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Your top tips for a new PR migrant

Discussion in 'Settlement Issues' started by johnjkjk, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. What are your top tips for a new PR migrant, who hasn't lived in Canada before and doesn't have any relatives there, but does has knowledge of the climate and culture and is a native English speaker? I've lived across the world but have always had a relative to help pave the way. It would be helpful if you can put this into context for someone who has mostly lived in the UK. Destination not yet selected, but it's definitely one of the less populated provinces (Newfoundland/sasketchewan) in the long-term and perhaps BC or Nova Scotia in the short-term, depending on where the jobs turn out to be. I have no intention of living in an urban ghetto/immigrant squalor.

    1. Would one stay in a hotel until they can find suitable accommodation? Do leases tend to be long-term and exploitative of newcomers (given that they can't wait for something better to come along)? Is it better to take a short-term lease in case I have to relocate because of a job in a different area (or even province)? Is it advisable to arrange for accommodation before-hand through a personal classified ad and what are some websites for this? What is a reasonable price range for a room in a shared apartment in a small and large city?
    2. Do employers tend to interview in person or telephone/skype and if long-distance travel and overnight accommodation is required, do they generally reimburse you for this?
    3. What is the public transport system like for travel between provinces. How popular, reliable and affordable is Via Rail for long-distance travel (assuming one has the time)?
    4. What's there to know about opening bank accounts as a new migrant? Do banks charge fees for accounts, withdrawals, cards etc? Are debit cards universally accepted?
    5. What is the best place to obtain fresh, organic fruit and veg, as well as wholesale supplies (like a 10kg sack of brown rice or lentils for example)? I prefer to obtain things wholesale and loose rather than packaged in cancer-causing plastics- any such quaint wholesalers or perhaps Asian/restaurant industry suppliers? Are there any specific stores or farmers markets (in any province) that you recommend? This for me is probably the most important question!

    Please help me out.
     
  2. I'll give a shot coming from the UK, albeit only having visited those areas mentioned and not all that recently.

    1. Would one stay in a hotel until they can find suitable accommodation? Do leases tend to be long-term and exploitative of newcomers (given that they can't wait for something better to come along)? Is it better to take a short-term lease in case I have to relocate because of a job in a different area (or even province)? Is it advisable to arrange for accommodation before-hand through a personal classified ad and what are some websites for this? What is a reasonable price range for a room in a shared apartment in a small and large city?

    I used AirBnB, cost about $900 for 3 weeks (in Feb) but that was downtown Toronto. Most companies that rent are going to want 12 month contracts. Private individuals will vary greatly, as I fear will rent depending upon where you are. I'd try and guarantee something until end of the month when you arrive as a lot of places are going to want you to move in on a new month (however, not all). I'd avoid a hotel for more than 1-2 nights due to cost.

    2. Do employers tend to interview in person or telephone/skype and if long-distance travel and overnight accommodation is required, do they generally reimburse you for this?

    I can't advise much here, I only see my boss once a year (or less) but have worked for the same company for over 10 years.
    Normally you would be reimbursed for basic travel costs (our company does) but it will vary as in the UK, so something to check on if going somewhere expensive.

    3. What is the public transport system like for travel between provinces. How popular, reliable and affordable is Via Rail for long-distance travel (assuming one has the time)?

    I don't use it much... but found it fine. (Long distance) trains are much much less frequent than the UK rail network, prices tend to be cheaper. You often have to turn up 30 mins before the train is due to leave, again not like the UK. I'd say it's more reliable than the UK, again not saying much there.

    4. What's there to know about opening bank accounts as a new migrant? Do banks charge fees for accounts, withdrawals, cards etc? Are debit cards universally accepted?

    There's a bank thread just off this one that I've posted in so take a look there, but most charge for accounts. if they don't charge for accounts, they may charge for withdrawals. Some do free accounts but generally only if you have a fair amount of money in there. Credit cards cost, almost without fail - some accounts waive this. Debit cards are accepted almost everywhere, I know of just a few places that don't and they are extremely cheap lunchtime places.

    5. What is the best place to obtain fresh, organic fruit and veg, as well as wholesale supplies (like a 10kg sack of brown rice or lentils for example)? I prefer to obtain things wholesale and loose rather than packaged in cancer-causing plastics- any such quaint wholesalers or perhaps Asian/restaurant industry suppliers? Are there any specific stores or farmers markets (in any province) that you recommend? This for me is probably the most important question!

