Tips for newcomers to Canada
Finding a home:
When you first land, you will probably want to rent for at least a little while to get a sense of where you would be happy to make your life before making a big investment like a house. Make sure you understand the rights and responsibilities that landlords have when renting out a space. Different provinces and municipalities have different laws, so check the specifics for the city or town you plan on settling into. Don’t count on your landlord to brief you, as unscrupulous landlords may try and bend the rules if you don’t know your rights as a tenant.
When looking for accommodation, try and find a location with nearby services to help you get settled. If you are bringing family members who don’t speak English or French, finding a community who speaks their language would ease the transition and counter loneliness and homesickness. There are lots of multilingual services for newcomers, especially in large, multicultural cities like Toronto or Montreal.
If you plan on purchasing property before long, see if you can rent near where you think you would want to live, giving yourself an opportunity to test out the area and see if it is actually what you are looking for.
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The climate varies significantly, depending on where you have your sights set on. Atlantic Canada has totally different weather than Vancouver, and Toronto doesn’t have much in common with the Prairies or North. In most locales, an investment in a warm winter parka will definitely be well worth it (Vancouver residents may prefer to invest in some solid rain gear and layers). In our snowy cities, salted roads and sidewalks are a fact of life in the winter. If you haven’t bought some quality winter boots, make sure you at least have a pair of galoshes or shoes that you don’t mind ruining, as few shoes make it through the winter unscathed.
With the exception of those with a particular job in mind (or already lined up) in a small community, most immigrants start out in bigger cities where there are typically more opportunities.
Depending on your field and country of origin, your credentials may or may not be recognized in Canada. If your experience is recognized, start trying to create a network of contacts that could help you get a job, and be prepared that you may still have to take a job a little more junior than you hoped just to get experience and contacts in a new country.
If your credentials are not recognized, look into any programs that would either help you convert your existing certifications into Canadian ones, or courses that would enable you to get them again from scratch. Be prepared, the job market might be difficult, and you may have to take a position that is not what you expected. Be sure to educate yourself about employment law and the rights that you have so you don’t get taken advantage of.
Setting up house:
Stick to furniture that will be easy to move if you have settled into a place temporarily – this means lightweight, compact and versatile. Pieces that can be used in different ways to accommodate different sized spaces are ideal, as no one wants to have to keep buying new furniture with every move. If you are short of cash when you arrive, check out the free stuff section to find everything you need at first.
Introduce yourself to your neighbours! Canadians are a friendly bunch, and you are sure to find a few who are happy to show you around the area and help you get settled.