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First Two Months In Canada - Experience

First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Old Oct 29th 2004, 6:41 pm
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Default First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Two months after landing in the Greater Toronto Area (moving from the USA), it is finally time for me to share my experiences with everyone. I can now say that my family and I are fully settled down and Canada is no longer a foreign land to us. In one sentence, I could summarize that Canada (specifically Ontario), in my opinion, is just like another US state (I mean that in a good way). Moving there and re-starting our life felt pretty much no different as if we moved to New York State or Pennsylvania... - you basically have to adjust to the new surroundings and to some stupid new laws - everything else will feel like you're still in the US... Below, however, are the few exceptions which have caused us some headaches and perhaps my experience will help lessen your stress.

But let's start about two months ago - right after landing. My landing experience was described in another post, so this is the continuation.

When we crossed the border, we headed straight for the Motel6 in which we had a reservation for 4 nights. Very nice hotel, no different from those in the US. Our plan of action was to find a more of the permanent lodging ASAP, since we had a huge 24' Uhaul full of our belongings, which had to be returned just a week later, so we were under a huge time pressure. We started looking for homes for rent immediately. We wanted a house, so the apartments were out of the question. We knew roughly what rent costs for what we wanted, so we assumed a $1000 CAD/month will be required to secure our new home. We met with a few landlords. They all wanted our Social Insurance Number (SIN), which we didn't have, and some references. They all say they WILL check your credit history, so it begins pathetically bad for any new immigrant, as you do not have any Canadian credit history (you don't even have the SIN)! Therefore lesson #1 - BEFORE YOU LEAVE USA, TAKE TONS OF LETTERS OF REFERENCE FROM YOUR PAST LANDLORDS TO PROVE THAT YOU WERE A RELIABLE TENANT. If you have them on your renter's corporate logo paper, that's even better. Always include a contact home number - because your landlord WILL call! These letters might help, but do not guarantee anything, especially if you don't have a job. Therefore, act professionally and trustworthy - this maybe your only hope. We were finally approved by someone who called my employer (I happened to have one) and checked all the references, but most of all they said that THEY REALLY LIKED US - so again, try to be "likeable" when wanting to be approved - because you have hardly anything else to speak for you. Most landlords we've met were extremely cautious. This process took us 5 days (and we thought it was extremely quick!), so be prepared for many nights in a hotel - it does not happen overnight, as most landlords will slowly take their time checking your background and your credentials.

Social Insurance Number (SIN) created us a lot of stress as well. This is one of the dummiest things in the whole immigration / settlement process. Starting from FINDING A PLACE TO LIVE, GETTING A JOB, or GETTING A CELL PHONE may be a nightmare without this number! It takes 3 weeks for the Human Resources Dept of Canada to issue SIN from the day you apply for it, so you basically can't accomplish certain crucial things without it! Surprisingly, CIC was never thoughtful enough to figure out that any newcomer will be asked for that number wherever he moves during his first days or weeks in Canada!!! We still can't believe CIC does not have a shortcut system for newly landed immigrants to assign this number to all newcomers immediately as they cross the border to make our lives simpler from the start! Oh well, they just don't. Our landlord, as I said above, liked us a lot, so she disregarded the lack of SIN, but who knows if your potential landlord will?! Be prepared for some stress. When it comes to the phone... we wanted a cell phone rather than a land line - here is where we bumped into a real problem. Getting a pre-paid rip-off plan is simple without SIN, but getting a CITY FIDO phone (one that acts like your local home phone without limited minutes) is impossible without a SIN or a Canadian Credit Card (a US card won't do!). So good luck waiting 3+ weeks to be able to make your first phone call..., until then you are stuck using payphones, just like we were.

