Why Choose Montréal


At a Glance

  • 90 minutes from New York City by plane
  • 1 hour and 45 minutes from Washington by plane
  • 60% of the population is bilingual and 20% trilingual
  • 100 languages spoken
  • 200,000 university students, including 33,000 international students
  • One of the three UN cities in North America along with New York City and Washington
  • Second-highest number of consulates in North America
  • Top city in North America in terms of number of international conferences

Why Should Your Organization Choose Montréal?

A Solid Network

Montréal is one of the world’s eight headquarter cities for UN specialized agencies. After the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), created by UN in 1944, set up its headquarters here, around 65 other international organizations followed its lead.

Did you know?

Montréal is the only other North American city besides Washington that is host to the headquarters of a specialized UN agency.

Montréal is home to a range of international organizations in various industries:

  • Aerospace
  • Life sciences
  • Culture and communications
  • Environment and sustainable development
  • Education
  • Design
  • The Francophonie

See the list of IOs in Greater Montréal


Already headquartered in Montréal:

ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization)

IATA (International Air Transport Association)

ACI (Airports Council International)


IFALPA (International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations)

CANSO (Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation)

IBAC (International Business Aviation Council)

ICAT (International Council for Aerospace Training)

IFATCA (International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations)

WACA (World Airlines Clubs Association)

Strategic Geographical Location

International organizations setting up their headquarters in Greater Montréal can take advantage of:

  • The area’s convenient geographical location: Greater Montréal is at the crossroads of Europe and North America, just 90 minutes from New York City and 6 hours and 50 minutes from Paris by plane.
  • World-class transportation infrastructures and visitor facilities:

Two international airports, including Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, just 15 minutes away from downtown and serving 130 destinations worldwide.

Two major conference centres: the Montréal Convention Centre, which provides state-of-the-art facilities and can accommodate 30,000 people, and the ICAO headquarters, with two large conference rooms laid out according to UN standards.

Over 15,000 rooms in hotels featuring a range of multipurpose business centres.

  • An environment that is perfect for international events: Montréal ranks first among major North American cities in terms of number of international meetings and conferences.
  • A high number of consular offices: Montréal has the second-highest number of consulates in North America, boasting 85 consulates general, consulates and trade delegations.

What ICAO Has to Say

“ICAO has been in Montréal for over 60 years. As an international organization, we find that Montréal has a lot to offer. Home to over 80 nationalities, this multicultural city boasts a rich and unique dining scene, safe neighbourhoods, great quality of life and affordable cost of living. All this, combined with Montréal’s unwavering support is the reason why ICAO feels at home in the city.”

Raymond Benjamin, Secretary General, ICAO

Canada: A Safe, Stable and Prosperous Country

Canada has one of the world’s most stable social and economic environments. A prosperous democracy and a pioneer in recognizing human rights, Canada is ranked as one of the countries with the highest quality of life.

Did you know?

Canada has the lowest cost of living and highest quality of life among the G7 nations.

Solid International Reputation:

  • Ranked 2nd in the world for its reputation
  • Ranked 3nd in the world for integrating immigrants 2
  • Ranked 6th in the world for its human development index 3

Stable Economic Environment:

  • World’s 10th largest economy
  • High level of per-capita wealth
  • Low and stable inflation rate
  • One of the most solid and stable banking systems in the world, according to the World Economic Forum and Moody’s Investors Service
  • A promising future: According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, the Canadian economy will post the highest growth rate among G7 countries and its debt will be 29% of GDP by 2014—three times less than the G7 average

Financial Incentives

Incentives such as financial support through the Fonds de développement International de Montréal (Montréal international development fund – FODIM) can help you set up or expand your organization’s headquarters in Montréal.

Did you know?

Montréal is among the few cities in the world that have a support program specifically designed to help non-governmental international organizations set up their operations in the area.

  • Financial incentives through FODIM—a program managed by Montréal International on behalf of its government partner.
  • Privileges and exemptions granted by the Québec government to governmental and non-governmental IOs that work in priority fields and meet specific criteria.
  • Legal and tax status: As not-for-profit organizations and/or registered charities, IOs may be tax-exempt. Registered charities may also issue donation receipts to donors for tax credit and deduction purposes.
  • Recruiting and training: All IOs that want to set up and develop a local team may receive support from both Emploi Québec and the Québec Labour Department.

