Settling In Canada
To settle in Canada with confidence, you'll need to do ample research. Because when you have the right information, you’ll be certain about your:
- decisions, and
From choosing a city to getting your driver's license, we have the resources that you need. As well, to help you settle easily, we'll give you tools before and after you arrive in Canada!
Welcome to Canada!
Embracing newcomers is a major part of Canada's social fabric. And Canada continues to be a leading choice to settle for people from around the world!
You have chosen Canada to build and achieve your dreams! And we know it takes courage and confidence to move to a new country, with much to consider. Of course, you're excited about your journey to Canada. Still, there is a great deal to know and do before you arrive.
Whether you're considering how to immigrate to Canada, or ready to move, we'll help you along your exciting journey! If you're moving soon, visit our Settling in Canada resource page and download our essential checklists.
We’ll provide you with information and tools to:
- integrate, and
- adapt to life in Canada!
And with sound research, you can make the best decisions and plans to settle in Canada.
Access Services to Help You Settle in Canada
Learn about pre- and post-arrival support services to settle in Canada with ease.
Settlement agencies provide many services to help newcomers adapt to life in Canada. Importantly, you can get these services both before and after you arrive in Canada. And we can connect you to these agencies.
It can be stressful when you arrive in a new country and settlement services can reduce your stress.
Many newcomers are unaware that these free services even exist. The Canadian government funds settlement agencies so services are available at no cost to you!
What Services Do Settlement Agencies Provide?
Some of the settlement services include:
Help to find a job:
They have resources to help you find work and continue your career in Canada. They'll help you start your job search and point you in the right direction.
Support to get your credentials recognized:
Finding a job is key to your financial wellbeing in Canada. Settlement agencies can help you to understand the standards for your profession or trade in Canada. As well, they can help you to get more training.
Information and referrals:
Settlement agencies also have many partners. So if they don't have the answers to your questions, they can refer you to other people and resources.
Enhancing your language skills can take your success to the next level. And your language ability is essential for many aspects of life in Canada! From improving your workplace language skills to speaking with your child's teacher, you'll gain confidence!
You can read more about Services in Canada to Help Newcomers Settle.
Or, watch our Next Stop Canada learning video to hear how they can help you before and after you arrive in Canada.
Choosing a City to Settle in Canada
Research cities in Canada to choose a city that's right for you and your family!
Canada is a large country with ten provinces and three territories. It covers 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. It crosses six time zones and is divided into five regions:
- The Atlantic Provinces
- Central Canada
- The Prairie Provinces
- The Northern Territories
- The West Coast.
Check out this map of Canada to get a sense of its size.
Some of the largest cities in Canada are Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. And there are many other great cities to settle in. Each city offers its own unique:
- economic, and
- demographic characteristics.
So our Choosing a City E-books will help you to research and compare cities in Canada. For example, do you prefer a large, vibrant city, or the benefits of a small city?
It's helpful when you identify what's important to you and your family. In this blog post, we discuss what factors to consider when you research a small city such as:
- available jobs
- cultural support
- social support, and
- other supports that are in place.
To learn more about life in Canada, select a city:
- Calgary, Alberta
- Delta, British Columbia
- Edmonton, Alberta
- Fort McMurray, Alberta
- Fredericton, New Brunswick
- Halifax, Nova Scotia
- London, Ontario
- Niagara, Ontario
- Ottawa, Ontario
- Prince George, British Columbia
- Regina, Saskatchewan
- Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- Sudbury, Ontario
- Surrey, British Columbia
- Thunder Bay, Ontario
- Toronto, Ontario
- Vancouver, British Columbia
- Waterloo, Ontario
- Winnipeg, Manitoba
Check out the top 10 cities in Canada in 2021!
Find the information you need to secure housing that is affordable, comfortable, convenient, and right for you.
Finding short-term accommodation before you arrive in Canada is vital. So it's best to secure housing several weeks before you arrive. And, short-term housing will allow you to discover other areas within the city where you may want to live.
Or, you may find that you want to relocate to an area that is closer to your workplace. Short-term housing offers you the flexibility you'll need when you first arrive in Canada.
You can attend our Renting Your First Home in Canada webinar. In this free webinar, you'll learn how to:
- search for rental housing
- find the best location, and
- rent housing without a Canadian credit history.
You’ll also learn what to consider when you choose a neighbourhood. This is a must-attend webinar if you're moving to Canada within six months!
Obtain information to protect the health and wellbeing of you and your family.
In Canada, public health care is paid for through provincial taxes that all Canadians pay. So basic health care services, like hospital visits and medical treatment, are free. Access to public health care is something that most Canadians highly value because it contributes to a higher quality of life.
As a permanent resident, you can apply for public health insurance. This insurance can save you money and provide you and your family peace of mind when it comes to health care.
You'll need to show a provincial health card to get free medical services. So getting a health card is one of the first steps to take when you arrive in Canada.
With your health card, you’ll get many health care services. But without a health card, you'll have to pay for medical expenses out of your own pocket. Your health card gives you access to one of the best healthcare systems in the world. And, it provides you with both medical and financial protection.
You can read more about steps to access free healthcare in Canada. And, you'll find links to provincial ministries of health to easily apply for your health care card.
Learn about the Education System
The Canadian education system can meet your family's learning needs from kindergarten to post-secondary education.
Canada is home to some of the world's top schools. In Canada, each province oversees education and the standard of education is high across the country.
Generally speaking, the education system is divided into three levels:
- secondary, and
There are private and public education systems. Because the public school system is free, many people send their children to public schools in Canada.
