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City or Suburbs? How to Pick the Right Place to Live in Montreal

My residence for the past year has been in the centre of Little Italy, a pretty cool Montreal neighborhood. Prior to

Prior to this, I had always lived in the suburbs… with my parental roommates. I knew I wasn’t a downtown city girl and so Little Italy was a good compromise; it has that small town feel mixed with a little European flare and yet it’s close (enough) to downtown and my suburban parents. Everything I needed was within walking distance – my favorite cafes, bars, market, restaurants and an abundance of different shops. Work is a short 15 to 20 minute drive away, which is a blessing compared to the rush hour traffic to and from suburbia.

Living the life right? Except for the fact that we (my boyfriend and I) are tenants and our rent is the amount of a mortgage (as told to us by many over the last twelve months). Being smart young professionals, we would like to leave the leasing behind us and invest in something that will not only allow me to get a dog (our unit does not allow them) but will also be a good investment and allow us to build up equity.

So now we are left with one big decision: to stay in the city or move to the suburbs. My mind ping pongs back and forth daily and the pros and cons of each are very competitive. Of course, these reasons are personal opinions and do not apply to everyone, but if you’re in a similar boat, you might be able to relate to my internal struggle.

live in montreal

The pros of urban living
Hands down, the city is cooler than any suburb. There is always something to do or a new place to visit and it is never too far away. We can currently walk out of our building and have a very exciting and productive walk. The city is (currently) closer to both of our work establishments, which allows us to share one vehicle (and a Vespa in the summer).

live in montreal

The pros of moving to the suburbs
Living in the suburbs undoubtedly gives you more bang for your buck. Once we leave the city, we can actually afford to buy a detached home that is not in desperate need of renovations. My dreams of having two bathrooms can actually become a reality. We can have our very own driveway and a yard for the (potential) dog. I like space, and a suburban house would definitely satisfy that need.

live in montreal

Downfalls of urban living
I am not a fan of condo living and city life is mostly condos (unless you have a huge budget). Having lived in a house for almost ever, I have found that adjusting to condo living is hard. I don’t like to share. I want my own front door and I do not want to smell other people’s odors, whether it be cooking, smoking or overdosing on perfume and cologne. I don’t want to hear people in the hallway or random, mysterious banging through walls, floors and ceilings (even though we live on the top floor). Buying in the city is expensive and small; a parking spot alone can be an added $20,000, and if you own a car you want a parking spot (especially in February).

live in montreal

Downfalls of moving to the suburbs
Traffic. Living in the suburbs can cost you an average of one and a half to two hours of traffic a day. Many people do it, I did for years, but now that I don’t, going back seems detrimental to my happiness. Ironically enough, the suburbs seem overpopulated and big to me. Everything always seems so busy; grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants. There are no quaint little coffee shops or new eateries within close proximity to your front door. We would probably need to invest in a second vehicle and I can’t help but fear that we’d become a boring suburban couple who don’t want to go to the city anymore because it’s too “far”.

So which one wins? At the end of the day, it comes down to doing your research and really honing in on your priorities. And while I haven’t come to a decision yet, no matter what place I pick, I can feel satisfied knowing I still get to live in Montreal – one of the coolest cities in the country.

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Megan Autumn

Megan is a creative being and footwear enthusiast within the fashion world of Montreal. Mildly obsessed with dogs (mostly her pug), Drake, cacti and PB. She's not a nice morning person until caffeinated, can get hangry, and generally prefers staying home. She is currently taking baby steps towards her life goals of retirement as a writer.