PHP developer expatriate in Montreal : Interview with Olivier

Olivier, a little guy from the north of France, moved to the capital for work like most French people do. Nine years later, he decided to take the leap into the unknown and join his Quebec counterparts as a PHP developer in Montreal to continue his professional career in the great north.

This decision reflects the real love aff air he had with Canada, during his various holidays in this country. He was able to fall in love:

  • landscapes with their natural charm
  • people with their open-mindedness and benevolence
  • the country's culture and diversity
  • the climate with its distinct seasons

These are all criteria that seduced him and made him take the step of leaving France for this new country. We took the opportunity to ask him a few questions in order to learn more about his expatriation experience as a PHP developer in Montreal.

How was your expatriation as a PHP developer in Montreal?

Since I fell in love with Canada in 2012, I had already made similar expatriation plans for this country. However, for personal reasons, I did not go through with it. Nevertheless, one thing was clear to me: I absolutely wanted to find the Canadian company before leaving France.

The processes attempted 

I'm a fairly Cartesian and organised person, so I had read up on the immigration process in Quebec and a change of country is a fairly heavy procedure: you leave your home, your social and family circle and your daily comfort. All this, for something new and unknown. So I wanted to at least keep some security and be sure to have a job when I arrived. So when I resumed at the end of 2018, my steps to leave for Canada. I tried two different processes:

  • Canvassing companies viaLinkedIn, contacting Canadian technical managers, but without being on site, it is quite complicated to synchronise with them.
  • Obtaining interviews in Paris when Montreal companies travel.

I got some interviews, some of which led to offers, but unfortunately I didn't fall in love with any particular company and in the end, nothing very conclusive for me. Then, while browsing on my browser, one evening I came across the "Maplr" site: the site had caught my eye, it highlighted the Canadian values that I had encountered in the country, and that I helddear.

The Maplr process

So I filled in the contact form, and I was quickly contacted by Marion from Maplr. She wanted to check with me:

  • What were my intentions?
  • What was my expatriation project?
  • What was my personality?

After 1 hour and 20 minutes of discussion, she had all the answers to these questions and I was completely excited and happy to have been able to discuss with her, because in addition to having a person who listens carefully to your expatriation project, and who believes in it as strongly as you do. Marion is a kind, friendly, enthusiastic and dynamic person, and moreover a developer, so when you talk to her about technology, algorithms and/or work methodology (AGILE, SCRUM, ...), it doesn't sound like mere words and/or concepts, but they are notions she handles on a daily basis.

She speaks the same language as we do, so there's no room for bullshit, and she can even challenge us on specific concepts, which is rewarding during an interview. So even though female developers are rare in our profession, I'm proud to say that I know a very talented one.

Once the interview was validated, Marion told me that she would put me in touch with Canadian companies that matched my search criteria in the next few days. And it happened exactly as she said: a few days later, a Skype interview was scheduled with a media company that was looking for a PHP developer in Montreal.

I only had this one interview ... Because my profile corresponded to what the company was looking for, and the company fully met all my criteria, namely :

  • To be caring and human at work.
  • To keep my technical stack in which I have been evolving for 9 years.
  • An ambitious and interesting project.
  • Practice agile methodologies

Lucky me? I don't think so, I would say that I was beautifully identified by the Maplr team, and that they were able to put me in touch with the right company.

Once the job offer was signed, I started the administrative steps to get the famous sesame: the work permit that authorises me to work in Canada(it took me about a month to get this paper).

Once I got this paper, my suitcases were packed, I had a plane ticket in my pocket, and I headed to Charles de Gaulle airport, destination: Montreal. The trip was a bit long for me (about 7h45 flight)
But once I arrived, what a joy to be on Canadian soil.

A few days were enough after my arrival to manage all the administrative procedures
(RAMQ, SIN, ...), it was a good time, because 3 days after my arrival, I was already starting my new job in my new host country : Canada.

It's been 7 months already, and I am completely satisfied and even more, with my new life in Quebec.


What difficulties have you encountered during your immigration to Montreal?

3 difficulties quickly come to mind.

