It always breaks my heart when I hear Montrealers say they hate Montreal. How can you possibly hate our city? Then again, this negative train of thought often comes from people who have grown up in the far reaches of suburbia or elsewhere in the province and have moved to the city for school or work. In other words, people who grew up completely outside of a dense urban environment or who have spent their entire lives commuting in and out of it.
I have seen both sides of Montreal. I grew up in the suburbs and it was great. I had a huge yard to play in and my parents didn’t worry at all about where my brother and I were during the day when we were kids as long as we weren’t making noise outside before 10:00 A.M. on the weekend and showed up for lunch and dinner.Mix living in suburbia with a fixed work schedule though and you have Hell, whether you are driving yourself into work or letting the urban transit authority do the driving for you. I did not own a car when I was living in the suburbs and working in town. My hours were from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. I was therefore up at 6:00 A.M. five days a week, out the door by 7:00 A.M. and not home until at least 6:00 P.M. on a good day. I remember one particularly horrible winter day just before Christmas in 2007 when it took three hours to get home.
Needless to say, my suburban lifestyle was leaving me perpetually exhausted. I never, ever said I hated Montreal though. I did, however, say that I hated traffic. The way ahead for me was pretty clear. Either do like a lot of young adults who grew up in the suburbs and get myself a car, or move into an apartment in town. I chose the apartment and promptly fell in love with my new urban lifestyle, which turned out to be everything I ever dreamed it would be and then some. I could get groceries on my own without a car, I could walk to Mount-Royal park and I could even walk home from work! I had time to have a life, because instead of spending an average of three hours a day getting to and from the ofice, it only took me a half hour at the very most to get there.
I do understand that just because moving into town was the right decision for me, doesn’t mean it is the right decision for everyone. It depends on each individuals financial situation, personal preferences and goals. When my husband and I had to decide last year where we were going to spend the thirty years of our lives, we did consider a very specific area of the suburbs where we could have bought a less expensive home while still not becoming entirely car dependent. In the end though, suburban life, no matter how bucolic the neighborhood, was simply not compatible with Adam’s unpredictable work schedule and our long-term plans. We therefore willingly gave up on the idea of a big yard, a pool and lower taxes and bought a house in the neighborhood we already lived in and loved. We just weren’t willing to give up on all the extra time we gained when we both moved into town ten years ago, time we now get to spend together. Time we also get to spend enjoying our beautiful city and everything it has to offer.