THE COST OF LIVING IN MONTREAL
Planning your trip to Montreal also means taking the pulse of the cost of living.
This will allow you to plan a budget that meets your needs and desires. From the useful to the pleasant, what expenses should you expect? What are the standard costs or packages? What are the prices of consumer goods?
There is a time when we project ourselves elsewhere, when we look towards the future and the time to take our bearings. There is a time when we pause. It is a necessary pause. It is the time to identify your needs and means, and to put a figure on them. It is time to establish a predictable budget. A look at the priorities, the "little extras" and the details of some expenses...
A TIME FOR REFERENCE POINTS
Before the daily organization, priority to the essential! Pell-mell of markers that concentrate the "what to think about" upon arrival.
The "to-do-list" often includes immediate steps:
- The first few nights in temporary housing
- The purchase of furniture, supplies, and sometimes appliances for a long-term rental
- Appropriate clothing for the season (never without a coat, boots, hat in winter)
- Some initial expenses (telephone package, STM bus/métro card, rental, etc.)
PAPERS AND FILES
On the "administrative" side, there are papers to obtain and files to complete, such as:
- Opening a bank account
- Obtaining a health insurance card
- Obtaining a social insurance number
- Apply for a driver's license
- Enrolling children in daycare or school
Without the "carte soleil" (health insurance card) and without private insurance, health care services are at your expense. For a family, medical appointments (dentist, ophthalmology, massage therapy, psychology...) can be quite a budget to plan! Here again, shopping around is the norm... You decide on the service and the professional.
BUDGET BREAK - HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO LIVE IN MONTREAL?
To evaluate your savings and investment needs, a short budget break is essential. Here's an overview of the expenses to anticipate... for a well thought-out budget.
On a daily basis and throughout the year, the main expenses are:
- Rent + charges (heating, Hydro-Quebec and internet if not already included)
- Phone bill
- Possible medical expenses not covered by your insurance
The cost of housing - whether you own or rent - is one of the main expenses in a budget. The cost varies according to the type of home, its size, its assets (building materials, garage, garden, pool, terrace, parking space...). The location is another criterion of choice and a difference in cost. It is more expensive to live in certain neighborhoods (such as Plateau Mont-Royal, Ville-Marie, Outremont or Westmount) than others. Generally speaking, the cost decreases the further away you are from downtown or the metro.
Compared to Quebec, the cost of living is higher in Ontario, British Columbia, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. It also varies significantly from one city to another, depending on whether you live in Montreal or in the regions.
Charges and other housing-related costs:
In addition to the cost of the rent or mortgage, certain charges and fees may be added (if they are not included) such as:
- insurance coverage
- municipal and school taxes
- condominium fees, if you buy a condo
Things to note
- City water is free.
- Some costs are sometimes included in the rent, such as heating and electricity. These costs vary greatly depending on the insulation of the home, the season and the area occupied. Most apartments are heated with natural gas, oil or electricity, or with bio-energy.
- On average, a household pays $100 in electricity costs each month with the use of the washer, dryer, dishwasher and other appliances.
- Good insurance can save you a lot of trouble if the unexpected happens, whether you rent or own.
TELEPHONE, INTERNET, TELEVISION
Telephone and internet charges may surprise the European visitor or immigrant. Higher than in Europe, one must count on a package between 100 $ CAN and 150 $ CAN per month for residential telephone services, internet and television, and at least 45 $ monthly for a cell phone subscription, 60 $ on average for a smart phone package at BELL including unlimited calls and data. It is often advisable to "store around" (and compare) cell phone plans at the various cell phone retailers: Videotron, Rogers, Bell, Fido, Telus, Virgin Mobile, Solo and Koodo.
CABLE OR SATELLITE TELEVISION
Average monthly cost: $25 to $50.
Usually offered in a package with residential Internet for an amount that can vary between $40 and $70 per month.
Average monthly cost: between $40 and $100 depending on the package and the speed of the connection.
CELL PHONE PACKAGES
Average monthly cost: $45 per month.
The grocery basket does not escape the great variations in price, depending on the choice of grocery store (public market, organic grocery store, supermarket, etc.), the quality of the products, their local or imported origin, and the size of the budget.
Some fresh products (such as bread), imported products (such as cheese) or highly taxed products (such as wine) are more expensive than in France for example.
Average monthly cost: about $300 for one person.
Restaurants, bars and micro-breweries - as well as creameries and pastry shops - are a temptation in Montreal, for gourmet, tasting, quick lunchtime cooking, local or world cuisine. There is no standard fare in this area. It's all a matter of taste and attraction!
When we talk about local products in Montreal, we often think of public markets, more precisely: Jean Talon, Atwater, Maisonneuve, or the recent Marché des Éclusiers. Local producers gather there with their fresh products in small colorful baskets. There is also a whole network of farms (organic or not) that offer a delivery service of fruit and vegetable baskets, without intermediaries, at an agreed upon location or even at home or at the office.
