As a would-be migrant or expat you must know that the best people to share tips on life in Canada are those who has actually experienced the country as expats or migrant themselves.
Reading their tips can be very useful in helping your prepare for your adoptive country. We have come up with a list of the 5 most useful tips.
Expats in Canada - 5 Tips for Living in Canada
1. Making the most of your experience
Where you live will influence your experience. In terms of diversity, one expat in Ottawa wrote that "Ottawa, and Canada in general are very accepting for any religion and race it really does not matter up here," whereas an expat in Sherwood Park wrote that there is "no night life and virtually no 'social bar' culture. Edmonton 30 minutes has a growing social scene on Whyte Ave. If you are a couple or single living in the city, it's a must."
We suggest: Read up on the city you are planning on moving to. If a night life and restaurants are important to you find out where they are and join a dinner club. The same goes for sport fans. Find out what sports are on offer as a spectator and participant. Join your local sports club. The outdoorsy folk are sure to find a club that organizes hike, camping etc. It’s an opportunity to meet new people and get better acquainted with locals.
2. House hunting in Canada
As with anywhere else, Property in Canada varies from location to location.
One expat in Montreal offered that the "most important thing is to ask advice from someone independent of the real estate sector. Real estate agents have a huge interest in selling you houses in the area they work and are rarely independent. Locals tend to be biased toward their own neighborhoods.
Remember Canada deals with extreme winter conditions so while insulation, double pane windows, central heating and a mudroom may not feature in your local house hunting, there it is vital and should be thoroughly checked out before you sign on the dotted line.
We suggest: Ask work mates and estate agents for their impression of a few suburbs that you are interested in. Keep an eye on local ads to estimate what you should be getting for your buck.
3. Working in Canada
An expat in Vancouver shared in an expat working abroad report that her "husband was offered employment" and "we came over on work permits. We have recently applied to extend our work permits and are hoping to become permanent residents. When you make the decision to relocate, then get the paperwork done as soon as possible."
We suggest: Speak to an immigration agent that specializes in Canada immigration about the visa application process. All South Africans are required to be in possession of a visa before landing in Canada. There are a number of visas available for every different set of circumstances but if your plan to work and live in Canada you will have to in possession of a Canadian Work Visa.
4. There might be a culture shock
An expat in Kingston wrote that "[Canadians] are rather strict about everything and seem a bit fuddy duddy about "crossing every T" and "dotting every I." Another commented saying, “So many people wear all black clothing all the time even in summer, it is rather depressing!”
Count yourself lucky to be a South African! Saffas (as we are affectionately known in most overseas countries) come from a country with 11 official languages, every conceivable culture, creed and religion which means ‘difference’ is not much of a shock to us!
5. Prepare for the weather. Read the news. Find out as much as you can.
Respondents in the survey went on to recommend that expats "prepare for the weather, educate yourself about Canadian current events, be knowledgeable about why you see this as a great opportunity, and come experience it for yourself."
We suggest: join an online chat room or a Facebook page for South Africans living in Canada. This way you can read about what to expect, pre-empt certain potential problems and start building relationships with people who could help you settle more easily. Your immigration agent will be a valuable source of information too!