Guidelines

Due to the fact that most of us here are from Winnipeg, the guidelines will be based mainly on experiences of people living in Manitoba (MB). The advice will be helpful to anyone, though, no matter where you’re going to live. The guidelines will also be continuously updated with information from both MB and other provinces.

flat

Renting a flat/room – what to pay attention to:

  • Before you decide to rent a flat/room, it’s worth checking if there are no bugs in it, which is quite a common issue in Winnipeg, unfortunately. More about it here.

„The blacklist” is available on the „THE BEDBUG REGISTRY” site: 

  • Before you get the flat keys, you need to check thoroughly if it’s clean. You need to report each stain, every tiny whole in the wall, broken lamp. It’s also a good practice to move the fridge and oven to check if it’s also clean behind them. When you move out, the person dealing with rented flats also checks if the flat is clean – if it’s not, the money to clean it will be deducted from your deposit. 
car

Buying a car

  • When buying a car from a private person, you need to add a provincial tax to the price and you will pay it when registering the car. When buying the car from the dealer, there is both the state and provincial tax added to the price and both are payable to the dealer. 
  • I don’t recommend using the services of people advertising in kijiji saying they will help with purchasing a car (Chris’s subjective opinion – it was a bad experience for him).

A car accident

  • If you take part in a car accident, you need to take a picture of the driver’s driving licence and their car’s documents (registration etc.). It’s also worth remembering the time and place of the accident since you will need this information when reporting damage in MPI (in MB) [if you take pics with a smartphone, the location, together with date and time are usually saved in the picture’s details anyway].         

    Any damage needs to be reported to the insurance company. If the car can still be driven, we get an appointment for the damage assessment. The car needs to be clean (at least in the part that needs to be examined). The expert will estimate the damage and you will get documents allowing for the car repair at any car service. The whole process is cashless (MPI pays for the repair directly to the company you’ve chosen). If any car part had had any previous damages, they will also be included in the estimate but you will need to pay for them yuorself.

    If the car cannot be driven, MPI (in MB) sends a tow truck and you will receive expert’s opinion by phone. It’s worth to have the “substitute car” option available because then, when you report the damage and get the case number, you can quote this number at any car rental and rent a car in a cashless way. You will need a credit card (apart from your driver’s licence).

    When reporting an accident, you’ll be asked if you had your glasses damaged (MPI will refund the new ones), if there was a child car seat there (regardless if there was a crash and it’s broken or if it was just a minor accident and the car seat looks ok, it needs to be immediately replaced and you need to bring the old seat, together with the receipt, to the MPI. The cost of the new car seat will be refinded to you.). If you or any person accompanying you during the accident had any injuries, you will be redirected to another person who will assess your state and you will be given another case number. You can visit a physiotherapist and thanks to this number you will have a therapy cashlessly (commuting to them can also be refunded by MPI but we will need to prove all expenses in the end).

    In case of a major injury that doesn’t allow you to work, you need to visit a doctor asap and get a doctor’s note. If you miss 8 days of work and are on a sick leave, MPI starts paying you 90% of your daily rate for every missed workday (the leave needs to be uniterrupted).

Car insurance

Car insurance, same as other matters connected with your car, is administered by MPI (in MB). In order to register a car “for good”, you will need a so-called “safety” so an up-to-date car check. The insurance cost is around C$130-190 per month (almost twice this price in ON).

When buying a car privately, you can delay paying the state tax for the car purchase. There is a possibility of having a temporary car registration, a so-called “temporary permit”. You don’t have to pay the tax then but the monthly costs of car insurance are slightly higher. One person can have max 3 temporary permits per year. You can choose the term of the permit yourself (from a couple days to 30 days). That means that one person can use a temporary permit for a maximum of 90 days in a year. You don’t have registration plates then but only a piece of paper on the window.

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 🙂