Journeys are about the destination. Over the past (undisclosed) decades, I have definitely been on quite a journey. Now, I find myself somewhere I never quite intended: Montréal, QC.
How exactly does a born-and-bred New Yorker, who moved West to San Francisco for 10 years, end up moving North to Canada’s fine city of Montreal? Well, that’s a long story for another day. Today, I want to focus on how Local Logic’s tools helped me find the ideal place for me and my family.
Criteria to find the most fitting place
While I could have lived anywhere on the East Coast, my wife and I used Local Logic’s tools to find the best place to live.
Our criteria were not uncommon:
Great school system
Our children’s schools had no organized sports or music classes until middle school. This left most parents having to pay out-of-pocket. And our kids’ playground was asphalt, save for a play structure.
We wanted a different experience for our boys.
Diverse food and people
We had gotten used to the fantastic selection of food and cultures in the San Francisco Bay Area. Even the suburbs had a lot of high quality food to offer. There was easy access to the common staples, plus rarer options like French, Ethopian, Jamaican and Indian. Of course, there are food trucks galore.
Proximity to services
We were definitely used to having everything within 10 minutes. Costco, many grocery stores, malls, Apple Stores, etc. Nothing was out of reach in our area of California.
Space to breath
My wife grew up in a remote area, I grew up in prime Manhattan. Suffice to say, we had very different experiences. Little by little we grew on each other and have come to appreciate both sides of that coin. So it was important to be able to have everything we wanted. Close from downtown, but not around the corner. Also, car-friendly areas tend to work well for us.
Access to water and family
We both grew up in coastal areas and longed for water to be minutes away
Many of our family, childhood and long time friends are on the East Coast. A flight for a few hours (or even a 14 hours drive) is better than being a 6 hours flight away (or a 4 days drive).
I personally wanted a commute about an hour long. But I prioritized the other items over my commute. Providing for my family’s needs is more important than the amount of time it takes me to get to work.
Looking back on this, in a post-COVID world, it was the right call. As long as I had options to get into the city, I was happy.
I wanted to live somewhere I could have a long career. I also wanted my sons to have access to great future-proof industries like A.I., software, and finance. Areas with economic development plans and incentives for startups were important to consider.
How to use Local Logic to identify places matching these criteria?
I had clearance to live anywhere on the East Coast. So we got to work using Local Logic's heatmaps to highlight areas to explore. The heatmaps helped us isolate potential areas. Then we dug into the areas’ specifics, and got to work.
Boston, areas of central and southern Jersey, DC Metro, CT, NY Suburbs and upstate NY were all contenders. Markets such as North Carolina’s tri-city area, Atlanta and Florida were also on the list.
We had our research work cut out for us. It’s no small feat moving a family of 5, so this move mattered—big time.
However, many areas got off the list for us early on. We were surprised to see how few areas had diverse food. From there, school quality and high taxes did away with several markets. I also couldn’t see myself moving to Boston as a die-hard Yankee fan and New Yorker.
Progressively, Upstate New York started to appeal to me. It was central, my home state, and there is a tech corridor on the rise with many great qualities along the Hudson.
But as I looked on the map...Montreal was just a short drive North, 5 hours from the Yankee Stadium. I found myself asking: Could Montréal work?
Opening our mind and finding the best fit in Montréal
Up until that moment, I never even considered Montréal. So we dug in. We were very surprised with what we found.
The school system is impressive. It features robotic programs, coding classes, sports, and a balanced curriculum. Taxes were high but, as we dug into the services, the math was easy.
Daycares in the San Francisco Bay Area can run north of $2,000 a month. In the Montreal area a full Montessori program, with a daily chef, was less than $1,500. Not only that but there is a $4,000 annual tax credit for childcare. You could even do an awesome daycare that exceeds most we experienced for as little as $40 a day.
Montréal is not near the ocean, but is between two great bodies of water. The rivers have access to the Atlantic (it’s a ride but it’s doable).
It’s also a food mecca. Anthony Bourdain has a few episodes here. You can find Montréal chefs often featured on your favorite food & cooking shows.
Canada, Québec, and the city of Montréal all encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. Resources abound for people wanting to build businesses. You can also find hubs for A.I., the video game industry, pharmaceutical, and more. Furthermore, Montreal has an excellent and educated talent pool.
Last but not least, healthcare in Canada is covered by provincial programs and most of it doesn’t require out of pocket expenses. This is a huge selling point for a family of five. One ER visit in California cost us several thousand dollars some time ago. It would have been free here in Montréal.
In the end, Montreal checked off every criteria we had. We are happier than ever and thrilled to build our family here.
Anyone looking for a dynamic and vibrant multicultural city should consider Montréal. While I am happy to provide guidance, you can do the same work I did using our tools on centris.ca, realtor.ca, royallepage.ca, and many others.
What if Montréal or Canada isn't for you? Local Logic's neighborhood insights can be found on remax.com in the US.