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emefleur Jan 2nd, 2006 07:52 AM

Job Offer in Montrea; on the fence about accepting it

I just received a job offer in Montreal, with a nice benefits package. I currently reside in New York City, and leaving the international and cosmopolitan atmosphere will be difficult (although, living in New York has its minuses, such as the pushiness of people or addiction to instant gratification). Also, I work in the fast-paced world of advertising; will it be hard for me to jump into a slower role in the workforce? (With a non-profit, affiliated w/ the UN).

I speak French, so I'm not worried about that factor. What I'm worried about is that I don't know anyone in Montreal and I wonder if it's easy to make friends there (I'm very social and personable). Also, in a previous forum I read a comment that Quebec's healthcare system is not good. Can anyone confirm or rebut this, citing supporting reasons?

I know that I'll be within a short flying distance of NYC, but I'm nervous about leaving my comfort zone (which is oftentimes a good move to make, for elasticity's sake) to a completely different city.

I will say this, I moved to NYC from Atlanta, 3.5 yrs ago, knowing only a couple of people; it didn't take me long to network and meet people, as well as find amazing freelance positions in the advertising world.

I know this is a long post, but any suggestions are welcome. I have to decide by January 4; hopefully someone will read this by then.

Lois_L Jan 2nd, 2006 09:09 AM

If, as a New York resident, you are offered what you think is a "nice benefits package" to live in Montreal, you should consider it for the financial gain alone. You would probably feel aware of operating in a small-town atmosphere, compared to NYC or even Atlanta; then you'd be in Canada, which is an economy only 1/10th the size of the US . . . however, Montreal is small-town but cosmopolitan at the same time. Winters are vile, of course, but socially, there is a wonderful international mix of people who are drawn to the city for quality of life. Lots of cultural sophistication. Outstanding food. Charming residential areas. Dirt-cheap housing, by NYC standards. I think there is a lot to do socially in Montreal, and people are less likely to be rude or uncaring, shall we say, than we might find in NYC (and I'm a big NYC-lover). One drawback is that if you think you might have a major illness, head for the airport, not the hospital. The healthcare benefit in Canada is that everyone receives the same standard of care. That is also the big drawback. In summary, I think Montreal is easy to love, as long as you have a warm coat and boots. Even better if you like to ski. You would have to be ready to adjust to a smaller national economy and a different sensibility about a lot of things, but you might find your social life would be more expansive.

BAK Jan 2nd, 2006 10:22 AM

Well, there you go.

Montreal is small town compared to Atlanta. Hard to believe, since Atlanta is a burg so retro that it closes at 5 pm and you end up is Smuckhead or some other suburb to avoid being murdered.


If you have been offered a decent job in Montreal, ask the prospective employer to cover your expenses for three or four days, while you go and look for yourself.

Montreal has lots of rental accomodation, inlcuding downtown apartments where you might be able to walk top work. Plus a series of train-like vehicles that run through tunnels, taking people to various places in town in return for Canadian coins.

Real estate is weird, though, with most rental leses coming due on the same day of the year, so there's not always lots of accomodation available.

Montreal, even though apparently a small town (see above meassage), has distinctive bagels, and New York bagels are different. You can compare them. Same with smoked meat sandwiches.

Dame Edna comes to Montreal sometimes to perform, so you can have fancy entertainment. And the American television stations are mostly available in Montreal. Andyou'll get the local news from Burlington, Vermont.

Are you planning to buy an automobile? They have these in Montral now, although, perhaps interestingly, it's north America's largest market for standard transmissions.

A car will expand your residential options. You can pick neighborhoods full of former italians, or Canadians who speak French, or Candians who speak English, or former haitians, or even, --scarey, n'est ce pas? - Cubans. Or Greeks. Or Jews. (these neighborhoods make it easy to select cuisine of your choice, while walking)

Unlike New York, it's easy enough to find parking downtown near offices. And if you pick the right neighborhoods, you can ride to work on real trains with locomotives, just like New York or Toronto.

