SURVIVAL GUIDE. NEW TO TORONTO? (Toronto)
I am an Australian working in Toronto. thought I'd share my experiences with the essential checklist for working in Toronto. Hopefully this will help any new arrivals save some time.
Arrange this as soon as possible. It's pretty much your ticket to all other services.
For family's you need your kids to get an education visa in order for them to go to school in Toronto. No Visa no school. Once you have your VIsa they can get theirs.
You have no credit history in Canada which can be a barrier. If you find a place you like you may need to pay over the advertised rate and promise more than the standard "first and last months rent". We paid for 3 months upfront to send a message that we had cash. Annoying but you are an unknown quantity right in terms of credit so send a stronf message.
UTILITIES BILLS - proof of address
Once you find a rental propert sign up to water, electric (hydro) and renters insurance ASAP. You need confirmation of your address (bills etc) in order to get a driver license, health cover etc. It's essential.
This is your social security number (or Tax file number for my Aussie friends). You need to arrange this at "Service Canada" this is a National service centre.
No SIN, no job, no bank account, no employer will pay you - no life. Take your working visa to Service Canada. You will need proof of address. Bring a couple of bills.
OHiP - public health cover
Service Ontario issue OHIP. Not to be confused with Service Canada. This is a state/province service). It's government funded health care access but doesn't cover pharmaceuticals.
You need to wait 3 months after your Visa issue date before you qualify. You may want to consider private health cover in the interim.
COMPANY HEALTH PLAN
Sign up asap for your company Healtj plan provider. You get subsidized drugs, dental etc for you and the family
CREDIT CARD - CANDIAN
Canadians are anal about having a Canadian credit card. You will find often Services (Like Bell WIFI) won't accept overseas credit card.
As I have a "closed Visa" (with an end date) no bank will issue a credit card without a security deposit to back it. Believe me I tried them all. In the end I asked my business for a $10k security cheque which I will return on departure. Then TD issued me a 10k credit card.
Again, Canadians prefer local ID for lots of services. In order to get a license I had to go to a "Drive Centre", do an eye test and hand over my Aussie license (annoying). The other piece of information I had to provide ia a letter from my Australian roads body that O was not a disqualified driver. So annoying they want an original.
I can't steer enough how import having an Ontario license is to access services (BELL WIFI again) - the most important is car insurance. You can buy a car easily but you need a local license for insurance.
We used Zipcar (google it! NO this is not a sponsored post) to get around. They have heaps of cars all over the city. It's easy to sign up - they only need your country drivers licence and passport. You can use these before you get a car.
As crazy as it sounds Canadian rental land lords love cheques. We had to set up a chequing account just to prove 12 months of future dates cheques. Electronic funds transfer wasn't an option for us! Bank fees here are ridiculous. $30 per month in some cases.
Get yourself a subway card. Most of th big stations sell them for $20. The subway is really good for NS and EW. If you're not going on the cross, the busses are good.
you need to apply for a Family number so you can access all the subsidized Toronto activities. Seriously this city has so many offers for kids and adults which are awesome. From ice skating to singing lessons to French lessons to kids summer camps. Sign up to you local council area to get you Family number.
WIFI & MOBILE.
So our experience with Bell was annoying. We needed one of the following to sign up. A Canadian credit card, SIN or drivers license. Eventually we got one of these and sorter it out even after offering six months of payment on our Aussie credit card.
For mobile phones it was kind of the same. Without the 3 IDs listed above we could only get a prepaid phone. Expensive!
Ok that's all I can think of for now. These are my experiences, Some of you may have totally different experiences.
Drop me a line if you have any questions.
Happy to help