Stores

Are you thinking how to find a post office or a pharmacy?
Post offices are not separate offices as it is in many other countries – they rent spaces in supermarkets and pharmacies.
Pharmacies (apart from the obvious ones, such as Shoppers Drug Mart) can be found in almost each hiper- and supermarket. You need to be wary of pharmacies’ additional fees that are added to the price of a prescribed product. Not all additional insurances that you we usually have from work cover these fees (and it currently is some C$5-10). The lowest additional fee that I managed to find was in Costco and, what is important, you don’t need a Costco member card to be able to use their pharmacy.
Alcohol – you can buy it only in government stores or in hotels (apart from the QC and NL provinces) – that concerns strong alcohol and beer, wine can be bought in private wine shops. The minimum age for bying alocohol in Canada is 19 years (apart from AB, MB and QC provinces where it’s available from the age of 18).

Please see below a full list of Canadian stores, mainly chains. We will be updating this list. I upload photos of these shops on our Instagram profile. When you check prices in shops, remember these are net. You need to add a tax on top of these prices and this tax is different in each province.

Stores with new cheap products:

  • Dollar Tree (everything for C$1.25)
  • Dollarama (everything used to be for C$1 once, now some products cost up to C$4)

Stores with second-hand stuff:

Alcohol stores:

  • Liquor store (BC)
  • Liquor Mart (MB)
  • Liquor Depot (AB)
  • Real Canadian Liquor Store (AL)
  • LCBO (ON)
  • SLGA (SK)
  • Beer Store
  • Cold Beer

Hipermarkets:

Supermarkets:

Grocery shops and else (2 in 1):

  • Giant Tiger (apart from food, they sell various other stuff, popular because of cheap clothes)
  • Shoppers (a pharmacy that is open to later hours and a grocery shop)
  • M&M Food Market (ready-made frozen products)

Construction stores:

New designer products (merchandise, outlet):

Everything BUT food products:

Electronics, white and brown goods, office supplies:

Computer stores:

Automotive:

Hunting stores:

Sports and outdoor stores:

Work shoes and clothes:

Furniture stores:

Life

Everyone willing to come to Canada considers which place would be best for them, also looking at the financial side of things. Especially when they have a family and kids. We obviously care about expenses most then and want to be prepared to the trip as well as possible.

I’m going to present average monthly expenses here, mainly in Winnipeg (MB). If any information is inaccurate, please let me know.

The below amounts are the average gross costs:

  • C$1050 – a flat with 2 bedrooms, Vancouver and Toronto: around C$1800 for 2 bedrooms;
  • C$120 – 2 mobile contracts with data transfer packages;
  • C$40 – home Internet;
  • C$90 – one monthly pass for public transport, almost C$150 in Toronto;
  • C$160 – car insurance, C$350-400 in Vancouver and Toronto;
  • C$150 – monthly cost of car fuel, in Vancouver and Toronto (due to bigger distances) this amount can easily reach even C$500;
  • C$800 – food and cleaning supplies for a family of 4. Here it depends a lot on your family’s nutrition and consumption 🙂
  • C$650 – preschool (in Vancouver and Toronto it’s C$1300-1800)

For a family of 4 it adds up to almost C$2500 for: one car, 3 monthly passes for public transport (incl. 2 discounted ones), phones, Internet, flat rent and your kids are attending school. In order to feel comfortable, we need to earn min. C$3000 altogether (in Winnipeg). In metropolises such as Vancouver and Toronto this amount can be higher even by C$2000.

Gross hourly rates:

  • C$11/h – shops and fast food chains (those jobs always mean country minimum wage)
  • C$12-13/h – factories, producing e.g. furniture
  • C$14/h – jobs like fitter, metal assembler etc.
  • C$16/h – construction works, truck drivers within cities (this is the starting rate, without any experience)
  • C$18/h – roofing jobs

If you don’t have any additional diplomas/certifications, the construction/roofing jobs can get you up to C$28/h. In worse paid jobs, if we don’t get promoted, the pay increases very slowly.

If you have an hourly rate of 11 C$/h, it adds up to almost C$1,400 per month. So two people working on country’s minimum wage are able to support a family but it will not be easy, especially if any unexpected expenses show.

Once you have PR, you are eligible for child benefits – the amount depends on your income. If you are on IEC, you are NOT eligible for benefits so it could get pretty difficult if only one person in the family is going to work.

