Out of all the criteria which should be considered during your search for an apartment to rent, the neighborhood is one which is of paramount importance.
First of all, you should make a list of characteristics which you would like to find in your neighborhood. Next, on a second column, mention if you are prepared to compromise on each characteristic or not. It is actually important to be realistic, finding the perfect neighborhood which meets all your criteria is impossible; what is most important is finding the best option. In order to do so, it is important to prioritize these characteristics in order not to get weighed down by them since they are actually not all of the same importance to you, in principle.
Do you get around by car, public transport or even by bike? Look out for the closeness of the nearest metro stations and bus stops, Bixi or Communauto terminals or even outside parking and motorways, depending on your mode of transport. Is being close to a metro station important to you or would you prefer to be a little further away? This criterion is an important one since it often affects the price of accommodation.
Closeness to your place of work
If you work from home, you will have more leeway in terms of choosing what area to live in, but if you work in the city center, you will have to think about closeness to a green line metro station, or even yet if you travel to Laval by car, living in Old Montreal may not necessarily be the best option. If you are a student, living on campus will not only ensure you are close enough to attend classes, but also ensure you get to participate in key aspects of the student experience.
Shopping malls and neighborhood shops
Where do you intend to do your weekly shopping? In an IGA? A small organic shop in the corner of the street? On the internet? Depending on your answer, you would need to look out around your future apartment if necessary, and work out how much time you would spend when you go shopping.
Closeness to green spaces
Green spaces are distributed across the city, whether in the city center or on the Plateau, including Côte-des-Neiges. It is worth noting that living just opposite a park could turn out to be a double edged deal since its closeness could mean constant noise, especially during summer when parks are really busy, every hour of the day and even at night.
Closeness of neighborhood facilities
Look out for facilities and services available in your neighborhood: if you exercise in a gym, look out for which one is closest to you. The same goes for pharmacies, medical or dental clinics, according to your daily needs and lifestyle. If you frequently visit restaurants and bars, living close to a busy street like Mont-Royal, St-Laurent, St-Denis or even Masson, may be advantageous and help you save time. However, it is worth noting that such closeness may have a negative aspect to it in terms of quietness in your apartment (as opposed to a more residential area).
Make sure you are in tune with the type of neighbors who live in your area. If you are a young self-employed professional who requires a quiet environment in order to work at home, living in student quarters may not be the best idea.
Prices associated with the neighborhood
Last, but not least. Are the prices charged in the neighborhood where you intend to live in line with your budget? This element is really important since considering it promptly during your search will ensure you save precious time: searching for a 3 and half at $500 is rather unrealistic in certain areas, where the minimum for living alone often falls between $700 and $800. Do not hesitate to ask for the opinion of an estate broker who specializes in rentals, who will be able to carry out some research and find more precise price averages for you.
Taking a day or two to walk around in your neighborhood of choice in order to have a good idea of its atmosphere and available shops is generally recommended.
If you have any questions on the specifics of a particular neighborhood, you can always contact an estate broker who will provide you with information on the type of properties available, property and municipal taxes, parking stickers and other very useful information