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Top 10 tips for New Canadian Permanent Residents

“Canada is a great country, One of the hopes of the world.” – Jack Layton.

The Great White North is a dream and hope to many. Canada is one of the best immigration friendly countries in the world and has always opened its arms to welcome skilled workers. Ranked 2nd out of the top 80 countries by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best nations in the world, Canada is providing the best opportunities to skilled individuals to migrate and call this magnificent country home.
My husband and I moved to this beautiful country as Permanent Residents in the Summer of 2018, although like every immigrant it was a bit of struggle to settle here at first away from our loved ones and out of our comfort zones, but the mesmerizing beauty of this country took our breath away and eventually we felt at home. This post is all about useful information, tips and hacks for the new and aspiring immigrants who are planning to land in Canada soon. Before I start, a hearty congratulations to the ones who have already received their COPR and wishing all the best to the ones waiting for that “Golden E-mail”. 🙂

1. Get prepared well in advance before your landing date

The first tip is a no-brainer and a very essential one. Start your preparation as early as possible. Perform a thorough and meticulous research and find out in which part of Canada do you want to settle and whether you need any Canadian certification or license to land a job. If you are not a PNP Nominee, your first thing is to choose a province where you would like to settle. You should take your profession into consideration while making the decision. For example, Ontario has high demands for IT related jobs and Alberta has high demands for jobs related to oil sands and energy sources. Once you are sure of the Province, make a list of cities you would like to consider to live. Cost of living, house rental and job opportunities are the primary factors you should look into while making the list.

2. Prepare your documentation

Don’t worry, this is an easy one as many thanks to CIC almost all your documents are ready by now. Below are the documents you should be carrying with you while landing:
  • a Canadian immigrant visa (if this applies);
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) for each family member traveling with you;
  • a valid passport or other travel document for each family member traveling with you;
  • two copies each of:
    • a detailed list of all the personal or household items you’re bringing with you;
    • a list of items that are arriving later and their money value;
    • a list of your educational and professional qualifications and job experience for your résumé;
    • school records, diplomas or degrees for each family member traveling with you;
    • car registration documents (if you’re importing a motor vehicle into Canada);
    • trade or professional certificates and licences;
    • letters of reference from former employers;
    • birth certificates or baptismal certificates;
    • adoption, separation or divorce papers;
    • driver’s licence, including:
      • an International Driver’s Permit
      • a reference from your auto insurance company;
    • marriage certificates; and
    • health documentation especially for children.
Additionally,
  • get your gold/diamond jewellery valuation certificates if you are bringing jewellery in a large amount; and
  • get a driving license extract from your home country so that you can obtain the G license directly.

3. Book your accommodation at least for 2-3 months

If you are not staying with a relative or a friend, book your accommodation well in advance before your arrival date and book it for at least 2-3 months. The best and secure option is to book through Airbnb, however you can check in Kijiji as well. Sometimes when locals go for long vacations, they put ads on Kijiji to rent out their homes for that period of time. 

It is not a good idea if you book a hotel for the first few days and then plan to look for a longer term accommodation after landing due to the following reasons: 

  • Airbnb or any other accommodation is difficult and expensive to get for a longer period if you don’t book it in advance.
  • You should have an immediate address for the rest of your paperwork such as SIN number, Bank, Health Card, PR card etc.
  • Moreover, you would not want to waste your time in searching for accommodation when you can spend that time searching for a job.

Tip: Check the reviews in Airbnb and opt for an accommodation hosted by a superhost. Those are always the best. Get $45 CAD in travel credit by signing up here Airbnb.

