Saguenay is a somewhat isolated northern Quebec town known for its tasty blueberries, friendly people and strong hydroelectric industry. In
2002, Chicoutimi, Jonquière, La Baie and Laterrière were combined into this expansive rural city where industry and nature are beautifully juxtaposed.
Are you considering a move to Saguenay? This guide will help you make that decision.
Saguenay experiences a large range of temperatures throughout the course of a year. Summers are warm but rarely hot, with average highs hovering around 24 degrees Celsius. Winters, however, are very harsh. The average low in January is -6 degrees and there is substantial snowfall between October and April. Temperatures can routinely drop under -30 degrees, so you definitely need to bundle up if you’re in a Saguenay winter.
Saguenay became the expansive city it is today when Chicoutimi, Jonquière, La Baie and Laterrière were amalgamated in 2002. These former cities are now Saguenay’s boroughs. Chicoutimi is the central borough, and contains the majority of the city’s population. These boroughs still act indepedently of each other since they remain in separate electoral districts.
Saguenay has a variety of neighbourhoods, but you may not find a lot of diversity. The city is within Canada’s most homogenous Census Metropolitan Area due to its isolation in the wilderness. There are not many roads connected to Saguenay and almost no cities north of the area.
About 98 percent of the population speaks French as their first language. Less than one percent of Saguenay can speak English, so you are practically required to understand French to spend any length of time there. Even those who speak French may have some difficulty understanding people from certain Saguenay neighbourhoods. Residents are known to have a thick accent and use several local idioms that are not used outside of the city. Luckily, the populace also has a reputation for friendliness, so they'll be glad to explain strange phrases to you.
Registering Your Car in Saguenay
Saguenay is located in the province of Quebec, so if you are moving into the city, you may need to register your car with the provincial government. You will likely need to bring your current registration, insurance card, license and a credit card to the correct government office. Find out how and where to do so at SAAQ’s vehicle registration page
Saguenay is a pretty expansive city, so you can’t simply walk everywhere. Luckily, the Transport STS provides the city with public bus transportation, even accommodating disable passengers with door-to door bus service.
Bagotville Airport allows travellers to enter and exit Saguenay via air, but it is not an international airport. If you need to get in or out of Canada, the nearest international airport is in Quebec City, 200 kilometres away.
Saguenay is located on the eponymous river, so it is considered a port city. Cargo ships do use the port, but it largely is for tourism in today’s economy. Many cruises make stops at its La Baie pier each year.
The few English-speaking students in Saguenay attend the Riverside Regional School, which is administered by the Central Quebec School Board. Meanwhile, the School Board of Jonquière and the School Board of Rives-du-Saguenay run over 45 public elementary and secondary schools for the city’s francophone children.
Saguenay post-secondary institutions include:
- The Cégep de Jonquière: A technical college that specializes in art programs.
- The Cégep de Chicoutimi: A technical college that instructs students how to pilot aircraft.
- University of Quebec at Chicoutimi: Saguenay’s only university--it has roughly 6,500 enrolled students.
Saguenay’s economy is characterized by its use of its natural resources and a willingness to explore new technology and ideas. The city uses the Saguenay River’s hydroelectric power to operate aluminum smelters, and power plants. Saguenay’s three industrial parks also house various energy, biomedical, genomics and forest research businesses.
Despite its strong industrial sector, Saguenay remains a rural city. Agriculture is another important part of Saguenay’s economy. Dairy products, grain, meat and the city’ famous blueberries are all produced and sold in the city’s agricultural sector.
The tourism industry is another area where prospective Saguenay residents can find employment opportunities. As more cruise ships stop at Saguenay’s piers, more entertainment business will spring up to keep them in the city.
Saguenay’s Cost of Living
Saguenay’s cost of living is very low because it has some of the lowest rent prices in the province. The average price of a home is only $190,000 and the typical monthly rent for a two-bedroom Saguenay apartment is just $570. If you just a need a one-bedroom apartment located outside of the city centre, you could see monthly rents lower than $400.
Saguenay’s other living expenses such as transportation, utilities and groceries are also relatively low. Just remember that the city is quite spread out, so budget more for gas or public transportation than when living in a condensed city.
Saguenay Culture and Contemporary Life
Saguenay’s combination of urban culture and natural beauty makes it a big draw for tourists and a nice place to live for residents. The city’s varied festivals and attractions are sure to entertain most anyone.
A trip down Saint Dominique Street should satisfy those looking for bars and clubs. This road is the party-centre of the city. You can also expect to find interesting shops and restaurants on Saint Dominique.
Outside of the city centre, Saguenay puts its long snowy winters to good use by featuring many ski resorts. The area’s most well-known ski mountains include Mont Édouard, Mont Lac-Vert, Mont Fortin and Le Valinouet, but there are many more.
In addition to the snowy mountains, the wilderness that surrounds the city is part of its appeal. Monts Valin National Park is one of the most popular natural locations in the area. You can go camping, rent a chalet, snowshoe in the winter or fish in the summer.
The La Pulperie regional museum is a great example of Saguenay’s history combined with its modern art culture. Built in 1896, this Chicoutimi building was a historic pulp mill, but is now a museum that permanently exhibits the history of the mill and the artistic works of Arthur Villeneuve.
Saguenay hosts several seasonal festivals, but none are quite as unique as the Festival du Bleuet. This event technically takes place in the neighbouring city of Dolbeau-Mistassini, but its celebration of the region’s famous blueberries draws visitors from much farther away than just Saguenay. This festival’s carnival-like atmosphere is perfect for blueberry-loving families.
Saguenay Moving Resources
If you have decided that Saguenay is right for you, you’re going to need some help--and that’s where Topmoving.ca comes in. Our database of moving companies in the Saguenay area (listed as in the Chicoutimi area) is filled with companies to help you with all your moving needs. Don’t just go with the first quote you get--compare at least three estimates from different companies to get the best price for your move.
Saguenay Relocation Tips
- Learning French before moving to Saguenay will make life much easier on you. The region has one of the smallest English-speaking populations in Canada.
- If you need to travel using an international airport, remember to allot extra time for a 200 kilometre drive to or from Quebec City.
- Saguenay winters are very harsh, so pack heavy clothing and budget for extra heating expenses in the winter.
- Ville Saguenay: The city's official website.
- Numbeo-Saguenay: Look at the city's average living expenses as reported by multiple residents.
- SAAQ-Vehicle Registration: Find out where and how to register your car in Quebec on this government website.
- Local.ca: This web resource allows you to see all the local Saguenay news stories in English.
- Festival du Bleuet: Check out what this unique regional blueberry festival has to offer.