What are the best Montreal neighbourhoods? What is the best place to live in Montreal for young singles or young families? Where to live in Montreal depends on your preferences and particular needs, so we try to outline the most common neighbourhoods for newcomers to the city.
This section offers a brief description of the different neighbourhoods, aimed at giving you an idea as to where to live in Montreal. Deciding where to live can take a while, so try not to commit to a location long term until you have arrived and seen more of the city. There is a steady flow of rented accommodation in Montreal.
As a general rule, the Island of Montreal is more anglophone on the western side and almost exclusively francophone toward the east. The neighbourhoods listed and described below are those that are closer to the city centre and the Métro and bus lines that make a carless existence much simpler. If you’re thinking of living anywhere west of Trudeau International Airport or further than a couple of miles off the island to the north or south, another form of transport would be needed.
Apartment hunting in Montreal? Rentals.ca is one of the best resources to help with your house-hunting search. Rentals.ca has a good selection of houses, condos and apartments for rent.
A curious oddity with Quebec is that apartments and houses are described not by how many bedrooms they have, but by adding up the total number of rooms with the bathroom counting as half a room. Thus, a studio is a 1½, an apartment with one bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom is a 3½, while one with three bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom is a 5½.
You may find that many apartment buildings do not use media to advertise. Instead, they will post notices outside the buildings to advertise vacancies. It’s worth walking around neighbourhoods you want to live in to see if there are any “For Rent/à louer” signs, or try calling the property management companies to check if there are any vacancies.
Where to live in Montreal
This large neighbourhood, which takes its name from the fact that it is genuinely a plateau beside Mount Royal, lies directly east of the mountain and downtown. It is home to the largest number of artists per capita in the country, with francophone hipsters and second- and third-generation immigrants mixing to create a unique living environment. Two of the city’s main arteries — Rue St-Denis and Boulevard St-Laurent — have their busiest sections as they cut through the Plateau, with boutique shops and BYOB (“apportez votre vin”) restaurants on and around St-Denis and nightclubs lining St-Laurent.
The heart of the Plateau is Parc Lafontaine — by summer a magnet for lakeside walks, afternoon drinking and volleyball, with ice skating taking over for the first wintry weeks and months of the year. One of the advantages of living here is that downtown is very accessible, either by foot, bike, bus or Métro. Monthly rent prices in a shared apartment are reasonably low, but have been increasing more rapidly than the city average as the Plateau is seen as the place to live.
Rent: $350-650 (sharing), $600+ (1 bedroom), $900+ (2 bedrooms)
Métro: Sherbrooke, Mont Royal, Laurier
Technically within the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, Mile End is nonetheless viewed as a distinct part of the city. Stylish yet casual, tight-knit and multilingual, Mile End was the setting for many of writer Mordecai Richler’s novels. William Shatner and Arcade Fire also enjoyed their formative years here. You will hear a bit more English and Hebrew spoken than eastern parts of the Plateau, with the Hassidic community having reestablished a visible presence in the area. Some of the best food on the continent is found in Mile End, with the best bagels, countless restaurants, and the famous Jean-Talon Market toward the Little Italy end of Mile End. The area became wealthier and more popular in the 1990s, and gentrification has led to increased rents. That having been said, the area remains good value for money.
Rent: $400-700 (sharing), $650+ (1 bedroom), $950+ (2 bedrooms)
Almost always referred to as “NDG”, this neighbourhood west of downtown offers good value within close proximity to the city centre. Old brick houses and tree-lined avenues give the area a unique character, and, like most of the city, it has become more gentrified in recent years. Bisected by the Decarie Expressway, NDG’s western half is more English-speaking, while the eastern side is more francophone. The social centre of NDG is the eastern end of Monkland Avenue, with an array of pubs and restaurants for locals who don’t want to head downtown or further east. The western side is quite far from the Métro station, but the 105 bus down Sherbrooke Avenue comes every few minutes and takes about fifteen minutes from Concordia University’s Loyala Campus to the Métro.
Rent: $300-650 (sharing), $500+ (1 bedroom), $700+ (2 bedrooms)
Not a Ghetto in the popular sense at all, this small area between the Plateau and McGill university is the habitat of choice for students. A wonderful location means that within fifteen minutes’ walk residents could be either at a club on St-Laurent, an outdoor show at Place des Spectacles, a bar downtown, up the mountain or, of course, in class. There is fierce competition for housing here as students try to get a place before classes start in September. Those renters, however, often disappear for the summer and sublet their rooms at knock-down rates, so if you’re coming to Montreal just for a summer, you would be well advised to look for a place around here.
