New Immigrant Settlement Tips for Canada

Most new immigrants who have landed or are going to land have a lot of questions regarding life in Canada. I have tried to provide some info here for everybody’s benefit. Hope this helps.
BASIC Dos & DONTs
DON’T CONVERT THE COST OF ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING FROM CAD TO YOUR HOME CURRENCY – this will only scare you and give you unnecessary tension
DON’T STICK TO YOUR OWN COMMUNITY – while your own community gives you a feeling of “home” and emotional support, it may not be the best thing to do. I am saying this because if you only talk to people from your community or spend time only with them then your perception of Canada in general and life here specifically will be completely skewed and in some cases completely wrong. Heres an example, imagine you meet a 40 year old doctor from India who has immigrated and is finding extreme difficulty in finding work here because his educational credentials need re-certification as per Canadian standards, being 40 years old he maybe quite rigid in his thinking and he might think Canada is treating him unfairly despite his educational qualifications and experience, however Canada and Canadian hospitals are only following rules and not biased against this specific doctor. Now you land here as an IT professional and meet this doctor in your local community gatherings and hear his sad story. Though it is completely unrelated to your situation, profession, qualification or experience it may demotivate you a lot because you see a fellow country man, with fantastic qualifications and experience struggling here to get a job and your morale goes down. In that state you mind will not think rationally and you will lose positivity.
LEARN THE CULTURE OF CANADA – I am not saying google Canada and learn everything by heart like how we study for exams in India. When you move around in Canada, see how people treat each other it can be the man at the immigration counter at the airport, the taxi driver who drops you to your place of stay, the man at the ticket counter in the subway station or fast food store, the manager at the bank, etc. Basically anybody and everybody you meet in life teaches you something consciously or unconsciously, when you interact with different types of people try to observe them, their gestures, body language, tone of voice, volume level of speech, dress sense etc and try to understand the culture, general rules of communication, mutual respect and boundaries. This will help you a great deal in tailoring your communication skills to Canadian standards. Most Indians have a wrong attitude of thinking western people have no culture or that Indian culture is superior, that is stupid and will only lead you down the wrong path. India has a rich culture and heritage, that doesn’t mean we are the only ones. Learn to understand the difference between something which is wrong and something which is just different from what you do. And remember just because I do something in a different way and not like you doesn’t make me wrong and you right, we are just different people, you may not want to appreciate that but atleast you should internally acknowledge this difference and accept it as a natural thing, else you will isolate yourself and see every westerner as biased, racist, wrong or stupid (according to you)
DON’T FEEL THAT CANADA OWES YOU SOMETHING BECAUSE THEY INVITED AND ACCEPTED YOUR IMMIGRATION APPLICATION – Remember immigration is more of a political decision than an economic decision for the government. You may have very good qualifications and experience in your home country, but that may not mean anything in Canada. Canadian government does not guarantee every immigrant employment what they guarantee is a quality and standard of life which is very good if you can sort out the basics like job, housing etc.
Imagine you are an Indian in India and one day an African person comes to your office and says he has done MBA from the Univesity of Mogadishu and passed in first rank, he has worked in the Bank of Kilimanjaro for 15 years as chief accountant and wants you to give him a job as chief accountant in your company. What will you think? Do you know where the University of Mogadishu is?? NO…do you know if the University is any good?? NO…do you know anything about the Bank of Kilimanjaro?? NO would you give this guy a job?? NO!! you would not want to take that risk, you would rather consider a local Indian applicant who has studied in a university you know and worked in a company which you know or which you can easily check on using your contacts in India. This is the same story in Canada and this is the truth, Canadian employers are not biased against immigrants, they just don’t want to take a risk with an unknown person with unknown qualifications and work experience in unknown companies So what do you do to land a job…read on..
IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS – I cannot stress the importance of this more that what has already been said by many senior people on this forum. When you apply for jobs initially you are nothing but a voice on a phone claiming to have studied something and worked somewhere and to know so many things. If this voice is not clearly understandable then the person at the other end will most probably not belive the information or will atleast be doubtful, also he may not want to continue a conversation which he is not able to understand. I am not saying every new immigrant should speak the queen’s English with a perfect accent. But every immigrant should be able to speak clear English without any mother tongue influence, every immigrant should be able to communicate his ides and thoughts clearly in a manner in which anybody anywhere in the world can understand. Even on this forum itself if you see many people post in very poor English, this is not because they don’t know English, this is because they are thinking in their mother tongue and then doing a direct translation or transliteration into English!! If you want to make an impression on potential employers then please polish your English skills, you may clear IELTS and may have studied and spoken English for many years but that still doesn’t mean you know the language well. Here is a simple test, watch an English serial on youtube without subtitles, try to write down the dialogues and then watch it with subtitles and see how much of the dialogues you got right. This will tell you how much you understand the accent and the language. Remember English is not our language its theirs and therefore they are the ones who decide what correct English is not you and me!!
Other keys to success
•Have an open mind – your culture is rich valuable and wonderful wherever you came from, but the one that you have come to (Canada) is neither lower nor worse than your own culture its just different
•Life is not easy – in most cases people go through lots of hardships in their own home countries, a new adopted country will be more difficult initially, its like joining a new job, or school or moving to a new neighborhood. Make double the effort to integrate yourself into this new culture and community
•Your future and destiny is what you make of it and nobody else has a say in it!! – strive hard, work hard and pray hard…you will be successful. God did not create any damaged goods!! Everybody has their own talents and skills, identify your strengths and project them and identify your weak areas and work harder to improve them.
