Moving to Canada? What you need to know for a smooth transition

Moving to Canada? What you need to know for a smooth transition

Published on June 28th, 2022 at 02:04pm EDT
Updated on June 28th, 2022 at 02:05pm EDT


Canada is a beautiful and safe country — one that embraces newcomers from all over the world.

While relocating to a new country can be very exciting, there is also a lot to do in preparation and once you arrive. To make the transition as smooth as possible, consider the following tips.

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1) Prepare to work in Canada

To start your job search, you can register with the Government of Canada Job Bank. You can use the Job Bank to build your resume, search for a position and browse career planning tools. Looking for opportunities to network with people in your field of interest can also be a good way to meet people in your industry and find a new job. If you haven’t yet, set up a LinkedIn profile to connect with other people in your field.

2) Find a place to live

Before arriving in Canada, you can secure a place to stay in a hotel, hostel or short-term vacation rental using sites like Airbnb or VRBO. When you’ve had time to explore your new surroundings and you’re ready to rent or buy a home of your own, you can reach out to a real estate agent for professional advice or search on your own online. You can use websites and apps like realtor.ca or Zillow to find a property.

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3) Open a bank account

While it is possible to set up an international bank account before coming to Canada, you will still need to open a chequing account for everyday banking once you arrive. Luckily, the process of opening a bank account in Canada is easy and convenient and Canadian banks are reliable and secure. Check out the Scotiabank StartRight® program for special newcomer banking solutions, credit cards and more.

4) Get a phone

To ensure you can easily communicate with a prospective employer, landlord or new friends, it’s important to set up your mobile plan when you arrive in Canada. The most commonly used cellphone providers with the widest coverage in Canada include Rogers, Telus and Bell. There are also smaller companies such as Freedom, Virgin, and Chatr.

5) Apply for health insurance

Canada’s public healthcare system is funded through taxes. As a permanent resident, you can apply for healthcare insurance. While most provinces and territories grant access to health coverage upon arrival, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec have a 90-day waiting period. If you immigrate to a province with a waiting period, you can apply for private coverage to fill the gap. Private health insurance is also used to cover healthcare costs outside of what the public system will pay for.

6) Find a family doctor or dentist

Once in Canada, you will want to find a family doctor in case you experience a non-urgent injury or require medication. You’ll need a prescription from a doctor to obtain many medications. It’s important to know that public healthcare insurance doesn’t cover most prescription medication or dental services. Instead, many Canadians have private health insurance to help cover this cost. Many employers provide private insurance to their employees, and there are also provincial and territorial medication programs, but you must meet eligibility requirements. For help finding a family doctor or dentist, you can refer to the Government of Canada website.

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7) Enroll your children in school

If you arrive in Canada with school-age children, you’ll need to contact your local school board to enroll them in elementary or high school. During the enrollment process, you’ll need your child’s birth certificate, proof of guardianship or custody, proof of residency and immunization record (to ensure your child’s vaccinations are up to date).

8) Find transportation

If you move to a major Canadian city or town, you can take advantage of public transportation, like the bus, subway or train. But if you immigrate to a more rural area, you might consider buying a vehicle to get around. Scotiabank offers the StartRight auto finance program, which is a loan created especially for newcomers. With the StartRight loan, you may be able to qualify with no Canadian credit history, get a new car or one that’s up to four years old and take up to five years to repay your loan. To apply, you need to provide Proof of Permanent Residence of Foreign Worker status and your arrival date, and you must have less than three years of residency in Canada.

9) Get involved in the community

If you don’t have friends or family members in Canada, getting involved with your community will help you meet new people. Most neighbourhoods have a nearby community center, libraries and recreation centres for your whole family to enjoy. Playing sports or joining a club is another great way to meet like-minded people. You can also sign up for Canada Connect, which is a program that matches newcomers with long-time community members. You can meet online or in person to gain a better understanding of the community and connect with other people.

Settling in Canada as a newcomer

Immigrating to Canada, or any new country, can feel a bit overwhelming. You’ll be confronted with a new city or town, new people and a new climate (make sure you prepare yourself for your first Canadian winter!). To smoothly transition to life in Canada, consider these tips and try to embrace this new and exciting experience. Canada is a country known for its kindness, multiculturalism and diverse cultural heritages. It’s a wonderful place to live.

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Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as financial, tax or investment advice or guarantees about the future, nor should it be considered a recommendation to buy or sell. Information contained in this article, including information relating to interest rates, market conditions, tax rules, and other investment factors are subject to change without notice and The Bank of Nova Scotia is not responsible to update this information. References to any third party product or service, opinion or statement, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or approval by The Bank of Nova Scotia of any of the products, services or opinions of the third party. All third party sources are believed to be accurate and reliable as of the date of publication and The Bank of Nova Scotia does not guarantee its accuracy or reliability. Readers should consult their own professional advisor for specific financial, investment and/or tax advice tailored to their needs to ensure that individual circumstances are considered properly and action is taken based on the latest available information.

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