It is worth noticing that in Canada schools operate from 9am to 3.30pm and there is lunch in the middle of the day. Not all schools have before and after school care centres and and leaving the child at school during lunchtime is paid extra.

Please see below some links that may help in the search for a place in such a huge country as Canada:

  • A comparison site about living costs here;
  • A post on Notable about living costs of young professionals in Toronto here;
  • Calculating your net salary depending on the province here;
  • Job offers, cars for sale, flats to rent and many others: kijiji;
  • Housing, jobs, community ads: Craigslist;
  • Real estate: Remax and Realtor;
  • Renting a flat or room for a short period of time: Airbnb.com or Airbnb.ca;
  • Job offers and information about official hourly rates: jobbank;

If there is anything missing in this post, let us know. We hope we helped you a bit 🙂

Work

Shall I look for a job before leaving my country? Is it easy to find a job once already there? Where shall I look for jobs? Does anyone know a work agency in Europe that would arrange it all? Is it worth going to Canada for the money?

    Canada is not a country to which you come “for the money”. It’s a country to which you come to simply live. Most rumors that you might have heard about salaries in Canada may be true but these are GROSS amounts and when you deduct taxes from it, it’s no longer so nice… Plus, seeing that flight tickets to Europe are super expensive, it’s almost impossible to work in Canada and still support a family in your home country – which, in turn, means that you will either live a modest life with your family or a super modest one far from them. Unless you’re planning to rent a room forever and never visit your family. Conditions to be granted a work permit are also not the easiest to fulfill and the procedures are very time-consuming and sometimes really costly.

    There is no work agency that would arrange everything for you, as it happens in Norway or Sweden.

    What is important abut job seeking is that most of your diplomas are worthless as such and you cannot really make use of them. You need to find the NOC number of your professional experience and find out whether your occupation is regulated or if it really isn’t and thus your diploma is valid (although if it’s not in English or French, it will still need to be translated, of course). Mind you the province re which you are checking the given occupation – some jobs can be regulated in one province and not regulated in another.

    You can find jobs on the jobbank website but, what is more important, you can also see what occupations are more popular in a given province. Whether a job is forecast to stay popular in the nearest future or whether the need for it is decreasing. What the minimum, average and maximum rates are in a given occupation and province. 

Other websites for job seeking: 

    Having a proper CV, or rather RESUME, is another important matter. It differs from the CVs you may be used to because it shouldn’t have the following:

  • your picture
  • your date of birth
  • your marital status and information about children
  • information about your religion 

    SOFT SKILLS is another topic worth considering – in many European countries they are not important and you may then have problems with finding a job in Canada because of them. You may have more experience and better qualifications than another candidate who has good soft skills and it would still be them getting the job, not you. 

This video about soft skills explains it well and is well watching: 

TIPS:

  • Resume – it’s best to prepare it specifically for each individual employer. If you’re applying for a job that is below your education, you can remove the education (and experience) section that is not applicable for the job you are looking at. If you don’t do that, you risk being overeducated and your resume flying towards the trash bin… 
  • Interview. The initial interview often takes place already during the phone conversation and this is when the decision is made whether you would get an invitation for an interview in person.
  • ASAP – if you see this in a job ad, it means they are really looking for someone to fill the position, like, NOW.

    If the above abbreviation doesn’t show in a job ad, then the time between sending a resume and having a phone call from the potential employer may be 1-3 months and being employed after the interview may be an additional 1-6 weeks. 

 !!!!! Take all of the above into account when making plans as it is extremely important when you’re coming on a year-long WP (which cannot be extended in case of IEC) and the provincial nomination program (PNP) that you’re looking at requires 6-12 months of work experience in Canada (e.g. MB has it as 6 months but ON is already 12 months!). 

    You can consider the below options to look for jobs even before you actually reach Canada:

  • A Canadian address. Find a motel/hostel/some boarding house in which you will likely stay just after arrival (before you rent a room or a flat) and put its address in the resume.
  • A Canadian phone number. Here we may make use of companies offering VoIP service and give the option of purchasing a Canadian number – e.g. Spikko

Thanks to those “procedures” you can start your job search as if you were already in Canada. But you need to take it into account that if you get invited to an interview, you will not have too much time to pack and go, and flight tickets for this period can be even double the usual price (and they are already not the cheapest)… 

Before departure

What should I take? It all depends on whether you’re going to Canada for good, going there and considering staying or only for holiday. We will discuss only the first 2 options here. This is because if you’re going there on holiday only, you don’t need to worry too much about official stuff, apart from a passport, eTA, flight tickets, funds to support you and insurance.

