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PLANNING YOUR BUDGET AND ARRIVAL

When it comes to leaving your country to study abroad, planning is paramount. The entire project must be meticulously prepared months in advance. Important elements include budgeting, housing and discovering a new country. Here is a check-list of all the things that must be accomplished before your departure. 

For more detailed information, please consult the following sections:

Cost of living and budget

Successfully completing your university studies and living in a big city represents a major investment of both time and money. For example, you don’t want to be worrying about how you are going to pay your rent for the next month or whether you can afford groceries during an exam period.

In this section, you will find all the information you need to prepare a reasonable and realistic budget. You should begin by creating an accurate portrait of your costs (expenses) and your sources of financing (revenues). You can also use one of the many budget planning tools available online, and follow our 10 tips for saving money.

If you would like to dig even deeper, get a copy of a book entitled Étudier à Montréal sans se ruiner (Studying in Montréal without going bankrupt – in French). It is also important to know that Student Services can provide support in your search for financing and in determining your budget. Make an appointment by e-mail or by phone (514-396-8942).

Important reminders

You must ensure that you have sufficient funding BEFORE you leave your country, because you will have to submit proof of adequate financing along with your immigration applications, and also to Canada Customs upon your arrival.

  • International students are NOT eligible for the Québec Government’s financial assistance program (loans and bursaries).
  • There are certain scholarship programs intended for international students, but they are subject to quotas and are rarely automatic, with the exception of the exemption from higher Doctorate fees.
  • It is not possible to make enough money working a part-time job (maximum 20 hrs / week) to cover all of your expenses when living in Montréal. In addition, it is important to do everything possible to avoid working during your first session, because the impact on the success of your studies is too significant!

* Consult the page entitled “Working in Canada as an international student” for more information concerning your eligibility for work.

How much does it cost?

This section contains information concerning your main projected expenses, which may help you to prepare your first budget or update your current budget. Your main expenses will fall into the following categories: tuition fees and living expenses (food, housing, transportation, etc.). The cost of living in Montréal is known to be lower than in other large Western cities, but it may be significantly higher than the cost of living in your country! Are you interested in comparing? Use the tool entitled Le Coût de l’Expat (costs for expatriates) to see the difference in prices between your home city and Montréal.

Reminder – Tuition fees vary depending on your level of study and your country of origin. The approximate fees that can be found on our website are for a full year (3 sessions) with registration as a full-time student (12 credits at the undergraduate level, 9 credits at the graduate and post-graduate levels).

Table of expenses

Living expenses

As you are aware, the Ministère de l’ immigration estimates a minimum of $13,000 (CAN) annually for living expenses for a single student, which is approximately $1,100 per month. The MIFI website also indicates the various supporting documents that are accepted for demonstrating your financial capacity.

This amount may be considerably higher, depending on the cost of your apartment or room. The following is an approximate monthly budget for living modestly:

  • Apartment (living alone): $800
  • Room (with co-tenants): $600
  • Internet, electricity, heating (if not included): $120
  • Food (not including restaurants): $400
  • Transportation (within Montréal only): $51
  • Cell phone: $50
  • Books + supplies: $80
  • Insurance: $100 ($40 if eligible for RAMQ)
  • Entertainment: $$$

You may also encounter non-recurring expenses while getting settled in Montréal (winter clothing, temporary housing, furniture and accessories for the apartment) that total a minimum of $1,000.

In short, as you can see, expenses can add up quickly, even if you are living modestly.

Financing your studies

The second part of a budget is the revenues column. The golden rule for students is to have diversified sources of financing: Support from your family (guarantor), loans and bursaries, employment income, personal savings. If one source becomes unavailable, you can count on the others to support yourself.

Exemption from differential tuition fees
You should verify whether you are eligible for an exemption bursary by reason of a cooperation agreement signed between the Québec Government and your home country. Please note that these exemptions are administered by the responsible organization in your home country, so you must communicate with them directly and ensure that you understand all of the eligibility criteria and associated conditions. Exemption from differential tuition fees

Support from a financial guarantor
If the expenses associated with your studies in Canada are being paid by another person (parent or other third party), you must submit a series of documents to immigration authorities, including a declaration of financial support and detailed financial proof from your guarantor, along with proof of your relationship.

