Interview with Gauthier, .NET developer expatriate in Montreal since October 2019.
After three years of study in Toulouse for his engineering school and 4 years as a fullstack .NET developer in Montpellier (his home town), Gauthier, a 29-year-old developer, decided to leave the mild Mediterranean climate and move to Montreal in October 2019. Since then, he has been an active member of the Maplr community and his infectious smile is on many of our photos!
To celebrate his first anniversary as an active member of our community, we decided to ask him a few questions. Discover his feelings and feedback on his expatriation project in Montreal.
What are the reasons for your expatriation to Montreal?
An internship in New York during my studies gave me a taste for expatriation. I wanted to live a real experience abroad to discover another way of understanding the professional world but also to discover another country and a new culture.
I had already been to Quebec twice, once with my family when I was 9 years old and the second time with friends, only a few months before my expatriation. A way to confirm my desire to expatriate to Canada.
The welcome and kindness of the Quebecers, the beauty of nature and many other things made me decide to take the plunge.
How was your expatriation to Montreal?
I had been thinking about expatriation since that famous internship in New York, but I had never dared to take the plunge. As I was approaching thirty, I started to look into the subject more seriously. It was in a forum dedicated to expatriation that I came across a post by Marion talking about Maplr, I clicked on her site and the adventure began!
I had two interviews with Marion and Maxime to evaluate my technical level, my motivation and my personality. Then I continued the recruitment process with two interviews with a Quebec company that hired me shortly after.
All I had to do was get the work permit and pack my bags!
Did you encounter any difficulties during your expatriation in Montreal?
Despite a visceral hatred for all things administrative, I did not encounter any particular difficulties when I applied for my Young Professionals permit.
Maplr was very helpful in providing me with a detailed procedure of the steps to be taken but also in answering each of my questions during the different stages.
The main difficulty I encountered was finding accommodation when I arrived. I wanted to live in a flat share to meet people and quickly build up a network, but I couldn't imagine doing that from a distance before arriving, without really seeing the flat and the flat mates. So I booked an Airbnb for the first 5 days thinking I would find the flat of my dreams very quickly... It finally took me 29 visits and more than a month and a half before I found the flat that was made for me!
What do you think of the support offered by Mapl?
The support is great! The administrative procedures are made very accessible thanks to the help of Maplr. They provide help and advice on all sorts of subjects: visa, insurance, documents to take with you, first steps on arrival...
"The community, with everyone's experience, allows us to have all the answers! The community is the big plus of Maplr!"
.NET Developer in Montreal
The community is a big plus for a project such as expatriation! Indeed, being alone in a country other than one's own, even a French-speaking one, can be very difficult both socially and practically.
In addition, some questions may seem very basic but not so obvious in a foreign country:
- How to make an appointment with a doctor?
- How do you open a bank account and what is this famous credit rating?
- In which shop can you find a particular product?
The community, with the experience of each one, makes it possible to have all the answers!
Finally, we regularly organise happy hours and activities of all kinds: escape game, hiking, tennis, beach volleyball, barbecue/picnic, skiing, ice skating... There is something for everyone and it allows you to quickly get to know people.
The community is the big plus of Maplr!
What do you think of the cost of living as an expat in Montreal?
The cost of living is about the same as in France, or at least to compare to what I know best: Montpellier.
Some expenses are higher, others lower:
- rents are higher, especially near the metro
- food is a bit more expensive in general
- taxation is about the same but there is no council tax here
- electronics and textiles are cheaper
On the whole it balances out.
The big difference is in the salary: in the IT world in Canada, we are very well off! In my case, this represents an increase of about 30% on my net salary.
Note: If you need more information about the cost of living in Montreal, this article is for you.
What kind of reception did you get from the Canadians?
I was very well received at work. The use of "tutoiement" is most often used, whether in the company or in general in shops, restaurants, etc... communication is more direct than in France. The form with the big polite sentences doesn't interest them, it's "bullshit" as they say here. All this has the effect of breaking down barriers and making people more accessible and warm.
I was also very well integrated into my Quebec roommate's group of friends. They invited me to go canoe-camping and introduced me to some local customs such as the corn roast and the convivial evenings around a big fire.
What do you like most about Montreal?
The most striking thing about arriving is the feeling of security, tranquillity and human warmth.
Nature is also one of Montreal's great strengths. Whether in the city itself with its many parks or less than two hours away with the national and regional parks. It is easy to disconnect from the city world.
On the pro side, are there any differences with France?
Having worked in two different companies (the first in France, then here in Montreal), I don't have much perspective. But from what I've seen, the division between work and personal life is much more respected in Canada. It's not uncommon to see empty (or almost empty) open spaces from 4pm. You'll never hear the famous " you're taking the afternoon off " or "you've put in a leave of absence" when you leave at 5pm.
The last difference I see is in the employment contracts and the speed of being hired... or fired! Both can happen overnight.
What is your favourite neighbourhood and why?
Before arriving I had researched the different neighbourhoods. Like many, I wanted to avoid the Plateau Mont-Royal because of the large number of French people there. What's the point of leaving France if it's just to be among French people?
After visiting all the areas that interested me, I finally decided to live... on the plateau! Because yes, there are many French people, but not only! One of my roommates is from Quebec and as he says himself, it's the best place! But why?
- There are a large number of bars (including microbreweries) and restaurants: it is one of the liveliest districts
- It is easy to get around, whether by metro, bus or bicycle in summer
- Grocery shops and convenience stores are located nearby
- The proximity of many parks, two of the best known being Lafontaine Park on one side and Mount Royal on the other, where you can go for a walk, have a picnic and play a large number of sports (baseball, soccer, beach volleyball, tennis, pétanque, ice skating in winter, etc.)
How was your confinement/COVID phase in Montreal?
I am still teleworking, although I would have liked it to be no more than a few days a week to avoid losing the human contact.
The pandemic has prevented travel as well as the holding of many renowned and diverse festivals and events (jazz, electro, rap, comedy, fireworks, F1 Grand Prix, Canadian Masters 1000...). It was therefore necessary to revise certain plans, which is ultimately a blessing in disguise! Travelling only in the province and discovering all that Quebec has to offer: trips and outings more oriented towards nature and sports activities with hiking, canoeing or camping.
Any last words of advice for future expats in Montreal?
I would advise arriving at least two weeks (ideally a month) before starting work so as not to be caught up in the time with the various administrative procedures, accommodation or potential interviews.
For those who, like me, would like to have an overview of the accommodation before renting: plan more time (like a whole month) to visit the place and thus avoid accumulating several short-term rentals which are very expensive!
If you are reading this article, it means that you are interested in expatriation to Canada. So my last piece of advice: don't hesitate, go for it and start by contacting Maplr!
Want to try your hand at an adventure in Montreal?
If you also want tohave more time anda better work/life balance? Then join the Mapl family. In addition,on is actively looking for someone motivated to try the new trendy activity in Montreal: lightsaber combat! ? So don't hesitate!
At Mapl, we will help you find your IT job in Montreal for free and assist you in all phases of your relocation. Our French-Canadian team is here to guide you and give you all the information you need to start your new life in Montreal with confidence!