Montreal has grocery stores, so you'll be able to buy New York type sophisticated and cosmopolitan food, except for yellow margarine. It's white in Quebec province.

Montreal also has St. Hubert chicken, which you cannot get in Atlanta, to the best of my knowledge.

I lived in Montreal on weekends for three years. How it compares to New York depends on what you do in New York. At home, indoors, eating and watching television, it's pretty much the same except for all the French channels on TV, and no Howard Stern anymore. Satellite radio is new to Canada, but Howard did not come along.

Where do you live in New York? We might be able to offer further advice.


emefleur Jan 2nd, 2006 02:54 PM

Quickly, as I have to run out, thank you for both replies. It's good to know about television up there, but I don't watch TV much--though I love renting DVDs. I'm a social butterfly, and my concern is finding plenty of accoutrements to suit me (not to sound arrogant, as I hope I don't). I live in the East Village, in NYC. And, I go out regularly, almost every night. I love eating out, so at least Montreal has a plethora of restaus--though are they mostly French bistros?

I am an artist, and I presume that Montreal will feed that interest quite well.... Any further tips or advise is much appreciated. Thanks for your attention to my queury, already. :)


Lois_L Jan 2nd, 2006 03:57 PM

Montreal is a going-out person's kind of place. There is a lot of artistic activity; more vernissages than you could get to; dance clubs; hanging-out bars galore, and then there are the restos: there seem to be as many Greek-influenced places as French, plus Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, American, Italian, Swiss, Moroccan--when I said "cosmopolitan", I meant it. If you live in the East Village, you would want to check out the Plateau neighborhood in Montreal.

LuvToTravel77 Jan 2nd, 2006 05:19 PM

Emefleur, welcome to Montreal! Having lived in this city for some 23 years, I can attest that it is trully a cosmopolitan city with lots to do, excellent restaurants and cafes, a decent club and bar scene, and an excellent public transportation system. That being said, there are some negatives that you should consider. First, as you mentioned health care can be an issue. I don't know your current situation but someone who is used to the private insurance system might feel that Quebec health care is slow and inefficient. Indeed, the stories of long waits for essential services, while often exaggerated, are nevertheless true. That being said, the Supreme Court recently ruled that denying patients private health care options when the public system doesn't cut it is unconstitutional so you will see more smaller private clinics open where you pay as you go, although buying American-type health insurance plans does not occur here. Also, taxation may be a problem. Next to Newfoundland, Quebecers pay the highest taxes in North America; if you earn a high 5 figures salary or up, expect to pay nearly 48 percent of your income to Revenue Canada and Quebec (2 seperate income tax filings). Then there is the political situation which for me as an anglophone living in Quebec is a huge minus. The separatist Parti Quebecois seems poised to win the next provincial election and will undoubtebly call for a referendum on Quebec sovereignty, and this time they could very well win. Even with only the threat of seperation, political instability ensues, the market and Canadian dollar goes way down, and the value for real estate plummets. Perhaps I'm a little biased being more conservative than the average Quebec citizen (a very socialist province), but I feel that in all fairness you should be fully aware of the situation. If you are looking for a city with a sort of "joie de vivre" and a lot of culture, Montreal may be the place for you, but in terms of economic/health care/political issues, you may want to stay away. Just my two cents.

Daniel_Williams Jan 3rd, 2006 06:48 AM

Hey Emefleur,

People have generally given you good advice so far (except for saying Montreal has small-town atmosphere?!?). The island of Montreal is 1.2 million people and the greter metropolitan area is about 3.3 million, which puts the city about on par with Boston in size. Montreal feels pretty "big city" and unfortunately has its share of pushy & instant gratification types.

Montreal IMO is a social butterfly's paradise, with a panoply of things to choose from every evening in a wide variety of genres (food, art, music, dance, cinema, poetry readings, charitable deeds organizations). Many people here are dedicated to nurturing the home-grown arts; I think you will be impressed at some of the exceptional quality! And as others have hinted, you will not be leaving an international and cosmopolitan atmosphere; Montreal is very much both!