Be sure this person really intends to support you, and has the financial means to do it, and agree on the procedures and amounts of transfers in advance.

Institutional scholarships
Every year, ÉTS offers its students a multitude of scholarships intended to recognize academic excellence, encourage academic perseverance or reward the commitment of students. Find the complete list on the “Scholarships” page and consult the Info-Bourse newsletter on a regular basis.

Bursaries from professors
If you are in a Doctoral program or a Master program with research profile, your Research Director may offer students a bursary, depending on the availability of research funds, their research interests and the student’s profile (Master thesis or Doctoral dissertation).

Part-time work
The majority of students prefer to or are restricted to earning extra money by working part time while pursuing their studies. As an international student, you must not only find the right balance to maximize your chances for academic success, but you must also remain in good standing with respect to your immigration status. Unless otherwise indicated, anyone who holds a valid study permit and is registered as a full-time student is authorized to work during their studies, as long as they respect the various conditions. It is crucial to keep yourself well informed in order to avoid finding yourself in an irregular situation with respect to immigration. For example, you must absolutely be a FULL-TIME student to maintain this right. In addition, it is illegal to begin working before the official start of your first session. If you enter Canada, but postpone your admission, you lose the right to work. For more detailed information, consult the tab below! If you are an exchange student registered for a single session, you are not authorized to work in Canada.

Working on campus
In theory, you are permitted to work an unlimited number of hours on campus. However, it is important to understand that work opportunities on the ÉTS campus are limited, and that studying must always remain your main activity. See the types of work opportunities that are currently available at ÉTS.

Working off campus
Off-campus work is limited to 20 hours per week during regular sessions. ÉTS does not offer a job-search assistance service. This is your responsibility. Consult the Immigration Canada website to familiarize yourself with the various conditions associated with working off campus.

To learn all you need to know about your authorization to work, your tax obligations and your Social Insurance Number, consult our “Working in Canada as an international student” page.

10 ways to save money!

As a student, many of your expenses are “fixed”, but your individual lifestyle choices can still make a big difference in terms of your overall spending. Here are a few tips that can help you save in small and bigger ways.

  1. Make a budget: Knowing where your money is going and having a realistic picture of your finances enables you to save money right away, because it makes it easier to identify unnecessary expenses.

  2. Live with roommates: There is no question that housing is one of your major expenses, and therefore, it must be kept in line with your revenues. Living alone not only costs more in terms of rent, but also means that you must assume all of the fixed expenses on your own, like electricity, Internet service, etc.

  3. Prioritize the use of active transportation or public transit: Having a car is expensive (purchase or leasing price, insurance, registration). Having a car in Montréal is even more expensive when you factor in the cost of parking and fuel. In short, taking the bus or métro, or even walking or cycling, not only saves you a great deal of money, but is also healthier for you and the environment!

  4. Cook your own meals / Bring a lunch: You will quickly find that buying coffee, beverages and meals, especially if you do it on a regular basis, costs a lot more than you might think. In addition, home cooking is better for your health.

  5. Buy used / second-hand: Kijiji, MarketPlace, thrift shops and buying second-hand has never been so trendy, and not only does it save you money, it is also better for the environment. You will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the items you can find!

  6. Wait for sales / Use coupons: If buying used is not an option, choose your time of purchase wisely. First of all, take advantage of the benefits and discounts available to students (e.g.: Mondays in many grocery stores, movies on Tuesdays). Coupons are also readily available, either in circulars or online (Save.ca, Websaver.ca, GoCoupons.ca) It is not unusual to save up to 20% on your grocery or pharmacy bill with this approach!

  7. Opt for store brands: Don’t hesitate to choose store brand or no-name products at the grocery store or the pharmacy. These products are often of the same quality, but you save because there are no marketing fees.

  8. Compare Internet and telephone packages: Internet access and a cell phone are indispensable, but it is important to shop around for a supplier, and after a certain period of time, to renegotiate your contract, because they are sometimes quick to take advantage of customers.

  9. Take advantage of free activities: As previously mentioned, Montréal offers a multitude of free activities and events. You just have to look for them.

