So you have arrived in Canada safely. Great! Now what? Well life begins and there is no time to waste. The quicker you start to settle in the easier it will be to adjust to life in this new country. Here are five things that you should consider doing during your first week.
- Get your social security number (SIN)
This is arguably the most important piece of documentation you will need to start your new life. It consists of nine numbers and enables you to work and access government benefits and programmes. Some airports facilitate your application upon arrival, as part of your welcome package from Mondays to Saturdays. This service is not offered on Sundays. If you are not able to apply on arrival, you may do so by applying online, in person or by mail. The link below provides detailed instructions on that process.
2. Open a bank account
A bank account is very important for your new life in Canada. You will need a safe place to save and even start investing your money wisely to secure your future. You may have travelled with sums of cash which makes getting a bank account a necessity. With a SIN you can get a job and many employers pay salaries through direct deposit instead of by cheque.
Tip: Not all banks are the same. Some offer customized services tailored to meet the needs of new migrants. For example, some offer bank accounts with no fees for the first year and low interest credit cards. Do not just chose a bank because it’s a familiar brand or because it is close to your residence. Seek one that offers attractive packages for new comers. Ask their representatives about these special deals and weather or not you qualify.
3. Get a credit card
I hated debt because I generally do not like owing money. I think its admirable to be debt free and have a clean slate. Perhaps you are like me. In that case, its time to change your way of thinking because good credit is very important in Canada and the best way to start building credit is by acquiring manageable strategic debt. This is why getting a credit card is important. You may have had a great credit score back home, however that does not have any value outside of your home country. You have a clean slate and you need to become a participant in the credit economy so that you can do a range of things more easily such as rent an apartment, and access loans or lines of credit, including mortgages.
Tip: Start small. Get a card with a $3000 limit to begin with and start a habit of using the card regularly and repaying bills on time. By developing a pattern of consistency, you will demonstrate that you are responsible enough to manage higher credit limits which the bank will offer in time.
4. Get your health insurance card
One of the best things about Canada is its universal health care system. Each resident has access to health care with a provincial card. Without it, nor any other temporary insurance, you will have to pay for services if you get sick within your first few weeks in the country. Apply for your card as soon as possible. It is free and can be had in a very short time.
Tip: Your card will arrive by mail so ensure that the address you provide at the time of your application remains the same for a few weeks so that your card can be collected with relative ease. For information on how to apply for your card, click the link below.
5. Map out your community
You need to be become familiar with your immediate surroundings so that you can learn bus routes and find the nearest bus stops, if needed. It is also useful to find out which supermarkets, banks and pharmacies are close by.
Tip: Find out if there are any welcome centres nearby. These provide help to new residents as they navigate their first few months in Canada.
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