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#New2MTL: Choosing the 'good life'

01/06/2015 06:00 EST | Updated 03/08/2015 05:59 EDT
Brandon Wang is only 25, but he's already worked for some of the biggest technology companies in the world, including Amazon, Nvidia and Microsoft.

Last August, Wang decided he needed a change. Silicon Valley was burning him out.

On a trip to Montreal, he met Janet Kar and together, they founded Janbr, an exercise-based start-up. Wang moved to Montreal and hasn't looked back. 

"Every city has its message to the world. New York City says power and money and all that. Montreal is very much about living a good life," says Wang. 

Every day this week, CBC's Daybreak will introduce you to a Montrealer who packed up their life and moved across borders.

They came for a variety of reasons — for better education for their children, to live in a safer environment, to find a job, to join Montreal’s booming start-up scene and to take advantage of the city's growing services, like the Bixi bike-share system.

The number of newcomers choosing Quebec has slowed over the past few years. The latest figures from the Quebec Statistics Institute show the province welcomed 3,000 fewer immigrants in 2013 than it did the year before.

But those who are coming are largely young, highly educated, eager to work, and most of them settling in Montreal, Laval and Longueuil.

Listen to CBC Daybreak at 7:15 a.m. each day this week for stories from new Montrealers. Tune in on 88.5 FM/104.7 FM in the west end or online here.

Wang's start-up, Janbr, allows Montrealers to purchase admission to classes at a variety of gyms and studios without being a member of each facility. Wang says the start-up is inspired by his own journey to fitness and desire to share it with others.

"I used to be overweight when I was younger, and underachieving in school," he said.

"But then I was exposed to martial arts, and I met great people. My grades went up by 20 per cent, and it was the beginning of a new me, a new rebirth. I want to share that with others."

 Wang says Montreal's relaxed atmosphere has made running his business easier.

"How hard you can work is a function of your mental condition, your friends, your time off," he said. 

"And if your time off is really good, you can actually put many more hours into your business, and that's really worked for us."

Wang, who originally hails from Richmond Hill, Ont., hasn't started learning French yet. But he said making friends in Montreal has been easy, despite the language barrier. 

"I think people are just laid back. They're relaxed, and they don't necessarily have an agenda." 

#New2MTL

Follow our series on CBC Daybreak and on CBC.ca/Montreal and share your advice for newcomers to the city on social media with the hashtag #New2MTL.

We'll gather the best responses and feature them in our coverage. 

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