  10. Avoid buying on credit: It is useful to have a credit card to pay for certain expenses, but if you don’t have the means to pay it off or if you have a tendency to spend blindly, stay away from credit! Interest rates for most cards are around 20%, which can quickly throw you into a debt spiral that is hard to escape.

Housing

While it is true that Montréal is one of the most affordable large cities in the world when it comes to housing costs, it is also true that the cost of an apartment is higher here than in other smaller cities in Québec. Therefore, it is important to make an informed choice, both in terms of quality of life and in accordance with your budget. Do you need help finding housing? Student Services offers a housing-search assistance service. Contact us!

University residences

Located right in the heart of the vibrant downtown area, the university residences at ÉTS can house 1,100 students. They offer a dynamic living environment and provide rapid access to the pavilions on campus, and to the many services available to the student community.

Visit the ÉTS residences web page for an overview of the type of apartments, rates and reservation process. Please note that a home insurance policy is required. Avantageusement situées au cœur de l’activité urbaine, les résidences universitaires de l’ÉTS peuvent accueillir 1100 étudiants. Elles offrent un milieu de vie dynamique et permettent un accès rapide aux pavillons du campus et aux nombreux services offerts à la communauté étudiante.

Off-campus housing

If you choose to live off campus, it is important to know that every neighbourhood in Montréal has its own specific characteristics and advantages. To learn more, click here and consult the city maps to help find your way around. If you must travel to the campus on a regular basis, aim for an area with a maximum commute of 45 minutes so that you are not spending too much time travelling.

Where to find housing notices
As a general rule, property owners post their vacancies on Internet classified ad sites or on a variety of social networks. Here is a list of some of the most popular platforms:


Facebook and MarketPlace groups are also becoming more and more popular for finding housing or roommates.

Reminder

  • 2 ½, 3 ½, 4 ½, 5 ½, etc.: Indicates the number of rooms in the apartment (the bathroom counts as a half-room). For example, a 3 ½ means a bedroom, a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom;
  • Semi-furnished: Basic appliances (stove and fridge) are provided and included in the rent;
  • Mentions such as “heated“ (or “heating included“), “lighting“, “hot water“, etc. indicate that the cost of these services is included in the rental amount. In case of doubt, it is important to clarify what is included and what is not included in the rental amount.

Source: Montréal, a new beginning

 

Co-rental and rooms

Renting an entire apartment can be a huge expense. Many people prefer to simply rent a room in an already established co-rental apartment, or decide to establish a co-rental themselves in order to share certain fixed expenses, such as electricity, heating, Internet, etc.

Short-term housing

If you are only looking for a place to stay for a few days, here are some links to short-term housing options. It is important to understand that, in general, the shorter the stay, the higher the cost per night.

Rights related to housing

Before signing your lease (rental contract), be sure that you properly understand all of the clauses. You will find all of the necessary and accurate information concerning this subject on the website of the Tribunal administratif du logement, which is a government organization. In addition, ensure that the lease includes the rate that the previous tenants were paying, which allows you to determine whether the increase, if applicable, is in compliance with the law.

Your landlord has the right to ask you for certain specific information before renting you an apartment: your name, current address, and with your consent, personal information such as the addresses of your previous landlords. They may also require a pre-rental inquiry (credit check).

Illegal practices
Please note that you are not required to provide your Social Insurance Number, driver’s licence or health insurance card. Some landlords may also ask for a security deposit in addition to the first month’s rent. This is a form of guarantee that protects the landlord from loss in case of damages or non-payment of rent. It is important to understand that this practice is illegal pursuant to Section 1904 of the Civil Code of Québec, but is still widely practiced. If you decide to submit a security deposit anyway, be sure this information is included in the lease, along with clear clauses describing the reasons for which this money can be kept and for how long.

In short, a lease is a legal contract, and therefore, it is crucial that you understand your rights related to housing before signing it.

ÉTS and the surrounding areas

ÉTS is located in the Sud-Ouest Borough of Montréal, and more specifically, in the Griffintown neighbourhood. This is a rapidly growing district that is also known as the Quartier de l’innovation (innovation district).

