This is a guest post from good friend and recent immigrant Jaafar Jabbar (see below for his full profile), after recently immigrating to Canada in late 2019!
Moving to a new country is always a hard task. You are leaving everything and everyone you’ve ever known and moving to a new place, with new people and challenges. Each year, thousands of people from across the world move to Canada in hopes of calling it their home and last year in December, I made a similar journey. Looking back at the short time I have been in this awesome country, I thought I’d list down 5 things any new comer should be aware off.
Canada is COLD. Yes. We all know that, but it’s not just the cold, it’s the wind, the snow, the lack of sun and the lack of mobility one faces when first moving here that gets to you bad [for the record, Jaafar moved to Toronto, Ontario]. The initial days are easy since you’re still coming off the high of recently having landed, but as the days go by, your motivation and willpower starts to deplete. Know that this is natural and be aware of it.
Winter clothes here are not very cheap, though I wouldn’t call them very expensive either. However, if you can buy a few decent jackets and inner thermal wear from back home before making the move, that would be best. Things I wouldn’t advise to buy before making the move are as follows: socks, gloves, face covering and snow boots. These are readily available at your nearest Walmart and are not at all expensive.
The Immigration website gives you a minimum fund requirement before making the move, but it is just that – a minimum requirement. It takes a few tries before you figure out the cheaper alternatives and money starts dropping fast – real fast – at first.
Whatever amount of funds you have, always keep more as a backup, ideally 7-10k additional because finding a job here is tough and takes time. If you are alone, it’s easier, but if you’re moving here with family, money can be a real problem if you don’t have friends and family supporting you.
The biggest expenses I’ve come across have been the following: rent, commuting and food (though the latter two are easily manageable). For cheap commuting use a Presto card [for public transit in Toronto] and use express pool when using an Uber. For food remember that making your own food at home is much cheaper than ordering in or eating out.
Goes without saying that the more people you get to know, the better. I had always seen the internet memes praising how nice Canadians are, but honestly, they are even nicer. If you’re confused, lost, or unsure about something, ask. I’ve yet to come across someone that didn’t stop and give me suggestions, feedback and overall words of advice.
One of the biggest trends I’ve noticed is immigrants sticking to people from their own cultural background and I feel that is detrimental to really connecting with people from all walks of life in Canada. Smile and approach people – I’ve made amazing connections with people I’ve interacted with for barely a few minutes and they really went out of their way to assist me. Websites like meetup.com are also very helpful, so signup for an event nearby and start making new friends.
Scams in this country come in all shapes and sizes and tend to focus on new immigrants because of their lack of awareness of such practices. Always be aware. NEVER give out your SIN number.
No, the Government isn’t after you to take your money nor is there is an arrest warrant out for your arrest. Any job that asks you to pay is a scam. This link covers most of the ones I’ve come across so far pretty well.
Make sure to use common sense whenever you are interacting with people/phone calls you are not sure about. I would also advise downloading Truecaller since most scam numbers are easily identified by that automatically.
I was attending a new immigrants seminar where I got to sit with one of the speakers for a short while and the one thing she said which stuck with me was that new immigrants take their health for granted because they are at their healthiest when they land and they think they’ll remain that way.
This weather beats down your immune system pretty fast and I had to learn this the hard way. Always eat healthy – I know eating junk/unhealthy food seems so easy, but trust me, you’ll need your health. Buy Vitamin D pills to keep your vitals up since the lack of sun can effect your system. Always be properly covered when going out and avoid staying out for long without any significant activity.
Just like anything new in life, try out different things and keep experimenting. Do not be afraid to make mistakes and eventually you will get a hang of things and will be on the other side of things, advising others.
It’s just a matter of time, persistence and a bit of luck.
This is a guest post kindly written by Jaafar Jabbar, a recent immigrant to Canada and a recruitment and HR professional with over 5 years’ experience, and a track record in driving growth through innovation and customer engagement. His skill sets include executive search, recruitment, training and development, P2P sales, client and stakeholder management and customer satisfaction and retention.