+ Bitcoin Embassy Montreal!
+ Really cheap hipster life
+ Wonderful cheap food
+ Walkable city
+ A French culture that values living, parks, & community!
+ Beautiful women, and lots of them
+ There actually is a tech scene! Woah!
+ It's different
- Less edgy culture. Less individual extreme boundary pushing.
People move in largish herds of friends.
- Racist against people who speak English. Language racism.
- Corrupt government
- McGill and Concordia are nowhere near as good as
Berkeley and Stanford, and not even UW.
And language racism really sucks! On the upside, it's a great way for a white american male to experience being a discriminated minority.
Not language racism but english-phobia. Everyone that I know will switch to english to help people, but they expect that the reverse will be true too. You will be expected to at least attempt French. Attempting it will be enough and people will gladly help you out.
Mostly that does not happen. Mostly people are okay if you try to speak French. But if you slip up or bump the wrong person, your English can certainly make you the target of hateful and mean language.
There is also a forced, legal "racism" against language, in that it can be prohibitively difficult to start a company in English. There is a systematic approach where the government and the locals will make your life more expensive, more complicated and less likely to succeed unless you do fully understand French.
Edit: That said, I love Montreal. It's probably my favourite city in North America, I miss it tons and tons. I live in the Bay Area now, but feel like Montreal is my home and I can't wait to go back.
Sucks to say it so directly, but that's the point and people vote for exactly for that (people also vote against this, so don't put everyone in the same boat). There was abuse up to that point, so the laws are harsh now.
In our history, there was a lot of oppression agaisnt french speaking people so people are still pretty afraid. The only contact that anyone over 80 years old had with english speaking people are from oppressive boss that abused them at work. I do agree on that point that the older population can be racist, but anyone under 30 should be more understanding. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec#Quiet_Revolution
But there is definitely language racism, especially with the language laws.
Here are some examples to prove my point:
On a phone call with the government to renew an ID card, my bilingual Montrealler friend messed up her French grammar. The government agent said "I cannot understand you" and hung up the phone! Made her call back and wait on hold and be more careful with her grammar.
The Bitcoin Embassy put up a webpage for international Bitcoin trading targeted to people beyond Quebec who speak English, and yet the Language Police stopped them because they hadn't translated everything to French before publishing the page! The government prevents international business simply because it's not French enough. But the whole point of international business is to target OTHER people.
My friend is COO of a large, successful international enterprise software company (I won't mention the company). All his programmers use English keyboards, but his company will be shut down if they don't use French keyboards. So they keep a stash of French keyboards in the closet. Every few months, the Language Police do an inspection and they have to bring out the French keyboards and pretend that they are using them to do all their work as good French citizens.
This last friend has lived in BOTH Palo Alto and Montreal for the last 15 years, and before that lived in France and Iran. He says that Quebec is more Racist than France.
I guess there is language racism, people here are expected to speak English when most of us doesn't handle it that well. When we travel in an English country, we have to speak in English, when we travel to a Spanish country, we do our best to talk Spanish, we expect the same of you. Sadly even people that have been here for a long time doesn't even try to learn French. Most of the superior I had are only speaking English.
Don't you learn Spanish as a second language in US? How would you react if you would be expected to use Spanish that much?
Wow, French here, I find this most shocking. Can't the programmers use the French keyboard all the time but simply map it to the US layout (I do that myself).
My keyboard is french, but its layout is english and so is my OS and all my softwares. However, I had to change the language myself since everything come out of the box as french.
> So they keep a stash of French keyboards in the closet.
Here, even if we are french speaking, we simply stick french stickers on things. No need to buy extra products this way ;)
We used to be audited every year but after we made a lot of progress they starting coming once every 2-3 years.
I think they started auditing after complaints, we're a manufacturing company in the suburbs with 99% French speaking employees but a lot of the stuff we had was English only. Fun fact, our parent company in Texas was careful and made sure we had French documentation/communication but French speaking office employees didn't seem to care.
Like.. the... French Canadians?
We're all for pretending to be like Silicon Valley… but not trying anything new :)
Corrupt government: The fact that we talk about corruption does not mean its worse than elsewhere.
Quality of higher education: Well, you've left out the whole of French speaking universities. And what does "good" mean? Just looking at budgets, you're not comparing on equal footing: Stanford ~5.5 bn USD, Concordia <400 mil CAD.
Culture: Well, any way you look at it, you're comparing two very different environments. Historically extremely different, just take language as a factor, and you're also comparing arguably the most fertile region in the world in regards to computer science, with another region that has historically been deemed worth only of manual labor (pre 1960's).
And the big one, language racism:
I know literally no one who would qualify as a "language racist" in the same sense of "race racist", and I've lived here a quarter century. If you're coming to live in North America's biggest French speaking city, why are you surprised if people want to speak in French? Of course it's hard to learn, but I'd say Montreal is the best place to learn French for an English speaker, as you will not have trouble being understood anywhere.
I mean, would you find it reasonable for me to learn English if I wanted to work and live in Berkeley? Some friends of mine are moving to Italy and they have to learn functional Italian to be allowed to move (per them).
