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Thinking of moving to Canada? The below guide will help you step by step towards moving to Canada from Australia.
My BEST advice is to make sure you have some savings. It will help you not have to worry so much about getting a job as soon as you land and Canada is also not a cheap place to live!
You will need to think about where you would like to live in Canada. The two main cities that the majority of people move to are Toronto and Vancouver! If you are moving to Canada to work in the snow then Whistler or Banff are the two places Australians generally move to.
Moving to another country is not easy but don’t let that discourage you! Once you overcome the initial challenges and adjustments along with being homesick, it will be 100% worth it! You will meet new people, have the most amazing experience, go on many adventures and open up a world of possibilities.
Before moving to Vancouver, I went through the toughest time in my life and it made me think a lot about my future. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a passion for travelling and I have always wanted to experience living in another country.
After doing some research, it seemed that Canada was an easy and cheap visa to get for Australians. I had never been to Canada before but had seen photos of the beautiful lakes, mountains, and forests!
It wasn’t easy moving alone to the other side of the world away from family and friends! There’s a quote I really love that really inspired me: “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there”.
I had no clue as to what it would be like to live in Canada. It would have been extremely helpful for me if I had the below information instead of figuring it out for myself. This is why I decided to put everything I learned into this blog post to help you with a smooth transition when it comes to moving to Canada from Australia.
Before you decide in moving to Canada from Australia it’s wise to know the pros and con’s so you can make sure you’re making the right decision.
Canada is great for those that LOVE to spend their time outdoors as there is plenty to do from hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, and much more. The lakes, mountains, and forests are incredibly beautiful here!
There will be no language barrier in Canada since it’s mostly an English-speaking country. The only province in Canada where you may come across a language barrier is Quebec where they mainly speak French.
Vancouver and Toronto are also very multicultural. There are many different races, ethnicities, and cultures. Canada has many festivals and cultural events that take place around the year!
From Vancouver, you can road trip to the U.S. or even visit in a day as it’s that close! Flying to the U.S. is economical and easily accessible.
You don’t need to buy a car if you live in Vancouver or Toronto especially if it’s short-term. Getting around by public transport is easy and convenient. It is also the cheapest way to get around!
Not only is the cost of living and taxes high the wages are low. I don’t know how people get by on a minimum wage. Even on a decent wage, it is hard for people to save because rent, food, and eating out are expensive.
It’s cold most of the year except for 3 months during summer. It also rains a lot in Vancouver and there aren’t that many indoor activities to keep you entertained during the gloomy weather. Vancouver is the warmest city in Canada but it still gets very cold compared to Australia.
If you’re moving to Vancouver you see a lot of homeless people downtown, especially on one street (East Hastings). This can be particularly unsettling for Australians that have never seen this before.
Drug use is a big problem in Vancouver. East Hastings has been named the “worst street in North America” in terms of open drug use. It’s not unusual for someone to take drugs openly right next to you on the street.
Canadians are only entitled to two weeks of paid vacation a year in most jobs and are not encouraged to take unpaid vacation. The work ethic is very strict and you could lose your job for taking too much vacation!
You can apply for the International Experience Canada (IEC) visa if you are under the age of 35 and moving with the intention to work in Canada. The IEC visa will allow you to work in Canada for 2 years.
To be eligible for the International Experience Canada program you will need to have the following:
The International Experience Canada visa will cost around CAD 250, including the participation and open work permit fee. To apply for this visa you will need to create an account on the Government of Canada website.
You will first have to submit an application for an invitation to apply from the IEC pool. Once you receive an invitation to apply you can then submit your application for the work permit. The whole process takes around 2 months.
Here is a detailed chart of the process to obtain the IEC visa: Application process at a glance
If your application is approved you will receive a Port of Entry (POE) letter to show on arrival into Canada. It’s required that you enter Canada within 3 months from the date your application was approved.
Purchasing Health Insurance for the duration of your work permit is one of the requirements for the IEC visa. I purchased my insurance from Destination Travel Group through Arbetov Insurance.
It cost me $1372.00 for 2 years with $50,000 coverage. They have various prices depending on the amount of coverage you choose.