Rent: $450-800 (sharing), $650+ (1 bedroom), $1000+ (2 bedrooms)
Named after Mary Griffin, who is said to have obtained the lease to the land through illegal means, Griffintown has ever since been associated with the Irish community. The peak period of immigration and settlement was during and after the famine, when unskilled labourers arrived by the boatload. The small neighbourhood is in the southwestern portion of downtown next to the Old Port, just a few minutes’ walk to St-Catherine Street and the commercial areas surrounding it. Relatively cheap rooms in older buildings can be found the closer you go to the Lachine Canal, while shiny new condos abound near the city centre — with prices to match.
Rent: $400-800 (sharing), $900+ (1 bedroom), $1100+ (2 bedrooms)
Wealthy anglophones of British ancestry have dominated Westmount, located on the western slopes of Mount Royal, since the nineteenth century, and the borough retains a fiercely independent (some say snobby) streak. Away from Summit Circle, however, life becomes a bit more normal toward St-Catherine Street. Spacious parks, chic boutiques, and some of the city’s most prestigious private schools attract immigrants who have the means to sustain the traditional Westmount lifestyle, but accommodation is more affordable closer to the Ville-Marie Expressway at the southern edge and Vendôme Métro station.
Rent: $400-800 (sharing), $900+ (1 bedroom), $1100+ (2 bedrooms)
With over 100 ethnic communities from all over the world, Côte-des-Neiges is one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Canada and one of the few areas of Montreal where neither the French nor English language dominate. Saint Joseph’s Oratory, situated on the western side of Mount Royal, dominates the skyline and is by far the main tourist attraction. A large number of students live in the area, mainly due to the presence of the francophone Université de Montréal. The size and density of the neighbourhood means that rent can vary widely.
Rent: $400-800 (sharing), $500+ (1 bedroom), $800+ (2 bedrooms)
Métro: Snowdon, Côte-Saint-Catherine, Plamondon, Côte-des-Neiges, Universitê-de-Montrêal, Edouard-Montpetit
The Old Port of Montreal and its immediate hinterland was the site of the original city, Ville Marie, which dates to the 17th century, and today it makes up the historic district of Old Montreal (Vieux Montréal). The picturesque, pedestrianised streets and river banks teem with tourists, especially in summer, as they amble between souvenir shops and the many beautiful old buildings, including the almost 200 years old Notre-Dame Basilica. With all this history, beauty, culture and architecture, however, rent can be very high and family amenities few and far between. The city centre, however, is only a short walk away, and the orange Métro line runs through Old Montreal, making anywhere in the city very accessible.
Rent: $500-900 (sharing), $1100+ (1 bedroom), $1400+ (2 bedrooms)
Devoid of nightlife but a relatively safe, affordable borough on the green Métro line, Verdun’s reach extends from a plot of land southwest of downtown to Nun’s Island (Isle des sœurs), just off the main island. The area was once predominanty English-speaking, but now has about a two-thirds French-speaking majority, with allophones (those for whom English nor French is their mother tongue) making up a significant minority. Verdun is rapidly shaking off its bad reputation for violence and petty crime, with gentrification allowing people to move here from other parts of the city in search of space, as well as relative peace and quiet. Rooms and apartments can go at an exceptionally low rate, so if you’re moving on a tight budget or want to live among other young families but don’t want to live in the outer suburbs, Verdun is a good option to consider.
Rent: $280-600 (sharing), $450+ (1 bedroom), $600+ (2 bedrooms)
Outremont is to the French community what Westmount is to the English – even their names mean much the same thing (Outremont translates as “beyond the mountain”). A large number of French expatriates and Hasidic Jews join upper middle class francophone Montrealers to make up a disparate collection of well-heeled communities on the north side of Mount Royal to the west of Mile End. With an abundance of quality shops, cafes, restaurants and parks, Outremont is often followed by the phrase “quality of life”. While downtown and Old Montreal are hidden behind the mountain, good public transport (a 24-hour bus runs the length of Parc Avenue) makes the area feel more urban than suburban. Real estate prices are high, but a month-to-month rental in the area, particularly on the Mile End border, can be quite reasonable.
Rent: $380-680 (sharing), $700+ (1 bedroom), $900+ (2 bedrooms)
Hisorically known as a French-Canadian, Irish and black working class neighbourhood, Saint-Henri was seen as the opposite of neighbouring Westmount before large-scale gentrification took hold and the crime rate went down rapidly. The Atwater Market, a large farmers’ market, is in the vicinity, and access to downtown is simple.
Rent: $300-550 (sharing), $550+ (1 bedroom), $650+ (2 bedrooms)
Métro: Place Saint-Henri, Lionel-Groulx
Still undecided on where to live in Montreal? Hopefully not, but if you are unsure it’s always best to speak with people living in each area before you decide.
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