Surviving winter in Quebec: tips for future expats

Are you arriving soon in Montreal or have you recently moved there and you are wondering how to survive your first winter in Quebec? We'll give you our expat advice!

The wide open spaces, the nature, the gentle way of life, the dynamism of the city give it a special charm. significant advantagesBut there is one thing to keep in mind when you decide to live here: winter. Because yes, winter in Quebecmeans several months of white coats in the streets and heavy down jackets on your shoulders.

But don't get nervous! In Montreal, winter is also synonymous with sunshine and brightness: two key ingredients to keep your spirits high. Temperatures can sometimes reach very low levels, but rest assured: the Canadian cold is very different from the European cold and some people even say that it's colder in Paris than in Montreal. The winter here is drier, easier to bear when you are well equipped. As you will read below, the city is made so that you can almost forget about the snow once you leave home!

Living in winter in Quebec also means soaking up the magical atmosphere of romantic Christmas movies! The beautiful snow-covered streets, the lights in the city (and in your eyes), the joyful singing and the smell of mulled wine! The magic of the holiday season is everywhere - in Montreal, there are even places to roast your marshmallows or warm your hands around a fire. around a fire.


To anticipate your first winter in Quebec, we give you all the keys to survive winter, by 3 golden rules only!


Rule 1: Good equipment is good equipment!

The recipe for a good winter a good winter in Montreal is simple: have a - very - good coat and - very - good boots .


For your winter coat, keep these three principles in mind insulation, shell and waterproofing.

The down is the component for excellence to guaranteegood insulationBut it will tend to insulate less when wet.Note that coats made of synthetic fibres are more affordable and lighter - and therefore more comfortable - than those made of down. For extreme cold, the best performing synthetic insulations are PrimaloftPrimaloft Thermadux andIsosoft - are all beautiful words that you will be delighted to find inside your coat.

Once you have checked the insulation and waterproofing of your future cold shield, you will turn to the shell, the outer layer of the coat. outer layer of the coat.

This will protect you against snow, rain and wind. Here, several families of materials are available: nylon nylon and polyesterLightweight and affordable nylon and polyester will protect you from the wind but are less resistant to the cold - and when we say "cold", we mean "-20 degrees". The Teflon laminates laminates like the Dry loft will give you excellent protection against the elements. The Gore-Texwill wick away your sweat (yes, you will sweat in your winter coat, especially if you're riding the metro and go from the aforementioned -20 degrees to +20 degrees in rush hour) and prevent snow and rain from seeping in. Finally, the fleece will have the advantage of drying quickly and insulating you even if you are soaked.


Tips on how to choose a coat that will become your second skin in winter: 

  • Buy one with a hood and (fake) fur if possible, which is essential against snow and wind - take a leaf out of the Inuit book.
  • Choose the zips than buttons.
  • Make sure your coat reaches at least to your thighs thighs or your knees not only will you feel like you're bundled up in a blanket every morning, but you'll be better protected from the wind and cold.
  • Take a coat with large pockets to keep you warm and to hold your mobile phone, large gloves and your hands at the same time.
  • Don't rely on the temperature ratings marketing tools designed to reassure confused customers - the only valid ratings are in the composition of your coat!

Some brands of coats: Kanuk, Audvik (from Quebec), Arc'teryx, Mackage, Noize, the North Face, Pajar, Rudsak...


Investing in both a coat and winter boots can be very expensive - expect to pay around CA$600 for a good quality complete outfit. Also, you can choose boots that are equally suited to a city lifestyle or a weekend in the mountains. Here's a quick guide to choosing your future winter boots.

  • Choose boots that are light and comfortable This will be the main element of comfort when walking to work or hiking on Mount Royal - especially when walking to your metro station is as intense as hiking in the mountains.
  • Boots that reach mid-calf are ideal for wrapping the leg and keeping your feet warmer.
  • Waterproofing It is recommended to buy a "boot dryer" (about $10 in Jean Coutu or Pharmaprix pharmacies) that can be slipped into the boots every night.
  • As far as natural fibres are concerned, wool is a very good insulator and a safe bet. There are also synthetic insulating fibres, such as Thinsulate, which dry very quickly and have the same properties as natural fibres.
  • Always wear warm and comfortable socks.
  • The sole The thicker it is, the less cold you will feel.

Some sure values: Sorel, Pajar, UGG, Bogs, Kamik...