The 1st difficulty: the time constraint

As a PHP developer, in 9 years, I have been through 5 companies. Each time I wanted to change companies for X reasons, I always wanted to assume this decision and I always decided to quit on my own. Unfortunately, being hired as a manager, I always had to give my 3 months' notice and this was always non-negotiable. So I used to wait 1 month after my resignation before starting to look for a new job because at the moment, our sector is really buoyant.

I had therefore applied this strategy to my expatriation project:

  • 2 months before the end of my notice period, I started the process of looking for a job in Canada. 
  • Attempting to canvass through LinkedIn, it took me 1 month to get through all the processes/interviews. But it was not very successful. 
  • In the last month, I met Maplr, which in 20 days allowed me to sign the company.
  • In the end, I had 10 days left to do in my company and 20 days to wait for my paper that allowed me to work in Canada.

Being a key element in the company where I had resigned, I held my position until the end, it was a choice that was close to my heart.

But, in the end, I only had 20 days left, to close all the French administrative papers before leaving (taxes, housing tax, apartment, telephone, internet, GDF/EDF, ...)

I had also decided to sell all my belongings before my departure.

I did my best but I did not manage to finalize all the steps, so I had to finish some steps on Canadian soil, which was quite complex.
But in the end, everything turned out well on the whole.

The 2nd difficulty: Early termination of my telephone package

By cancelling my phone subscription far too early, it caused me a lot of problems when I arrived on Canadian soil, as I had no data left, to query Google Maps to see where I was located and/or to call an Uber.

I had also forgotten to remove my double authentication (by phone) on some financial systems such as my bank, which handicapped me greatly when I wanted to retrieve/transfer my funds.

The 3rd difficulty: Speed to sign a flat vs. reception of French funds.

Arriving on Canadian soil, but having no knowledge of the country, I had to take an accommodation in Airbnb, hotels, the time to look for an apartment. Except that I had not anticipated that if the apartment was suitable for me and I was suitable for the owner, the signature was almost instantaneous and I could move in as soon as the payment received by the owner.

But cumulating, the worry of my telephone cancellation, I had difficulty to obtain my funds and I received the same day my funds for the signature and the handing-over of the keys the same evening.
Knowing that the real estate market evolves very quickly in Montreal. I think that if I had not received the funds in time, the apartment would have passed me by because there are many applicants.

If I can give you two pieces of advice on expatriation based on my experience, it would be :

1) Take your time to close everything you need to close/terminate in France before you leave, as doing so remotely is restrictive.

2) Keep a French phone plan for 1 month or more, while you manage the transition from one country to another.


What do you think of the support offered by Mapl?

Divine, exceptional, and unparalleled I would say.

I'm the kind of person who likes to do things on my own so I don't owe anything to anyone.

However, the help that Maplr gave me to make my expatriation project a reality, through :

  • Administrative procedures to be carried out between France and Canada.
  • The time and attention they gave
  • The support and backing they gave me on a daily basis enabled me to achieve my goal in the best possible conditions.

Moreover, it is not just a help at a given moment to make my project a reality.

Marion and Maxime have built a community, a family that helps each other: before, during the whole expatriation process and after arriving on Canadian soil, they are still there to take care of us, to share good moments together. They allowed me to make my dream come true and I will never forget that.

PHP Developer in Montreal

What do you think of the cost of living as a developer in Montreal?

I hope that no Canadian will ever read my answer, but on the whole, as someone who has lived mainly in Paris, I find the prices in Montreal lower than in Paris, and they seem to be correct.

Concerning the real estate:
In Paris, I had 2 different accommodations:

  • A 35m² flat for 980 € in the 17th district (semi-furnished)
  • A 56m² flat for 920 € in the 92. (unfurnished)

In Montreal, I have a 62m² flat for a value of 1080€ (furnished)and when he speaks of furnished, it is completely furnished, namely :

  • 108cm 4K flat screen TV
  • American fridge, American oven, Dishwasher
  • Washer (large capacity), Dryer (large capacity)
  • Sofa
  • 1 room with a King bed & 1 room with a Queen bed.
  • Kitchen, bathroom and cleaning utensils.

