The student life is over. The first promotion in the new career is around the corner. Your partner has just landed their first major job. Life is looking up. So, maybe it’s time to move in together in an affordable condo somewhere around the city. But where? With so many condos readily available, which neighborhood is right for you? As Montreal is actually a really big island with many surrounding boroughs, we’ve separated the area into eight manageable, if large, sections. In doing so, they can be rated across many criteria to determine where, oh where, has that perfect neighbourhood gone?
As it is 2015, it is a safe assumption that there are local buses that run from anywhere to everywhere else. What sets areas apart are access to inter-city busses, trains, and most importantly, the metro system. With these in mind, we came up with a tidy list with some surprising results. At the top will obviously be those areas with easy access to the metro system. Downtown and the Plateau are practically surrounded by the metro with access to anywhere you want. Montreal North also has access to the metro and several train stations, whereas Montreal South really only has a metro, though it is centrally located. The East End, South Shore and Laval all have access to trains and limited metro coverage, though they have express buses to downtown. Finally, West Island, even though it is on the island, suffers from a lack of metro access. It has a train, but only in the south, leaving much of DDO and Kirkland to fend for themselves.
There are many ways to describe which area has the cheapest condos. One could look at average prices or compare square-footage to price, or in a more convenient sense, look at what is on the market right now to find the perfect Montreal condo. As we try to be helpful, we’ve done the latter. Looking at condos under $300,000, the East End had the highest percentage of inexpensive condos. As a general rule, the farther one is from Downtown, the less expensive. However, Downtown itself actually has a fair amount of decently priced condos falling in 5th after the four outliers. Of course, given that these are percentages, it certainly does not mean that there are no affordable condos in a given area, only that you will have to work a bit harder to find them.
Shopping is hard to judge because there are malls everywhere these days. However, given enough input from a multitude of shopaholics, there seems to be some consensus on the top two locations; Downtown for the entirety of the underground city and Laval for Carrefour Laval’s knack for getting new stores first. After that is a matter of taste. Many love the Plateau’s independent shops and Marche Jean-Talon. Others enjoy the ever expanding Dix30 and St-Bruno mall on the South Shore. Finally, the West Island is full of great malls crowned by Fairview which rivals many other malls. The other three neighbourhoods, while still sporting a mall or two, tend to lack that special factor which makes people go out of their way to shop.
In sheer size, no one beats the South Shore’s expansive parks, including Mont Saint-Bruno and Les Iles de Boucherville. Parts of it are still undeveloped, after all. However, given its smaller size, the number one spot goes to the Plateau for having so many impressive parks in such a little space: Jarry Parc, Mont Royal, the Botanical Gardens, and so on. West Island, while maintaining a fair amount of parks, also has the massive Parc du Bois-de-la-Roche and Cap-Saint-Jacques. Laval has a descent amount of greenery though once you reach the major parks, its mostly undeveloped land around anyways. Montreal South is also worthy of mentioning as it has the amazing Angrigon Park as well as a beautifully maintained riverside park.
Is Montreal safe? Absolutely. Few people walk down a street fearing that they will be mugged or murdered. Unfortunately, as Montreal is a major city, it does tend to attract a few of the seedier elements. According to a 2011 study by Stats Canada and an independent report by Le Metro, the West Island seems to have the lowest crime rate followed closely by Laval and the South Shore (though depending on what is considered South Shore, it could be the lowest). The Downtown area has the unfortunate honour of having the most crimes committed, though the study also pointed out that the vast majority of crimes were committed by people who did not live there. Compared across Canada, the area is quite safe with Montreal ranking 64th while Longueil ranks 104th and Laval 118th overall in crime rates.
And The Winner Is!
Given the rankings above, points can be given to each city and a tally is made. Obviously, many more criteria exist and this is but a small part of what will make a young family choose a house. However, given these five criteria, let’s look at the winners. South Shore, Laval, and Plateau are the three big winners. It’s no surprise, as with the coming of Dix30, the South Shore becomes more and more popular for young families looking for cheaper houses while still being close to Downtown. Laval is similar to the South Shore, though it depends strongly on its one metro line to reach downtown. Finally, the Plateau seems to be the on-island place to be with a lot of greenery, decently priced houses, and a flurry of interesting shops.