If, by accoutrements, you mean clothing & accessories varieties, a whopping number of Montrealers are clothes horses, with options running the gamut from chic to you-name-it-funky; originality abounds and people-watching can even be fun as a result.

The political situation is a reality and Quebec may one day be a nation (or not), and who knows what that will bring? Democracy at work! I decided that I could live with "uncertainty" when I moved here; you'll have to make up your own mind in this regard (isn't life though in many ways uncertain wherever you are?).

Health-care has yet to be an issue for me; in my biggest encounter, I was treated quite rapidly & professionally in an emergency situation (accident with lots of bloodletting, stitches required). This said, I have friends who've waited months to see a neurologist or to get knee surgery.

Good luck in your decision! DAN

zootsi Jan 3rd, 2006 07:19 AM

I don't have the qualifications of some of the above Montrealers who have posted already, but I did study art in New York man years ago (no, I'm not an artist), and more recently have spent many fun weekends in Montreal. You must realize that from an artist's prospective, no where in the world can match New York. Montreal, like any major city has a lively art scene. However I never got the impression that Montreal was a particularly 'artsy' city - and certainly not in the same league as New York. What Montreal does have is fabulous dining, shopping and nightlife, interesting ecclectic neighborhoods, and good public transportation all in a relatively safe, clean setting. For it's size, Montreal may even surpass New York on dining and night life. Like New York, Montreal is a melting pot of different cultures and races, but racial tensions are not nearly as prevalent (at least from what I could sense). Unlike New York, most of the city is fairly safe and walkable. There are no 'South Bronx's' in Montreal. On the other hand, I did wander in to a Montreal hospital a few years ago, and it looked like it hadn't been upgraded in 30 years. Another factor to consider are the long, very harsh winters. Montreal is typically 10-20 f colder than New York in winter, and about 5-10 f cooler in summer.

BAK Jan 3rd, 2006 07:54 AM

Mellisa, you cahnged sex on me -- goes to show you about preceonceptions, although i was going to ask about gayness.

Montreal is a toruist town, so peole there are open and welcoming. And thelocals are in thesame places as the tourists, so it's not like you'll be surrpounded by other tourists or newcomers.

As forFrench bistros; yes, but balanced by Greek restaurants, and tempered by jewish delis (Montreeal used to have a large, outgoing, Jewish population who loved Chinese food, so from the late forties to the mid-seventies, food cultures mixed.

My friend Charles is an American and a graduate of the Culinary institute of America, and Montreal is one of his favorite cities.

Montreal is, from a woman's point of view, a dress-up city. Women put onhose to go to the grocery store.

As for "art" you can pick your level. the Montreal museum matches itself with the best in the world as far as travelling exhibitions go. At theother end of the lavishness spectrum (who is to say about the talent spectrum) Montreal attracts young, and not so young, French Canadian folk artists.

And there is everything in between. One fo the world's great museums realted to artchitecture is in Montreal.

Somebody might crucnch the numbers differently, but I'd say Montreal is the eat-out capital of Canada, because of the mixture of cultures and the general nature of the people. there's threeuniversities downtown, providing low-end customers to keep places open late at night.

Ifyou have nothing really to lose by moving there, (like a rent controlled NYCity apartment, maybe) you stand to gain a lot by spending a couple of years there.

I commuted for a couple of years, and it was no hardship to be in Montreal on the weekends.

Cheese? Hard to beat.

Even if you did not speak French,you'd be OK, but speaking French opens more doors to you, too.