•Be polite, respectful and courteous – You may not be an IT genius or heart surgeon, but somebody may like you just because of your nature and attitude and help you. Most geniuses work alone in laboratories, it’s the normal people with average intelligence and positive attitude who build society and make it a safe and happy place to live in!!
•Don’t be jealous of other people’s success – somebody may have landed 6 months after you did and may land a job in 2 weeks whereas you maybe struggling for last 6 months. Don’t be jealous, be genuinely happy for them, congratulate them, they maybe able to help you with some tips on how they achieved success. Jealousy and all other negative attitudes should be thrown in the garbage bin in the airport when you land in Canada!!
Initial stay – short term
You will need a place to stay when you land initially. This will be your base till you finish all your basi formalities and settle down to an extent. For most people they will have friends/relatives who can help them with a place to stay. For others try the following options
www.safehomestay.com – This is a for profit business run by a couple in Toronto. They have some apartments in Toronto which they rent out on daily/weekly/monthly basis. They also offer pickup drop facility from Toronto Pearson airport. They offer two options bedroom with attached bathroom or just bedroom with common bathroom. The apartments are close to public transit and have all the facilities like fully functional kitchen with appliances and vessels (you have to buy your groceries), TV, internet connection landline telephone etc. I have personally stayed in one of their properties and found it be nice, clean and safe.
You can try places like www.extendedstay.com if you have some more money.
Another option is to look on websites like www.craigslist.ca www.kijij.ca www.sulekha.com etc and search for short term rentals or shared accommodation or paying guest kind of places.
Food and Groceries
If you have just moved to Canada and don’t have a job in hand, you don’t want to drain all your savings in the first few months itself. If you live in and around Toronto, you have the following supermarkets options for buying food items
No Frills, Walmart, Loblaws (expensive), and lots of smaller grocery stores
When you come from your home country ensure that you carry essential food items, for example Indians may want to carry curry powder, dry spices etc. I am an Indian by birth hence suggesting things from an Indian perspective. Don’t waste your luggage space by carrying kilos of rice or wheat flour or pulses, all these things are available in plenty in Canada and not so expensive also!!
Normal household expenses for a family of 3-4 for one month
•Rent – 1000-1500 ( don’t look for fancy apartments when you land, you only need a clean safe place to stay, you can move to fancy place once you settle down)
•Groceries – 500-750
•Mobile/Internet – 150 – You should get a Vonage (www.vonage.ca) phone once you have a house to stay. This is very cost effective and gives you unlimited calling to 60 countries for just 30-40 CAD per month. This is extremely cost effective if you want to keep in touch with people back home. I have one and am using it on daily basis. But remember it will not work without internet connection.
•Cable TV – Initially don’t invest in all this, you may have a family and they may get bored at home, encourage them to explore the areas near your house rather than sit at home and watch Hindi/Tamil/Malayalam/Telugu channels. Remember independence is key factor every family member except little kids must be able to do things on their own and know what to do in case of emergencies. Worst case if you have internet and laptop you can watch the programs online.
•Travel expenses – 100-150 – you can get train/bus/tram pass for a month this will be really useful to help you commute. If you are in Toronto you can get a weekend pass which can be used by a family instead of just one person. Check this website for more details www.ttc.ca
Long Term / Permanent Accomodation
People who have crossed the initial hurdles and are looking for permanent accommodation can use the following websites to help them. Even if you don’t want to go through the website and pick a house, it will still give you an idea about what is the general rent in the area you are looking for and what kind of houses are available
www.craigslist.ca
www.kijiji.ca
www.sulekha.com
www.rent.com
All houses will not have all amenities included. In Canada amenities refer to the following
Electricity / Hydro – This is your electricity service just like electricity board in India
Water & Sewage this is the drinking water provided to your house via pipe connection and collection and disposal of the sewage generated in your house (nobody will come and collect it in person, its just the term )
Heating – This is the service provided to heat your house, Canada is a cold country and you need heat!! You can probably compare it central air-conditioning in India
Washer & Dryer / Laundry – some houses will have it ensuite which means inside the house or shared coin laundry which means there will be a room in the basement or somewhere else in the building, with many washing machines and dryers which you can operate by putting coins into them.
Other factors you may want to consider
• Parking – Street parking or covered parking
• Access to Transit or Public Transport
• Proximity to schools, if you have kids
• Proximity to hospitals, banks, shopping etc
Job Opportunities
This is the trickiest and most difficult aspect.
You have three options, either you can lower your expectations and settle for a job level lower than what you did in your home country or you can saty and wait to get a job on the same level, or you can completely give up get a survival job and keep looking on the side for the job you want.
The first approach is what most people choose because when you land here your first priority is to get a foothold in the job market, just ensure that you know how much money you need for comfortable life and keep your mind and eyes open for any job in that salary range in your area of work.
The second approach is what some people with lots of experience prefer, this will not always work but its not complete failure too. It all depends on luck and how aggressively you market your skills. I am right now in this category!!
The 3rd approach is the riskiest. I say this because number one survival jobs area mostly physical labour jobs and pay very less which means you work more to make ends meet, which means you hardly have any time or energy to search for the job you really want. Also once money starts flowing into your hands you have a tendency to get complacent and give up on your original job search.
Most people say that its not possible to get a job via the internet. I beg to differ I got 2 job offers in Canada via internet and also few of my previous jobs in India were via internet. I didn’t accept the Canadian offers as I belong to the second category above
Some of the websites which you can use for your job search in Canada
www.workopolis.ca
www.simplyhired.ca
www.monster.ca
www.jobbank.ca
www.indeed.ca
There are many more which you can find via google. These are some of the popular ones.
If you want to check the salary for the kind of job you are applying for then you can use this website