Another possible headache-causing-problem may be your driver's license. If you're from the States, then it most likely won't affect you. Driver's licenses from ONLY FEW COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD (U.S.A., Japan, Korea, Switzerland, Germany, France, Great Britain and Austria) are "transferable" to an Ontario License - individuals from all the other countries will have to pass a G2 test in order to get full driving privileges NO MATTER HOW MANY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE THEY HAD IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY!! If you don't pass this test, you will not be allowed to drive on your own. You can drive on your old license only for the first 60 days after landing. When you apply for Ontario license, your old license is immediately confiscated by the driver's license officer (because US and Canada have an agreement that says it is illegal to have 2 licenses from two different states or provinces). The list of "special treatment" countries and more details are here: http://www.drivetest.ca/en/license/ExchangeOutProv.aspx

If you bring your cars with you from the US... Here is a big lesson I have learned. I was clueless at first and would like to share my knowledge now with everyone to make it easier for you. I have gone through some devastating nerves with this process, which all could have been avoided by having the knowledge I have now. To begin, please know that there are TWO SEPARATE PROCESSES involved in licensing your car to be operable in Canada. One is called the FEDERAL (RIV) and the other is PROVINCIAL. Next two paragraphs describe each process separately.

First of all, in order for your imported car to be able to remain legally in Canada, it must first pass a FEDERAL (RIV) INSPECTION. This is to make sure your vehicle complies with the Canadian federal regulations. This sounds much more scary than it is, if you know how to go about making this happen. Advice #2 - DO NOT EVER GO TO CANADIAN TIRE STORES FOR ANY INSPECTION. These people, I have learned, are programmed to tell you that your car is a piece of crap and to rip you off! Anyhow, the RIV regulations boil down to your car needing the daytime running lights installed, which you can accomplish in several ways. The biggest misconception of this process is that only certain shops can perform this work - this is bull - the truth is that ANYONE can do this modification for you, including yourself - not only a licensed shop or a dealer which will rip you off most of the time. After checking with the dealer for my vehicle (they wanted $250 CAD), I called RIV and asked who is allowed to do this modification - the lady said – “ANYONE, we don't care.� So I went to the Canadian Tire store, purchased a $25 kit and did it myself in an hour! Obviously, you have to know just a bit about cars to do this yourself, but the bottom line is that anyone can do it, so if you cannot do it yourself or you are quoted too high at a dealer, go and shop around and choose whomever suits you best! Keep the receipt of the work performed just in case. Of course this also depends on the make of your car: some cars are easily done by yourself, and some have to be done by the dealer, only. Check with the dealer, first, and the go and shop around. The next important thing is - who can inspect the car for you. On the papers you will receive from RIV, they will clearly suggest that Canadian Tire is their preference. I would advise otherwise... Look closely at the inspection stations list provided by the RIV, on there you will find several other shops who are licensed to do this "inspection". I happened to find a dealer who made this "inspection" totally painless - it took less than 10 minutes. This dealer is on the list, so you may be able to locate him on your own. Three weeks after this federal (RIV) inspection the government will send you a label which you will affix on your car. To summarize, the modification of my two vehicles, on the average, amounted to only about $50 CAD each! (and I was told $1000 each before I landed myself!). If you don't install the lights yourself, it may cost you $150-$250 CAD per vehicle.

The tougher part was the PROVINCIAL SAFETY INSPECTION which you have to perform next (to actually be able to register the car and get your new license plates). In Ontario, it is called a SAFETY STANDARDS CERTIFICATE, which consists of a painfully thorough 500 million-point safety check of your vehicle. It is like a "cavity search" of your car, which trust me - IF YOU GO TO A WRONG PLACE FOR IT, MAY COST YOU A HEART ATTACK! Please take my words seriously. My first vehicle, a 1999 German vehicle (I will refrain from providing the details) gave me absolutely no problems at home... when I took it to the Canadian Tire store for inspection they found about $1500 worth of "necessary" repairs!!! I was blown beyond comprehension. My car did not need any of these complicated repairs - but Canadian Tire needed some profit! I previously drove this car at 200km/h and am still alive, so go figure who's right! So Lesson #3 is similar to Lesson #2: NEVER GO TO CANADIAN TIRE FOR PROVINCIAL SAFETY INSPECTION. They will cause you a mental breakdown, which they almost caused me. In a total despair, I talked to a friend and he suggested performing the same inspection at a different shop in Toronto, which found none of the problems above and issued me a safety certificate without making me pass out!!! By the way, as I found out later, almost every shop in Toronto area is certified to perform these provincial safety inspection, so you really are not limited to Canadian Tire. There are tons of different shops everywhere, just look for the Ontario logo on their doors. By the way, after my stressful encounter with Canadian Tire I went searching on this forum and found several other individuals who reported the same problems with overblown Canadian Tire estimates required to complete the inspection, so this appears to be more of a rule than an exception! They all said they went somewhere else next, and no similar problems were found. This process, in Ontario, costs $60 CAD for safety inspection and $30 CAD for emissions inspection (usual problem-less) + all the necessary repairs of your vehicle, but this, AGAIN, depends on who inspects your car. If it's Canadian Tire, you may end up paying $2k, if it a local shop in town, you may pay ZERO.

