Student life in Montreal

Student Life in Montreal
Updated 2019-04-23 09:19

Many are the international students who go to Montreal to pursue their studies. The quality of life, the security, bilingualism and cultural life in the megacity of Quebec are all alluring assets to foreigners. In this article, you will find all the information you need to ensure a successful stay while studying in Montreal.

Admittedly, the cost of studies is still very affordable compared to other North American destinations, and that is, even if the tuition fees have increased for French students studying at undergraduate level. To top it all, the city has been nominated as Best Student City in 2017 by the QS Top Universities ranking. So, what are you waiting for?

All students are welcome

Canada is truly a welcoming country. In 2015, according to the Canadian bureau of international education, the country accommodated 353 000 foreign students, all levels of education combined. Students might be coming from all over the world, but the bulk of Chinese students is part of the biggest troop, followed by Indians'¦then French, ex-aequo with South Koreans. In total, 170 000 young people study in Montreal, among which 35 000 foreign students, without counting the staff in professional institutions and the CEGEP. We might as well say it right away: Montreal is alive with students, all year long.


French students are exempt from obtaining a visa to study in Canada. However, do not think that the procedure of studying in Montreal will be any lighter. On the opposite, you are advised to prepare your project some months in advance. You will nevertheless have to obtain a study permit and a certificate of acceptance from Quebec.

Firstly, your claim must be made to the institution you seek. You might be required to make a request to Quebec's immigration for an evaluation of your degree obtained in your home country, to send your academic transcripts or even bring a document certifying your proficiency in English. Many universities measure the quality of a profile based on the grades achieved, and not only the degrees. To study in Montreal, you have to earn it'¦

Once you will have received your acceptance letter from the institution, you will have to request a Certificat d'Acceptation du Québec. Among the documents to be sent to Quebec's Ministry of Immigration, you will have to bring along a proof of your financial capacity, that is, for the year 2019, CA$ 12 750 if you are more than 18 years old. The processing time usually lasts 20 days.

Canada is a federal state and it often occurs that a request has to be handled by the province and the federal authorities at the same time. To study in Montreal, there is no way around it and you will have to apply for a study permit at the Canadian Visa Offices. You will need to fill out many forms, among which the Application for an Application for a Study Permit made outside of Canada (IMM1294). You may be brought to carry out a medical exam or even send an excerpt of your judicial record. The processing time generally last two weeks, but this period may be prolonged in Summer, right before the academic year starts again in September.

Last step: Make a request for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), if you do not need a visa. This request can be made online. It will be processed within 72 hours and has to be printed before your departure. The ETA is valid five years' maximum or until the expiration date of your passport. To know if you require an ETA or a visa, fill out this questionnaire on the Canadian immigration services website.

Health insurance in Quebec

Thanks to an agreement between some countries and Quebec, students can benefit from the Quebec health and hospital insurance plan, in addition to the Quebec medication insurance scheme. To this end, you will have to make a request to the Régie d'Assurance Maladie du Quebec (RAMQ) at your arrival. You will have to be equipped with your passport, your entrance letter to a Quebec university institution, your Quebec acceptance certificate and the form SE-401-Q-102 (or SE-401-Q-106, if you are part of an exchange programme) which you can ask for before your departure. You will then receive your Carte Soleil.

Some financial help you can ask for

Provincial bursaries do not apply to foreign students, aside those with permanent resident status. To look for an 'institutional' study grant, find out more with your host university or your country's authorities.

Some universities offer scholarships to foreign students. The UQAM hence counts more than 400. However, these grants or loans are only accessible to students following a particular course. For instance, the School of Maths and Statistics offers an exchange scholarship of CA$ 1 000 to the student with the best inter-university exchange project. On its side, the School of Arts and Sciences offers a scholarship admission of CA$ 5 000, if however, the student applies to very specific criteria.

Working in Montreal while studying

At the start of 2019, the unemployment rate on Montreal Island was at 6.3%. Finding a student job on the island will not be that hard. Only one condition: obtaining a Social Insurance Number (SIN). To get it quickly, head to the Centre Service Canada in the Guy-Favreau complex, in the city centre with your study permit.

With a study permit, you are allowed to work 20 hours per week during term time and full time during school holidays. No work permit is necessary.

To find a student job, you can carry out your research on internet job sites such as Workopolis or Jobboom, or you can simply ask store or restaurant managers if they need staff. Waitressing can be a real jackpot, since it is customary that a client gives 15% of the bill as a tip. Universities generally have a job search guidance service. They usually hire students for various jobs. These jobs are mostly well paid, but a few only positions are available.

Continue your experience with a work placement in Montreal

As it is the case with many students, you might be required to undergo an internship during your studies. Montreal is a dynamic town and it hosts head offices of various companies although their numbers have been declining during the past years. To work as an intern in Montreal, you will have to apply for a work permit. This internship must absolutely be part of your study scheme. Beware: if you are following an English course you will not have the right to work during your studies.

As part of the required documents, you will need the IMM5710 form, a letter from the educational establishment indicating that the requested job falls within the study programme and a photocopy of your passport's pages.

