Montreal is one of North America's most culturally rich cities, with no shortage of excellent music, food, and structures that date back as far as the 17th century. It is also quite affordable compared to other centres of comparable size in Canada, making a prime spot to locate for a month or longer. Here are some details on what to expect cost-wise...
Keeping a roof over your head – your options
- Hostels: $390 - $885 per month
- Montreal has a saturated market when it comes to hostels, allowing travelers and recent emigrants to the city to stay in this vibrant ville for a pittance compared to other North American cities of similar size.
- The cheapest hostel of the bunch is a Hosteling International property, HI-Montréal. This ensures that pre-established standards of service and cleanliness are met, with the proprietors being able to do so while only charging $13/night for a dorm bed ($390 per month). This ridiculous deal is no doubt supplemented by the money made off the bar and restaurant in the basement, which serves food with a homemade touch (the paid version of breakfast is well worth the money – try it!).
- At the high end, OM Montreal is a centrally located heritage property with a more intimate feel by supplying the rooms with better than average furnishings and bedding. Even with these bells and whistles, the price of a dorm bed only comes out to $29.50 per night ($885 per month), making it a great option for those not wanting to stay in more party-oriented hostels.
- Hotels: $1320 - $38,100 per month
- The volume of available hotels in Montreal is similarly abundant, with well over 200 properties availble through various booking sites on the internet. While there are cheaper options in Montreal than The Celebrities Hotel ($1320 per month), this is the cheapest property that we can recommend that meets our minimum criteria for livability.
- Celebrities offers boutique hotel chic for those on a shoestring budget, featuring bold and saucy design elements that fit well in this city. If this sort of establishment doesn't meld well with your sense of style, don't worry, as there are 25 more properties that offer rooms in Montreal with a nightly rate below $70 per night.
- If money is no object, you could do no better than to spend your extended holiday in Montreal residing at the Château Vieux-Montréal ($38,100 per month). More of a mini-castle than a hotel, this luxurious property is located within the midst of romantic Old Montreal, and is hewn from solid stone. With an indoor pool, steam room and spa facilities on site, it is well worth the tens of thousands of dollars you'll expend here over the course of one month.
- Airbnbs: $530 - $41,730 per month
- If you decide to go with Airbnb during your stay in Montreal, you can get a three bedroom apartment for as little as $530 a month (link), provided that you are okay with sharing the space with a permanent tenant, who occupies one of the bedrooms in the unit. This particular airbnb does sit close by to Montreal's Little India though, with an amazing array of restaurants at your disposal.
- At the other end of the income scale lies Le Couvent Val-Morin, which is a converted convent that sits amidst the lake-studded landscape of the Canadian Shield located a short drive northwest of Montreal. Suitable for big groups, families and student groups that can collectively put together the capital to pay this properties' $41,730 per month bill can spend an extended holiday in a natural setting that Canada is famed for the world over.
Going out to eat
Inexpensive sit-down restaurants: $10 - $15 a meal
As a city dominated by poor college students, Montreal is crawling with cheap eats around every corner. When you do sit down for a meal though, expect to pay more than $10 for the privilege … but what a privilege it is.
Start by heading over to Schwartz’s (3895 Boulevard Saint-Laurent), home of Montreal's world famous smoked meat sandwiches. There are lines out the door on most days, so arrive before 11:30am in order to get your sandwich within a reasonable time frame. Be sure to ask for your sandwich to have a fatty cut of meat … trust us, it's so much better than the lean meat!
Those willing to go outside the center towards Verdun will not be disappointed by Villa Wellington (4701 Rue Wellington), a Peruvian eatery situated smack in the middle of an inner-core suburb of Montreal. From Causa (mashed potatoes and vegetables covered in a mayonnaise-based sauce) to Escabeche de pescado (fried sole fillets in a sweet spicy sauce), you'll be hooked on this cheap but eclectic food in no time.
If you choose to dine out five times per week, you can expect to spend $250 a month noshing on Montreal best value vittles, while those that do so more sparingly (2 times per week) should budget about $100 a month.
Mid-range restaurants: $50 - $75 a meal
With a lively food culture being present in Montreal, your gastronomic adventures will only get more titillating when you indulge in its mid-range restaurants. Deville Dinerbar (1425 Rue Stanley) serves up highly stylized version of old diner favorites like meatloaf and hamburgers, while L'Atelier d'Argentine (355 Rue Marguerite d'Youville) brings an Argentine-style parrilla to the heart of Old Montreal, complete with copious quantities of sausage, steak, and other meaty treats.
Outstanding establishments are often visited by frugal foodies at least twice a month, which is a treat which will carve out about $125 a month from your budget.
The price of a cart of groceries
While many of your pantry items will invariably come from major regional grocery chains such as Metro or IGA, the sheer abundance of public markets, ethnic food stores in various enclaves, and peers that are passionate about food will ensure that you will be doing some of your fresh food sourcing from places like Jean Talon Market and Atwater Market. Both spots contain butchers carving up farm-fresh meats, fine wine and cheese shops, and even flower stalls where you can get your secret crush a token of your soon-to-be unveiled admiration.
4 carts of groceries (1 litre of milk, loaf of bread, 1 kg bag of rice, 12 eggs, 1 kg cheese, 1 kg chicken breast, 1 kg of apples, 1 kg of oranges, 1 kg of tomatoes, 1 kg of potatoes, 1 head of lettuce, and a bottle of wine): $296 per month
The cost of getting around Montreal
Greater Montreal is criss-crossed by a robust transit system, with a subway that consists of three lines, and a heavy commuter rail network that spans over 250 kilometres of track radiating in all directions from downtown.
Taken together with a bus system that supports these rail lines, it pays huge dividends to acquire a transit pass, which costs only $79 per month. If you own a car and intend on keeping it, expect to pay about $206.84 per month in gasoline if you have a car with a 45 litre tank, as most commuters in the Montreal area usually fill up once per week.
Sick or injured? What you can expect for health care costs
The cost of health care is a big draw for those looking to base themselves in Montreal for an extended period, as the only cost involved (other than paying for it through your income taxes) is time. Once you receive your medical insurance card, you can have most medical needs attended at local hospitals for no additional charge.
It will take about three months to process though, so expats will want to arrange temporary health insurance while they wait. A basic plan with rudimentary coverage will run you about $65 per month, while those wanting enhanced coverage should be prepared to pay about $160 per month to be protected at this elite tier.
Entertaining yourself without going broke
Montreal is a city with many diversions, making it easy to keep oneself occupied on their time off. If you are satisfied with going out to a movie each weekend and talking about the plot afterward with your buddies over four draft beers, you will have to set aside $176 per month to sustain this way of life.
If you prefer to watch the Montreal Canadiens play at the Bell Centre four times per month and then criticize the team's play over roughly four cocktails within a highbrow lounge, expect to burn through $456 a month to make it happen.
Studying abroad in Montreal? Here's what you can expect to pay
Full term tuition in Montreal depends on the school you are attending and what programs you are studying. Concordia offers arts and science undergrads from overseas a chance to earn credits for $8,230 per semester for a minimal 12 credit course load, while McGill charges engineering students from abroad $14,924 per semester for the same amount of credits.