Tips and tricks from Mapls

  • In winter, wear warm tights under your trousers to create a barrier against the cold and wind; for ladies, if you want to wear a dress or skirt, replace your tights with thick leggings.
  • Keep a second pair of shoes in the office: it is indeed customary to take off your winter boots when you arrive at work in the morning and put on a big pair of cosy socks, slippers (yes, yes!) or lighter shoes. 
  • Always carry a pair of gloves ("mittens") with you; we recommend that you usemittens, which create more warmth.
  • Wear two to three layers ofclothing on top, so that you can take them off easily and do not suffer from temperature differences when you arrive at the office, at a friend's house or in the metro; this is commonly known as the "onion technique" or the three-layer system. This technique is especially important if you are involved in outdoor sports. The first layer keeps the skin dry and regulates perspiration; the second layer insulates the body heat by not allowing air to escape from the clothing; the third layer protects against moisture and wind.
  • Keep your head warm with adouble-layered covering"tuque" (a cap) ....So you can see why the official Maplr goodies for new Mapls expats is the famous #RedTuque?

Buy before you leave or on arrival?

We advise you to buy everything directly on arrival: it will be (much) cheaper, much more suitable and you will have more room in your suitcase for the rest! Note also that Decathlon recently opened in downtown Montreal (so there's really no excuse not to buy everything directly upon arrival!)

The best way to buy your winter clothes is to try them on, so skip the online shopping for this time; you will find many clearance shops with high quality clothes at low prices, like Winners, Bradorhiver, La poubelle du ski, Plein air dépôt, 100 000 jeans... 

Otherwise, there are specialized outdoor shops where you can get excellent advice on the composition of your clothing and boots: La Cordée, MEC Montreal, Sports Experts, SAIL.


Rule 2: trust the city and its adaptation!

When it snows in Montreal, life goes on - and thankfully, with almost five months of winter a year! You've probably already heard of the underground city... We'll tell you right away: yes, there is a network of tunnels in the city centre, connecting many metro stations, shops, restaurants and even a cinema. Don't think of it as the Paris metro: these tunnels are bright, spacious and you almost don't feel underground!

But no, once the first snow falls, Montrealers don't hole up in the underground You won't be able to do EVERYTHING indoors either - but if you've followed our advice and are well equipped, you'll be able to live normally, even outside! If you don't live close to the subterranean (i.e. in the city centre) you will have to go outside to do your shopping or get your coffee from Tim Hortons. But here again, for the more lazy among you, it is possible to have your groceries delivered to your home, free of charge, at many local supermarkets (IGA, Métro, Provigo...) .

Finally, every morning and every time there are snowstorms, the city of Montreal deploys a whole snow removal systemso that the pavements are almost always usable. As for the roads, they are also perfectly adapted to winter conditions and it is possible to drive normally.


Rule 3: Get out!

In winter, with the sub-zero temperatures, you'll tend to want to stay warm at home and watch Netflix all day long. A word of advice: GET OUT! Take advantage of every sunny day to walk outside, do outdoor activities, participate in the many activities offered by the Quebec region... to have the best winter ever! If you haven't already done so, why not try your hand at field hockey? We have an article that explains it all to you.

Montreal is known for the incredible number of of activities year-round. Here's a small, but not exhaustive list of what's in store for you in winter:


Mapls' Favourite Activities :

  • Skiing or snowshoeing in the mountains near Montreal 
  • Hiking on Mount Royal: on foot, snowshoes or cross-country skis 
  • Sled dog (dog sled)
  • Snowmobile (Ski-Doo)
  • Ice skating on the city's frozen lakes or outside (Domaine de la forêt perdue, Mauricie or Parc Lafontaine) 
  • Nordic spas in Montreal (Bota Bota, spa on the St. Lawrence) and in the heart of nature (Strom Nordic Spa, La Source Nordic Baths, Scandinave Spa, Nordik Spa-Nature...) 
  • Spend one (or more) weekend(s) in a cottage in the countryside
  • See the typical winter animals of la belle province (caribou, moose, snow foxes...) at Parc Oméga!

You can find all the activities and adventures of the Mapl on InstagramYou'll see that we were not bored!


When does winter start in Quebec and in Montreal?

When does the cold start in Quebec?

We are often asked this question! Generally, the negative temperatures will start to arrive around December and then the coldest temperatures will be in January and February in Quebec (and especially in Montreal) with beautiful sunny days; Note that some years, we have not even had snow at Christmas.


As you can see, winter in Montreal and Quebec can be frightening for some, but it is an experience you should have at least once in your life as a future expat! If you are well equipped and ready to have fun, everything is lined up for you to have an unforgettable season.

And by the way, what we do at Mapl to spend a nice winter in Montreal is to get together and do lots of activities, follow our adventures on Instagram (you'll see we don't get bored!). 


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