How to Move to Canada
Canada is a largely beloved country, with approximately 300,000 immigrants moving to the country each year. You may be considering making the move as well, but there is a lot to consider before doing it. This guide will help you learn a general overview of the important things to know and do before you move, and what to do once you get here. Canada is the second largest country in the world by land mass, with so much diversity in its landscapes, weather and citizens.
Let’s start with some interesting statistics about Canada that you may want to know:
- Total population: 37.052 million (as of October, 2018)
- Provinces: 10
- Territories: 3
- Currency: Canadian Dollars (C$)
- Capital City: Ottawa
- Total Immigrants: 7.5 million - 1 in 5 Canadians (as of 2016 Census)
- Official languages: English and French
- Weather: Weather varies across the country, but in most areas of the country you’ll find the traditional characteristics of all 4 seasons.
- Biggest cities: Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal
- Average Income: just under C$51,000 (as of September 2017)
How to Immigrate to Canada
There are many factors to consider when moving to Canada, but you will need to apply to move here. In most cases you’ll need a visa, and the three pillars are work-related, family related and refugees. You’ll need to know what situation you fall in, deciding what the best route is for you.
Canadian Work Visa
The most variety comes in moving to Canada with a work visa. The different visas and entry points include:
- Quebec-selected skilled workers
- Express entry
- Start-up visa
- Student visa
- Provincial nominee
- Atlantic Immigration Pilot
The Quebec-selected skilled workers program allows skilled workers to immigrate to Quebec under particular rules. It’s similar to the Express entry system, but Quebec has set their own rules with the Government of Canada that allows them to set their own requirements and criteria to accept immigrants into Quebec. The main condition is that you have to live in Quebec. If you’ve been accepted by the Province, there are then further steps you can take to apply for permanent residency.
The express entry program is similar, allowing skilled workers to apply to immigrate into the country, but the main difference is that you can choose which Province (outside of Quebec) or Territory to live in. The criteria may vary from Quebec, so it’s important to have an idea of where you want to live before applying.
Self-employed and Start-up visas are similar, allowing workers who plan to work as self-employed/independent contractor or who intend on starting a business and creating jobs to move to the country. As with all visa programs there are various criteria you’ll need to meet before being allowed entry, but it gives you the opportunity to be in control of your destiny.
A student visa allows for foreigners to apply and attend Canadian universities, with your visa lasting so long as you are in school. Once you’ve finished your program, or if you plan on furthering your education beyond your undergrad program, you’ll need to apply for a new visa.
Provincial nominees slightly differ from the Express Entry program, where a Province is allowed to nominate someone they believe has the experience, education or skill to contribute to the economy. Similar to the Quebec program, each Province will have their own criteria for who they’re interested in nominating, and you must want to live in that particular Province to receive the nomination.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot is a program that allows you to immigrate the country through graduating from a school in the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador.
A family sponsorship allows family members (above the age of 18, who are already Canadian citizens/permanent residents) to sponsor another to move into the country for work, school and to live. There are slight differences for the relationship, whether they’re a spouse, life partner, child, parent, grandparent or have another relation to you.
Canada often welcomes refugees who have escaped their country in fear of persecution or danger. While entry isn’t guaranteed, there are a couple programs that help refugees come into the country and find a new life.
No matter the immigration program that works for you, you’ll want to know which Province you want to live in before making the move. Canada has 10 Provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island. Additionally, there are 3 Territories: Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.
Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia are the 3 most populous provinces, with Ontario housing about 38% of the population, Quebec housing about 23% of the population and BC housing about 13% of the population (Alberta isn’t too far behind BC, coming in just under 12%). Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are the three largest cities, residing in Ontario, Quebec and BC respectively (Calgary being the next largest and residing in Alberta).
There is a lot you’ll want to consider when choosing where to live, and it’s a crucial decision to make. Some important factors to think of are the cities in each province, the weather, industries, job opportunities, population, diversity, and more! Each Province (and city) has their own positives and negatives, and you’ll want to look into each further before making a decision.
Cost of Living in Canada
It’s important to consider the cost of living for not only deciding which province to live in, but whether or not you want to move to Canada at all. The average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in a city in just under $1,200, while outside of a main city is just shy of $1,000. The average local bus fare is $3, utilities average to $144 and the average meal at an inexpensive restaurant is $15. There’s so much more to consider, but knowing what to expect can help in your decision making process.
Once you’ve moved to Canada, one of the first things you’ll want to do is open a bank account. The five major banks are RBC, CIBC, Scotiabank, BMO and TD Bank. All have their pros and cons, providing similar services, but some key differences in certain areas. In fact, in many cases you can even open up a bank account online before you get into Canada. When you’re converting your funds, using Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange will provide various benefits. You can transfer the money to your newly opened Canadian bank account, with no hidden fees, no transfer fees and the best currency exchange rates.
Working in Canada
If you don’t have a job prior to moving to Canada, there are various resources one can take advantage of. There are many companies that will help you build a resume and search for jobs in your field, connecting you with companies and helping you find interviews. Or, there are job websites like Indeed.ca or Monster.ca where employers will post job ads that you can apply for, creating a system where they can email or call you in for an interview if they’re interested.
Where to Live in Canada
Despite being the second largest country in the world by landmass, most of the land in Canada goes unused as most Canadians live near the Canada/US border, in or around Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal. The housing markets in the bigger cities can be tough to break into, with prices especially high, but many Canadians will live just outside the bigger cities and commute to them work.
Ideally, you may want to start looking for somewhere to live before you get to the country, though if you have friends or family here, then staying with them before the move can be a huge help. If you’re a student, then you may want to apply for residence, or use one of the various resources available to help students find housing.
Canada is known for having free healthcare, and is provided by each province individually. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll want to register for healthcare as soon as possible because many provinces have about a three month waiting time once you’ve applied to actually get the coverage. A couple provinces, like BC, will have a monthly premium for healthcare, but you can apply for a subsidy if you’re under a certain income level.
Canada is well-known as a cultural melting pot, and has a diverse population across the country. Toronto, in fact, is considered by many to be the most culturally diverse and accepting city in the world. So, while you’ll be able to find people who speak your language, if you don’t speak English you will want to learn at least a general understanding, and there are a variety of resources form which to do so. While you can go online, there are also schools dedicated to teaching ESL students, ranging across all ages, to help you get a grasp of the language for everyday use. If you’re looking to live in Quebec, there are a variety of resources available to learn French as well.
Canada is a warm and welcoming country, and this guide is just a start to help you make a life here. You won’t regret moving here, as there is so much to explore, learn and do in Canada.