luni, 27 aprilie 2015

About Montreal

For those who are thinking about moving to Montreal:

I've been living here for 25 years so I will try to give you a view from my perspective.

- You will need on average 5k a month (after tax) to support a family. You can get by with 2k by yourself.

-Rent: Varies, but for a 2BR $500-$1500. More expensive downtown. The apartments here are in bad shape and old. You are obliged to sign a lease for 1 year and provide good references.

-Groceries: $250-$800 per month. A family of 4 will easily hit $800. Super C and Maxi are usually are the cheapest with Metro, IGA and Loblaws being the most expensive groceries stores.

-Hydro (which means electricity): $50-$400 per month, depends on whether you heat your home with electricity or is included in the apartment rental. Winter months are very cold and summers extremely hot and humid.

- Taxes: Very, very high. almost half your annual salary will disappear, adding to this 17% taxes on almost everything you purchase. Quebec is the highest taxed place in North-America. Do not underestimate that statement. The more you make, the more you pay, as simple as that.

- Job market: Very selective, yes you read that right. It doesn't matter you speak french well or not. It doesn't matter if you have all the diplomas in the world or you won the Nobel price. If your name is not a Quebecker one you will not get a good paying job. If you manage to find a job it will either be something below your actual competencies or not well paid or both. Expect to send many resumes and not get a single answer. If you manage to get an interview they will most of the time say you lack experience (which is another way of telling you that you don't look Quebecker enough). Finding a job here will be very, very frustrating.

- Transportation: The public transit system is OK. The busses and subways are super loaded at rush hour and there are very frequent interruptions. Like almost every day. Waiting for a bus at -25 degrees celsius only to find out that it's full is extremely frustrating.

- Roads: Extremely poor shape. There are more potholes than in Baghdad. Bridges are crumbling to the point where they can potentially fall at any given moment. Construction work is everywhere creating very heavy congested traffic at all time of the day. It is not a pleasant experience to drive in the streets of Montreal. Tight, congested streets (especially in winter with the snow on the sides). Traffic lights are at every corner and not synched, creating lots of frustration, traffic and wasting your gas. People drive bikes in the middle of the street not caring so you're in constant fear of hitting one. Police cars are everywhere hiding just ready to give you a ticket for any reason like a U turn in the middle of the night.

- Healthcare: Very slow and bloated. Expect long waits at the emergencies, like 12 hours. If you want better and faster service you have to go to a private clinic and pay. You can forget about family doctors. The good doctors leave this province for a better life and pay elsewhere.

- Schooling: French is mandatory for all kids. College and universities can be attended at the language of choice. Education here is very good and cheaper than anywhere else.

- Weather: Not pleasant unless you enjoy winter. Extreme temperatures ranging from -30 Celsius in winter to +35 in summer. The weather is so unpredictable that not even the weather station can get it right. People discuss the weather everyday that's how bizarre it is.

- Social life / entertainment: From all the negative aspects of this city, this is the only one that stands out as positive. There are so many restaurants and ethnic food to chose from. There's many festivals and concerts for free during summer and winter time. The clubbing scene is amazing. There's lots of attractions and museums for all ages. If you enjoy nature, an hour drive will usually get you to the country side where you can hike mountains, camp, fish or hunt. If you like hockey you will love this place.

As a final word of advice, if you come from a foreign land you have a way better chance in Ontario. Quebeckers are extremely closed-minded individuals. Their colonial history has shaped their society into a closed protectionist of their own identity and values. If you remotely sound or look or think different than them then you will never fit in here. Even if you speak perfect french, their french is not the same and you will have a hard time understanding their slangs. Many people in recent years have picked-up and left for either Alberta or Ontario because the job market there is much stronger and growing. Businesses in Quebec have also moved because of the government's stubborn stance on the french language, heavy bureaucracy and high taxes. Also, Quebec has the highest level of corruption in Canada. The mafia is deeply rooted in the Montreal municipal government which costs the city a lot of taxes so they can allocate construction contracts to their mafia friends. Montreal is good only for students, not to raise a family.

Jay Abe on Oct 22, 2014