Bordered by the Lachine Canal, Old Montréal and downtown, this area is within walking distance of many of Montréal’s major attractions. The Lachine Canal is a Canada historical heritage site that you can explore on foot or by bicycle. The bike path along the Lachine Canal will enable you to discover Montréal from east to west on two wheels in complete safety. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the magnificent Atwater Market to sample high-quality local produce, or get your engineering juices flowing at the Montreal Science Centre.

How to get here

ÉTS is located in the heart of Montréal, and is easy to reach by public transit or automobile.

ÉTS is served by two nearby métro stations on the orange line (Lucien L’Allier and Bonaventure). Click here for the complete transit network map. You can also travel directly to the campus by bus on a number of different lines, including the 35, the 107 and the 715, along with many others that go to the Bonaventure station. Just outside of ÉTS, you will find Bixi (self-service bicycle) and car sharing stations.

ÉTS offers indoor parking in Pavilions A, B and E. Your designated parking space will be accessible with a parking permit (swapping of spaces is not permitted). To obtain a parking space for an automobile, motorcycle or bicycle, please contact the Auxiliary Enterprises Service at stationnement@etsmtl.ca.

Transportation

Montréal offers a wide variety of travel options. The métro network comprises 4 lines, with a total of 68 stations. The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) also operates 1,700 buses on 220 bus lines, including 23 lines dedicated to night service. The road network includes more than 4,000 km of traffic lanes and more than 600 km of bike paths.

Orientation

Downtown Montréal is your central point of reference, and boulevard Saint-Laurent is the historic dividing line between East and West. North and South are not marked by any particular street.

East-west: From one side of the street to the other, civic address numbers begin with 1 at boulevard Saint-Laurent and increase as you go farther east or west. Even numbers indicate the south side of the street and odd numbers indicate the north side.
North-south: Address numbers increase from south to north. Even numbers indicate the west side of the street and odd numbers indicate the east side.


Source : Montréal, new beginning

Public transit

In order to travel by bus, métro and commuter train within the Montréal Metropolitan Region, you will need a transit card, also called on OPUS card. Rates vary depending on travel zones. You can refill your OPUS card to suit your needs at specific locations in various métro stations, at automatic distributors or charging stations, or at certain retailers (e.g.: convenience stores, pharmacies).

It may seem difficult to understand how the network works at the beginning, but there are a number of applications that can assist you in planning your trip and determining the arrival time of the next bus in real time. Visit the STM website to learn more.

Student fare – OPUS card
The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) offers a reduced rate for students who are registered for full-time studies at ÉTS, regardless of their age. You can now apply for or renew your OPUS card with photo via the My documents tab in the Mon ÉTS portal. It’s easy, online and fast! ÉTS also offers a public transit incentive program (This page is only available in French) or students.

Active transportation

A growing number of Montréalers now use bicycles, not only for recreational purposes, but also for utilitarian travel. The network of bicycle paths has been growing steadily for many years, so if you are not comfortable sharing the road with motor vehicles, plan your trip using the existing bicycle paths. Click here for the map of the network.

ÉTS offers indoor secure bike racks in the basement of Pavilions A, B and E, and has implemented a number of other measures aimed at promoting active transportation (This page is only available in French). Most students can take advantage of a discount on Bixi (This page is only available in French) subscription rates.

Carpooling and car sharing

Car sharing is an environmentally friendly and economic alternate to single-occupant cars. There are a number of options available within the City of Montréal, including Communauto, that give you access to a fleet of automobiles for however long you need them (by the half-hour, hour, day or longer) at competitive rates.

Community and municipal resources

The City of Montréal and its Boroughs offer a multitude of services for their residents, regardless of legal status. You can access a vast array of recreational and sports activities and libraries, often at no cost. Libraries offer access to millions of documents, cultural programming and informational material, and all for free!

Community resources

Québec is well known for the strength of its community organizations, which are non-profit groups that administer government social programs. There are more than 25,000 such organizations in Montréal alone!

To find the type of assistance you are seeking, visit the Montréal 211 website for a directory of these organizations. You can search by subject (e.g.: Family, Job, Food aid, etc.) or by geographic location. If you are unable to find what you are looking for, you can contact them by dialing 211.

Most community resources are offered free or at a very reasonable cost. University studies are a time when expenses may be quite high and revenue sources limited. In light of this, it is not unusual to ask for support if you have specific needs that you cannot meet on your own.