Moving to Canada is a bold decision. It can be an exciting, yet daunting process! Based on our experience of living in Canada, we have put together some tips to help you with this process. Below are the top 10 things we wish we knew before arriving in Canada:
1. International Driver’s License
Before you leave your home country, apply for an international driver’s license. With an international driver’s license, you will be able to drive in Canada for up to 1 year. If you choose to convert your foreign license into a Canadian license, it will give you more time to get yourself organized. In order to get a full Class 5 driver’s licence, you will need to prove your driver’s history. It might be a good idea to get this document before you arrive in Canada. If you are from non-English speaking countries, get your license translated. For more info on how to convert your driver’s license see here.
2. Car Insurance And Driver’s History
If you buy a car, it is a legal requirement to get car insurance. If you can’t prove your car insurance history, you will be registered as a new driver. Car insurance policy for a new driver is significantly more expensive than insurance for an experienced driver, especially if you have a clean record.
3. Transferring Funds From Overseas
If you are transferring funds from your home currency into Canadian dollars, it is best to utilize a platform like Transferwise for this process. Many traditional banks will rip you off by charging exuberant fees (3-6%) to handle your international currency exchange and transfers. A solution like Transferwise charges a small flat fee and offers the Google spot exchange rate. This makes a significant difference in saving. The more you intend to transfer, the more you’ll save!
4. Job Hunting
Resuming your professional career in Canada might not be as easy as you expect. Be prepared to start from scratch. It may be difficult to have your previous qualifications and credentials recognized. Some employers might request for previous job references to support your application. It is easier to prepare these references in person before leaving for Canada. Gather as many references as you can. You never know when you might need them. If you have your previous job references, it can increase your chances to get hired.
5. Credit Score
Even if you are not a big fan of credit, it can work to your advantage to build up your credit score in Canada. You might decide a year into your visit that you would like to settle in Canada and buy a home for you and your family. If you apply for a credit card when you arrive then you will have more time to build your credit history. This may come in handy, should you ever need it while living in Canada. Make sure to always cover your credit on time to avoid unnecessary penalties.
6. Accommodation References
If you are looking to take out a rental lease, you may be required to provide reference letters from previous landlords. It’s always easiest to arrange this before arriving in Canada. Our suggestion is to book an Airbnb for 2 weeks upon arrival in Canada. This way you will be able to seek out long term rental options and you will be able to visit them in person before you commit to anything. Be sure to have some references from previous landlords ready just in case you need them.
7. Health Care
Health care in Canada is funded by the government. Even if you are only a temporary resident or temporary worker, you are still eligible to apply for provincial healthcare. Bear in mind that not all health care expenses are covered by the government but the majority are. Dental care generally isn’t though. Your employer might also provide additional coverage. In any case, the Canadian health care system rocks!
8. Banking Fees
Banking fees in Canada can be significantly higher compared to many other countries in the world. The good news is that there are affordable banking solutions for newcomers available as well as zero-fee online banking alternatives. See our free banking guide here.
When you fill-up your Canadian visa application, make sure to include your common-law partner in your family history section. This is important, in case you want to immigrate to Canada with your partner and only one of you attains permanent residency. If this happens, then the other partner can still apply for Canadian residency as a common-law partner. Having this indicated on your application right from the get-go makes it easier to prove that you are in a relationship down the line if need be.
Living in Canada has a lot to offer. We spent our first year in Canada on a working holiday where we were able to explore the country. The longer we stayed, the more Canada grew on us. (I bet we aren’t the only ones who feel that way!) We hope that after reading our ‘Top 10 things we wish we knew before arriving in Canada’, you will be better prepared to transition into life in Canada. If you have any further questions about living in Canada, feel free to leave a comment below or send an email through our contact form.
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