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Montreal Summer Housing Guide

There’s a good reason Montreal is bursting at the seams with artists, musicians and all manner of vagrants: cheap, cheap living. Even at the heart of the trendiest neighborhoods with the best restaurants and the loveliest cafés,
there are beautiful three-bedroom walk-ups available for less than a thousand per month. In other words, intern paradise.

Depending on where you live, how many people you’re willing to live with and how much compromise you’re willing to make on location, this rate could drop even lower. If you’re set on living alone, Montreal is the place for you. There’s a neighborhood for every budget, a café for every type of music, a fresh bagel or smoked meat sandwich to suit any palate.

A Few Must-Knows

You’ll be expected to sign a year-long lease. Damage deposits of any kind are not allowed in Quebec. For this reason apartments always come with a lease, no exceptions. They run almost uniformly from July 1st to June 30.

  • How to get around it? If you’re on a short internship for several months, subletting is very common during the fall and winter semesters as well as the summer months. If you’re renting an apartment with several other people, the landlord will probably prefer only one person signs the lease for reasons of liability.
  • Lease Transfer is always on the table. It’ll be your obligation to find a new tenant to take over your lease but your landlord has very little right of refusal. Find someone cleaned-up and articulate who can pass a credit check and you’re golden.

Look for ads in both languages. In general, “francophones” (French speakers) use Kijiji while “anglophones” (English speakers) tend to prefer Craigslist. Forget the newspaper: the cost far outweighs the benefit of advertising in print. Occasionally there are deals to be had; no one is looking there, after all, but for the most part the local paper is a barren land.

  • Another tip: almost everyone is bilingual–as are their ads–so don’t be shy. Both Kijiji and Craigslist will have different listings so be sure to check both.

Neighborhoods To Look At

Trendier ‘Hoods on the Cheap:

Mile-End: This is the neighborhood where everything is happening. You’ll need to hunt a little for a good bargain but you will never lack for interesting adventures. The heart of the ‘hood is Café Olympico and Club Social, where you can find the best coffee in the city at the cheapest prices. A great place to people watch on a warm summer afternoon. The city’s most interesting music venues are almost all to be found in this area. It is also home to the world’s best bagels, which you can buy fresh from the oven twenty-four hours a day. A popular hang-out at 4 a.m.

Parc Ex: Many trend seekers and trend makers who’ve grown frustrated with the rising rents of Mile-End are seeking refuge in Parc Ex, which has better access to the Metro and an abundance of low-priced accommodation. The neighborhood has a bit of a colder feeling since streets are wider and the traffic is heavier. This is a popular area for new immigrants so the selection of cheap and exotic food is some of the best in the city. If you like, you can compromise on the in-between area people are starting to call “Mile-Ex.”

Budget ‘Hoods:

Verdun: Several decades ago Verdun was home to the Irish Mafia. In effort to staunch some of the criminal activity, the city revoked all alcohol permits and refused to issue any more until just recently. As such there is not a single bar in this neighborhood, which has stunted its growth considerably and made it a haven for all manner of vagrants. With three metro stations, Verdun has extremely easy access to any neighborhood in the city and some of the cheapest rents you can find. Also a popular neighborhood for new immigrants, it offers a large variety of interesting restaurants and independent grocers.

St. Henri: In the last decade this neighborhood has seen loads of growth and activity, while rents have been raised only a fraction. It’s full to the brim with enormous artist lofts at varying prices. The loft parties of St-Henri recall the speakeasies of the depression era. Expect live music, ultra cheap beer and well-dressed hipsters of all ages.

‘Hoods for the “Money-Is-No-Object” Intern:

Plateau Mont-Royal: Fifteen years ago the Plateau was no more than a ghetto. As artists began to flock here, so did the rents begin to rise. Today almost all accommodation has been rendered unaffordable for the very people who gave it its value. Despite the gentrification, the main drag is still one of the prettiest streets in the city. The neighborhood has quieted down considerably though as much of the action moved north. Beware, because property is so valuable, many stretch the Plateau’s boundaries in online advertisements, referring to cheaper, outlying areas also as “The Plateau.”

Old Port: Anyone interning in law, business or banking would do well to rent a place in the old part of the city, if you can afford it. It’s a hop, skip and a jump from the business district, it’s classically beautiful and also home to some of the best (and most expensive) restaurants in the city. If you can live with the tourists and you’ve got cash to burn, this is a great bet. You’ll find plenty of good company in this neighborhood, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one person of modest income.

Cheap rent isn’t the only attraction. If you love music and culture of all sorts, Montreal is definitely the place for you. Public transportation is excellent and also very inexpensive. If you’re still a student, a monthly pass is just $45 and includes all metro trains and buses. You’ll need at least a working knowledge of French to score an internship, though most businesses will expect you to be perfectly fluent, both written and spoken.

* This article was written in partnership with Amy Knapp at InsideTrak.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Internship? and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?