Of course it’s not avbsolutely necessary to take all of the stuff we list here – treat it as a tip only. 

  • passport;
  • eTA [electronic travel authorisation] – necessary to board the flight;
  • travel insurance;
  • cash in Canadian dollars (since transfering funds is not the fastest or the cheapest option);
  • credit card;
  • mobile phone with no sim lock;
  • when it comes to suitcases, then take the lightest ones as the limit usually (depending on the airline) is 23 kg per person (kids too) – big registered luggage that goes underneath the plane deck PLUS 8-10 kg for carry-on luggage PLUS 8-10 kg for a laptop bag or woman purse. Always remember to check what kg limits the airline has – it’s best to check it already when booking tickets (since sometimes it may be difficult to find this info later on, although one can always call the airline infoline). If you travel with a small child/toddler, you can additionally take a diaper bag, pass the car seat underneath the deck and take a stroller with you (it will be put underneath the deck just before you get on the plane and will be given back to you immediately after landing). The lightest luggage is the one looking like a sports bag but with wheels and a handle;
  • international driver’s licence (usually a booklet in various languages which you get issued in a proper office);
  • thermal underwear – even the one from eBay will do (not that much needed if you’ll be travelling by car a lot);
  • painkillers (forte and night), anti-bacterial medicines, any antibiotics you may need, tantum verde (or other sprays for a sore throat), a bigger supply of contraception you are using, herbal teas that you think may be specific to your country;
  • winter/cold cream;
  • warm clothes (but better not to buy them specifically for the trip as they are likely to be better and cheaper in Canada);
  • I recommend to buy some nice/fancy clothes beforehand (like Zara, Stradivarius, Bershka) as they’re not the easily available here;
  • leather shoes;
  • if your hair dryer, hair straightener, iron etc. are 110/220 V, you can take them with you; but if they are only 220 V (or 230 V), then don’t take them as they won’t work;
  • one or two extension cords so that you can connect many appliances when using only one adapter;
  • a couple of plug adapters (but NOT voltage adapters);
  • a bigger supply of contact lenses;
  • headphones  (you will need them in the plane);
  • jewellery (gold, silver, amber, stainless steel, etc.) – they are 3 times more expensive in Canada so if you were planning to buy something, do it now;

ADDITIONALLY before departure:

  • arrange a proxy in your country so that they are allowed to receive your registered mail, close your account if it’s needed, get your police certificate, etc.;
  • translate everything you have (school diplomas/degrees, full birth certificate, marriage certificate, police certificate, etc.) and take those documents with you;
  • (if applicable) inform proper authorities about your leaving the country (military service, student loan organisation) and make sure other offices and banks have a proper correspondence address for you (e.g. not your rental flat address but maybe your parents’ house);
  • visit a dentist;

A TIP:

    I think it’s best to have all the cash on you and pay it into a Canadian bank account as soon as you land in Canada. What if, for various reasons, we don’t want to take that much money with us? Fees for transfers and ATM withdrawals are very high. I suggest sending the money via one of those services (but check beforehand if they operate in your country):

Immigration

Immigration to Canada. There are a coupe of programs available – you can apply directly to some of them, whereas the other ones require passing other programs/stages first. You have two types of programs: provincial and state ones. State programs have the same requirements for all provinces within Canada, while provincial programs are diferent for each province/territory.

State programs:

  • EE – Express Entry

Provincial programs:

  • PNP – each province has a few programs and each of program has different requirements:

BCAL, SK, MB, ON, NB, Y, NS, NL, NT, PE, Q

 

If you can’t pass the EE requirements right away, you may want to do one or all of these programs first:

  • IEC – depends on the country of nationality, you can get a WP for one or two years.
  • Study – if you graduate from a college/university in Canada, you can get an open WP for up to 3 years.
  • LMIA – if you find an employer who wishes to hire you and you don’t have a WP (yet), they can apply for LMIA and if they get approved, you will get a WP (employer-specific).