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10 Things Montrealers Have Over Everyone Else

Montréal Couples
by Claire Litton Cohn Jul 17, 2015

1. We have an invisible shield against ridiculous bureaucracy.

We’ve developed a very high tolerance for bureaucratic red tape in Montreal, because how else would anything get done? If you ever need someone to wait in line at the licensing office, or cheer you up because the clerk at the health clinic gave you the wrong receipt, call a Montrealer: we’ve probably done exactly that before ourselves, and we know the quick and easy ways to get things done.

2. We can party unbelievably late without ever being tired.

Sure, you may THINK you’re a night owl. You may pride yourself on only knowing about one eight o’clock per day. But until you’ve visited the city where last call is at 3 and that’s when the poutine party starts, you don’t actually know what you’re talking about. Plus, conveniently, most of us are late for everything, so everything goes later.

3. We’re amazingly flexible.

Have you heard of this little company called Cirque du Soleil? Turns out many of them train at the Quebec Circus School, in the fairly awesome Montreal neighbourhood Parc Ex. Back when I was vaguely interested in learning how to hula hoop, I took my practice hoop to a park because I was always accidentally letting go of it and flinging it across the room. I saw another couple of people with hula hoops and figured they were other amateurs with the same idea…until they formed a human pyramid and hooped their way through some truly contortionist poses.

4. We have one of the best transit systems in the country.

Although they just raised a single fare to $3.25, a monthly pass here is $80, as compared to $142 in Toronto and up to $170 in Vancouver (depending on where you want to go). Furthermore, if you include the trains de banlieue, you can get pretty much anywhere in both the city and the surrounding region for very little hassle.

5. We have the best music scene in the country.

The government of Quebec offers grants of up to $25,000 for musicians to practice their craft or produce important works…and it shows. Montreal is home to one of the best music scenes you’ll ever find: acoustic, jazz, EDM, or electroswing, you name it, someone in Montreal is doing it and doing it well. Hang around upcoming Haitian restaurant Agrikol and you might catch a glimpse of Montreal wunderkinds Arcade Fire (repeatedly voted “Most Pretentious Band” in Culture Montreal’s “Best of Montreal”).

6. We can rent a two bedroom apartment here for $750 a month.

I mean, not everywhere. And the cheap apartments get snapped up pretty fast, so you have to be really on the ball to find them. But overall, the cost of living in Montreal is way, WAY lower than any other major city of its size; you can buy your groceries at one of the plentiful small fruiteries or either of the two big markets, Hydro Quebec has the lowest electricity rates in Canada, and you save a ton of money by not having a car. See number 4.

7. We can buy booze within a 5-min walk from our place.

Our corner stores (called dépanneurs) are pretty ubiquitous; there’s usually one on almost every block. Most of them have a fine selection of beer and/or wine, available til 11pm, plus cheese, cat food, and condoms…pretty much anything you might want to buy when you’re too lazy to walk the twenty minutes to your closest grocery store, which probably closed at 6pm anyway.

8. We can switch instantly back and forth between two languages a half dozen times within a couple sentences.

Most native residents and quite a few of the immigrants (whether from the rest of Canada or elsewhere) are at least bilingual (English and French), with some people stacking even more languages for good measure — I once met a cab driver in the Plateau who spoke Arabic, English, and French, then taught himself German, Italian, Greek, and Hebrew, just for the heck of it. Most customer service people will greet you with “Hello bonjour” so you can answer in whichever language you want, and it’s one of the only cities in the world where people speak both English and French simultaneously: sometimes even switching between them mid-sentence. I once eavesdropped on a conversation where the young men switched languages every few words.

9. We can hit La Ronde any time we feel the need for thrills.

Do you like roller coasters? So do we. La Ronde is the biggest amusement park in Quebec, and is one of only two parks operated by Six Flags that aren’t branded. It was originally built for Expo 67 and is full of hair-raising roller coasters.

10. We can develop video games like no one else.

There are roughly half a billion people in the world playing video games more than an hour a day, and chances are some of those games came from Montreal. Home base of Ubisoft, EA, and many smaller studios, Montreal is most famous for Assassin’s Creed but there are tons more games of every kind that were produced here.

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