I made a claim within the first month of arriving in Canada because I went to the hospital with an anaphylactic reaction to antibiotics. I had no issues with making my claim, it was super easy! All I had to do was send in receipts and fill out some documents and they reimbursed me soon after!
I have recently moved to Bali and would highly recommend SafetyWing as another option to purchase Travel Medical Insurance. It includes COVID-19 coverage! Their Nomad Insurance starts at USD 40 per month.
The insurance payments are monthly and automatically deducted from the method of payment chosen. Nomad Insurance is the most suitable option for those that are on a flexible schedule when it comes to travelling. You can cancel it anytime or keep it going even if you travel to other destinations or visit your home country.
This option may be cheaper for you as you could stop the insurance once you get on the Medical Services Plan in Canada.
For the best deals on flights, check Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, and CheapOair. The cheapest day to fly out is usually Tuesdays. Open an incognito window on your computer to avoid google remembering your searches.
You will only need to book a one-way airfare since I doubt you will be able to book a flight 2 years in advance for your return and you are not required to do this either.
On entry into Canada, be prepared to show your Port of Entry Letter, proof of funds, proof of Travel Medical Insurance, and copies of the documents you provided with your application. They do not usually ask to see all these documents but it is best to be prepared just in case.
Once the border services officer approves your Port of Entry Letter, you will receive an Official Work Permit.
Book a place to stay on Airbnb for your first couple of weeks to a month, as it will be easier to find a place to rent once you’re in Canada.
If you are on a budget and want to stay at a place where you can meet people I recommend staying at the Samesun Backpackers Hostel on Granville Street in Downtown Vancouver.
If you need to send money between overseas bank accounts, the best platform to use is Wise. Wise is the best solution to get paid, pay anywhere, and move money around in different currencies as it has the lowest rate.
It’s free to open an account and it’s the easiest way to move your money to different bank accounts in other countries.
Apply for the Wise Debit Card and load Canadian currency onto it to use when you first land in Canada. The Wise Debit Card has low conversion fees and zero transaction fees.
It’s easy to withdraw money at an ATM and you are only charged a fee if you withdraw over AUD 350 a month or if the ATM has its own fees. At ATMs make sure to select the local currency to take money out if it gives you the option.
Once you are able to open up a bank account in Canada you can either transfer money from your Australian bank account via Wise or use your Wise Debit Card until you start earning money.
Owning a car in Canada can be expensive due to the cost of insurance and petrol. It’s easy to get around Vancouver and Toronto by public transport and it’s the most convenient.
The main public transport options in Vancouver are the Bus, Skytrain and the Seabus. Purchase a Compass Card from machines at any Skytrain stations or online. If you will be solely reliant on public transportation while living in Vancouver then a monthly pass on the Compass Card is the cheapest option.
If you will be living in Toronto you can purchase a Presto Card which you can use for various modes of transportation around the city.
Renting a car is affordable for weekend or day trips and the best website to book on is carrentals.com. You can filter to your needs and budget and they have free cancellation!
Evo is a car share program in Vancouver that is convenient because you can pick a car that is near you, go anywhere and park it in the home zone when you are done. It’s affordable as you only pay for the time you use. The rates cover petrol, insurance, parking, and kilometres. They also have hourly and daily rates.
All you need to do is download the Evo app, sign up with a Canadian driver’s license, have a minimum of 2 years of driving experience, and have a credit card. Evo is especially great to use when you do your grocery shopping!
To get your Canadian driver’s license visit any ICBC centre. Unfortunately, you will NEED to hand over your Australian driver’s license when doing this.
Taxis in Vancouver are expensive and unreliable. There have been many times when the wait time has been up to an hour or more and sometimes they never show.
To work in Canada and to access government benefits you will need to apply for a temporary Social Insurance Number (SIN) number. This is equivalent to a Tax File Number in Australia. You can apply for a SIN online or at any Service Canada Branch Office.
The cheapest phone plan I could find was with Freedom Mobile. If you have an iPhone make sure it is unlocked before you move.
Freedom is known not to have the best cell service although I rarely had an issue with this.
Other phone companies to research for a Canadian SIM card are Telus, Shaw, Bell, and Rogers.
