Over the years, Canada has welcomed a large number of immigrants from different parts of the world with different languages and cultural backgrounds. Presently, more than 40 members of the Canadian parliament were all born abroad and came into the country as immigrants.
In many major cities in Canada, you will see a myriad of religions, languages and cultures all existing and thriving together in the same space. The Canadian people do not require that immigrants lose touch of their culture while in Canada; however, you would need to evolve and adjust to the different way of life in order to make the most of the resources available to you. Keeping an open mind will therefore be of great benefit to you because a lot of people around will be willing to learn from you and hope that you teach them something as well.
Read more: Visit our Covid-19 Update – Going to Canada page for the latest news about moving or travelling there during the pandemic.
(Last updated: 29 January 2021)
Weather + Climate
Canada is often associated with cold weather and snow, but the truth is: its climate is as diverse as its landscape. Generally, Canadians enjoy four distinct seasons, particularly more in the highly populated regions along the US border.
Daytime summer temperatures can climb to about 35°C and expect lows of -25°C in winter with plenty of snow.
Summer is the driest season on the prairies and it is humid in Central Canada and at the coasts.
Spring and fall have moderate temperatures and autumn is a season of beautiful orange and red colour displays from most trees.
Cost of Living
C$5,188 for a family of four and C$2,733 for a single person (as of 2021)
This average excludes house rent and is the basic living expense for one person in Toronto. The cost of living varies across the cities of Canada. The 5 most expensive cities are:
- Maple Syrup, the essential sweetness for your pancakes
- Ice Hockey
- Northern Lights
We’re Not a Fan of
- Its potential inability for electronic devices to enjoy some internet connection
Personal Income Tax (as of 2021)
- 15 percent for up to C$49,020 of taxable income
- 20.5 percent for C$49,020 to C$98,040
- 26 percent for C$98,040 to C$151,978
- 29 percent for C$151,978 to C$216,511
- 33 percent for income above $216,511
Goods and Services Tax
The goods and services tax is a value-added tax that is levied by the federal government. That rate is set nationally at 5 percent. No matter where in Canada you are, you will have to pay at least 5 percent for a good or service. There are four areas that only pay 5 percent sales tax: Alberta, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut. These areas do not have additional taxes on top of that.
Provincial Sales Tax
Provincial sales tax is a value-added tax that is levied by some provinces, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec. This tax rate varies based on the province that you are in. The following provincial sales tax rates are British Columbia (7 percent), Saskatchewan (6 percent), Manitoba (7 percent) and Quebec (9.975 percent). Each of these sales taxes is charged in addition to the federal goods and services tax (5 percent).
Harmonized Sales Tax
It is a value-added tax that blends the federal government’s goods and services tax (5 percent) with a provincial sales tax into one rate. This appears as one tax on your restaurant, hotel and store bills. This sales tax system is used in Ontario, as well as the four Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Ontario’s sales tax rate blends to be 13 percent and the four remaining Atlantic provinces blend to an even 15 percent rate.
The average Canadian household now spends a larger portion of their income on taxes than basic necessities, with C$38,963 on taxes payable and C$33,178 on basic necessities per year (as of September 2020).
Visa + Citizenship
Visa + Employment Passes
Canada currently has 13 different visa types – Temporary Visas, Student Visas, Super Visas for Parents and Grandparents, Visitor Visa, Work Permits, Business Class Immigration, Canadian Experience Class Visa, Federal Skilled Worker Visa, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Quebec -Selected Skilled Workers Program, Provincial Nomination Programs, Family-Sponsorship Program, Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP).
The Canadian immigration website offers all the necessary information immigrants need to know prior to their trip. It is therefore important that you take enough time reading through the website to ensure you know the right documents to carry. Immigration laws in Canada have definitely improved over the years in the bid to attract more immigrants.
Work Visa and Permit Process for Foreigners
The Canadian Government mainly admits new immigrants based on two categories: the family class and Economic class. The Economic class category brings in immigrants based on their professional skills and qualifications. The family class category promotes the unity of Canadian families with their spouses, or close family members by allowing them to migrate to the country for visitation or on a permanent basis.
Every foreigner, except for those moving from Canada, will need a work permit. A work permit/visa will give you the freedom to work legally without hassle. The process involves the following:
Obtaining a Canadian work permit typically involves a two-step process. For most cases, you will need a job offer first before you can start applying for a Canadian work permit.
The first step towards getting a Canadian work permit is to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The usual process involves the employer in Canada to undertake domestic recruitment efforts and showcase that there are no qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents for the job position.
The applicant can begin applying for a Canadian work permit after a positive LMIA has been issued.
Unless the worker has an open work permit, work permits are usually employer specific. For workers who wish to change employers, they must obtain a new Work Permit before they can perform another job in Canada.
Temporary Work Visa/Permits
For a fixed time period, you will be allowed to stay and work in Canada with a temporary work visa/permit. If you are satisfied with your current situation and wish to stay in Canada permanently, your work experience may help in your application for permanent residency in the country.
