Thank you, for your question Emily,
Yea! more queers moving to Montreal.
For living arrangements it depends if you’re coming to Montreal to work or study and if you will have a car or not. For the purpose of this answer I will focus on living arrangements for those who don’t have a car, which is the majority of youths and students who live in Montreal.
The province of Quebec is the largest French speaking community outside of Europe and Africa. Montreal island itself includes a diverse range of cultures and languages. Some of my friends from the US have said Montreal is like a mini-mini New York, diverse neighborhoods, interesting shops/restaurant and lots of cultural events all through the year.
In terms of personal safety, Montreal is generally a safe city but the same rules apply as in every city. It’s good to be with a buddy when traveling at night, and to take precautions, not to find yourself in certain neighborhoods especially in the overnight hours. GLBT’s are generally accepted, but public affection outside of the gay village and downtown can still get you some verbal harassment, or worse. The general population is not wealthy here, so a good rule is not attract unnecessary attention to yourself by flashing cash, carrying expensive electronics, jewellery, driving a new car, etc. Having good judgment and being respectful also keeps you safe.
When in Montreal especially outside of the downtown core it’s a good idea to be respectful of the local culture. In most places you will be served in the language of your choice – French or English, however in some places only French is spoken. In this case, being respectful and making an effort to say Bonjour and Merci is appreciated. The province of Quebec has a long history of devise between the English and the French, you can read more about this by searching the Internet for history of Quebec’, or Quebec politics’.
University students should consult their establishment, who mostly have housing banks both on and off campus. Co-op housing is another option. Concordia University for example has their own housing department and has an ad site called Con-Ads where student’s buy/sell used books, sublet apartment, or other goods. Colleges are called Cegeps here, and in most cases also have internal housing banks. Most of the Universities have queer groups that can be a great contact point for advice and support; many of the students who run these groups have been living in Montreal for at least a year.
Listings on Craigslist and Kijiji.ca are good places for an apartment search, local newspapers like voir.ca , montrealmirror.com , montrealgazette.com and off-line, you can pick up local newspapers: La Presse and Journal de Montreal. I am not aware of a queer housing registry, but finding a place close to your school, your work, downtown, the gay village and the metro system are best bets.
The most important before moving here is to understand leasing laws in Quebec, which are different than elsewhere. The Regie du logement du Quebec www.rdl.gouv.qc.ca explains all the regulations and tenants are well protected by the law. Bringing an official lease with you to apartment visits will show landlords that you are serious and know your rights; many landlords try to trick newcomers. If you’re having problems with the apartment be forewarned that any request to the Regie office is a long process, it can take up to six months to have an appointment. In some cases it’s worth it because you have accumulated lots of documented proof for your case: pictures, written registered letters, witnesses and 3rd party expertise, to justify your request for not accepting a rent increase or for breaking your lease or getting a reduction in rent. You can read more about Montreal resources here, although the article is from 2002 www.montrealmirror.com/ARCHIVES/2002/assg/assg1.html
I could say a lot more about living in Montreal but space here is limited.. There is a great guide that is updated every year, search for “Montreal Mirror – Student Survival Guide” it has some great advice.
If you are on Facebook, you can also consult Queer Concordia’s newsgroup:
This is a university-run queer group that welcomes folks from outside Concordia University.
JP for AlterHeros.com