1. Try to open a bank account pre-arrival
Having a Canadian bank account before departure has many benefits. You can use the statement as proof of funds to the immigration officer at the Canadian airport, you don’t have to be carrying cash and worrying about safety and lastly, you have funds ready for you to use and don’t have to wait a week before a draft clears. Scotiabank is one of the few banks that allow you to open a bank account online while in your home country.
2. Settle your affairs
Pay your debts. Review your insurance policies. Cancel your monthly services and obtain the necessary proof. Sell your properties or make arrangements on how to manage them from afar. In the stress of moving to another country, it is incredible how easily we can overlook certain details and leave behind loose ends. Never say “I’ll deal with it later,” because settling financial affairs from a distance often turns out costlier and more stressful.
3. Research living costs
Before you leave, you should have an idea of how much the basics cost in your city of destination. While you won’t be able to estimate your monthly expenses down to every detail, you should know the costs of the average rent, transit pass, basic bills, medical insurance and special services you may need. While you can curb spending on things like food, entertainment and clothes, you will find that other expenses are a lot less flexible.
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4. Gather all your important documents
Newcomers to Canada may be eligible for certain tax credits and other benefits. You can file an income tax return even before you have an income history in Canada. Make sure you and your spouse have a documented history of your earnings for the two years before immigrating. Also, gather originals of all the documents that may help you in showing proof of your past insurance and credit history.
5. Research what goods you can bring into Canada
On the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website, you can research the permitted and forbidden goods that you may or may not bring through customs. You don’t want to find yourself in the unpleasant situation of paying fines or extra taxes or of having to dispose of certain goods.
6. List your necessities
Not including the items you bring with you, make a list of everything you will need to buy to set up a home, down to forks and spoons. The things we take for granted at home cost money, every single one of them. The list may be frighteningly long, but you should always have a realistic idea of your needs. This way, you will avoid getting carried away when you shop for your new life.
7. Increase your savings
The Canadian government requires immigrants to present proof that they have the minimum funds to support themselves and their dependants for six months after arrival. If possible, do not rely solely on this minimum. The bigger your city of destination, the sooner your savings will shrink. If you can take on extra work or cut down unnecessary spending, do it.
8. Take advantage of cheaper services
Make your life easier when coming here by taking advantage of any useful service that is cheaper in your home country. For example, in Canada, like in most advanced countries, dental services are notoriously expensive, and so are many other medical or cosmetic procedures. Repairs and restorations of items such as artwork or other valuable possessions will, most likely, be more expensive here as well.
9. Find temporary accommodation
If you don’t have any friends or family willing to offer temporary accommodation, research the cost of hotels or short-term rentals well in advance, and make reservations. Pick a cost-effective and convenient location that will allow you to move around easily in your search for a permanent home.
10. Obtain the appropriate financial tools
Know in advance how you will be handling your money. Will you be carrying cash? Will you be relying mostly on plastic or travellers’ cheques? Be aware that many hotels here do not accept cash and require a credit card, and rental buildings require payment either by debit card, cheque or money order. Too much cash could be stressful to carry around, while relying solely on plastic may get you to lose track of your spending. Always keep a balance.