In order to qualify got a Temporary Visitor Visa, there are a few questions that the officials would require you to answer. The purpose is to determine whether:
- You have capacity or willingness to leave Canada at the end of authorized period
- The ties to your home country are sufficiently strong to ensure that they are motivated to return home after the visit to Canada
- You meet the requirements of the Act and Regulations
All immigrants intending to work in Canada, are usually required to obtain a work visa/permit. It may differ, depending on the purpose and duration of stay in the country.
To qualify for a Canadian Work Visa/Permit, you have to:
- Have a valid passport
- Be in good health and of good character
- Genuinely intend to work lawfully in Canada for a limited time
Wages in Canada vary according to industry, qualifications, profession and geographic area. In Alberta the average weekly wage is higher than that of Nova Scotia, but the national average is C$896.63/week.
There are programs in Canada that encourage services to recruit newcomers and immigrants. Challenges such as lack of recognition of your foreign education and work credentials may lead to people working in a different field to what they qualified for.
These two agencies help skilled immigrants to find employment:
BC Job Connect and MentorConnect
Average Salary (as of 2021): C$120,000 per annum
Top 10 Job Seeker Sites in Canada
Housing + Connectivity
Like most of the world, the biggest item that you have to budget for when relocating to Canada is your rental or property purchase.
Average House Rent (as of April 2021): C$1,675 per month
Typically, the rental on a home will be taking up 35 percent to 50 percent of your monthly expenses.
Foreigners have no difficulties in renting properties in Canada. There are several types of rental accommodations available including houses, condominiums and apartments. These can be found through the classifieds section of newspapers, websites, libraries, Facebook and even by walking through the neighbourhoods you prefer, where owners post signs.
Before you are offered a lease to a rental property, the landlord will request the following documents:
- A letter from your current or recent employer indicating what your yearly income is
- A bank statement showing that you have enough savings to cover the rent for a few months
- References from previous landlords
- You will be required to pay a security deposit of at least half a month
- The leases are usually fixed-term with a minimum of one year and the amount that the rent can increase after that is set by law. It is currently at 1.8 percent and the tenant has to be given a 90 day notice of the increase
Even though these documents are not always easy for a newcomer to have, there are landlords who are willing to rent to newcomers to Canada.
Average House Price(as of December 2020): C$531,000
Purchasing a property in Canada is rather straightforward. The open-door housing policy makes it very easy for foreigners to buy properties too. Compared to other global locations, properties in Canada are considered quite affordable. Canada’s current housing market is very attractive even in the big cities like Toronto and Vancouver and are a great form of investment.
Once you have decided on the location, the next step would be to do a little research on housing prices in your chosen area. You would also need to decide on the kind of property you want to buy. You can start by searching online for available properties or in the local newspaper.
In Canada, the property purchasing process takes about 60 – 90 days. The following are the steps for buying a property in Canada:
- Find a local, professional realtor to search for available houses according to your specifications and in your desired area. Your realtor will be responsible for liaising with the seller’s realtor and coming up with a great deal that would be favourable to you.
- Get mortgage qualified from the bank on time so you have a clear picture of what you can afford to pay for a home. This would help narrow down the search for your realtor.
- Work closely with your realtor and ensure that you see all the available houses so you can make a choice. Be in the loop for all discussions with the seller too.
- Once you have agreed on a property, your realtor will draft a sale contract and have you sign on it. He will then contact a Canadian real estate lawyer who would then work on registration of the property in your name and sort out other necessary details.
Mobile Network Providers
Average Mobile Phone Bill (as of 2019): C$101 per month
Internet Service Providers
Average Internet Bill (as of 2021): C$53 per month
It is not difficult for a foreigner to sign up with an Internet Service Provider. You will need a proof of address and an Identification document. Some apartments in Canada already have internet and it is included in the price of the rental.
Providers also vary and options include contracts, non contracts and bundling. Some providers include:
- Altima Telecom
- CIK Telecom
- Transat Telecom
Average Utilities Bill (as of 2021): C$110 per person per month
This includes heating, electricity and gas. For many rented properties these services are included in the rental price.
These are four of the largest mobile network providers, but there are others worth checking out:
Rogers Wireless – this is the largest wireless telephone company | Telus | Bell | Wind
In order to get a mobile phone contract you will need some form of identification and a credit card or prior a prior credit history. Most newcomers find it easier to get a prepaid system until they establish a credit record.
Public Transport System
Average Public Transportation Cost (as of 2021): C$103 for monthly pass
All the major cities in Canada have public transportation which includes bus, train, subway, light-rail trains and trams. The bus is the most common mode of public transportation. Transit passes are cheaper if you use the transport regularly and are issued on a monthly basis. These give you unlimited use for that period; otherwise you will need to buy a ticket.
All cities have at least one taxi service. They are quite expensive so most people use them when they have no other choice.
(as of 2021)
The single use bus ticket in C$3.25
Normal taxi tariffs for every 1 km are approximately C$2
Driving in Canada
A new Toyota Corolla will cost around C$21,150.