Best Value for Money

Of the 10 cities that IOs often consider for their headquarters, Greater Montréal offers the best value for money, according to a study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. The region leads the pack in terms of cost of living, way ahead of many European cities that are home to IOs, including Brussels and Geneva.

Greater Montréal provides IOs with a better environment at a lower cost thanks to:

  • Competitive wages that are lower than elsewhere in North America or Western Europe, but still give employees a high purchasing power.

Competitive wages… 

City Wage Level Index (Montréal = 100) 
Seoul 72
Montréal 100
Paris 103
London 104
Brussels 107
New York 131
Geneva 162
Source: Prices and Earnings, UBS, 2012

… with a high purchasing power

City Purchasing Power Index (Montréal=100)
Geneva 124
Brussels 115
Montréal 100
Paris 98
New York 97
London 93
Seoul 80
Source: Prices and Earnings, UBS, 2012. Compilation: Montréal International
  • A balanced real estate market, which makes it possible to find and rent prime office space in ideal locations at a very reasonable cost.
Average Office Space Rental Costs ($US/sq. ft./year, Net, Downtown)
City Cost ($US)
New York (Midtown) 127.1
Singapore 102,8
Paris 102,4
London (City) 95,2
Geneva 83,6
Brussels 40,5
Seoul 40,3
Montréal 21,7
Sources: Office Space Across the World, Cushman & Wakefield, 2014.
  • Affordable business travel costs for regular or occasional foreign visitors.
Cost of a Short Stay
City Cost ($US)
Geneva 1,217
New York 1,178
Paris 1,101
London 932
Seoul 777
Brussels 725
Montréal 712
Source: Prices and Earnings, UBS, 2012

Highly Skilled, Multilingual Workforce

Montréal ranks second among North American cities for the number of university students per capita and has a large pool of skilled graduates that organizations can draw from to meet their hiring needs. Greater Montréal has everything you need to build, develop and retain your team.

A rich academic environment thanks to:

  • 11 higher education institutions, including four comprehensive universities
  • 170,000 university students, including over 20,000 international students, making the region Canada’s top university centre
  • 130,000 pre-university students
  • A leading-edge research community in key sectors such as aerospace, life sciences and ICT

Internationally recognized excellence:

  • Greater Montréal is home to 2 of the world’s top 100 universities: Université de Montréal (French) and McGill University (English).4 
  • A pool of skilled talent at a reasonable cost
Your Needs Gross Annual Salary ($CAD, 2009) Available Workforce (2009)
Administrative services manager 74,828 16,900
Communications director 62,036 5,104
Finance, audit and accounting professional 53,144 18,900
Writing, translation and public relations professional 51,064 13,000
IT professional 47,112 18,000
Secretary 32,968 25,400

A multilingual environment:

  • 60% of the population is bilingual, 20% is trilingual and more than 100 languages are spoken in the region.

Exceptional Quality of Life

Montréal’s population density is similar to that of many European cities and ranks third-highest in North America, behind that of Boston and New York. This high density has enabled a rich neighbourhood life to flourish, with easy access to many nearby services.

Montréal—an international gem with one of the world’s highest standards of living.

An international gem: Regardless of the selection criteria, the metropolitan region is always at the head of the pack.

  • Ranked among the top 10 hip cities in the world 5
  • Best global tourist destination 6
  • UNESCO City of Design 7
  • North America’s premiere bicycle city 8
  • World’s 3rd best summer city 9
  • Top host city in North America for international conferences 10
  • Ranked 3rd in North America for the quality of its public transit 11

One of the world’s highest standards of living thanks to:

  • A competitive cost of living: Of the eight cities IOs often consider for their headquarters, Montréal has the lowest cost of living according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting (2009).
  • Relatively low housing costs
Residential Real Estate – Sale Prices ($US/sq. ft.)
City Cost ($US/sq. ft.)
Geneva 1,102
New York 1,027
Paris 1,005
London City 750
Seoul 440
Amsterdam 362
Montréal 300
Brussels 297
Berlin 271
Source: Prices and Earnings, UBS, 2012.

