Top 5 Things to Know When Moving to Canada

Moving to Canada

Canada’s continuing economic success makes it an attractive option for many expats world-wide. While Canada offers tremendous opportunities, the market for lucrative expat jobs is competitive. Most expats living in Canada find work through the insurance, catering or production industries and there tends to be a good availability of offices jobs for expats.

So, if you’re one of the lucky expats to have secured a job, or you’ve decided to relocate to Canada and secure work once you arrive, here are the five things you should know before you make the move:

  1. You need to be ready for cold, snowy winters
  2. Not all Canadians speak English as their first language
  3. Canada is a progressive, liberal country
  4. Don’t forget to tip
  5. You should never confuse Canadians with Americas

1: You Need to Be Ready for Cold, Snowy Winters

Australians don’t really know what winter is. Melburnians and Tasmanians might get a taste of winter, but if you’re relocating to Canada (except for perhaps British Columbia or Southern Ontario), you need to be prepared for a real winter.

Winter in Canada means temperatures of -25°C, snow piled up at your front door, wearing thermals and snow gear every day, and very limited sunlight. No matter where you come from in Australia, your first winter is likely to be tough.

But, keep in mind that cold, snowy weather also brings a lot of fun. In Ottawa, the Rideau Canal freezes over every winter which makes for the longest natural ice-rink in the world. You’ll get to experience a ‘White Christmas’, and there are endless opportunities for snow sports like snowboarding and skiing.

The secret to coping with a Canadian winter is all about how you dress. You need to master the art of layering—you’ll need to be able to strip layers on and off as you move from inside to outside, and throughout various modes of transport.

So, don’t be put off by the frigid temperatures. Relocating is all about experiencing new things. When you’re surrounded by snow on a -60°C day, you couldn’t be any further from Australia’s beaches.

2: Not All Canadians Speak English As a First Language

Like Australia, Canada is a multicultural society where people speak a whole range of languages from all around the world. But, Canada is also officially a bilingual country. In the areas of Quebec and New Brunswick, you’re more likely to hear French than English. So, if you’re moving to these areas, it’s a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in French.

Most French-speaking Canadiennes have some proficiency in English, but they will always appreciate at least being greeted and thanked in French.

The best part about this bilingualism is that you can effectively explore two cultures during your stay in Canada. You can head to Montreal and Quebec City for poutain (fried taters with meat gravy and cheese curds on top) and a taste of French-based culture. Or, you can explore Ottawa, Toronto and British Columbia to discover the English side of Canada.

3: Don’t Forget to Tip

Australians are used to tipping being a nicety that is never expected. In Canada, tips are an essential part of a service worker’s wage. The minimum wage for waiters and bartenders is about C$10 per hour, which isn’t enough to cover the bills. In Canada, the expectation is that the customer contributes to this wage by tipping.

It doesn’t matter how opposed you are to the idea of tipping, when you are in Canada you have to add a tip to just about every bill. If you don’t, you’ll be on the receiving end of a dirty look, or you may be asked for a tip.

For regular service, a good rule of thumb is to add 15% to the total bill. If the service is incredible, 20% is more than generous. For every drink you order, add a dollar to the bill and a couple of dollars if you’re shouting a round.

4: Canada is a Progressive, Liberal Country

Canada has a reputation as one of the most forward-thinking and tolerant countries in the world. Of course, it’s difficult to make generalisations about such a big nation, but in general, any forms of racism or intolerance will be met harshly. Of particular note is the way that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has opened up the borders to refugees.

Of course, this open and welcoming attitude means that Canada is the perfect country to relocate to. You’ll be met by helpful, friendly people who are usuallt more than happy to assist you with any problems you have.

5: Never Confuse Canadians with Americans

Perhaps the biggest faux-pas you can make in Canada is to compare its helpful, friendly people to Americans. Canada is a distinct country with its own culture—the differences will become apparent as soon as you arrive. The accents can sound the same, so tread carefully if you’re unsure.

If you are planning on moving with family read our guide on education & childcare , transport and housing and working in Canada.

If you’d like any further information about Canada, or the relocation process, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly international removals team.

Blog Author:

Lisa Fink

Blog Author Lisa Fink