http://swz.salary.com/CanadaSalaryWizard/layoutscripts/cswzl_newsearch.aspx

If you want to know what are the approximate taxes you will be paying out of your salary you can use this website

http://lsminsurance.ca/calculators/canada/income-tax

http://turbotax.intuit.ca/tax-resources/canada-income-tax-calculator.jsp

If you know how income tax is calculated or you are an accountant then this website is the official govt website providing tax rates

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/fq/txrts-eng.html

Networking – Networking is crucial to find a job in Canada, by networking I don’t mean computer networks. I am talking about building social connections. If you have read this far then you will know about the difficulties of finding a job in Canada and why it is so. It is extremely important that you build professional relationships with people on the internet who maybe able to help you find a job. One of the best ways to do this is to join a website like Linkedin (www.linkedin.com)
What to do on Linked in
1.Create a profile which highlights your strengths and achievements in a crisp and clear fashion
2.This is a professional networking site so keep all your interactions with other members professional. Remember this is not Facebook or Orkut, so don’t post unnecessary or irrelevant posts
3.Don’t add random people, add people who you think maybe able to help you in your chosen field of work. Don’t try to replicate your friends list from FB or Orkut on linked in. FB is for personal relationships and Linked in is for Professional relationships.
4.Don’t put funny or casual photos of yourself on Linkedin, make your profile look as professional as possible.
5.Join relevant groups on linkedin, like project managers group or Canadian HR group or something like that relevant to your line of work this will help you refine your search and contacts in the industry.
Over and above all
• Have faith in god and trust him to lead you to the right path
• Trust your own skills, strengths and judgement
• Exercise caution but have an open mind
• Remember You wanted this life in Canada, you wanted to be here, you struggled hard to get here, its justs a little more of struggling till you settle down and then you will be able to enjoy the life this country can offer you!!
By Rishab Shanker

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