Hi guys, long time since I am in this topic, I hope you guys are doing well and making progress through your PR application for Canada. As you are waiting for the visa, it is important that there is no need to rush getting the visa as the reality is very different from what we expect when we are still in our own countries. The key is preparation is the most important, it will be a very difficult and disappointing experience to be in Canada without proper planning.
(1)First of all, Canadian employers are extremely discriminative toward immigrants. No matter how well educated and high flier you are in your home countries, without Canadian experience and education, you will not get any job. And they need Canadian reference for every job even the simple one such as those at McD, Subway, Tim Hortons etc...
(2)Secondly, it is VERY EXPENSIVE in Canada. You will not be able to rent a house immediately when you are in Canada because you have no credit and references so noone will dare to rent out the house for you, so you will need to have friends or family to offer temporary housing.
(3)You will not be able to open credit card, get mortgage, car loan... untill you have a job and at least 1 year of credit, so everything must be in cash.
(4)You cannot get a driver license and cannot take the exam for certain number of time, typically 1 year after passing you theory exam. Public transport is extremely rare and slow in many parts of the countries because everyone drive cars.
(5)You cannot let the kid below 12 years old stay at home and go to work and need to employ a nanny or someone to be at home with them all the time, failing which you will be put in jail.
(6)The weather in Canada is very severe, going out at night, waiting for bus... without proper gears such as thick gloves, ear mugs, ... can lead to frost bites or cold stroke. It will be very depressing at first for those who goes to cold provinces such as Ontario, Alberta and especially Manitoba (the coldest place on earth), so be prepared.
(7)Getting the PR card can be as long as 6 months from the date you land, mine need 192 days due to a photo problem and during that time you cannot leave Canada.
(8)Cell phone bill, internet, electricity... are generally expensive and you need to spend around 200 a month for those.
(9) Fuel for car is really expensive and depends on where you live, parking can cost somewhere between 75 and 150 a month (not included in rent fee). Everything you buy need to add around 18% for tax depends on provinces you live so the price tag in super market... is not as cheap as you may think.
(10)On top of that, food in restaurant will come with tip of 15% at least so it is really expensive to dine out.
(11) Most low skills jobs pay minimum salary of about $9-$10 an hour and a meal in restaurant easily cost $35. Canada, it is not as rosy as some (including myself before) may think, so be prepared and you will be fine.
I would like to share some of my experience with you as well. Please remember that Canada is a big country. And the situations you described above are not the same for every part of Canada.
(1) Provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan are leading the country in jobs. Soon after arriving in Saskatoon, I got job interviews.
And I got hired for a job which uses my experience and expertise.
(2) Yes you wouldn't be able to find a place to rent easily from a property management company, I agreed. But you can still rent a house from a private owner.
(3) Credit card approval from banks only makes sense because everywhere in the world you go, they will need to check your credit history before issuing you a card.
(4) New immigrants with driver license from home countries can drive 90 days before getting Canadian driver license. I was driving around saskatoon before I got my Canadian driver license.
(6) Yes Canadian weather is very extreme. For me, I drive car and I have warm clothes such as jackets, parka and etc... I'm OK.
(7) PR Cards arrived to my family after 2 months.
(10) For us, we only dine out like twice a month. The other time, we cook at home. So the food expense it OK for us.
By the way, I arrived in Canada in November, 2011. Yes, I'm homesick sometimes. And I love my old country. I couldn't appreciate enough for the life I'm enjoying in Canada.
Good luck everyone! Hope you get your PR soon.