3 things to know about housing in Montreal

1. Renting in Montreal

Montreal’s housing market consists of over 50% renters. The city was built in a way that incorporates not only high-rise buildings, but many different apartment styles. For example, there’s the studio/loft: which is generally one large open space with a mezzanine for sleeping. There’s the duplex and the triplex, the “typical” Montreal apartment with winding stairs: two and three story apartment buildings where each unit has its own entrance. A less common building type is the bloc; multiple apartment buildings with a central entrance shared among the tenants. Finally, while not very common in Montreal, full houses are also available for rent.

If you are a new student, finding a roommate  and apartment hunting in a completely new city may seem too overwhelming. In this case, university residence may be an appropriate option for your first year in Montreal. Renting from an accredited institution has it’s benefits. Residences offer different rooms to choose from and many include a meal plan.  It can be a great way to meet people, and this way you can make the transition from university residence to having your own apartment in the following year, once you know the city better.. You may also consider private student residences; they are a relatively new addition to the housing market. Although scattered near university campuses, they are not affiliated with any university.

2. The deal on apartment sizing in Quebec

You may have noticed, while looking through apartment ads, that apartments are listed by size with this strange ½ business (1 ½, 3 ½, 4 ½, etc.)  Rumor has it that this classification system derived from the original architecture of duplexes and triplexes that we find everywhere in Quebec. Nowadays it is used to indicate the bathroom. Therefore the full number refers to the amount of rooms in the apartment and the ½ indicates that there is indeed a bathroom as well. In other words, a 1 ½/2 ½ are studio or bachelor-sized apartments and a 3 ½ is an apartment with a kitchen, living space, closed bedroom and  bathroom. Any sizes above that, you’re essentially adding an extra closed bedroom (ex. a 4 ½ has two closed bedrooms.)

3. Orientation: True North vs. Montreal North

If you look at a map of Montreal you may think you’ve got a good idea of where you’re going, but asking for directions might throw you off, in terms of the compass! Generally Montrealers will tell you North is towards the apex of the mountain while South is towards the Lachine Canal or the Saint-Lawrence River, even if this is geographically incorrect. When it comes to West and East, boulevard St Laurent is the dividing line. In the same vein, street addresses (along streets like Maisonneuve, Ste. Catherines and Sherbrooke) will change from “Est” to “Ouest” as they intersect boulevard Saint-Laurent.