Cpmon up.


sobolik Jan 4th, 2006 05:29 PM

OK LET ME DO THE DIRTY WORK. But before I do let me say I have been around the world a few times and would love to live in Montreal and others like QC instead of just visit. BUT now the dirtywork. Where is you citizenship? Are all the legalities in order. And what is the legal fallout from such a move. If you are a US citizen and find you love the place for 40 years (like I probably would) would you have paid into the Social security system? Would you return. Do you need a work visa. I have read a lot of nice cultural stuff. How about some of you who know the facts post some of these legal cold hard fact type things. Not a chastisement of previous posts just a request.

sobolik Jan 4th, 2006 05:31 PM

ps I acknowledge the good post of LuvToTravel77

LuvToTravel77 Jan 4th, 2006 05:56 PM

Thanks for the compliment! I appreciate it.

Scarlett Jan 4th, 2006 07:41 PM

Oh boy, would I love to get an offer to go live in Montreal! With pay :)
I somehow guess right away that you , Melissa, are not a native NYer lol...mentioning the "pushiness of people.."
You have lived in NY for less than 4 years so you don't really have long term ties to the city do you?
Montreal compared to Atlanta is a Big City, with its own world famous Symphony and Director and a great Ballet company and a top notch Museum of Art.
There are quite a few colleges and schools in the city, making it a town full of young people, smart young people!
I have been to Montreal many times, I lived in NYC too. I was always struck by the quick tempo of life , music everywhere, always a festival of some sort going on, summers in Montreal are gorgeous and the fall and winters aren't so bad either!
I would live up around the Plateau area if I could.
I would move to Montreal if I I would suggest that you take a nice long trip up and see for yourself.
Speaking French or not, did not slow us down, but it is probably a plus for you, if you are working there.
I think you will find that you are never home and are always socializing, once you have moved there :)

Good luck~

oneillchris Jan 5th, 2006 03:00 PM

OK lets get some of the bad and ugly out, as so far I'll I've heard of is a lot of good and a lot of it is true.

First cut your salary in two, my american friends always tell me there in the 50% bracket, ie the first 20 at 15% the next at etc etc etc, here we mean divide your salary in two.

Second your home interest on your mortgage is not tax deductible as in the states so this also makes a big difference.

Yes Canada is very socialized as far as health care but you may wait 12 hours in emergency to see a doctor. Education is great but people with money send their kids to private school as well as the politicians.
Sometimes this socialization will drive you nuts like even our liquor stores are government run, so prices are jacked up as taxation.

Have to cut it short but I'll let the post stew as the pro canucks lay waste to it and continue it later

Scarlett Jan 5th, 2006 03:58 PM

Well, you are close enough to NY state that you can visit a doctor there if you wish.
Are doctors in Montreal not private also, if one wishes? Like you can in England?

LuvToTravel77 Jan 5th, 2006 06:10 PM

A 12 hour wait in a hospital is pushing it. It depends totally on when you go, how many doctors are on staff... I'd say 3-4 waits are the norm. And yes, some small private clinics where you pay as you go are opening up in the province of Quebec and will likely elsewhere due to the recent Supreme Court ruling.

HogtownJim Jan 5th, 2006 08:36 PM

Rent the movies Jesus of Montreal and The Barbarian Invasions for a satire on the Quebec Health Care System.

Jesus ended up at the well run English/Jewish hospital after escaping from the French language hospital/asylum.

Montreal has recently seen the opening of for profit of private clinics/hospitals. Google for Dr Luc Bessette.

Basically, if you are a foriegner living in Canada or any other place in the world, you should purchase health care insurance and have sufficient funds to cover emergencies.

SallyCanuck Jan 6th, 2006 05:46 AM

Why is everyone assuming this person will require an emergency room visit? She asked about living in Montreal, not bloody dying there.

Buddie3 Jan 6th, 2006 06:11 AM

As a new person tho this site I am finding the whole experience a real hoot. Some excellent advice is being offered with the added sence of humour. I am loving it! The main question is - Are you taking the job?????

laverendrye Jan 6th, 2006 06:18 AM

SallyCanuck: Surely you know that health care is the new Canadian religion and we all worship at its shrine.

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