Before you leave for Canada
I have talked about some of the small pointers that can really make your life easier when you get here. Get yourself out of the comfort zone and don't be afraid to try some new things. You are moving to a new continent after all.
Making a Smooth Landing
Making sure your arrival isn’t a mess is down to you being organised. Try to cover as much as possible before you leave. Here's some pointers to get the ball rolling.
AirBnB – This is the easiest and in many ways the most suitable place to start off here in Canada. You could always go to a hostel but let’s be honest nobody wants to sleep in a room with 11 strangers on your first night here. You could also try scrolling the Facebook groups, sometimes people have cheap short stay rooms on offer.
Uber vs TTC – Uber is a game changer, you can get around quickly and easily with it, I will note that it adds up. We used it far too often when we first got here but that’s mainly down to the fact we didn’t know the transfer rules for the TTC. You can pretty much get anywhere in Toronto quickly for $3 on the TTC however if your using Uber at busy times it can be up to three times the price. Check out Lyft too (Ubers competitor), they can be cheaper from time to time.
Phone and Bank – This is a very common question that people have and rightly so. Get ready to bend over because the phone and banking charges are going to….. I’m currently paying $40 for 2.5GB of internet with Chatr and that’s actually on the cheaper side of the offers. CIBC offer 1 year of free banking, but the T&C’s can catch you so make sure to ask the conditions when signing up. Also, don’t forget to add 13.5% of tax to everything when your comparing prices, including what I said I was paying.
There’s an App for that – We found a number of apps to make life easier when you first move over here.
- SplitWise – This is great for when you’re coming over with someone else. Throw in your expenses and it keeps a balance of who owes what.
- MINT – This is for savings and tracking your spending, it does the budgeting for you and automatically loads the transactions.
- Fast food apps – Self-explanatory, some of these are UberEats, Justeat and individual apps such as McDonalds and Dominos.
- Presto app – this is easy for checking your balance and loading money or passes
- ZipCar – For renting a car when collecting things like furniture from Ikea
- TransferWise – You’ve heard my sales pitch on this one
Find a sport or society – Canada being the diverse place that is means there is something for everyone. Don’t be afraid to contact some clubs, they may prove to be more helpful than you think. I joined the Buccaneers rugby club as soon as I got here, they’ve been great at helping me out so far. Collecting furniture, planning trips, weekends away and just general fitness is great thing to have. Meetup is a great place for this, there's a fit for everyone from social events to learning how to code.
Finding a House and making some Money
Try to land a Job first - I would recommend this being a priority when you first get here. This is because you don’t know where you’ll be working. You could have the perfect place to live but it sucks to have to make the long to commute to work every day. Your plan can adjust for this e.g. look for you ideal job for 3 weeks, failing that take up a part time job (any shop, bar or restaurant is hiring…always) this can make sure you don’t have to worry about those savings washing away.
Everyone is going to have different methods for jobs. I work in business, so I cleaned up my LinkedIn before I left and applied to a couple of places to get a feel for what was out there. It took me two weeks to get a job here, by no means is that the usual. I had planned on it taking up to 2 months to get a job and I was going to find a part-time job after the first month. If you’re looking for waitressing/bar work the approach seems to be walk in with an Irish accent and the job is yours. With labouring, you will most likely get a job by mentioning it to someone when you arrive. Be picky and make sure you negotiate your pay, between mandatory pension payments, tax and exchange rates there’s lots to consider.
Housing - We chose to make sure we were on the subway line. The street cars can be overcrowded in the morning and standing the -15 or +40 waiting in the mornings doesn’t sound ideal. The subway is consistent and fast but this is just my preference.
Landing the lease – It’s important to be ready to take the place if you like it. Make sure you have the deposit in a Canadian account (First and Lasts) ready to go. There will be some cases where you need a credit score to rent a property but tough luck, you’ll have none. The solution to this can sometimes be first, last and second months rent upfront.
Furnishing your new place – There seems to be a tradition here to leave unwanted furniture outside houses, we landed our coffee table and TV stand just a few doors down. You might laugh at this but the bill for new furniture can add up and the condition is usually great. We used Walmart to buy the standard stuff, if you look into it they usually deliver which can save you carrying a bed home. Kijiji and Bunz are also great places to find some second-hand items to save some cash.
Enjoy the Move!!
If you have any questions I'm happy to help in anyway possible.