Transferring your money from abroad can be another stressful situation. We brought some cash with us, but soon needed much more. So we wrote a few large checks to ourselves to transfer our money from our US account to the Canadian one. This ended up being a great problem as our checks were put on hold and our money was locked up for more than a MONTH even though the Canadian bank had already received the money from our US bank!!! So basically, we were deprived of the access to our money even though the Canadian bank had already had it! We spent countless hours on the phone trying to "unlock" the money so we could withdraw it - to our disappointment - they claimed they can hold it for as long as they want and even extend the hold if they feel like it (we were originally told a hold would last 15 business days, but the bank - WITHOUT our knowledge - extended the hold to 30 BUSINESS DAYS - that's a month and a half!). We were almost late paying our first Canadian bills because of this (great beginning and good for your fresh credit history, huh...), and the bank officials didn't seem to be eager to help us. So lesson #4 - BRING A LOT OF CASH WITH YOU (I mean a LOT - like 10k CAD or more). Unless your US bank can make you a wire transfer over the phone from Canada. I don't think ours would.

Generally speaking, the transition period can be a little difficult. I tried to come up with as much useful facts as I could to help you guys out and to prepare you for your move. Hope I didn't omit too much. Good luck to you all! In summary, however, I'd say that moving from the US, you will not see Canada as a totally different land. There are very many similarities, and once you overcome the stressful times, you will most likely enjoy yourself a lot. Much depends on finding a job, too, I bet, but I can't speak for that. Generally Ontario to me seems like another US state.

One last reflection that I wanted to share is how amazing this immigration process is from one's mental standpoint... When I applied for Canadian PR, there was no day throughout this 16-month process that I did not dream about having it completed with the visa in my hand... Then, there was the landing anxiety. The moment we landed and still now, it feels like nothing special anymore - amazingly, it seems as if we've always been allowed to live here, and nothing special really happened in our life!!! Psychology at it's best! Good luck to everyone waiting out there! Soon you will feel the same. Just give it some time...!

Last edited by yogi799; Oct 29th 2004 at 7:35 pm.
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Old Oct 29th 2004, 7:08 pm
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Hey buddy! Good to hear from you again. I'm glad you're getting a hang of it. Very comprehensive review, will be helpful for alot of people. Was anything from what I told you helpful at all?


Originally Posted by yogi799
Two months after landing in the Greater Toronto Area (moving from the USA), it is finally time for me to share my experiences with everyone. I can now say that my family and I are fully settled down and Canada is no longer a foreign land to us. In one sentence, I could summarize that Canada (specifically Ontario), in my opinion, is just like another US state (I mean that in a good way). Moving there and re-starting our life felt pretty much no different as if we moved to New York State or Pennsylvania... - you basically have to adjust to the new surroundings and to some stupid new laws - everything else will feel like you're still in the US... Below, however, are the few exceptions which have caused us some headaches and perhaps my experience will help lessen your stress.

But let's start about two months ago - right after landing. My landing experience was described in another post, so this is the continuation.