    This may be ON specific; but No Frills is the basic grocery store. Costco is a good bet for large supplies and wholesale purchases across Canada (and wider). Main farmers market in Toronto is St. Lawrence and is pretty famous.

    You've not asked, but be aware Canadian car insurance tends to be insane compared to the UK. My first quote, in ON, was over $600 a month and I paid £35 a month in the UK.
    BC is much better than ON, but I've heard it's a problem across most provinces. Some places (like BC but not ON) take into account letters confirming no claims from previous countries. If you have a UK or US license you can exchange if for a Canadian one (specific to province). If it's from another country, you could need to take a test first but it really depends where it's from and, in some cases the province.
     
  3. my biggest tip is to get in touch with an immigrant settlement agency in whatever area you settle in. they will be vital in helping you establish a professional network, understand housing and provide family support. all you need to do is google settlement agency + the city/area you are in. Definitely find an agency who can refer you to LASI World Skills. I can not speak enough as to how valuable my local agency has been in helping me get work and establish a professional network. they have great programs, workshops and events.
     
  4. Thanks for the detailed advice, I do appreciate it. Thanks also for pointing out car insurance- that's a ridiculous amount. I do have a UK driving licence and a few years of no-claims but where I'm from, public transport and bicycle work wonders; I went vehicle-free years ago. Nevertheless useful to a licence, if only for ID.

    Is there anything that came to you as a sort of culture shock, as compared to the UK? I can imagine that gun-toting police takes a bit of getting used to?
     
  5. What a wonderful resource! Thanks for this.
     
  6. There is no gun toting police in the UK as well as in Canada. We are not the US!!!
     
  7. I think it's the fact that all Canadian cops carry guns vs just the specialized units in the UK?
    That didn't really come as a surprise to be honest as I've traveled a lot anyway including a fair few months in Canada before I moved.

    There were (and still are) things that surprise me though. Some are basic and you don't even notice it at first, like the lack of washing machines in kitchens ... or how most people take central air for granted (imagine that in the UK!) and of course the fact that Canada actually has a summer ;) Some things like if you try to buy property, well they are more significant challenges to learn about!

    It's more when I return back to the UK and it's like say what now, you want $4 for a coffee?
     
  8. Is there any equivalent to allotments? I currently grow nearly all of my food and coppice for fuel. I would need land to do this long-term, but something like an allotment or farm-share can get me started.

    What are the major challenges with regard to buying property? I will in the longer term, be looking for a larger estate with some forest land/woodlot. The property taxation and legal system however seems quite complicated with each province having their own rules.
     
  9. Canadian police all carries guns, but they are just as friendly as normal people under normal circumstances. You can see them carry guns while buying Subway for lunch.
     
  10. That's something I would nevertheless find difficult getting used to, not least because regular UK police don't carry guns [only specially trained firearms officers do- they're like a SWAT unit and have only really started becoming visible after 9/11] but because I fundamentally oppose the presence of guns in society. I am aware of some first nation folk who are constantly harassed by the RCMP with guns drawn when they've been trying to exercise their treaty rights etc.

    But as to my original question, do you have any key advice to offer a new migrant? I'm particularly interested in knowing more about availability of wholesale/bulk food (e.g. 10kg sack of brown rice), things sold loose (without plastic packaging) and organic produce/farmers markets. I'm also keen to learn about whether allotments/co-operative farming is a big thing.
     
  11. I wouldn't say police gun abuse does not exist in Canada, but certainly not as common as in USA. And really you don't really see police in the public except public events. They are usually in their cruisers.

    If you live in a major city, there are at least one grocery store that you can buy in larger quantity. Costco is the favourite in bulk food retailer (membership required though) They have something like a bag of 5kg of potato chips or 30kg bucket of laundry liquid. Everything is oversized.

    Some large grocery chain + Bulk barn sells "bulk food" like you you described. You get a plastic bag and you scoop whatever you need and pay by weight. Which is my preferred way of shopping for grocery and needs to be more popular.

    There are farmer markets in many city and towns where you can buy locally produced food. All major grocers have organic section.

    I'm not sure about co-op farming, but grow plants in your own backyard is very common. My relatives used to make strawberry jams grown in their backyard all the time.
     

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