Montreal has always been a popular destination for tourists as a bilingual city steeped in stunning architecture, rich culture, cosmopolitan restaurants and pleasant people.
But the metropolis of Quebec – or la métropole du Québec, as you would likely hear it on the streets in French – is still attracting its fair share of new residents as well.
Do-it-yourself movers helped Montreal climb two spots to No. 2 on the U-Haul Top 10 Canadian Destination Cities list for 2014. The rankings reflect the top destinations of one-way U-Haul truck rentals to all Canadian cities, regardless of size, for the past calendar year.
While migration trends do not correlate directly to a city’s population or economic growth, they are a strong gauge as to how well cities are attracting new residents. Montreal leapfrogged Toronto and Edmonton in 2014 after ranking fourth in 2013.
“Things have started picking up again a little bit,” said Claude Boucher, marketing company president for U-Haul Company of Western Quebec and a Montreal resident.
“There’s a lot of new construction. It’s still an affordable city. I live on the outskirts of Montreal and the housing is still quite affordable. You can still buy a nice home at a reasonable price and I guess that’s attractive for some people. In Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, the price of homes has skyrocketed to where people just can’t afford it.”
Affordability is one draw. Montreal’s charm, history, universities and diverse business sectors also entice people to a city that is beloved for its customs and culture.
“Cosmopolitan, international, creative, innovative, talented… these qualities make up the unique identity of Montreal, a major Canadian city that the entire world has heard about at some point,” said Michel Leblanc, president and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. “Our remarkable city is brimming with everything a resident, tourist or company could want from a healthy, accessible environment with an international outlook.”
“There is always something going on in the summer: the Just for Laughs comedy festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Cirque du Soleil performances – it’s one show after another,” Boucher added. “We just had the Formula One Grand Prix Montreal race that attracts the most tourists from out of town and brings in the most money.”
Bringing in money in this economy is still a challenge for Montreal businesses, regardless of how many U-Haul trucks are pulling into town.
Sebastien Bordeleau, co-owner of A1 Mini Entreposage at 2250 De Maisonneuve E. and a U-Haul neighborhood dealer since 2007, said there wasn’t as much growth in the past year as he would like to see.
“We have a storage location and we had a hard time – we had a big promotion to increase our numbers,” Bordeleau said. “I don’t think we’re any worse (in terms of the economy) than anywhere else in North America. Probably the cost of living is a bit lower here than Toronto and other big cities, and we have real pleasing people.
“When you go around the world, you think that we’re privileged to have such a nice city with the architecture, the festivals going on and a place that’s still really pleasing to live in.”
Montreal, with a metropolitan population of more than four million, does a superb job of showcasing itself to younger generations by hosting 18,000 foreign exchange students per year and immersing them in French and English. Montreal is the world’s top destination for tertiary studies, offers affordable tuition and features world-class institutions, led by McGill University and Concordia University.
For many U-Haul families, Montreal is simply known as home.
“It’s a beautiful city, it’s an old city and the fact it’s bilingual is – they’ll speak to you in English because the tourists are their bread and butter,” Boucher said. “I’ve lived here 63 years. I’ve had the opportunity to move to other provinces, but I would never move from here.”
Montreal is the lone city in Quebec in the Top 10. Continue to visit myuhaulstory.com as U-Haul counts down to the No. 1 Canadian Destination City for 2014.
Montreal residents are invited to become U-Haul Famous. Take your picture in front of a U-Haul product, send it in and your face could land on the side of a U-Haul truck. Upload your photo through Instagram using #uhaulfamous, or go to uhaulfamous.com to submit photos and learn more.
Additional photo credits: Montreal skylines (featured image and thumbnail) by Tourisme Montreal.
Canadian Destination Cities
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