When we crossed the border, we headed straight for the Motel6 in which we had a reservation for 4 nights. Very nice hotel, no different from those in the US. Our plan of action was to find a more of the permanent lodging ASAP, since we had a huge 24' Uhaul full of our belongings, which had to be returned just a week later, so we were under a huge time pressure. We started looking for homes for rent immediately. We wanted a house, so the apartments were out of the question. We knew roughly what rent costs for what we wanted, so we assumed a $1000 CAD/month will be required to secure our new home. We met with a few landlords. They all wanted our Social Insurance Number (SIN), which we didn't have, and some references. They all say they WILL check your credit history, so it begins pathetically bad for any new immigrant, as you do not have any Canadian credit history (you don't even have the SIN)! Therefore lesson #1 - BEFORE YOU LEAVE USA, TAKE TONS OF LETTERS OF REFERENCE FROM YOUR PAST LANDLORDS TO PROVE THAT YOU WERE A RELIABLE TENANT. If you have them on your renter's corporate logo paper, that's even better. Always include a contact home number - because your landlord WILL call! These letters might help, but do not guarantee anything, especially if you don't have a job. Therefore, act professionally and trustworthy - this maybe your only hope. We were finally approved by someone who called my employer (I happened to have one) and checked all the references, but most of all they said that THEY REALLY LIKED US - so again, try to be "likeable" when wanting to be approved - because you have hardly anything else to speak for you. Most landlords we've met were extremely cautious. This process took us 5 days (and we thought it was extremely quick!), so be prepared for many nights in a hotel - it does not happen overnight, as most landlords will slowly take their time checking your background and your credentials.

Social Insurance Number (SIN) created us a lot of stress as well. This is one of the dummiest things in the whole immigration / settlement process. Starting from FINDING A PLACE TO LIVE, GETTING A JOB, or GETTING A CELL PHONE may be a nightmare without this number! It takes 3 weeks for the Human Resources Dept of Canada to issue SIN from the day you apply for it, so you basically can't accomplish certain crucial things without it! Surprisingly, CIC was never thoughtful enough to figure out that any newcomer will be asked for that number wherever he moves during his first days or weeks in Canada!!! We still can't believe CIC does not have a shortcut system for newly landed immigrants to assign this number to all newcomers immediately as they cross the border to make our lives simpler from the start! Oh well, they just don't. Our landlord, as I said above, liked us a lot, so she disregarded the lack of SIN, but who knows if your potential landlord will?! Be prepared for some stress. When it comes to the phone... we wanted a cell phone rather than a land line - here is where we bumped into a real problem. Getting a pre-paid rip-off plan is simple without SIN, but getting a CITY FIDO phone (one that acts like your local home phone without limited minutes) is impossible without a SIN or a Canadian Credit Card (a US card won't do!). So good luck waiting 3+ weeks to be able to make your first phone call..., until then you are stuck using payphones, just like we were.

Another possible headache-causing-problem may be your driver's license. If you're from the States, then it most likely won't affect you. Driver's licenses from ONLY FEW COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD (U.S.A., Japan, Korea, Switzerland, Germany, France, Great Britain and Austria) are "transferable" to an Ontario License - individuals from all the other countries will have to pass a G2 test in order to get full driving privileges NO MATTER HOW MANY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE THEY HAD IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY!! If you don't pass this test, you will not be allowed to drive on your own. You can drive on your old license only for the first 60 days after landing. When you apply for Ontario license, your old license is immediately confiscated by the driver's license officer (because US and Canada have an agreement that says it is illegal to have 2 licenses from two different states or provinces). The list of "special treatment" countries and more details are here: http://www.drivetest.ca/en/license/ExchangeOutProv.aspx

If you bring your cars with you from the US... Here is a big lesson I have learned. I was clueless at first and would like to share my knowledge now with everyone to make it easier for you. I have gone through some devastating nerves with this process, which all could have been avoided by having the knowledge I have now. To begin, please know that there are TWO SEPARATE PROCESSES involved in licensing your car to be operable in Canada. One is called the FEDERAL (RIV) and the other is PROVINCIAL. Next two paragraphs describe each process separately.

