Moving to a foreign country – especially when you have no community ties or don’t know anyone – can be very stressful. There is lots of preparation to do, and also a lot of little things that aren’t necessarily obvious to newcomers. In this guide, we discuss three things that will make your move to Canada a little easier.
Are you coming from a country where it’s hot and humid all the time? One of the things a lot of newcomers aren’t truly prepared for is the Canadian winter. In some places it can get as cold as -25 degrees celsius in the middle of winter!
It’s crucial to come prepared or be prepared to buy clothes that are warm enough, depending on which city you’ll be living in. A good tip is to arrive in the summer and gradually prepare yourself for the colder weather. Canada has many beautiful locations in the summer and fall that allow you to experience the country, without the shock of the cold.
There are also some cities in Canada that are more car-friendly while others have public transportation. It’s a good idea to have an understanding of what each city has to offer. If you are a social person and love the hustle of the city, moving to a smaller town may not be a good idea. Same with nature lovers moving into a big city.
Consider an exploratory trip to the place you’re planning on moving to in Canada before starting the whole immigration process. It will give you a better idea of how much things cost, and whether or not it best reflects the place you’re looking to live permanently.
So you’ve chosen a city to live in – congratulations! Now comes the tricky part, especially if you’re out of the country. Finding a permanent residence (apartment, home, etc.) is important because there are some things that require a permanent address before you can access them (like getting a Provincial Health Insurance Card). If you don’t have a health insurance card, you will be required to pay out of pocket for going to the doctor and medicine.
If you are unable to find a place of permanent residence, then make sure you save up for unexpected costs such as visits to the doctor, medication, etc., until you find a permanent place to live so you can get your health insurance card.
Once you find a place that’s close to where you’re working, and is within your budget, look at the requirements. A lot of newcomers are surprised when Canadian landlords ask for “first and last months rent”, which is the equivalent of two month’s rent upfront. Make sure that you have enough money to afford the deposit, along with any other costs.
Some landlords ask for things like a credit history or references, which is difficult for newcomers who are just getting started. It may be tough at first but there are landlords who are more flexible and don’t need such requirements. These are questions that you should ask them before getting invested in a potential place to live.
Then there is the issue of Hydro. In Canada, the monthly cost of electricity is not always included in the monthly rent so it’s important to open an account with the provincial Hydro authority to make payments.
Stuck on where to look for a place? Websites like CraigsList, Kijiji, Padmapper or even some local Facebook groups (Visto’s for example – which you can join for free if you sign up here) are great places to ask and see what’s available.
Once you’ve chosen a city, found a place, and are officially in Canada (hurray!), it’s time for the bureaucratic stuff: Opening up accounts and getting connected.
A Canadian phone number is crucial to communicating with potential employers, landlords, and even as a way to have data on the go (especially if you get lost because geolocation apps are amazing). This is why it’s important to have a Canadian number within the first few days of your arrival to Canada.
SIN is short for a Social Insurance Number. This 9-digit number is what allows you to work in Canada. Applying for a SIN isn’t difficult, but it may take some time depending on how long the lines are at your nearest Service Canada.
Lastly, opening up a bank account should be done within your first week. It will allow you to get a debit card, put funds in the account, build credit and make purchases much easier. It’s also important for employers, because many of them pay salaries via direct deposits bi-weekly. Canada has a diverse range of banks and Visto can help you to see which ones would suit you best.
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