The Canadian education system is also highly valued by Canadians. And, when you move to Canada, your children will access high-quality education to excel and prosper.
Also, you'll have to enroll your children in school as soon as you arrive. So read more now to get an overview of the Canadian education system.
If you need help, a settlement agency can help you to register your children for:
- pre-school (daycare)
- elementary (primary), and
- secondary school.
Learn about Driving in Canada
Become familiar with the essentials of driving in Canada to increase your safety.
You'll need a Canadian driver's license if you plan to drive in Canada. However, you may have a license from a country that is part of a foreign license exchange agreement. Or, you may be able to get credits for foreign driving experience. In either case, this can save you time and money when getting your Canadian driving license.
We know driving in Canada can be a very different experience than driving in your home country. And this can be stressful. And with this in mind, we want you to know the essentials of driving in Canada.
You can also learn more about:
- Canada's graduated licensing system
- how to get your driving license in Canada
- how to learn to drive
- winter driving tips, and more.
While there is much to know about building your new life in Canada, these are key areas that can help you settle quickly and successfully.
Visit our Settling in Canada resource page for more webinars, learning videos, and online fairs. With this information, you gain confidence about your options, decisions, and plans to settle in Canada!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there ways to overcome language accent problems?
Sometimes people have a strong language accent. Most Canadian employers tend to overlook an accent unless it makes it very difficult to communicate in the workplace. Many settlement agencies in Canada provide free language training programs. You can speak to your advisor at the settlement agency you plan to work with.
You may be interested in accent reduction classes that can help you to better enunciate your English. There are also occupation-specific language training options that will help to improve your communication skills in the workplace.
Learn more about language training and other services in Canada that settlement agencies provide.
What are the important first things we must do after our landing?
One of the first people you will meet at your point of arrival in Canada will be a friendly Canada
customs agent. You will be required to produce the list of goods you are importing along with your
landing certificates. The list will be divided into goods you are carrying with you and goods to follow by
freight or mail. As this will be your only opportunity to import goods duty-free, it is important that your
list is thorough and includes details such as brand names and serial numbers.
The other officials you will meet upon arrival at the airport will be from Immigration Services. You will
need to produce your passport and visa papers. After the officials look at your papers, you will be given
one copy. Remember to make at least five photocopies of your visa papers, as they will come in handy
on many occasions over the next few months, such as when you open a Canadian bank account. You will
be given a form for a Permanent Resident Card (PR Card), which is proof that you are a legal resident of
Canada. After you have submitted your form, the card will be mailed out to you.
Immigration authorities at your point of arrival will give you application forms for a variety of documents
that you will need, such as a Social Insurance Number card, application forms for a driver’s licence, for
a health care card and for a child tax credit, which will be explained later.
Should I rent or buy a home when I first immigrate to Canada?
While most immigrants rent for the first year or so in order to get to know their new city, they usually have the goal of owning a home, which is a better financial decision for the long term.
Over the course of 25 years (the usual amortization period for many homebuyers), the total amount of money paid by many renters can actually exceed the amount paid by a homeowner. This is due not only to the fact that mortgage payments can be cheaper than rent, but because rental fees generally increase over the long term. Interest rates may also rise, but so will the value of the property. Therefore, additional equity can be gained.
The reality is that after the mortgage has been paid off, homeowners no longer make monthly mortgage payments, while renters continue to bear the burden for the rest of their lives. These savings can greatly impact one’s quality of life upon retirement.
The fact remains that money spent on rent is still money down the drain.
But committing to a house too soon could be a bad decision. Make sure you’re happy with your city and neighbourhood before committing to homeownership.
It will be our first Canadian winter and I’d like to know what clothing I should buy for me and my family?
Don’t underestimate the severity of the Canadian winters. In some places such as Winnipeg and Ottawa, it is not uncommon to suffer –30 Celsius temperatures.
If you aren’t used to the cold, you may want to consider thermal underwear.
You will need warm clothing such as insulated, waterproof boots; an overcoat; a scarf; a hat that will cover your ears; and gloves or mittens.
What you wear is really important to fight the long Canadian winters. Here are some essentials:
- Clothing should be wind-proof and water-proof covering the pulse points.
- Feet should be kept dry and warm with wool socks, insoles and water-proof shoes or boots.
- Hands should be covered by wearing mittens or gloves.
- Head should be protected by covering up ears and the forehead.
- Neck area must be covered with a scarf or turtleneck sweaters.
- Undershirt should be tucked in.
- Layers are more important than wearing tight clothing as air layers in between clothes serve as insulators and preserve heat inside the body.
- Jackets/coats should include a high collar or hood, cuffs that close around hands, pockets to slip hands into, waist cinch, wind-proof, should be large enough to accommodate a sweater and must belong, nearly to the knees. The lining is important and some jackets have a detachable lining that can be separated and used as a lighter jacket, a good multipurpose solution.
What must we do to prepare for Canadian winters?
Depending on where you land in Canada, winters can be really harsh for newcomers. Blowing wind can make temperatures feel much colder. Some cities can go down to -40C and some like Vancouver can at worst be -2C. Driving in the snow is something most newcomers have to learn. Do check out our Driving section for winter driving tips. When you land you will need to buy a good quality winter coat, warm winter hat, mittens or gloves and winter boots for you and the family. Most times we dress in layers for travelling to work and going to school. All homes, offices and schools have central heating which allows a degree of comfort. When you go to the settlement agency they will provide you with tips on what to buy as well as where to shop.
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