First of all, in order for your imported car to be able to remain legally in Canada, it must first pass a FEDERAL (RIV) INSPECTION. This is to make sure your vehicle complies with the Canadian federal regulations. This sounds much more scary than it is, if you know how to go about making this happen. Advice #2 - DO NOT EVER GO TO CANADIAN TIRE STORES FOR ANY INSPECTION. These people, I have learned, are programmed to tell you that your car is a piece of crap and to rip you off! Anyhow, the RIV regulations boil down to your car needing the daytime running lights installed, which you can accomplish in several ways. The biggest misconception of this process is that only certain shops can perform this work - this is bull - the truth is that ANYONE can do this modification for you, including yourself - not only a licensed shop or a dealer which will rip you off most of the time. After checking with the dealer for my vehicle (they wanted $250 CAD), I called RIV and asked who is allowed to do this modification - the lady said – “ANYONE, we don't care.� So I went to the Canadian Tire store, purchased a $25 kit and did it myself in an hour! Obviously, you have to know just a bit about cars to do this yourself, but the bottom line is that anyone can do it, so if you cannot do it yourself or you are quoted too high at a dealer, go and shop around and choose whomever suits you best! Keep the receipt of the work performed just in case. Of course this also depends on the make of your car: some cars are easily done by yourself, and some have to be done by the dealer, only. Check with the dealer, first, and the go and shop around. The next important thing is - who can inspect the car for you. On the papers you will receive from RIV, they will clearly suggest that Canadian Tire is their preference. I would advise otherwise... Look closely at the inspection stations list provided by the RIV, on there you will find several other shops who are licensed to do this "inspection". I happened to find a Dodge Chrysler dealer who made this "inspection" look like a joke. The guy looked at my daytime running lights, and said "That's it, thanks!" It took less than 5 minutes! Contact me individually and I can provide you with this place contact information if you settle in the Toronto area. This dealer is on the list, however, so you may be able to locate him on your own. Three weeks after this federal (RIV) inspection the government will send you a label which you will affix on your car. To summarize, the modification of my two vehicles, on the average, amounted to only about $50 CAD each! (and I was told $1000 each before I landed myself!). If you don't install the lights yourself, it may cost you $150-$250 CAD per vehicle.

The tougher part was the PROVINCIAL SAFETY INSPECTION which you have to perform next (to actually be able to register the car and get your new license plates). In Ontario, it is called a SAFETY STANDARDS CERTIFICATE, which consists of a painfully thorough 500 million-point safety check of your vehicle. It is like a "cavity search" of your car, which trust me - IF YOU GO TO A WRONG PLACE FOR IT, MAY COST YOU A HEART ATTACK! Please take my words seriously. My first vehicle, a 1999 German vehicle (I will refrain from providing the details) gave me absolutely no problems at home... when I took it to the Canadian Tire store for inspection they found about $1500 worth of "necessary" repairs!!! I was blown beyond comprehension. My car did not need any of these complicated repairs - but Canadian Tire needed some profit! I previously drove this car at 200km/h and am still alive, so go figure who's right! So Lesson #3 is similar to Lesson #2: NEVER GO TO CANADIAN TIRE FOR PROVINCIAL SAFETY INSPECTION. They will cause you a mental breakdown, which they almost caused me. In a total despair, I talked to a friend and he suggested performing the same inspection at a different shop in Toronto, which found none of the problems above and issued me a safety certificate without making me pass out!!! By the way, as I found out later, almost every shop in Toronto area is certified to perform these provincial safety inspection, so you really are not limited to Canadian Tire. There are tons of different shops everywhere, just look for the Ontario logo on their doors. By the way, after my stressful encounter with Canadian Tire I went searching on this forum and found several other individuals who reported the same problems with overblown Canadian Tire estimates required to complete the inspection, so this appears to be more of a rule than an exception! They all said they went somewhere else next, and no similar problems were found. This process, in Ontario, costs $60 CAD for safety inspection and $30 CAD for emissions inspection (usual problem-less) + all the necessary repairs of your vehicle, but this, AGAIN, depends on who inspects your car. If it's Canadian Tire, you may end up paying $2k, if it a local shop in town, you may pay ZERO.

