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Young French Expats Are Relocating to Quebec

Over the years, Montreal has become home to many young French expatriates who hail out of Europe searching for American-style living.

Quebec offers an economic and cultural openness that they don’t experience back home.

Besides, “Quebeckers” do almost everything like Americans, including eating, driving, and socializing.

Thus, Montreal gives French expats the familiarity of French-Canadian culture and the French language, mixed with the freedom and newness of the American lifestyle.

Quebec Opportunities

Quebec is the largest province in Canada and has the country’s second-largest economy.

This mainly French-speaking province also tends to have one of the highest rates of employment in Canada.

Montreal is the largest city in Quebec and the second most populous Canadian city.

Quebec’s economy is more open and has fewer restrictions regarding hiring, starting a business, or even firing.

Unlike the French labor market that is more rigid, Montreal offers immigrants various opportunities to make a living.

More people are moving to Quebec to seek jobs, lower rent, cheaper cost of living, and an accessible cultural fit.

French Relocation to Quebec

Many French residents occupy the Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood that Montrealers sometimes refer to as “La Nouvelle-France.”

Quebec was France’s former North American colony, which is why it is the only province or territory in Canada where French is the prevalent language (the rest of Canada speaks mostly English).

Thus, in this neighborhood, you can expect the smell of French bread and the sounds of French accents throughout the streets.

Quebec’s number of French nationals has risen by 80% in the last 15 years, making Montreal the most prominent French community outside Europe and the fourth largest community outside France, following Brussel, Geneva, and London.

It has welcomed more French immigrants than any country during the entire colonial period.

According to the consul general of France in Montreal, Sophie Lagoutte, 60,000 French nationals are registered with the Consulat General de France a Montreal and most live in and around the metropolitan area.

The number has doubled to more than 75,000 since 2005.

Ms. Lagoutte says that the number of French immigrants is likely to be double that again.

Other major cities in the province include Quebec City, Laval, Gatineau, Longueuil, Sherbrooke, Lévis, Trois-Rivières, among others.

Culture Shock

Despite the influx of French nationals into Quebec, it can be a culture shock for some immigrants.

Although the Quebecers and the French share a common language, the cultures are very different.

A common culture shock is based on how American Quebeckers can be.

According to Ms. Lagoutte, Quebec residents smoke more weed than cigarettes and drink more beer than wine.

Also, for them, the day starts very early and ends much earlier.

The other challenge that French immigrants face when they arrive in Quebec is the difficulty in socialization.

Unlike in Paris, Quebec’s social life usually revolves around family barbeques and other intimate inner circles.

This makes it hard for French arrivals to make new friends, considering enjoying a vibrant social life.  

While the snobbishness level may not be like before, many French ex-pats still find it hard to integrate into their surroundings, making them feel out of place in what they consider their new home.

Antony Ouzeau, who has been in Quebec for nearly six years, is returning home after the pandemic forced him to close his fresh food business.

Mr. Ouzeau had given a French immigrant both encouraging and cautionary advice about living in Quebec.

He told the French newcomer that Quebec is a welcoming city that offers other people a chance, and you just need to ask.

However, he reminded them that the culture is different despite speaking the same language.

Final Thoughts

Quebec continues to attract thousands of immigrants every year, including from France.

There is even a special Canadian immigration program created just for skilled immigrants who want to live and work in Quebec, known as the Quebec Regular Skilled Worker Program (RSWP).

The province offers immigrants, particularly French-speaking expat workers, great opportunities, but newcomers need to realize that it does take time and patience to adjust to a different culture after they relocate to Canada or to any other country.

Ultimately, most immigrants, including those who relocate to Quebec, not only adapt and assimilate into their new country’s culture and society, but they and their children generally flourish and create better lives for themselves.

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