The most important budget item is definitely your winter wardrobe: coats, boots, hats and gloves. Consider Canadian brands that are made of cold-resistant materials. Each season has its own fabrics and simple or onion skin outfits. If you don't plan ahead, your budget can change as quickly as the temperature!
Examples of small fees
1 regular (medium) coffee: $3
2 liters of milk: $5
Bottle of wine: minimum $15
Movie ticket: $13 (except on Tuesdays)
Cultural outing (theater - dance...): from $50
Meal at a restaurant (1 person): On average $20
1 stamp (letter less than 30 g): $1.07
Monthly gym membership: $50
TAXES AND INSURANCE
Are you an employee? Taxes are deducted at source (payroll deductions).
Taxes work in "tiers". At the federal level, the rates range from 15% to 33% of your income to be returned to the government. At the provincial level, these rates vary between 4% and 21% depending on the province.
For most products and services, you must remember that two taxes are added to the bill: the federal goods and services tax (GST) of 5% (the equivalent of the VAT in France) and the provincial tax (QST) of 9.975%.
GST and QST 2022 tax calculation (calculconversion.com)
TGST/HST is not charged on basic groceries, prescription drugs, health and dental services.
Things to note
It is also customary to leave a variable tip for a service received (restaurant, hairdresser, cab, etc.) because the service is not included in the posted price. For example, at a restaurant, for satisfactory service, you usually leave the equivalent of 15% in taxes.
Banking institutions charge for their services through monthly fees and according to your banking transactions. So, if you want to access an unlimited number of transactions, the standard package could be around 15 dollars per month.
URBAN SPIRIT - ENJOY THE MONTREAL LIFE
The law provides for general opening hours that apply to most businesses:
8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
However, some establishments are allowed to open their doors outside of the usual hours under certain conditions. These include: tobacco and book stores; art and craft stores; flower stores, horticultural centers and antique stores; commercial establishments located in sports or cultural centers, hospitals or air terminals.
CONVENIENCE STORES, PHARMACIES, SAQ
Convenience stores - open 24 hours a day - are those neighbourhood tobacco shops and mini grocery stores where you can buy your newspaper along with a liter of milk or a lighter... You can find everything you need to "help out" even in the middle of the night!
Of course, pharmacies in Quebec sell medicines and - strangely enough - even chips, soft drinks and photos for health insurance cards and passports! Explanation: Pharmacies in Quebec are stores that contain a pharmacy counter. It is common to shop for vitamins and cleaning products at the same time.
A drink in sight? Direction: the SAQ, the Société des Alcools du Québec! Because it has the exclusive right to select, purchase, import, store, distribute and sell alcoholic beverages (wines, beers and spirits) in stores in Quebec, with the exception of beer and cider bottled in Quebec.
GETTING TO MONTREAL
From Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport, you can take a cab to Montreal or the Aerobus shuttle to the downtown Montreal bus terminal.
ON THE ISLAND OF MONTREAL
Do you enjoy driving around in your own car? When it comes to models, car fleets offer you a wide range of choices. Consider the other costs associated with owning a car: gas, insurance, maintenance, driver's license, registration, parking permits, etc.
- Bus or metro
La Société de transports de Montréal (STM)
eand its fare schedule
- Commuter trains
Exo (transport collectif)
- River shuttles
Navettes maritimes du Saint-Laurent
- Car rental
- Alternative system
Communauto (borrow a car) : this is a fleet of several thousand vehicles that can be rented at low cost for a few minutes, an hour, a day or longer.
COMMUTERS: BIKE TO WORK TO SLEEP
Bike to work to sleep could well replace the classic "metro to work to sleep". As time goes by and bike lanes are being built, it's a state of mind that's slowly winning over Montrealers. Thus the Bixi, those famous rows of bicycles where you can take a "two-wheeled" self-service. To support commuters who cycle to work, more and more employers are introducing initiatives such as bike racks or garages, changing rooms, showers, spare parts, etc. Another trend: the appeal of electric bikes in times of pandemic is not about to disappear.
Bike paths in Montreal
There are 3,000 km of bicycle paths in and around the Greater Montreal area.
TERRACES, CAFÉS, RESTAURANTS, ETC.
Immersing yourself in Montreal's culture also means letting yourself be attracted by its lively terraces, a slightly "fancy" setting, the aromas of its cafés, the taste of a good restaurant with friends... All this has a cost of course! It would be a shame to deprive yourself of it if you can treat yourself and respect your budget. Good news: between fast food and the great tables of life, the choice is so vast that there is something for everyone. A craft beer for around $7. Lots of three-course menus for $30-40. Guaranteed culinary discoveries and memorable tastes!
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Living in Montreal means living to the rhythm of its cultural, sports and artistic activities. And there are so many events of all kinds throughout the year! In addition to the big public festivals on the outdoor stage or the free shows of emerging artists, the outings are accompanied by tickets to shows. An indoor show at Place des Arts often costs between $50 and $100. A concert at the Bell Centre ranges from $39 (e.g. Cowboys Fringants) to $469 (Elton John). A contemporary dance performance at the Agora de la Danse costs between $30 and $50.