Transferring your money from abroad can be another stressful situation. We brought some cash with us, but soon needed much more. So we wrote a few large checks to ourselves to transfer our money from our US account to the Canadian one. This ended up being a great problem as our checks were put on hold and our money was locked up for more than a MONTH even though the Canadian bank had already received the money from our US bank!!! So basically, we were deprived of the access to our money even though the Canadian bank had already had it! We spent countless hours on the phone trying to "unlock" the money so we could withdraw it - to our disappointment - they claimed they can hold it for as long as they want and even extend the hold if they feel like it (we were originally told a hold would last 15 business days, but the bank - WITHOUT our knowledge - extended the hold to 30 BUSINESS DAYS - that's a month and a half!). We were almost late paying our first Canadian bills because of this (great beginning and good for your fresh credit history, huh...), and the bank officials didn't seem to be eager to help us. So lesson #4 - BRING A LOT OF CASH WITH YOU (I mean a LOT - like 10k CAD or more). Unless your US bank can make you a wire transfer over the phone from Canada. I don't think ours would.

Generally speaking, the transition period can be a little difficult. I tried to come up with as much useful facts as I could to help you guys out and to prepare you for your move. Hope I didn't omit too much. Good luck to you all! In summary, however, I'd say that moving from the US, you will not see Canada as a totally different land. There are very many similarities, and once you overcome the stressful times, you will most likely enjoy yourself a lot. Much depends on finding a job, too, I bet, but I can't speak for that. Generally Ontario to me seems like another US state.

One last reflection that I wanted to share is how amazing this immigration process is from one's mental standpoint... When I applied for Canadian PR, there was no day throughout this 16-month process that I did not dream about having it completed with the visa in my hand... Then, there was the landing anxiety. The moment we landed and still now, it feels like nothing special anymore - amazingly, it seems as if we've always been allowed to live here, and nothing special really happened in our life!!! Psychology at it's best! Good luck to everyone waiting out there! Soon you will feel the same. Just give it some time...!
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Old Oct 29th 2004, 7:19 pm
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Originally Posted by dimon237
Hey buddy! Good to hear from you again. I'm glad you're getting a hang of it. Very comprehensive review, will be helpful for alot of people. Was anything from what I told you helpful at all?
Yes! "Stay away from Scarborough" was just about right
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Old Oct 29th 2004, 8:18 pm
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Originally Posted by yogi799

Social Insurance Number (SIN) created us a lot of stress as well. This is one of the dummiest things in the whole immigration / settlement process. Starting from FINDING A PLACE TO LIVE, GETTING A JOB, or GETTING A CELL PHONE may be a nightmare without this number! It takes 3 weeks for the Human Resources Dept of Canada to issue SIN from the day you apply for it, so you basically can't accomplish certain crucial things without it! Surprisingly, CIC was never thoughtful enough to figure out that any newcomer will be asked for that number wherever he moves during his first days or weeks in Canada!!! We still can't believe CIC does not have a shortcut system for newly landed immigrants to assign this number to all newcomers immediately as they cross the border to make our lives simpler from the start! Oh well, they just don't. Our landlord, as I said above, liked us a lot, so she disregarded the lack of SIN, but who knows if your potential landlord will?! Be prepared for some stress. When it comes to the phone... we wanted a cell phone rather than a land line - here is where we bumped into a real problem. Getting a pre-paid rip-off plan is simple without SIN, but getting a CITY FIDO phone (one that acts like your local home phone without limited minutes) is impossible without a SIN or a Canadian Credit Card (a US card won't do!). So good luck waiting 3+ weeks to be able to make your first phone call..., until then you are stuck using payphones, just like we were.
Sounds very strange and frustrating considering as you say uou need the SIN to kick-start everything else.

Luckily our experience in Alberta was completely different. We walked into the appropriate building and 20 minutes later we were given a letter of certification to say that we had applied for a SIN number. This was accepted for everything we wanted to so, banks etc ..... Must be an Ontario thing.

Were never asked for a SIN regarding property rental either. What's that all about?
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Old Oct 29th 2004, 8:20 pm
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Originally Posted by yogi799
Yes! "Stay away from Scarborough" was just about right
Hi Yogi799,

Thanks for the comprehensive post. Could you let us know within how many days/ weeks you got the PR cards?