The driving tests you took in your home country may not be entirely valid in Canada. In the case where it is valid, you might need to convert it in order for it to be accepted by the Canadian law enforcement agencies. To get a driver’s license in Canada, you need to be aware of the following information:
Licenses are not issued to residents by the federal government. Instead they are issued by individual provinces and each province has its own set of laws, testing procedures and regulations. We advise that you research the procedure for your own province to stay on the right track.
Some provinces have laid out agreements with different countries in the world that make it possible for immigrants from the said countries to use their old driver’s license on arrival. Sometimes, residents from these countries might just need their license converted to fit the provincial format before they can start driving in their province.
To avoid stress of any kind, you should take enough time to look over the provincial driving laws pertaining to international driving licenses. This would give you a clear picture of the kind of documentation you need and what to expect on arrival. If you are moving to cities like Vancouver or Toronto, having a car might be a necessity to move around quickly.”
Intercity Transport System
All major cities have airports and this is the best way to travel between them because of the great distances. In order to fly within the country you will need:
- Identification with a photo issued by federal, provincial or territorial government or foreign passport
Canada has safe and comfortable trains with a rail network that runs across the country. Tickets can be bought from Via Rail Canada or by going to a train station.
Buses are one of the cheapest ways to travel between cities. Some of the smaller towns can only be reached by bus. Greyhound runs the largest network of bus routes.
Ferries are used a lot in the coastal areas of Canada and can also transport vehicles.
The country offers a large network of highways allowing you to travel to most places by car if you so wish.
Anyone can open a bank account in Canada as long as they can show proper identification and be there in person. Most institutions allow non-Canadian citizens to open a bank account, but it’s best to phone and confirm this with them first.
You don’t need to prove that you have a job and don’t have to deposit money right away.
For those not in possession of a Canadian identification, a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Naturalization or a Permanent Resident card or a Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) form IMM 100, IMM 1442 or IMM 5292 will suffice.
You can open a savings account at a:
- Credit union
- Caisse populaire
- Trust company
These are some of the most popular banks:
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
- Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
- Bank of Montreal (BMO)
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)
The free healthcare system offered in Canada is one of the country’s main attractions. You don’t pay any direct fees for visits to the doctor, dentist and optometrist or for any emergency or other medical visit.
This is funded by the country’s tax system, which is considered quite steep by foreigners; Canadians agree that it is worth it considering that they get a limitless health care system in return.
All children up to the age of 18 can enjoy a free public school system. Tertiary education is much cheaper than that in the U.S., but a bit more expensive than that of European Universities.
The elementary school curriculum in Canada may vary depending on the educational objectives of individual schools and local communities. Getting promoted from one grade to the next is based on tests and a student with poor performance may be required to repeat another year, while a gifted student may be allowed to skip a year. Elementary schools equip children with the fundamental skills of reading and writing, on top of other subjects such as math, science, history, geography, music, art, crafts and physical education.
For students aged from 12 to 18 (grades 7 to 12), secondary education in Canada generally takes place in a high school, which can be divided into junior and senior high (in separate locations or in different buildings). Junior high applies for students aged 12 to 14 (grades 7 to 9) and senior high is for students who are 15 to 17 years old (grades 10 to 12). In the Quebec province, students in grades 7 to 11 attend high school before transferring to a collegiate technical college, also known as CEGEP (collége d’enseignement général et professionnel/CEGEP) for additional two to three years.
Tuition Fees (as of August 2020): C$4,000 – C$26,000 annually
Private education allows your child to forge a deeper relationship with their teacher as classes tend to be smaller in size with individualised attention. For your child to enrol in a private school, they will have to undergo interviews and pass an entrance exam. To prepare your child for higher learning, private schools may be a better option as it is more university-oriented than public schools.
All Things Canadian
It is always great to know a few things about a country before deciding on relocating there.
Dos and Dont’s
- Be punctual
- Dress casually and accordingly for the climate, unless otherwise indicated for parties or restaurants formal wear is not necessary
- Unless very close to someone, the normal mode of greeting is the handshake
- Respect the wildlife in the country, which is plentiful and divers
- Do say sorry and excuse me
- Eat while walking in public
- Smoke in public
- Drinking is prohibited by law in public
- You cannot import firearms, explosives, endangered animals and plants, animal products and dairy
- Be careful around the Canadian flag, you don’t want to sit or eat on it
During public holidays, most shops, businesses, banks and government offices will be closed.
Public Holiday Calendar:
- New Year’s Day
- Good Friday
- Easter Monday
- Victoria Day/National Patriots Day
- Quebec National Holiday (Quebec only)
- Canada Day
- British Columbia Day (BC only)
- Heritage Day (Alberta only)
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Remembrance Day
- Boxing Day
- Maple syrup
- Niagara Falls
- Ice Hockey
- It is one of the safest countries in the world
- Its healthcare system
- A whole lot of celebrities including Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, Jim Carrey, Michael J. Fox and a whole lot more
- Alexander Graham Bell – Inventor of the telephone
Keen to connect with international relocation experts? Find out how Moovaz, our parent company, can help.