The language issue is the most annoying issue with foreigners or international students. Being in University so long I've had my share of discussions with such people, and a lot of the time the sentiment could be distilled to "I have many other things to do then learn French, maybe I'll do it when I have more free time, it's hard." To be fair, I've also met greatly motivated students who spared no expense to practice their new language. Just showing some interest/effort goes a long way...!
Come back anytime :)
As someone who has lived in Montreal my entire life and is perfectly bilingual, I can tell you I've had many discriminatory experiences while speaking English. Not to mention it's very easy to test these things out when you are able to do certain things in both English vs French to compare experiences. If you speak in English you often get a different, and more negative experience. Given that I speak perfect French, it's very easy for me to simply ignore most of it, but don't kid yourself, it's still there. Just because there's a bad history doesn't excuse the current state of affairs.
I also find, contrary to your experience, that it's those Anglophones who did not grow up here who tend to excuse the discriminatory laws and practices the most.
My own experience on the Anglo side of town (i.e. further west of St-Laurent), is that a lot of people simply cannot speak French, but will usually understand you, and the conversation can be had in two languages simultaneously. I wouldn't consider this "negative" treatment, but it's definitely not ideal for social cohesion.
In the end, someone has to make the effort of learning another language, and that annoys some people.
I'm sure they loved you thinking they move in herds and are sub-standard to US schools tho.
I also don't know what you mean about Montreal not being edgy enough. There's plenty of counterculture in Montreal. Did you ever spend a lot of time in Hochelaga?
The language laws have a very good historical basis. Used to be that the bosses all spoke English and the employees all spoke French. That's the reason for the language laws, so that nobody in Montreal cannot access local jobs due to lack of French and that nobody is ever spoken down in English. Seeing how the linguistic majority is French, think of it more as affirmative action than racism. It's about levelling a historically unlevel playing field.
As a Montrealer, I would say that we have beautiful people living here in general. OP is likely heterocentric in their commentary.
>Did you ever spend a lot of time in Hochelaga?
Not much of a tech scene...but incredibly progressive/beautiful attitudes. Also, very French. If you don't have the language, you're missing 80% of it.
I think a good bit of the incredibleness of Montreal is kept at arm's length through the language barrier.
I grew up mostly with English friends and never spoke French. These days, I spend a lot more time with French friends and I feel much more at home.
I went through the same, actually. I "grew up" in the McGill bubble, but when my French got better, it's like a whole other city opened up to me.
Seriously? It's like if I told a gay friend when they said they were thinking about moving to SF because (insert missing phrase) - that they were (insert missing phrase); who are you to say liking a type of people is wrong.
Cities are different - and I assure you that some cities have more beautiful people than others.
That's not racism. Stop calling it that. Piggy-backing on the plight of actual victims of racism isn't cool.
- the "startups" that are a 1-guy team doing "disruptive-PASS-agile-SCRUM" consulting
- large, partially government-backed monsters where money is burnt and not much is produced
- the students who just built their first social photo-sharing app, wondering why they can't find any funding
I've heard of them from others or was offered jobs there - there isn't a lot to choose from around here. Salaries are low as the city is cheap. There are also good companies in that list (some great ones even), but I'd say it's pretty inflated.
I work remote for a US company with its headquarters in Europe, it's the best arrangement possible, I'd recommend it for others (paid USD, half-day overlap with coworkers = lots of time for quiet coding, trips to Europe often to catch up with team).
You might as well download https://www.duolingo.com and practice a bit of French (seriously, try it - it's fun!) if you are too lazy for that a "salut-hi" will usually suffice to break "the ice" :)
IMHO: NYC > MTL > SF
I do miss Montréal though! <3
Montreal is the place to be. Open, not so expansive, with easy access to North American market and it's easy to recruit internationally.
Only one real problem: the brain drain to the US
And I'm not talking about subsidies or taxes because that's a similar problem everywhere.
So much inspiration.
Hard to beat their Alexa.com traffic growth:
I'm always impressed when I speak to people from McGill too… they have a tech-focused culture that could rival Waterloo. Miles ahead of the University of Toronto.
Does anyone have any concrete experience with the program?
What I know as a dev : My company pays an outside firm specialized in getting R&D credits for companies. I don't really know how much it costs and how much it brings in. Every quarter, all the devs have to sit down and do a kind of interview with a guy from that firm. We're a pretty standard SaaS platform so it's hard to really know what can be considered R&D from my point of view. During the interview, we go over our work for the last quarter and dig into areas that could potentially be considered R&D. We'll explain in details what are the technical challenges, how what we're doing is different than what's already available out there, if we did prototyping, research, user testing, etc... Then they write up a nice report and try to get us as much R&D credit as they can!
You can get help from third parties, but they take a big chunk of the money and they just make the process a little bit easier.
Québec is the most taxed province in all of North America too and salaries are lower than most other places. It's all relative.
However should I make more money, I'd definitely stay in Montreal. I think I'd miss walking around shopping for groceries, going to restaurants etc. I hate commuting in cars.
So many pitches ended with "we'd pay for your product, but it needs to support French". You can guess what happened next, we wasted weeks supporting i18N, then translating to French, only to discover people didn't want the product, even with French support.
The rent, food, and (most) people were great though!