Arthur, Java/Kotlin backend developer expatriate in Montreal, has obtained his PVT (Work Holiday Permit) in 2019. He decided to make Montreal the first step of his big road trip through the United States. Upon his return to Montreal, he contacted Maplr to help him with his job search and to welcome him to its community of expat techs. Since then, he has been an active member of our community and has helped us discover all the best microbreweries in Montreal! Discover his testimony and his feedback after more than a year of living in Canada!
Interview with Arthur, Java/Kotlin backend developer expatriated in Montreal since April 2019.
Hi, my name is Arthur (it's normally written in the title but I prefer to remember it). I am 27 years old and I am in Canada since April 2019. I'm originally from the Alps where I did a DUT in Computer Science in Annecy before leaving to do 3 years ofengineering school at CPE Lyon in a work-study program at EDF. Once I graduated, I worked for 2 years in a startup/SME in Lyon before getting a PVT and leaving to live my Canadian dream. When I arrived in Montreal, I bought a car that I fitted out to accommodate a cot and I left for 3 months to tour North America (Montreal -> New Orleans -> Los Angeles -> Vancouver -> Montreal).
Currently, I am employed by a Maplr partner, a software editor, for more than a year as a backend developer on Java/Kotlin and member of the Maplr community!
What are the reasons for your expatriation to Montreal?
I've always been attracted by the call of nature that Canada evokes: the wide open spaces empty of human habitation, the grandeur of the country and the multiple landscapes between the seas and the mountains. And then it is a country perfectfor practising your English while having French in case of a problem. After two trips there, I started the PVT process to make this need to leave a reality.
How was your expatriation to Montreal?
A mixture of apprehension and excitement as the start approached. But that's what makes this experience so special: you always know what you're leaving, never what you're gaining. Once you're on the plane and you feel the wheels leave the ground in your region, you know that the next few years will be different and that you're starting a new chapter in your life .
Did you encounter any difficulties during your expatriation in Montreal?
Going into the unknown alone is not the easiest of experiences. At first everything is beautiful, everything is new. You are really excited about living in another country. Then, as time goes by, the routine sets in and you start to miss everything. For me it was mainly family and friends. Not knowing anyone in Montreal, I was really alone there. Fortunately, you can rebuild your social circles a bit on the spot and you quickly make precious friends there. You have to be careful not to be overwhelmed by this wave of nostalgia, otherwise you'll end up back in your homeland sooner than you expected.
What do you think of the support offered by Mapl?
An express accompaniment for me. After a 4 month trip across North America, I finally decided to settle in Montreal. It took me a good month to find a place to live and then another month to get my bearings. After all that time, just enjoying the time that passed, I had to look for a job worthy of the name to fill the funds spent in the trip.
My first three weeks of job hunting were quite difficult: the professional references I had in France did not apply at all here and I did not know where to look. I ended up contacting Maplr on a Friday morning on the advice of a friend. On Monday we met, on Thursday I had an interview at my company and that afternoon I signed my contract! Only 5 days passed between my contact and my hiring!
What do you like most about the Maplr community?
I talked earlier about the social aspect that I missed the most and that's exactly what Maplr has given me. People who live the same experience as me and with whom we go to all the bars, escape-games and cottages in the region. The Maplr community is a big part of my life in Montreal now!
"The Maplr community is a big part of my life in Montreal now!"
Java/Kotlin Backend Developer in Montreal
What kind of reception did you get from the Canadians?
I only met extremely friendly people. I did a lot of Airbnb in homestays when I first arrived and they always did everything to help me when I needed it.
What do you think of the cost of living as an expat in Montreal?
The cost of living is a bit higher than in Lyon. Housing prices in Montreal are exploding and we are far from the Eldorado of the French in the early 2010s. For food, I would say that this is also the case, especially with the Covid crisis. I quickly find myself with an 80-100$ grocery bill on the Plateau Mont-Royal if I take good products.
Note: If you need more information about the cost of living in Montreal, this article is for you.
What do you like most about Montreal?
I have two passions in life: discovering microbrewery beers and walking in the parks, and there's no shortage of those in Montreal! I often rummage around in beer specialty stores to find the latest creations from local brewers, while taking a few Maplrs in my wake 😉
Otherwise, to recharge my batteries, I love going to the city's botanical garden. It's a haven of peace with beautiful themed gardens.
On the professional side, are there any differences with France?
People are trusted much more quickly here. Within a few months in my company, I was immediately very involved in technical decisions and joined a team on a critical project for the company.Age and qualifications don't matter at all here, you have to show what you can do and the rest takes care of itself. Especially since the relationship with your managers is absolutely different: everything is 'flat'. I can easily offer to go for a beer or a pizza at a happy hour with my managers. We are on first-name terms and we work together!
Have you had an evolution on your salary compared to France as a Java Backend developer?
Yes, I can say that I have really seen a difference coming here. Developers are scarce in Montreal and it's rather to our advantage. We can easily earn almost 2x the average salary of a Quebecer.
What is your favourite neighbourhood and why?
I fell in love with my little neighbourhood of Laurier, located north of Mont-Royal Street. It has the same quality of life with local shops and a great charm with a large park ideal for BBQs in the summer, while being much quieter . For more information about Montreal's neighbourhoods, this article is for you.
How was your confinement/COVID phase in Montreal?
I was really not ready for this confinement: small flat, no desk, no screen or keyboard and mouse. And of course the furniture shops were full of people...
I equipped myself as the stocks were returned. Spring was quite long with nothing to do but shop. The weather wasn't great either, which allowed me to put things into perspective. Finally, we were able to enjoy the summer and we know that everything will be fine.
Any last words of advice for future expats in Montreal?
An experience abroad is never a bad thing, whether it lasts 6 months, 2 years or for life. You have to get out of your comfort zone to open your mind and realise that there are many things that you have wrongly taken for granted.
In terms of material, I advise you not to prepare everything in advance. Plan your accommodation, transport and so on for the first 15 days. It is better to be on the spot to try to settle down permanently.
Anything else to share with us?
If you're interested in travelling, you should know that I've documented my entire road-trip across America on my blog.
Want to try an adventure in Canada?
Do you also want to discover the most beautiful microbreweries in Quebec, go on a road trip or wander through the great outdoors? Then join the Maplr family. In addition, on is actively looking for someone motivated to help Arthur discover new places 🙂
Are you looking for a Java/Kotlin Backend developer position like Arthur? At Maplr, we can help you find your IT job in Montreal and help you with all the 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!