dress in layers so you’re ready for whatever the weather has in store!

Are you the “10 pairs of pants for a 2-night stay” type?

Be sure to check the luggage allowance with your airline and see if there are additional charges for excess wait. (Hint: you might want to leave that sixth pair of shoes behind!).

Montréal day 1: getting around when you arrive

After a few hours of flying, with blocked ears and jet-lag kicking in, it can be hard to find your way around—especially when you’re not familiar with the local environment and customs.

Accueil Plus, ready to welcome you to your new home

How would you like a personalized, friendly welcome when you arrive at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport? Designed especially for international students coming to study at a college or university in Québec, the Accueil Plus program is there to give you a warm welcome and guide you through your first steps in the city. Sign up before you leave and set off with peace of mind.

How to get from the airport to the city

Unless you plan on walking to your new place, you’ll need to take some form of transportation to bring you to the city! And the 747 bus is a great option. To purchase a ticket to the city, head to the ticket office at the airport on the arrivals floor.

For more information on the city’s public transit network—the Métro, buses, fares, disabled transport and special transit hours—visit the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) website.

Montréal week 1: things to think about

It takes time to adapt to any new environment and Montréal is no exception. Among the many things you’ll need to think about before you settle in, there are a few things you’ll need to figure out right away (like making sure you have a roof over your head!).

Here’s a list of priorities to take care of when you arrive:

  • Bank account
  • Cell phone
  • Accommodation
  •  Health insurance
  • Opus card (for public transportation)
  • Student card
  • Orientation days (to meet your future classmates)
  • Finalizing your course selections
  • Updating your file at the International Student Office at your college or university
  • Student clubs, gyms, sports teams, theatre groups, music groups, etc.
  • Computer (take advantage of lower prices on campus).

And there you have it… you’re ready to dive right into your new life in the city! If ever you’re feeling lost, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Quebecers are sociable and generous by nature. And who knows, you might even make new friends by striking up a conversation!