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Moving to Canada: useful tips and tricks

Canada landscape.

Canada is known worldwide as a beautiful country with amazing natural landscapes. This is one of the many pulling points that the country has to offer. Perhaps even more importantly, Canada is a great option for life if you are looking for a safe, diverse culture to raise a family and further your career. For those considering moving to Canada, there are a few helpful tips and tricks that will help ensure your move goes smoothly, efficiently, and is hassle-free.

First things first – Choosing a place that is right for you

Before you make your move to Canada, you will need to decide where exactly you wish to live. Living as an immigrant often seems like a scary proposition, but it does not have to be. If you inform yourself well regarding the things you need to know about living as an ex-pat, you should be able to adapt to your new home in no time.

Because Canada is such a large country, picking the right place might seem like a daunting task. Still, to be perfectly honest, whichever city you choose, you won’t regret it. Recent studies analyzing factors such as the environment, healthcare, educational systems, infrastructure, and overall stability placed three of Canada’s major cities amongst the top ten in the world. Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary all have a lot to offer.

Ontario is home to the largest percentage of Canadians in comparison to its other provinces. Approximately 38,5 % of Canadians live in Ontario, be it in Toronto or one of the other cities in the province. It is known for its harsh climate, but the good news is that a vast majority of the major cities are located in the south of the province near the great lakes. These lakes regulate the local climate and the harsh winters are more common in the northern part of the province.

The Toronto skyline as seen from a boat.
Toronto is one of the most popular cities in Ontario and offers a variety of opportunities to newcomers.

No matter what the reason for your move is, be it career-driven or whether you are simply looking for a change of scenery, Ontario is a great place to start over. It offers a very diverse economy, plenty of parks, a safe environment, good supporting infrastructure, and a relaxed lifestyle.

Things you need to know before moving to Canada

Health care is free – or is it?

Public healthcare is available for free to Canadian citizens and those with permanent residence in Canada. If you are looking to become a permanent resident there, you will need to know how to find a job in Canada.  However, even after you register as a Canadian resident, you will have to wait at least three months before your healthcare benefits kick in. This means that you should make sure you are covered by different healthcare insurance for the period until you have the right to free public healthcare. Once you receive your healthcare card and the benefits that come along with it, you will be able to visit and consult with a doctor for free. However, if you require medication such as antibiotics, you will need to pay for these at the pharmacy. Also, temporary residents are not entitled to free public healthcare.

You should also know that dental care is not publicly funded in most cases, and it is not cheap.

Prices – things arent always as they seem

Life in Canada is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Everything from dining at a restaurant to buying a property can be rather expensive. One of the biggest problems people who move to Canada experience is related to the price tags. Most price tags in Canada do not include the sales tax. This means you will need to brush up on your maths skills to calculate the real cost of items in your head.

Various groceries and a long receipt for them.
Sales tax is usually not included in the price displayed on items in stores in Canada. This often comes as a surprise to new residents and is something you should be aware of before moving to Canada.

Locals have become quite good at this, but for newcomers, it can be quite a problem. Getting a bill higher than what you expected is never a pleasant experience. So, make sure you are well informed about the applicable taxes before you decide on buying something.

Tipping your hat is not enough-show them the money

We all come from different cultures. In some of them, tipping is customary, while in others, it is not. In Canada, tipping is not only the norm, it is expected. The typical tipping percentage is around 15% of the total bill, with a higher percentage deemed appropriate for high-quality service. It is important to keep in mind that waiters and bartenders depend on tips for their livelihood.

Of course, “please” and “thank you” are welcome and expected, but they won’t be enough to keep your server happy.

Say what? – Learn the lingo

People often accuse Canadians of being difficult to understand when speaking English, and there is a reason for this. There are several phrases that one can only hear in Canada. Until you familiarize yourself with them, you might have a tough time understanding your new friends and colleagues. Asking for an explanation and an introductory lesson to Canadian slang from one of your friends is probably a good idea. Getting used to a new culture is often overwhelming. Still, with the help of people who have lived through the process and tips for integrating into new countries, it will become a lot easier.

A girl holding a dictionary, trying to figure out what certain words mean.
Learn the local lingo; it will make integrating into the community a lot easier. Try getting help from a local as this will speed up the entire process.

Say “please”, “sorry”, “thank you” and “excuse me”

The first stereotype that comes to mind when one thinks about Canada and Canadians is their politeness. There is a good reason for this – it is a fact! Canadians are probably amongst the most polite people on the planet. Phrases such as “please” and “thank you” are the norm and are not interpreted as an attempt at being friendly. They are a sign of respect and equality.

Don’t forget to use these phrases regularly if you wish to avoid being frowned upon.

Make your move

Moving to Canada is the right choice, that is for sure. You should consider the timing of your move, though. You will need to pack your belongings, transport them to Canada and collect them once they arrive. If you are working on a tight budget or are looking to save a bit of money on your move doing this in the cold months is not a bad idea as moving is cheaper in the offseason.

The list above serves to help you get used to and adapt to life in Canada as quickly as possible. There are many more things to learn about this beautiful country, too many to fit into one text.

Whether you plan on moving on your own or with your family, Canada is a warm and welcoming country. It has plenty to offer to everyone who arrives with an open heart and mind.

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