Staying in Montreal after your studies

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, 50% of international students plan to apply for the infamous permanent residency to stay and work in Canada, a procedure facilitated by the country's need for labour. The departure of many Canadians into retirement and the risk of a drop in demography are two primary engines of Canada immigration policy. If you plan on being part of the Canadian legacy, take the leap!

To stay in Canada once you have completed your studies, the simpler way is to apply for a postgraduate work permit to the CIC Canada. You will have to fill out the IMM5710 form, present your grades transcripts and a written confirmation of the acquisition of your degree. Your studies need to have lasted at least eight months long and the request has to be made before the expiration date of your study permit. You will then receive a temporary permit with a maximum duration of three years.

As mentioned above, Canada and Quebec offer multiple schemes that aim to speed up the access to permanent residency, such as the Programme de l'expérience québécoise, or the Canadian Experience Class. To know more about the conditions, do not hesitate to consult Quebec immigration websites or CIC Canada. The education institutions welcoming foreign students occasionally organise information sessions on permanent residency. The ministère de l'immigration du Québec also offers one online. You can turn to the foreign student office reception of your institution to learn more.

The cost of living in Montreal

The cost of living in Montreal is an essential element to take into consideration as part of your foreign study projects. One of the most important things is rent. On this matter, Montreal has a good reason to appeal to you. There are plenty of housing offers and rents are at lower prices ' up to two to three times less expensive than Paris, for instance. Some famous districts experience a dramatic spike of prices since many years, such as Plateau and the city centre. Other more popular districts in Montreal, such as Côte-des-Neiges, Rosemont, Saint-Michel or Hochelaga, are still very affordable. However, do not get it wrong: other budget costs can be pricey, such as food or dining at a restaurant. It will then be a case of spending less than 33% of your budget on rent. Most students choose to live with a roommate to save up.

According to UQAM, we must count around 18 600 Canadian dollars to live in Montreal for a year. This amount comprises of accommodation, food, transport, phone, internet and the purchase of school supplies. The university inscription fees add up to that. These fees evolve according to your programme. Nevertheless, you should note that French students always benefit from a reduction in their school fees as opposed to foreign students.

Housing in Montreal

Property offer in Montreal is significant and there are multiple housing options for students in Montreal. Universities manage their own stock of residences for students. Hence UdeM offers studios with shared common rooms, as do McGill and Concordia. For your information, the monthly fees of the residences offered by Concordia range from $450 to $700.

There is also the option of looking for a private housing or apartment-sharing. You can carry out your research on the Kijiji website. You can find assets adapted to all budgets. Be careful: numerous owners verify the credit history of their future tenants to conclude a lease, which may complicate your search.

Good to know: a studio is called 'one and a half' in Quebec. Also, there is no ground floor, it is replaced by the '1st floor'. You will also find garden floors or semi-basements, according to buildings.

Among the most popular districts for young people, we can find:

  • The Plateau, an area well served, very hip, surrounded by numerous parks, famous for its commercial roads Mont-Royal and Saint-Denis, as well as for the traditional architecture of its houses;
  • The Mile-End, run by artists and hipsters, where we can find in particular the Ubisoft office. Close to the Parc Mont-Royal, it is unfortunately served by only a few bus lines;
  • The Latin District, like the city centre and the Concordia, offers a plurality of bars and restaurants to party. Located not too far from the quartier des spectacles and UQAM, it is an excellent spot if you are in a party mood.

If you are looking for an English-speaking district, choose the trendy areas of Griffintown or Westmount, to the East of the city centre. Lachine, as well as the districts of Petite Bourgogne and Saint Henri, as for them, offer an excellent quality of life, with a close proximity to Canal Lachine and the Attwater market. The Vieux Montreal is a district very sought after by tourists, because of its European style, but it seems quite isolated from the rest of the city: few supermarkets, high priced rents and an area that is not served by public transportation.

You have understood it; nearly all the districts in Montreal have their own history and culture, and are very safe. You should still try to avoid the areas in the North, which have a bad reputation, even to the eyes of Montrealers themselves'¦

Montreal, a festive capital

Life in the metropolis is excellent. Indeed, numerous events and festivals are taking place all year long. In Summer, the whole city seems to be meeting up in parks: barbecues, idleness, strolls by foot or by bike will be your primary occupations. You will also be able to attend 'Francofolies', 'Festival de jazz', 'Festival des nuits d'Afrique', 'Festival du rire', 'Montréal en lumièr'e or even Street Art Festival. Generally, Halloween marks the beginning of the Winter season. Montrealers get ready to some snowy months ahead. However, hibernating is not an option: many events keep the city alive, to begin with the Igloo Fest, during which thousands of people dance to electronic music at -20 degrees. Fête des neiges, at the Jean Drapeau park or the Veillée de l'avant-veille are also very popular. Montreal hosts also international sports events, such as the Formula 1 championship or the Montreal Marathon.

As for gastronomy, Quebec is known worldwide for its poutine, a platter of chips on which are poured cheese and gravy. Even more traditional, at the end of Winter, you should not forget to go at least once in a sugar shack, where you will be served rich and traditional dishes, including pork and beans, pea soup, pork ears, and let's not forget'¦maple syrup.

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