Siba Smarak Panigrahi

A Bit of Early Hacks (Tips) Related to Montreal

  • The following points come from my personal experience
  • Applicable for those who are coming to Montreal for long duration (say study) and not a week-long tourist visit.
  • These were true in Fall 2022, so I am not sure if these will still be valid if you are reading this, say in 2032!
  • If you find this interesting or relevant to someone then do share. Thanks a lot!

     Pre-arrival stuff Yes, I need to add some pre-arrival stuff which I found to be super-important.
  • Create a to-do and packing list
  • Just to give an idea (in terms of what I did), in the packing list add everything that you want to push into your suitcases. In the to-do list, add everything else, i.e.,
    • important tasks to be completed (immigration, university, job related)
    • food items you wish to eat because you would miss them for ages
    • special people to meet and so on.
  • ArriveCAN
  • Way too important to get entry into Montreal (Canada in general). Do it early to avoid any hassles. You can also fill the CBSA (Canada Border Agency Services) declaration form before-hand through ArriveCAN! However, just a fun fact, there is no exit-stamp when you leave Canada!

    Also, look into Accueil Plus and Accompagnement Québec.
  • General Other Stuff
    • Invest time to learn about housing, financing, legal, and (health) insurance (in McGill, there were several webinars and fantastic publicly available documents to help)
    • Get an idea about cost for different essential services (e.g., network or internet providers). Make a plan as to what to do once you land!

  • One of the best things about Montreal is public transport (STM or Société de transport de Montréal is absolutely fantastic!).
  • You have to get an OPUS card (for students and certain age groups, there is something called reduced fare). Also understand different passes which are available (especially their end days) before you purchase one (Check here).
  • Just after arrival, which in my case was late August, I had to survive on weekly/3-day pass, as a monthly pass would have been a waste of money.
  • Initially, you might have to travel a lot, so bring (or purchase) a good data-pack (you will need it to see routes/connecting buses or metro). Although it is easier to understand the transit system, but if you are ever lost, you can ask people in the metro station or bus and they will help you (was so in my case).
  • Also check out BIXI bikes!

  • Almost all the (well-known) banks provide similar offerings (depends on season, such as for Fall beginning there are great offers for students). So, your choice of bank would most-likely be affected by the people you interact with (before or after arriving in Montreal).
  • Before opening an account, it is recommended to visit the nearest bank branch and ask them your doubts (you can ask your connects in Montreal, but they might provide non-updated information). A few examples:
    • Daily limits on purchase
    • Net banking related queries
    • Account maintenance charges (generally free for students)
    • Charges for transferring (international and within Canada) money
    • ATM services (free for same bank but chargeable for other banks' ATMs)
  • For those who use Google-Pay (or similar services) there is something here called Interac e-transfer (using email to pay another account). You might not miss GPay so much (maybe, lol).
  • You do not necessarily need a SIN (Social Insurance Number), but it is better to link with your bank account and your employer might also ask for it. The process is easy. Just wake up a morning bit early and go to Service Canada!

  • (Note: I didn't do a GIC i.e., Guaranteed Investment Certificates before coming to Montreal. I am not the best person to comment on this, banks have well-detailed steps for GIC)

     Shopping The options you have to purchase stuff here (and anywhere in the world) is huge!
  • Dollarama for daily use items at cheap(est) price, IKEA for brand new furnitures at the highest price (although there are offers sometimes).
  • Also Maxi & Cie, Canadian Tire, and Walmart is there (and several other great shops I am not mentioning cause some hidden gems you should find yourselves and most likely I do not know them too)!
  • My advice would be go to a market complex and spend a couple of hours. That's it, you will learn a lot!
  • But something wonderful creeps through all these, Facebook Marketplace (do pay a visit before confirming the purchase, because as people say, somethings are not what they seem) and free stuff lying at the basement of your building/road-side (we found something extraordinary there).
  • Always think about need initially rather than purchasing power (amongst should vs could buy, choose should buy).
Check all these options and choose the best option and quality!

Network and/or Internet providers
  • Find a network provider ASAP! Realise that you would most probably have a fantastic internet connection at your study (or work) place, including residence apartment. You should check a plan which provides reasonable data at reasonable rates (the basic plans are already too price-y)
  • Get a good and fast internet connection ASAP! If 3 people are there in your apartment who would likely be continuously involved in technical work, then its better to get at least 100 mbps speed. Ask you building manager if there are some offers for the building you are living in.

Final lesson This section might be relevant for whom CAD (Canadian Dollar) to home currency conversion rate is high. I kind of understood one thing, I shouldn't start converting frequently in my mind what would X CAD be in INR (I am from India!). Always think if you have Y CAD dedicated for a month how much should you spend (again, should vs could), and the survival would be (hopefully) a little smooth.

Bienvenue en Montréal! Please do let me know other hacks (tips) which new incoming people would find relevant (and which you found helpful when you arrived). Thank you for reading! (I will keep updating this post, if required.)