4. Start your job search before you land

Getting your first job in Canada is a catch-22 because most of the employers want to hire someone with Canadian experience, but that is the biggest question of all, how can anyone get experience unless someone gives them a job? For that reason, my foremost advice is – if you work in a multi-national company in your home country, try to get an internal transfer to a branch in Canada. By far that is the best option you should consider (I will write an elaborate post on job search in the coming weeks). If you get an internal transfer, half of your struggle is over.  If that is not possible, get in touch with your previous employers, expand your networking circle and start actively looking for jobs in LinkedIn, Indeed, Job Bank etc. and also contact local recruitment agencies. Remember, the key to land  a job in Canada is a kick-ass resume and awesome interpersonal skills along with your technical knowledge. Take a virtual phone number and provide it in your resume and to the recruitment agencies and you can answer their calls from your home country even before you land.

Tip: If you need an immediate temp job while you search for a job in your field, you can get yourself registered with temporary staff recruitment agencies such as Adecco, Drake International, Manpower, Randstad, People Store, Prodigy Personnel etc.
Tip: Don’t get comfortable with your temp job, keep applying for the job you desire and deserve. If you stop your job search, you will definitely have the temp job, but not a career. 

5. Convert your currency in your home country before you fly out

Convert the permitted cash in your home country. You can carry up to 10,000 CAD. This is not essential, it is just a hack to save some money as the currency conversion charge is higher in Canada (not sure about all the countries, but it is definitely higher than India) and also the bank in your home country will charge a transfer fee when you transfer your money to your Canadian Bank later, and you can save some amount there if you deposit your cash directly instead of wire or internet transfer.
Tip: RBC, TD Bank and Scotiabank have various newcomer’s offers. Ask them while you open your bank account.

6. Don’t pack unnecessary stuff

As you will wrap up an entire home back in your country you will get tempted to pack as much as you can, but don’t overweight your luggage as you will definitely regret it. We were weighing and re-packing our luggage multiple times till the last moment as we were not willing to give up many items we loved and trust me with the help of our dozen friends and family, we were still struggling to get rid of our excess luggage until the departure gate and despite of that we paid several hundreds as overweight fees. So pack smartly and get rid of the items you would never use again. And don’t pack any food items thinking that you will not get it here. Especially, we Indians tend to pack our masala, pickle, chai etc. but you have nothing to worry as Walmart and other food stores have got it covered.

7. Go beyond Toronto and Vancouver

There are many great cities in Canada other than Toronto and Vancouver. Undoubtedly, these cities have lots to offer, however, the cost of living in both these places has skyrocketed. A decent apartment will cost you an arm and a leg in Toronto and Vancouver both being in the top list of the most expensive cities in North America. That being the case, don’t stop exploring your options in other cities as well. Once you are sure of a province, don’t restrict yourself to expand your job search in multiple cities. For example, cities like Ottawa, Burlington, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Barrie, etc. in Ontario have many opportunities for various professionals with a moderate cost of living unlike the Greater Toronto Area, and they are not very far from GTA.

8. Don’t rent a long-term apartment/house immediately after landing

As I mentioned earlier, try to expand your job search in multiple cities and once you find a job, then rent an apartment/house near to your new workplace. The minimum term of rent in most of the places is 12 months. So to conclude, the ideal plan should be – book an Airbnb  before landing for 2-3 months and try to secure a job within that time (don’t stress, you will definitely land a job within this period) and move to a long-term rental apartment/house. (I will write a separate post in regards to renting an apartment or house in Canada.)

9. Utilize government programs for newcomers 

The Canadian government offers various programs with benefits and privileges to assist the new immigrants to settle in the country. For example, you can join English language classes fully funded by the Canadian government to improve your language skills. Check here to know your benefits Canada Government Benefits.

10. Stop worrying and have some fun

And last but not least, don’t panic or stress, but enjoy your new country before you jump into a job and house hunting. Explore your city and find out the perks and entertainment corners. Have some Timbits and Poutine, walk along the waterfront, join local festivals, watch a hockey game or buy a Toronto Maple Leafs T-shirt. Engage yourself in random conversations with the Canadians, as they are the sweetest people alive on this planet and they will give you the best and valuable advice. Also, don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back, after all, you finally made it to the land of maple. 🙂