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Montreal, the best city in the Whole Wide World

I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, one of best cities in the world. As of 2005, more than 3.6 million people lived in the MontreaI metropolitan area. I love Montreal for many reasons. It is diverse and international with close to 1 million people members of 80 vibrant ethnic communities: Haitian, northern Africans, Italian, Greek, Arab, Chinese, Southeast Asian, Berbers, Russian, Jewish, Brazilian, Portuguese, Germans, Scottish, Spanish, Lebanese, Polish, etc. It’s bilingual (French and English), the second largest French city in the world (after Paris) and hundreds of thousands of people have a different native language.

Montreal is also pro entrepreneurship, pro enterprise and pro startups with low corporate taxes, the best research and development tax credits in the world (free money for tech companies, up to 80% of R&D spending) and government support for the venture capital industry. Real Ventures just closed a $50M seed fund that will invest in 50-60 startups over the next 3-4 years. Montreal has a 60 member strong angel network that meets every month. There are 2-5 startup events every week, from product camps, to demo camps to UIX events. The city also counts half a dozen incubators/accelerators. Montreal is close to major North American cities including Toronto, New York and Boston (1-hour flight) and between a 4-5 hour flight away from San Francisco and Los Angeles. Montreal is very well positioned for the new convergence of Mobile, Gaming and Web. Some of the largest gaming studios are in MTL, including Ubisoft, EA and Warner. Nokia and Ericsson have hundreds of employees in Montreal. Montreal is world renowned for its machine learning, natural language processing and operations research talent, and the local web development community is thriving.

Montreal is almost American, with flashes of Boston (architecture, suburbs, student population), New York (restaurants and nightlife) and San Francisco (lifestyle, proximity to nature and wine country). It’s almost European, with flashes of Paris, Madrid and Barcelona. It’s also Canadian with loads of influence from the British Empire. Its French roots give it its own movie, tv, music and book publishing industries and markets, much like France and India. Montreal has Old Montreal, the Plateau, Westmount, and Mont Royal. It has one of cleanest, most efficient subway system, bonified by the largest underground city in the world. Montreal is home to the Bixi, a revolutionary green and healthy city transportation system. It has the most vibrant comedy scene per capita in the world with its Just For Laughs festival which has now expanded beyond Montreal. You can’t find a bad restaurant in Montreal even if you tried. The music scene is solid, anchored by the best Jazz festival in the world. The Cirque du Soleil, the greatest circus on earth, was founded and is still headquartered in Montreal. Montreal is home to world class universities such as McGill University, University of Montreal, Concordia and UQAM, with their renowned engineering programs and business schools. It’s a great place to live, do business in, or move to with the most lenient immigration laws in North America. Montreal International can help you with that.

Montrealers work hard but like to have fun. There is always a good reason to party and have a good time. We invented the “5 a 7” which often end at 3AM. Montrealers love sports. The Montreal Canadiens, the most storied franchise in hockey is here. Montreal also has the Montreal Grand Prix, the only F1 Race in North America. The city is also home to the Montreal Impact, soon to be members of Major League Soccer and the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Footbal League.

It’s a great place to visit and you can follow the Montreal Buzz for the latest.

Montreal is a great place to raise a family. Compared to any other metropolitan city in the world, housing remains affordable. The private and public school systems are solid compared to anywhere else in North America. The value system of the population is strong with a healthy mix of capitalism and social conscience. The province of Quebec has a universal healthcare system which has flaws but remains the best in North America. Montreal has dozens of museums, parks and family activities. Check out I Spy Montreal for the latest.

Montreal is a great place for nature lovers. There are more than half a dozen sky slopes (Saint-Sauveur, Mont Tremblant, Bromont, Sutton, Orford, Owl’s Head) in a 90 minute radius. Dozens of beautiful lakes, and great spots for kiteboarding in the summer and kite skiing in the winter, when you can also find a rink on every other corner. You can also bike to work from anywhere around the city.

Montreal is a cool city, but we’re missing an anthem.

Thanks to Jay-Z, New York has a new one.

Let’s start a movement to find ours.


#1 Bruno on 11.19.10 at 9:33 pm

Hell yeah! What I like so much about Montreal is how it has both sides of many things. Such a great place to live and, increasingly, grow a web startup.