Many banks offer a “Welcome to Canada” package for newcomers. I recommend BMO NewStart Program as there is no monthly fee for one year. Unlike Australia where most banks don’t charge a monthly account-keeping fee, it’s hard to find this in Canada.
If you are planning on living in Canada for more than one year then make sure to change your account with BMO after the one year to avoid the monthly fee.
To pay someone you can use your banking app to e-transfer. All you need is their email address or phone number.
There is no such thing as a visa debit card in Canada and you will need a credit card to pay for some things. Banks do offer credit cards for newcomers but the credit limit is low.
If you are a frequent traveller then the CIBC Aventura credit card would be the best option for you. They often do welcome offers where you don’t have to pay the annual fee for the first year. Every dollar spent is a point and these banked points can be used for travel.
The best websites to look for a place to rent are Craigslist and Kijiji. Beware of scammers though! If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
If they tell you they are out of town and will give you the code to unlock the keys from a registered box after they receive payment then this is a scam! Always make sure to ask to see the place before agreeing to anything or paying any money!
Something to keep in mind is that rentals in Canada usually only allow tenants to move in on the 1st of the month!
Rentals in downtown Vancouver and Toronto are expensive unless you share a place with other people. If you don’t want to share a place with others look for rentals just outside of the city and basement suites for more affordable options.
Medical Services Plan (MSP) will cover the costs for doctor’s appointments and emergency hospital visits. It’s the equivalent to Medicare in Australia although not as comprehensive.
You may be eligible to apply for the Medical Services Plan through the International Experience Canada visa. Read about the requirements and how to apply on their website.
It’s easy to get a job in Canada if you don’t care what you do. If you are looking for something specific or your fussy with the job you want, it will take you a lot longer to land a job.
Craigslist and Indeed are the two best websites to search and apply for jobs. I found these websites the most responsive.
The wages are a lot less in Canada than in Australia. If you don’t have any qualifications like myself the highest paying job is waitressing at a busy restaurant. Waitresses earn around $13 an hour but they make their money in TIPS!
I loved waitressing because it was a great way to meet people, it’s good money and it’s flexible in taking time off for travelling. Employees in most jobs in Canada are only entitled to two weeks of paid vacation a year!
The weather will be completely different from what you’re used to in Australia.
Expect to be cold most of the year and invest in some jackets since you will be wearing one every day! There are only 3 months of the year (the summer months from July-September) when it will be warm.
In winter, it does snow in Toronto and Vancouver. It rains a lot in Vancouver so a raincoat or an umbrella is something that you will need.
In Australia, I never experienced dry skin but here I deal with it daily. Buy a good moisturizer, shampoo, and conditioner for dry scalp and lip balm.
Service and hospitality industry workers generally rely on the tips they make due to their poor hourly wages.
Unfortunately, you have to TIP in Canada and that is why eating out becomes expensive. 10% of the total of the bill is the standard, 15% is for good service, and 18-20% is for outstanding service.
The card machines will give you the option of how much you want to tip and will calculate it for you although at some places 15% is the lowest option. You can select to choose other and enter the amount you want to tip either by percentage or $ amount.
You do not have to tip for takeaway but tips are expected for food delivery, bartenders, hotel staff, hairdressers, beauticians, massages, and taxi drivers.
For a list of services and the average tip expected check out the table on this website.
Unlike Australia, tax is NOT included in the price you see on items in shops. The tax is added at the time of purchase.
The tax year is by calendar year. Filing income tax should be done in the months from February to April for the previous year.
To book accommodation within Canada the best websites to use are Airbnb and Booking.com. YVR deals website keeps up-to-date with deals on overseas and domestic flights from Vancouver.
I have put together a list of some Canadian words that you might hear often and the Australian word equivalent.
|Green onions||Spring onions|
|KD short for Kraft Dinner||Mac and Cheese|
Moving to Vancouver was one of the best decisions I have made so far. I have met some amazing people I could not imagine my life without now including my husband. I have had so many adventures and experiences and most importantly, it has made me grateful.
If you have the chance to move to Canada from Australia, I encourage you to go for it! It is better to have tried than to have regrets. Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.
T & C'S