Thanks.
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Old Oct 30th 2004, 2:46 am
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Welcome to Canada!
I am glad you like it and sorry to hear that you went through all that trouble in the first month.
When I first immigrated to Canada 9 years ago, I got my SIN within a week.
I guess nowadays its not that simple anymore.

Regarding deporting your car in Canada, there is a whole process that must be known before immigrating. Things should not be left for a last minute, meaning nothing is simple.
I found a really good site: http://www.riv.ca/english/html/how_to_import.html

Regarding telephones: It is little bit crazy that they need SIN number and canadian credit card, but then again it is safer. Anybody who wants to get a land line this is what they require. If you do not have a credit history, or bad credit history, you can still get a phone line but you need to give them about $200 deposit. If you pay your phone bill on time for a period of 12 months, they will return your deposit to you.
Regarding a bank and money, this is what my bank manager said. If you are only a visitor to Canada you can not have a bank account. But if you go to the bank (in my case TD Canada Trust) and if you show them that you are waiting for final visa to immigrate to Canada, they will let you open up an account. You can explain to them that you are immigrating and you need to open up an account to start your credit history or something like that. Also, you can bring up to $10,000 cash over the boarder with no problem. If you know somebody in canada, just make a money order and let them cash it for you.
There are bank machines and ATM everywhere, so as long as you have money even on your account from any country, you can withdraw.
When it comes to renting an apartment ( I am in property management) and can tell you that landlords need to be careful whom they rent the apartment or house. New immigrants will follow the law and pay they rent even if they have no money for food, but then again there are those that will just not pay the rent. In order for landlord to kick you out, they need to go through a huge process and it can take over 3 months to kick somebody out. And by the time they go to court and get their rent money, it can take months, maybe even a year. Especially now, since winter is just around the corner, and you do not pay rent, no landlord would be able to kick you out before spring. Lots of people find a real estate agent to help them find the place to live. As long as you have extra cash, you can get by.
Good luck to you all.

Jassy
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Old Oct 30th 2004, 4:32 am
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

OK, A couple replies:

1) ALL Landlords required a SIN on the housing application which we had to fill out before they even considered us. They needed that number to run a credit search on us. Having no SIN was not helping our situation at all, but luckily not all landlords were so stubborn about running the credit check.

2) PR cards came exactly 3 weeks after landing.

3) The RIV.CA web site is ONLY describing the FEDERAL process and in very general terms. My post provided more details and I also included the PROVINCIAL inspection details. I knew about RIV.CA site before landing. It helped a little bit, but not too much.

4) Of course you can withdraw cash form ATMs, but who wants to pay the fees? Plus, withdrawing several thousands of dollars from an ATM could be a little inefficient.
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Old Oct 31st 2004, 6:13 am
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Yogi,

Great overview! I went through the same and totally agree. Toronto is just like the US. Except on a few things, like gallons of milk: they sell them here in plastic bags, not bottles, I have no idea how people are supposed to use them. Guys, if you think that renting an apartment without Canadian credit history is hard, looking for work without Canadian working experience is a thousand times harder. Nobody cares about American education, experience, MBA, etc.... Strange, eh?
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Old Oct 31st 2004, 6:27 am
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

A couple of things to remember here are these:

I moved from Canada to the US and it is just as difficult getting anything done without a social security number in the US as it is in Canada without a SIN number. Every utility company I called in Indiana wanted my social security number and yes, it too took 3 weeks to get here.

Something else that you may want to consider is that Ontario did not manage to get the transferrable drivers license agreement eligible with all US states. Ontario tried but many many states including Indiana refused.
That means that a US resident from any state can swap their drivers license for an Ontario one but a Canadian resident will not be able to swap their Ontario license in many US states. I had to take a full driving test when I moved from Ontario to Indiana.
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Old Oct 31st 2004, 7:50 am
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Originally Posted by yogi799
Two months after landing in the Greater Toronto Area (.............!
Nice post. Glad you are settled in so fast. For many it takes a couple of years till they feel at home (coming from europe). Most of your experiences are mirrored in the lifestyle forum here day after day, so there is no need for any of this stuff to catch anyone by surprise. The SIN is a tricky one, really the only people you are obliged to give it to are the tax people, everyone else just wants it to simplify credit checks etc. I had no problem renting without it, but that was a few years ago.