#2 David on 11.19.10 at 9:43 pm

Montreal is my favorite place in the world and I’d never be doing this anywhere else. I’m passionate about it.

There are a few candidates for anthems:

Local MC Malicious became a local Youtube/mtl blogger celebrity with this amateur, surprise hit – so much so that he was included on BV3K’s latest album (which is amazingly cool):

Speaking of BV3K (who are 100% montreal, loved by everyone here):

and “Mon Royal” from Rosé, which I can’t find on Youtube.

For the IDM geeks, Autechre made a track called ‘Montréal’ on their album ‘Amber’ out of love for 514. I couldn’t call it an anthem though. It’s more what you listen to when you’re the only one awake (except for @solutious) programming at 4am.

k thatsall.

#3 Realist on 11.19.10 at 11:01 pm

You forgot these things:

1) Quebec has the highest personal income tax rate in North America. This can mean an EXTRA $8000 in taxes for someone earning, say, $100K (an intermediate developer, for example) when compared to, say, in BC.

2) This may not matter because salaries in Montreal are ridiculously low by comparison. Sure, founders might be okay with drawing minuscule salaries, but why would a rational developer work for a company in Montreal when they can easily double their salaries, even in startup companies, elsewhere?

3) The Language Police has gone after smaller companies with threats of lawsuits for not having their software product in French. This is not good for agile companies who must target the largest markets (by default English speaking) first. For companies of over 50 people, the law makes them *operate* in French. This is obviously untenable when trying to attract entrepreneurs from other parts of the world to start companies in Quebec.

4) The children of immigrants are forced to go to French school (with very few exceptions).

5) The winters are plainly inhumane and ridiculous. I don’t even have to say anymore.

Don’t get me wrong — i like Montreal very much and have visited on many, many occasions, but despite its many cultural attractions the above reasons basically make it a very hostile place to move to and do business in.

Visiting Montreal? Anytime. Settling in Montreal? No way.

#4 Helge Seetzen on 11.19.10 at 11:58 pm

Great synpsis. I think you missed the most important feature of the city though: Montreal is filled with passionate believers in Montreal (your post just shows this…). I am not sure if the positive attitude creates the positive enviroment or vice versa, but the result is powerful.

I have observed that virtually everybody who marries somebody from Montreal ultimately ends up in Montreal (like me). I don’t know any other city that has some many powerful advocates.

#5 JS on 11.20.10 at 6:59 am

Hi Helge, thanks for the comments. That’s a good one. My three partners in Real Ventures followed women to Montreal.

#6 JS on 11.20.10 at 7:01 am

Hi David, thanks for the comment. the Malicious tune is pretty good. I didn’t know BV3 was from MTL, that’s great.

#7 JS on 11.20.10 at 7:25 am

David Mirza suggested Chromeo

That’s a great band. Eric Lapoint also wrote this song about Montreal for the Montreal-Quebec Series To rocky for me…

Maybe we should just start a contest, get band to submit their tunes and get the population to vote.

#8 Helge Seetzen on 11.20.10 at 8:38 am

See, it’s a like a law of nature!

I tell you, forget incentives, venture funds and big policy plans – the best way to make Montreal the Valley of Canada is to bring more Quebecois women into the start-up community. They will succeed, go to the Valley on the wave of their succes and before we know it half the Valley entrepreneurs/investors will be living in Montreal. 🙂

#9 Vitaliy Levit on 06.09.11 at 2:12 pm

I love Montreal. I got to spend a little bit of time there, but am hoping to return. I’ve always thought it’s the perfect combination of Western Europe’s casual culture and the big city feel of NYC.

#10 Michel S on 04.01.12 at 7:25 am

Ha.. My wife is not from Montreal, but she liked the city so much that I had to follow her and settle from Toronto!

Here it is more.. La joie de vivre! And less junk food 🙂

#11 Allen on 01.17.13 at 9:40 pm

I moved to Montreal from Chicago, Lived in Toronto for 5 years. I love the open minded,liberated attitude here, not to mention the food, the nightlife, fashion, history. Sure salaries are less but everything else is also less expensive. My family has a much higher standard of living here than in Toronto and my children are now completely bilingual.

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