As far as taxes are concerned, it is quite equal to Paris.
> However, knowing that in Montreal, the housing tax does not exist.

Regarding the phone, it is a bit more expensive in Montreal.
I currently have an 8GB DATA plan, for 76$, with unlimited SMS only in Canada.
- Namely, there is no unlimited DATA package.
In France, I had an unlimited DATA plan, with unlimited SMS for about 29 €.

As far as the internet is concerned, it is quite equal to Paris.

In Paris, I had 300 Mega Fiber, for 56 € at Orange.
In Montreal, I have 1G fiber for 72$, from Bell.

As far as food is concerned, it seems cheaper, except for wine and cheese which are more expensive here because they are imported .Concerning clothes, I notice that it is cheaper than in France. They have a lot of shopping centres with a lot of sales, which make things very affordable.


How did the Canadians welcome you?

Unlike my French counterparts who reached the Canadian territory before me: I did not choose to live on the plateau, where most French people live.I did not choose to live on the plateau, where most French people live.

My goal in coming to Canada, to Quebec, is to be able to talk with Canadians/Quebecers. So I found a nice little place between Ville-Marie and Le Village , where I could already share a barbecue, a glass of wine in the evening with my Quebecois neighbours. When I came to Canada, it was something that was close to my heart: to be able to create a social group with Quebecers. with Quebecers. I had heard that Quebecers are very friendly at work, but that it would be almost impossible for me to be invited to their home. Well, not everything they say is true 😉

In any case, I came looking for that human/chalureous side that Canadians are given, and I am not disappointed with what I found.


What do you like most about Montreal?

In France, I was a workaholic, I had difficulties taking a break between the professional world and the personal world.

The Montreal rhythm: 9am-12pm and 1pm-5pm, allowed me to realize this break, I leave work at 5pm and I still have the whole day to enjoy the Old Port, the parks around work which are numerous because Canada makes a point of honour to preserve the flora that surrounds it.

I can also indulge my passions which have grown since I've been here:

  • nature via parks, Canadian landscapes
  • sports activities (kayaking, running, etc.)
  • pastry, cooking
  • strategy games (escape games, board games)

Moreover, the country is really multicultural, whether it is winter or summer, whether it is for vegetarians, meat lovers or metal fans. There are festivities all the time, for example: 

  • Montréal en Lumière
  • PoutineFest or RibFest
  • Open air cinema

The streets are always busy, it's a real pleasure to walk around Montreal. And not everyone can say to themselves: "Here, I have nothing planned this weekend."

  • how about a weekend in a cottage by a lake, fishing for the loch ness monster with the Maplr family 😉
  • And what about a trip to a sugar shack? 
  • (in winter) and if we went for a dog sled ride, for this weekend.

On the pro side, are there any differences with France?

Based on my past experiences, and taking a minimum of hindsight, I can see that I have always been a good part of a company, I can also see that I have always been in companies with a good product and for which there was technical potential.

So why did I leave?
Quite simply because by staying 8 hours or more in the company, I needed to find that caring, warm, family atmosphere that I was hoping to find in a place where I stay almost half the day. I have always found the company's employees very warm, but the world within the company was not, unfortunately, and it is a pity after a while to think that you stay in the company only because of the employees you meet every day.

I needed to find that feeling, in the Canadian company I was looking for.

During the interview I had in the Canadian company, I could feel this family/chivalry side, which I missed. And after 6 months in the company, I can happily say that I am not disappointed with my feelings.

In addition, the support I received from MAPLR also attracted me, because there is indeed the warm, caring, family spirit that I am looking for so much at MAPLR.

At the moment I am completely fulfilled, both professionally and personally, so for the moment, I'm not ready to leave Canada.

Any last words of advice for future expats in Montreal?

We all have dreams in life. One of mine was to come to Canada to discover all the wonders this country has to offer.
So, I tell you: if your dream is more or less similar to mine, I have only one advice to give you:

"Get in touch with MAPLR: they are incredible people, who will listen to you, who will not sell you false hopes, who will advise you in the best way possible and who will be as enthusiastic and motivated as you are so that you too can realize your dream of coming to Canada, to live your life."

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!

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