10 tips to help you move to Canada

By WerkaH, 23 November, 2015


If you're planning to make a big move to Canada, this post is for you. You're probably asking yourself a million questions about your new destination. Don't worry – this comprehensive article will give you a detailed overview of all that makes up for the Canadian lifestyle. Here are 10 tips that will help you make our move to Canada an amazing adventure.


1. Which city to choose


Your choice of the city will depend on your preferences and professional opportunities you'll find in each location. Vancouver offers excellent quality of life, but if you prefer a more urban city, better head to Toronto. Toronto is a great place to live, unless extreme weather conditions bother you – temperatures get here from -20°C in winter to +40°C in the summer.


Saskatchewan is a vast province with lots of natural beauty and the locals simply love sports. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada and it's French-speaking. This might make your visa application slightly more complicated – proficiency in spoken and written French is required. It's considered a bit cheaper than other metropolias. Finally, Calgary is another interesting spot to consider – it's a truly multinational city set among some beautiful mountains.


2. Housing market in Canada


If you still haven't decided on a province or city, have a look at the website of the state-run Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (http://cmhc.ca/). The vast majority of newcomers start by renting a property. Those are usually rented by calendar month – it's best to arrive at the end of the month rather than at its beginning. Almost all rental properties in Canada are unfurnished, so expect it to add a substantial amount to your start-up costs.


If you're targeting big cities, it's a good idea to wait until you're set up with a job before choosing a neighborhood. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Toronto is 1,213 Canadian dollars per month, but similar units in the downtown area can be much pricier. In Vancouver average rents for a two-bed are similar – 1,281 Canadian dollars in the greater city area. They are, however, almost 50% higher in the center of the city.


If you're interested in buying a property, have a look at this house market outlook for 2014 and 2015. (http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/nero/nere/2012/2012-02-13-0815.cfm) The average price of Canadian homes sold in August was 398,618 Canadian dollars.


3. Finding a job


Be aware that researching, looking for and applying for jobs in Canada can be a lengthy process. It might be way longer that what you're used to. Prepare yourself for the possibility that you'll be without a job for months.


Make sure to bring enough funds to make it through this period and consider a short-term job which isn't exactly part of your career. Research the local job market and talk to recruiters to learn what are the general expectations of professionals in your sector. Make sure to start networking with professionals from your industry before you set foot in Canada. Adapt your resume and be proactive – your enthusiasm will help you to land a great job.


4. Taxes in Canada


Canada’s decentralized federal system results in taxes being levied at multiple levels – that's something many foreigners find confusing. Income taxes are collected by both the federal and provincial governments.


Have a look at the web to find smart tax calculators to see how much you will end up paying in your province. When negotiating an employment opportunity, take this percentage into account and carefully review the gross and net income.


Depending on your status and terms of employment, you might be entitled to a tax refund at the end of the fiscal year. Usually referring to a local taxing institution will give you enough information on that – Canadian tax offices are well-prepared to share information.


You might normally never think twice about sales taxes, but here they vary between the provinces, from 5% in Alberta to a smashing 14.975% in Quebec! Moreover, they're added at the point of sale and aren't displayed on the price tag.


5. Canadian healthcare


Canada has a publicly-funded healthcare system, which is free at the point of use and has most of its services provided by private entities. Even though it's paid with federal funds, healthcare is administered by the provinces. All you need is a health card issued by the Provincial Ministry of Health once you enroll for the program. Everyone receives here the same level of care.


How do you know whether you're entitled to a health card? It depends on the type of visa in your hand upon arrival in Canada. If you're still unsure about Canadian healthcare, have a look at Health Canada website and its comprehensive FAQ section. (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/medi-assur/faq-eng.php)


6. Costs of living in Canada


This piece of information is something you should know when choosing your province or city. Researching costs of living before moving to Canada is crucial. Both Toronto and Vancouver, and especially their downtown areas, are relatively expensive. Northern Alberta town of Fort McMurray is booming as well. But most often high salaries can compensate for this.


Rent-controlled Montreal has low property values and generally low rent – but it also offers lower salaries. Here's a website to help you compare the costs of living between Canadian cities and towns. (http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Canada)


7. Driving in Canada


Sometimes examinations you've completed in your home country might not be valid in Canada. Other times, they might require paperwork to be converted. Driving licenses can be problematic – here are two reasons why.


First, licenses are given the provinces, not the federal government. And you can expect individual provinces to have their own rules and testing procedures. Second, different countries around the world have different agreements with these provinces.


Consider the province of Ontario. Countries like the United States, Australia, France and Korea, have an agreement with Ontario which means that licensed drivers don't need to go through the regular process for obtaining a license. But many countries don't!


8. Cultural details


When in Canada, you should strive to behave like other Canadians. It's illegal to smoke in public places ranging from restaurants and stores to offices and hospitals, including public or shared areas of apartment buildings and rental complexes.


How about tipping? Workers in the service and hospitality sectors generally earn minimum wage. Depending on the province, that's more or less $10 per hour on the expectation that they will earn tips to compensate. That's why tipping is the norm here – the standard tip is 15% of the bill or a dollar per drink.


9. Weather – what to expect?


If you're curious about the Canadian weather, you're in the right place. Unless you're living on the BC coast or certain parts of Southern Ontario, you're guaranteed to experience cold winters and hot summers with some short transitional seasons in between.


If you're used to a mild or warm climate, the cold of a Canadian winter can be shocking. -25°C does seem extreme, but fear not – if you wear appropriate clothing and adopt the right attitude, you'll survive.


10. Multiculturalism – what to know?


Multiculturalism is central to national policy here – note that many members of Canadian Parliament were born abroad. You'll encounter many different languages, religions and cultures in any major city and even rural communities. Just because you're moving to Canada doesn't mean that you'll need to leave your culture or values behind. But you should have an open mind to be able to adjust and be successful.


Moving to Canada can become a life-chaning adventure, so use these tips and you'll be sure to make the first few months at your new home truly enjoyable and stress-free.


About the author: Werka Hol moved to Canada a few years ago and is fascinated by this country. She works as a Marketing Specialist for Honeybells company. She combines her passion for Canada and digital marketing with her love for writing.