Hope you continue to enjoy Canada.

Iain
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Old Oct 31st 2004, 8:38 am
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Good to know from you Yogi.
To avoid that money transfer problem would'nt that be good for a new comer to bring Traveller Checks (like American Express etc) and deposite them in his Canadian Bank account immediatly. I believe they should be an immediate transfer becuase such checks are cashable everywhere in the world .. right?

Is it possible to request SIN Number (just number not talking about Card) before landing there in Canada? What if i contact HRDC after getting PR Visa from Buffalo and request them to start the process immediatly. I can give my friend's residential address to them.

Last edited by orazone; Oct 31st 2004 at 8:42 am.
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Old Oct 31st 2004, 10:10 am
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Hi Orazone

Originally Posted by orazone
Good to know from you Yogi.
To avoid that money transfer problem would'nt that be good for a new comer to bring Traveller Checks (like American Express etc) and deposite them in his Canadian Bank account immediatly. I believe they should be an immediate transfer becuase such checks are cashable everywhere in the world .. right?

Is it possible to request SIN Number (just number not talking about Card) before landing there in Canada? What if i contact HRDC after getting PR Visa from Buffalo and request them to start the process immediatly. I can give my friend's residential address to them.

Nope, they won't process the SIN until you prove you are "landed", but when you apply most offices will give you your number if you ask politely.

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Old Oct 31st 2004, 6:46 pm
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Originally Posted by PMM
Hi Orazone




Nope, they won't process the SIN until you prove you are "landed", but when you apply most offices will give you your number if you ask politely.

PMM
Yogi,

Thanks a lot for the insights. Anyway, may I ask, if you did not bring much cash with you, in what form did you bring the rest of your funds? Did you ask for a bank certificate from the Candian bank to which you transferred your money? and will this proof be enough at the port of entry? I'm sorry, I have absolutely no idea that one can even open an account without being personally there, but then again you might have been in Canada prior to landing. What should someone who's never been there do? Please help, as I am also expecting PP request anytime, and bringing funds in Canada is next in my list of "things-to-worry-about". Thanks again!
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Old Oct 31st 2004, 7:12 pm
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

I believe Traveller , Chashier or Certified Checks are accepted everywhere. They are just treated like Credit Cards. No questions asked. Yogi must have given a normal check to his Canadian Bank or must have requested his US bank to do electronic funds transfer (also known as wire transfer). Well, thanks to Yogi for letting us know about this problem. I will make sure i hold a one to one meeting with my bank's manager before i leave US for Canada and will probably get all of my funds converted to Traveller Checks. I know American Express Traveller checks are accepted everywhere.
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Old Nov 1st 2004, 3:49 pm
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Default Re: First Two Months In Canada - Experience

Originally Posted by orazone
I believe Traveller , Chashier or Certified Checks are accepted everywhere. They are just treated like Credit Cards. No questions asked. Yogi must have given a normal check to his Canadian Bank or must have requested his US bank to do electronic funds transfer (also known as wire transfer). Well, thanks to Yogi for letting us know about this problem. I will make sure i hold a one to one meeting with my bank's manager before i leave US for Canada and will probably get all of my funds converted to Traveller Checks. I know American Express Traveller checks are accepted everywhere.

Lancesan,


I brought about 5k CAD in cash, which turned out to be NOTHING! - Considering that most landlords want the FIRST and LAST rent payment (forgot to tell you that guys, sorry - I'm telling you now) at the signing of the lease. So, we paid about 2500 CAD just top get the key to our door.... Money goes fast in these first months, guys.


Orazone,

Yes, I did write myself my personal checks. And since they're US checks, they put them on 15-30 business day hold. I knew about it, that's why I wrote them early enough to be covered, but the assholes at the bank extended the hold on us by 15 days just like that!

I can't speak for Travellers Checks but, I THINK (only THINK, not for sure on that) I have read somewhere that they put these on hold as well, so please check that by calling some Canadian banks guys!
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