Why Montreal is the Best City for Students
There are many reasons why Montreal is ranked the second best city to study in Canada. With a large and diverse local and international student population, you get to meet people from all walks of life. Where you live, hang out, study, and let loose, impacts your experience in the city. As a student, it can be challenging to find the right apartment to suit your needs let alone one that is located in the right neighborhood. Montreal’s boroughs pride themselves on their distinct personalities and taking a stroll in each neighborhood will help you understand why. But if you don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled a list of the best neighborhoods in Montreal and the reasons why to help you find a home that matches your student lifestyle.
Plateau-Mont-Royal and Mile-End
On the top of the list is Plateau Mont-Royal and Mile-End. The Mile-End is found within Plateau Mont-Royal and both areas have commonly been described as having a quirky and ‘hipster’ atmosphere. After a month of living here, you’ll probably have a photo album full of the murals on the buildings, been to at least one health food store, tried the newest food trend, and attended a yoga class.
While Plateau Mont-Royal is vast and the limits of this borough can become confusing, half the fun is exploring the many streets, shops, and cafes. The best part is that it’s connected to one of the biggest parks in the city – Mount Royal Park and Park Lafontaine. You can even hike up Mont Royal if you’re looking for a walk through nature.
If a lively scene is what you’re after, Saint-Laurent boulevard is home to many cafes, art installations, and pubs. It is also home to students from an array of downtown campuses making it easy to create a routine and find other students to study with. If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, we suggest anything near Avenue Henri-Julien, Coloniale, or Laval as it has a residential feel while still being in the heart of the city.
Most importantly, this area is one that is central, providing easy access to downtown campuses such as McGill, Concordia, ETS, UQAM, and Université de Montreal. Such universities are accessible by foot, bike, or short bus ride. Here are a few of our favorite spots to study or get snacks around this neighborhood:
Downtown is probably the most obvious choice if you’re planning on attending McGill, Concordia, or ETS. If you choose to live Downtown, you’re basically living on campus. As with every neighborhood, there are pros and cons.
The apartments here are usually newer and cleaner which is a plus – but if you’re looking for spots near Milton Park, they’re more student-friendly and have a lived-in feel. As with all apartments make sure to schedule a visit in person and ask your landlord the right questions so you can feel comfortable living in your next home.
You’ll always be able to satisfy your late-night cravings as there are tons of food joints that are open at night. A few of our favorites are Joe’s Pannini’s and Dunn’s Famous. As a hub for office workers and popular clothing stores, this neighborhood can be busy during the day but gets pretty quiet at night.
Lastly, if you’re a library person this might be the spot for you. You’ll be close to McGill and Concordia libraries (you don’t have to attend either school to go to their library) and the best coffee shops for studying – our favorite is Leaves Café. We would suggest this neighborhood for students who want to work smarter, not harder. By being near all of the resources necessary to succeed (school, libraries, food, and secure housing) you’ll be able to do just that.
Calling all future UQAM students – this is the neighborhood for you. Many of you are probably wondering, what is Quartier Latin? We would describe Quartier Latin as small but mighty. It’s located within Quartier des Spectacles, which is found right in between Downtown and Old Montreal. If you’re a fan of arts and entertainment, this area will definitely keep you occupied as annual events are hosted here such as The Jazz Festival, open concerts, and public art installations. The bonus is that you’re right next to the largest public library in the French-speaking world: BanQ.
In terms of transportation, Berri-Uqam, Saint-Laurent, and Sherbrooke metro stations will be your best friend. Bixi stations are also located next to the metro stations, so you can always choose to bike around instead of taking the metro.
A few noteworthy spots within the area that we can personally attest to:
Saint-Henri is our personal favorite neighborhood for students and here is why. It is not your typical student neighborhood, so if you’re searching for an area that doesn’t scream “I am a student who just moved into my first apartment” this might be for you.
You’ll find the stunning Lachine Canal that has a great bike and walking path. The Atwater Market is a hub of activity where you can get fresh produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, plants, and hot meals.
Lionel Groulx metro station is a 5-10 minute walk and is a central station between the green and orange lines. You will still be close to most major universities through public transit or driving.
This quirky neighborhood is a great mix of old and new and home to many small businesses. You’ll find vintage shops, health stores, pet stores, and libraries. It’s a great neighborhood with a community feeling.
Our favorite spots that we go back to time and time again:
Rustique – for a variety of baked pastries and pies.
Bucky Rooster – one of the best fried chicken spots in Montreal
Cordova -a coffee shop that also turns into a bar pre-covid times)
Côte-des Neiges and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Côte-des Neiges is an ethnically diverse neighborhood, with more than half of its residents coming from abroad. This area truly embodies the multiculturalism that Montreal is known for. It’s one of the more affordable neighborhoods and it has so much to offer with restaurants, and parks, all within walking distance. Our favorite activity is to take a stroll and discover the small grocery stores selling goods from all over the world.
NDG area is near schools such as HEC Montreal, University de Montreal, Polytechnique, and Concordia’s Loyola Campus. You’ll find families, couples, and students all living within this neighborhood to have a nice residential blend.
Our must-try spots in NDG:
Ranked the world’s 11th coolest neighborhood in the world by TimeOut, Verdun is one of Montreal’s most iconic boroughs. It is one of the oldest cities in Canada, sitting pretty at over 350 years.
As a vibrant neighborhood, Verdun is perfect for students who want to be close to nature as it’s filled with parks making for great outdoor study spots. Although it was previously devoid of nightlife, the city is now considered up and coming as more restaurants and bars appear alongside established independent stores, boutiques, and other businesses.
The neighborhood comprises a French-speaking majority with anglophones and allophones (those for whom neither English nor French is their mother tongue) making up a sizable minority. The dining room is still closed to the public due to Covid restrictions, but take-out is available to these great restaurants in the neighborhood.
Named after the First Nations people who once settled in the city, Hochelaga Maisonneuve is now a cluster of urban Montreal neighborhoods. The city has witnessed a steady rise in population in recent years due to the influx of students and immigrants, making it one of the few neighborhoods with the lowest average age in Montreal. It isn’t the most touristy city in Montreal, making it an authentic, inviting, and fantastic place to live for students. Hochelaga Maisonneuve is also home to the famous Olympic Stadium. Some of the best restaurants and bakeries to visit include:
There are many factors that go into which neighborhood is suitable for you, the most important aspect is that it makes you happy. Whether it be a temporary or a permanent home, think about your future dwelling as somewhere you not only sleep but hang out and explore. With this guide, you’ll have a more definitive idea about the best neighborhoods in Montreal (we admit we’re biased) and which areas best suit your needs as a student.