Hello! So I’ve been in Canada for about a few weeks now and I’ve been a very busy lady.
After 14 hours of sleep, I woke up refreshed on my second day in Canada. I summoned an Uber and headed for the popular Square One Mall for some food.
I also wanted to purchase some supplies for the Airbnb room I’m staying temporarily, and buy a SIM card.
I tried out Tim Hortons at the mall and was a tad disappointed with the taste but the caffeine woke me right up.
After the first day, I got a hang of my general bearing and realized using Uber was a waste of money.
I was staying in a centrally located home and I didn’t really need to use Uber. I turned on my data and used Google Maps from thereon.
I started walking almost everywhere after the second day.
Walking is also a good idea because I don’t know when I’m going to be able to get back into my work out program, so walking is going to be my default form of exercise in the time being.
The weather was sort of pleasant for the first few days so walking wasn’t much of an issue. It then rained for two whole days!
I still went out but it was cold. And I don’t mean regular cold or quite cold.
I mean so cold, I considered switching on an oven, climbing into it, and closing the door on myself!
I also thought off and on about the outfit I shared in What’s the Best Time of Year to Move to Canada?.
What I Achieved the First Few Days?
Newcomer Bank Account
I opened a checking account with CIBC so I could get this whole credit thing going.
I was approved for a credit card with an acceptable limit and a $0 annual fee with some rewards.
The representative tried to sell me on the benefits of a credit card with annual fees but I was very firm on no annual fee.
I do not use credit cards for daily expenses or bills. The only reason I am compelled to apply for one now is because of this whole credit score palaver.
The newcomer package also included a tax-free savings account (TFSA) and a free safety deposit box for a while.
I plan to be more creative with my financial planning when I settle down properly.
However, the CIBC debit card and credit card works in the short term.
Related Content: How to Build Credit Fast as a Newcomer to Canada
Since I won’t be doing business under my own name, I registered for a business license via Service Ontario.
This was simple and fast online and cost $60, renewable every 5 years. I received my master business license instantly.
If you’re immigrating under the self-employed program and won’t be doing business under your own name, you can find out more about registering for a business license and incorporating for all provinces HERE.
If you’re planning something more complicated than a sole proprietorship, I would consult a lawyer first or the small business department of your local newcomer center.
This information should also be available to you via the entrepreneur center at your local library.
At least, there’s one at the Mississauga Central Library so I assume this would apply to all libraries nationwide.
Related Content: Setting Up My Self-employed Business in Canada
I purchased medical insurance for 3 months. My research had outlined three places to buy medical insurance.
I eventually settled on Destination Canada. The cost was around $245 + tax for 3 months.
I carried out most of the research and chose medical insurance at Arbetov Insurance.
I also identified the closest walk-in clinic to me and noted that down for any emergencies.
Update: Since the pandemic started, newcomers to Canada can now register for an OHIP card without the waiting period requirement of 3 months.
To clarify, your cover starts the day you land in Canada and now 3 months afterward.
Related Content: Self-employed Medical Insurance in Ontario
I went to the nearest Service Ontario office to register for OHIP but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough identification documents.
In addition to my passport, COPR, library card, and business license, I also needed at least one other type of identification, which I didn’t have.
She, however, said my cover would start three months after I landed irrespective of when I registered at Service Ontario so I put that on my to-do list for the next few months.
Coverage conditions might be different for other provinces though so keep that in mind.
I borrowed and started reading a large handbook for my driver’s license test from the library.
I’ve been driving for 15 years, and I’ve never had a serious accident but hey, I gotta go back to school (kinda).
I can keep the current one for only 60 days before it’s mandatory to switch.
If you would like to get a head start on this, you can download a free copy of the Official MTO Driver’s Handbook HERE.
You can also start taking G1 practice tests HERE.
I conducted a quick search on the UPS website HERE and found the contact details of the nearest UPS office.
I sent them an email and they replied with a contract for me to fill as well as a copy of any photo ID.
The only photo ID I had was my passport and UAE driver’s license so I provided the license copy and sent it back.
I went to the branch the next day to pay for the mailbox and get a copy of the keys.
You don’t need a private mailbox but I’m a self-employed person and I don’t want to put my home address on things.
The UPS mailbox was $194 + tax for the year. Yikes! There’s an option for a digital mailbox, which is way cheaper and they forward your email to you wherever you are.
However, I wasn’t comfortable with that since this was the address I also wanted to use for my PR card.
I don’t need to file taxes till next year but I do need to understand how it works so I know how much of my self-employment income to set aside every month till next year.
I signed up for a quick course – Learning About Taxes – regarding this and also borrowed a book about taxes from the library.
- Joined the local library, for free. $30/year for non-residents. Great place to work with free wi-fi and water and a lot of free resources for newcomers.
- Registered for a French assessment test so they can assign me to the right french class (I would like the option to move to Montreal later on).
- Joined the local professional associations related to my field.
- Set up meetings with a few local contacts.
I then decided to slow my roll a bit and just enjoy. I’m so used to being on the go and getting things that need to be done out of the way.
I’ve taken a break (sorta) from my efficiency to make a plan for visiting nearby places like Hamilton, Toronto, Etobicoke, Brampton, and London.
I need to make a decision on where I want to live before I start apartment hunting.
That’s the only thing that has given a serious cause for concern so far since I’ve arrived. The housing crisis isn’t a joke.
Coupled with all the things they want from someone who just moved to Canada – credit check, references, employment letter, pay stubs, the blood of your firstborn, and a promissory note for the blood of your future last born…
Anyhoo, I’m taking it in my stride and as always, making a plan to get over that hump.
I’ve been advised a realtor might be the way to go as they can negotiate all these impossible requirements with the landlord on behalf of newcomers.
Apart from the two days of rain and freeze early on, the cold weather isn’t as alarming as I thought it would be, which tells me I’ve moved at a good time.
I’ll come back to you on the cold by September or October I think. 🙂
Related Content: Thoughts on My First Winter in Canada
I’ve been taking in the city on my long jaunts and it is a nice place, well laid out and hard to get lost.
Google Maps is your best friend here. Very pedestrian-friendly city.
I discovered a fantastic non-chain coffee shop – Halo Espresso Bar that served me the best bagel I’ve ever had in my life.
That’s it for now. I will be back in a few days to talk about the newcomer information services available and other thoughts on immigrating as a self-employed person to Canada.