Where to start...My husband works here in the US for a Canadian company. They are working on getting a big project started that would involve having lots of people from here move there for varying lengths of time. We are considering one of those positions - it would likely be for a year, possibly a bit longer; DH would be working under a "temporary work permit" there which would mean that we could send our kids to an "english" school - though I am by no means opposed to them learning French. My boys are currently ages 4 1/2 and 3 yrs - here they would both be going to PreK at the start of next school yr.
There are SO many questions I have - I don't know where to start.
DH would be working outside of Montreal (in Mirabel, actually) and I would be staying home with the boys. What are some of the neighborhoods anyone could recommend? I'd like something with good schools; preferably within reasonable distance to a grocery.
Does anyone know of anywhere that we would be able to purchase raw milk?
What are some the the good whole food / organic / "green" grocers you could recommend??
DH nor I speak any French (though I'm willing to try to learn....I'm sure I'd not become proficient during our time there!!! ;) Will we have any difficulty living there being unable to speak French?
Ok, well, that's all I can think of right now!
Please, let me say thanks in advance to any help!!!
Will you have a car? Will you need to use the bus/metro system while your husband has the car for work most days? Would you prefer a more English or French speaking area to live in? What's your rent budget like? Verdun is pretty cheap and fairly English,but I just moved from there to another cheaper but nicer area called Rosemont. Both are within walking distances of shopping,banks,pharmacies etc... Rosemont seems a little safer to me. It's a little more French,but I still can get by with very little French. I've heard that NDG (Notre Dam de Grace) is nice as well and there are a lot of parks there as well. I'd personally not live in most areas in Cote de Neiges (CDN) near Plamondon metro b/c it's not that nice or safe IMO,though there are nice areas near there as well.
If you rent in Montreal this website is needed! We call it The Regie and it tells you the rules about renting and all that. Do NOT give a deposit or first and last months rent if you're asked to. It's not legal. Most leases are 1 year and start July 1st. You can probably find something at another time as well especially if you're coming from out of town.
This site is for the metro and is really helpful and you can easily figure out how to get to where you need to on time with something called "Tous azimuts". I have no idea what it means! lol
There are lots of markets for fresh fruits and veggies. I heard that Jean Talon Market and Atwater Market are the best ones. I'm not sure where to get raw milk,but I can ask a friend who I think gets it.
MamitaM - were you originally from the US? Thanks for the links!!! yes, if you get any info re: availability of raw milk, I'd LOVE to know!! DS1 cannot drink pasteurized....and, actually, we've all gotten used to raw (though it did take me awhile :)
Luckily, DH's company will (should!) be ALOT of help with finding a rental and all of that...BUT, I'd still like to have some "educated" ideas of my own and not just go with whatever they say only b/c I don't know anything else!!! They will also pay some $ for language learning ... so I will be (at some point!!) taking advantage of that!
We will have *a* car...I don't know yet if we'll be able to have 2...so, I'll assume we will not, which would mean that, yes, DH would have the car to get to work and I (and boys) would rely on the bus/metro systems. DH will be working mostly around the Mirabel area. So, b/c I don't really want to have him commute 45min to an hour each way every day, we'll probably be looking primarily in the more northern/western parts of the area (maybe around Laval??). What are the "good" neighborhoods in that area?? I'm less concerned with the language of the neighborhood as the crime, vicinity to good schools, etc. So, yeah, I suppose given the choice between a predominantly English neighborhood that is higher in crime or has not as good schools and a predominantly French neighborhood that is low crime and good schools, I'd take the French neighborhood!
Also, I'd love any input re: the "type" of schools to enroll my boys... english vs french immersion? they are young and would, hopefully, be able to "pick up" french MUCH more easily than I could/will; but at the same time, I worry that, since we do plan to come back here, I still want them to be "on par" academically? (I don't know if any of that makes sense...but I would appreciate input/perspective from any of you who do or did have similar experiences!!!)
I don't know Laval at all and have only been out there a few times. They actually have a different bus system then Montreal,so if you use the site you'll have to find the link to it there. The metro system takes you to the start of Laval though.
When you do look for a house or apartment make sure you tell them what you need and be clear about it. Many houses are attached and IMO should be considered a duplex. The bigger thing though is how they describe rooms here. You have to say you want 3 CLOSED bedrooms if you want a 3 bedroom home. If they say they have a 5 1/2 for you ask them what that means. Is it 3 closed bedrooms and a kitchen and living room or is it a 2 closed bedrooms and a kitchen,dining room and living room?
Try looking at Sainte Rose in Laval. It has a beautiful old town section, with lovely houses, cute shops, great schools, and a nice neighbourhood feel. It is on the North section of the island, so your husband might only have a 10-15 minute commute. I don't know about English schools there though.
There are also a few communities on the North Shore, near Mirabel, which are being built up, but they would be more francophone and you might feel a bit more out of place there. Joliette or Blainville might be nice too, as they are larger and would probably be more 'cosmopolitain' (ie less small town French Quebec)
Laval is really international, and Ste Rose is a nice place. Here are a couple of links.
(Sector 5 is Sainte Rose)
Here's the English schoolboard in Laval and surrounding areas:
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions...I'm a native Californian (SF Bay Area) myself!
Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo
Here's another link I found:
Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo
Thank you for all the info!!!!
Those of you who came from the US.... Did you enroll your kids in a French immersion school??? I am hoping that my boys are still young enough that they'll "pick up" French with relative ease (I do plan to start here with some kind of language learning!!)...but I also don't want them "behind" when we come back to the US!?!
I send my kids to French school (not immersion) even though we speak English at home, at least for the first few years. They all (the 3 who are in school) speak French like everyone else in the neighbourhood rather than having my terrible accent. Not all schools here have preK though; most don't. Cut off for K is turning 5 before the end of September in the year you start K. My older two kids now go to English schools, and I find that they would really be struggling with the level of French that's expected of them if they hadn't started in French schools. Something like 85% of their classmates speak French at home though, which is probably less true in Montreal.
If you live in the English part of Montreal, you won't have many language problems. Be aware, though, that it's a huge culture shock if you're used to living where everyone around you more or less speaks your language and has similar traditions.
Part of my concern is that we will be coming back to the US - after a year (two at most) and, while I know how much learning a second language could be for my boys, I also don't want them to have to "catch up" academically when they come back. I also wonder how much they would learn (and retain) of a second language that is not spoken at home (ok, yes, we could enroll them in foreign classes here.....).
LOL yeahwhat - the "culture shock" is definitely a concern DH has (in particular for me - he will get to go to work every day and speak English at work; I will "stay home" with our boys....and therefore be "exposed" to more "culture" during the day). He said "I'm worried you'll be ready to come home after a month b/c you'll be so tired of hearing French all the time." I am hoping that that will just help me to learn the language!
Most of the English language schools have immersion or excellent bilingual French/English programs. Your kids can learn French, at the same time having 'regular' schooling in their native language. I would go this route if I were you, especially since you will be returning to the US after a couple of years.
Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo
The Quebec government has French lessons given free of charge, and you might want to see if your husband's company will pay for something like that if you wouldn't be eligible for those lessons on a temporary immigrant visa - though I am pretty sure you would be...
That might be a nice way for you to learn the language. You'll get a lot more out of your stay here if you can communicate with people in French and understand a bit.
Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo