Guide to Montreal for digital nomads
I have been to Montreal several times but this was the first one in summer, which it's the perfect time to visit. And I have to tell you, I really like this city. It's very well adapted to digital nomads as it's full of coffee shops, people are friendly and prices are relatively affordable.
By staying more than a month, I can finally tell you what are the advantages as well as the disadvantages of living here in Montreal as a digital nomad.
- Transportation - It's so much fun to move around this city as you have many options: metro, bikes, scooters even car sharing. I was mostly biking with a monthly rent that take the bike anywhere around the city. Also I use the electric bike as much as possible, and it helped to overcome the uphill roads.
- Vibrant city - Especially in summer, everyone is happy to be outside. There are so many events to attend, parks to chill and activities to do. It's just so much joy around the city.
- Cultural diversity - Overall there is great acceptance of any kind of cultural, racial and orientation choices therefore there is tons of great options on food, events and communities.
- Winter - This is the main issue of this city, as this season takes half of the year and it's freaking cold. I mean temperatures of -35º C (or 95 F) along with snow storms. This is why most people are happy spending time in summer and everyone either leave the city or just stay indoors.
- French language - As the city is located in the french area of Canada, what's called the Quebec province, most of the people speak their language which makes it hard sometimes to connect with local. Either way most of them do speak both english and french.
- City infrastructure - Now this is one is just to find more downside but it’s not that bad. The thing is, as the city grows there’s always construction all around which makes it, sometimes, annoy to walk or traffic gets jammed.
Cost of living
Prices are relatively affordable —if we compare it to nearby cities such as New York, Chicago or Toronto— as the Quebec province has inexpensive prices for accommodations and other basic necessities.
Also take in account that the Canadian dollar has less currency influence than US dollar, which makes your money last longer.
Up next here's a list of all the expenses I had for a month, with the total sum at the end.
What you need to know
If you are interested you give it a go, here's most of the information needed to live in Montreal.
- When to go - The city is more enjoyable in summer —which is around June to September— as there are many festivals and events happening. Around may the cold starts to go away, therefore you can see the progression of restaurants opening their doors more and setting up the outdoor areas. But if you like snow, December is a great time to visit there as the christmas magic shines all around the city.
- Weather - For half the year you will expect cold, dark, windy times for temperatures around -35º C (-31 F) but in summer, climate is very chill around 20º C or 65 F.
- Currency - They use Canadian dollar that has less currency power than the dollar, usually 25% less, which makes your money last longer.
- Language - The city it's in the Quebec province, the french area of Canada, therefore most of them speak french. If you want to get to more of the local experience, speaking french will be helpful but fortunately most are bilingual
- Transportation - Greatest feature of this city is the variety of transportation methods. You can get only by metro that covers most ground area, with rides every 5 minutes. Biking is a great way to move around as they have a monthly rent system where you can get a bike in almost any corner of the most populated areas.
- Data - Canada share most of the US networks such as Verizon, AT&T but most personally I'm using Google FI that lets me connect anywhere.
- Visa - Depends on each citizenship but Canada offers an electronic visa to apply if you travel by plan. Check VisaHQ for more information.
- Safety - Rumors are true: Canadians are really that nice. As any big city, there are some areas to be careful but you will feel safe mostly everywhere.
Where to stay
- Gay Village - A colorful area with many parks. St. Catherine is a long road that has many restaurants, coffee shops, barbershops, etc. It's close to a university which bring a lot of youth crowd.
- Downtown - Area is mostly for rich people as the apartament options are mostly lofts in tall buildings. But still is a nice place to stay as there are many restaurants and it's close to main museums.
- Mont Royal - The nicest neighborhood with stunning buildings, big parks and tons of coffee shops.
Where to rent
- Nomad Coliving - The first coliving in Canada for digital nomads, run by a nomad friend, actually delivers on having a whole building for the community (and a nice backyard). Expect to live with half locals and nomads.
- Airbnb - Best way to rent, especially if you want to book in advance. Remember always to check discount for monthly prices.
What to eat
As the city bring people from all types of walk, the food scene here is amazing. You can find from mexican food up to asian, and most of it is really good.
- Poutine - main dish in Montreal when you are craving or drunk. it's basically french fries, cheese and gravy on top. Really good!
- Bagels - the sweetest appetizer in Montreal, they cook them in wood oven and give your jam, butter or cheese to add on top.
- Maple syrup - one of the classic sauces in the world, they are naturally processed in here so you should try them, especially with french toast. Delicious!
Where to wifi
- Nomad Coliving - the coliving has it own coworking spaces that sometimes it's open for the public.
- Anticafé - there are a few around the city, it's a great place to work along other nomads or even students.
- CREW - besides the free coffee shop area, there's a small space for private internet and space.
- CREW - one of the most beautiful coffee shops in the world, coffee is really great here (they even have workshops), just that wifi isn't that great-
- Café OSMO - beautiful space
- Café Saint-Henri - great handmade coffee
- Café PARVIS - very nice coffee shop with its own coworking
- MELK Bar à Café - really nice handmade coffee
- Larue & fils - cozy morning coffee shop
- Pikolo Espresso Bar - very small but good coffee
Five hours away from Montreal, I visited Algonquin Park, one of the best camping spots in Canada, where we portaged (the practice of carrying water craft or cargo over land) until we arrived to a secluded spot and enjoyed the amazing Canadian views.