Did you know?

Montréal ranks 3rd among North American cities for the number of people taking public transit to work.

  • A safe city, with the lowest homicide rate among North America’s 20 largest urban centres. In other words, you are safe anywhere in the city, anytime.
  • An excellent health care system, both in terms of quality of patient care and accessibility (the Québec health care system is based on the principle of universality, ensuring free essential medical care to all permanent residents and Canadian citizens in the province).
  • An efficient transportation network, including an extensive public transit system (subway, bus, commuter trains), bike paths and a bike sharing system.
  • A gourmet destination, featured in a special issue of the prestigious Gourmet magazine and member of the World Network of Gourmet Cities. À la carte: the highest concentration of restaurants in North America (close to 65/km2 downtown), fine dining restaurants, and an incredibly rich food scene that is the perfect reflection of the region’s cultural diversity.

Did you know?

Average summer temperatures in Montréal are higher than in many European cities, including London and Paris.

A friendly environment built around:

  • European-style neighbourhood life
  • Arts and culture: galleries, museums, exhibitions and around 50 themed festivals all year long
  • Amateur and professional sports: the Montréal Canadiens hockey team, Formula 1 Grand Prix, Rogers Cup
  • Outdoor sports for every season: canoe campsites and ski, snowmobile, and hiking trails just around the corner

An international education network:

  • Montréal has some 50 schools that are members of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) and offer programs for students aged 3 to 19.
  • The city also has two French schools licensed by the Agence pour l’Enseignement Français à l’Etranger (agency for French teaching abroad – AEFE) and teaching students from kindergarten to graduation (Collège International Marie de France and Collège Stanislas).
  • Tuition fees for private English-language schools in Montréal are among the lowest in the world.

What the World Anti-Doping Agency Has to Say

“Montréal is the perfect place to live and work for WADA and its staff. Our employees have different cultural backgrounds and Montréal offers them a particularly welcoming multicultural environment.”

David Howman, Director General, WADA

Support from Montréal International

For many IOs before you, setting up or expanding their operations in Greater Montréal proved to be a strategic decision. And a smart choice too—thanks in part to Montréal International, who guided and supported them BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the process.

Financial Support

IOs choosing to set up their headquarters or a regional office in Montréal or wishing to expand their operations in the area could be eligible for financial support through FODIM. To qualify, organizations must meet a number of criteria, including:

  • Providing proof of funding, with 50% of funds derived from non-Canadian sources
  • Committing to creating at least five permanent full-time jobs
  • Developing a new program (for IOs already established in Montréal)

Network Access

  • Targeted profile-building activities with government organizations, institutions and academic and business communities.

Strategic Advice

  • Assistance with finding and assessing potential sites, recruiting, setting up and getting started.

International Mobility

  • Tailor-made, free and confidential international mobility services and help in hiring skilled international workers.

Long-Term Support

  • Legal and statutory information
  • Long-term support
  • Support in your efforts to grow and gain exposure for your organization
  • Problem-solving assistance

What the Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade Has to Say

“Montréal International played a key role in helping our organization set up and expand its operations in Montréal. MI’s experts have been extremely helpful—and thanks to them, our move to this vibrant city went quickly and smoothly. We felt at home right away and were able to quickly build working relationships with other local and international organizations.”

Noemi Pérez, President and CEO, Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST)

1 GlobeScan for BBC World Service, 2013
2 Migrant Integration Policy Index, 2011
3 Human Development Report, United Nations, 2011
4 Times Higher Education, 2012-2013
5 New York Times, 2001
6 NewNowNext Travel Awards, 2011
7 UNESCO, since 2006
8 Copenhagenize, 2011
9 Lonely Planet, 2011
10 Union of International Associations – UIA, 2012
11 Siemens Green City Index, 2011

Find out more:

– The list of international organizations based in Montréal
 Information about setting up your organization in Montréal 

To learn more

  • Montréal Welcomes International Organizations
  • Attractiveness Indicators for International Organizations