Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Canada 101 for Immigrants (2/5)...

Post 2:


Before Arriving…

There is so much info about this part on the internet, I won’t go into any details. The only thing I can say is “read a lot, research a lot, ask as many people as you can”.

Note: You’ll have a check-list sent to you by CIC, make sure to keep an eye on that.

Arriving... don't worry it won't be this bad :)
Source: latinamericanstudies.org
As mentioned above the CIC does a really good job informing you about what you need to do when you arrive (via letters sent to the immigrant before they arrive…etc).

Here are a few notes (I either wrote down or noted from friends)…

Once at the airport, you will stand in the usual passports line and when you get to the officer, she/he will tell you where you need to go next to process your landing. You will then go to the immigration office to finalize your landing, and you provide them with an address to which they can mail you the permanent residence cards. I believe they also have an alternative system if you don't have an address yet. You can leave Canada without this card, but you must have it on you upon re-entry. It usually takes 4-6 weeks for processing. So, this entire process is done at the airport, and all you have to do is wait for the permanent visas to be mailed to you. For now, they will staple your permanent residency form in your passport.

They will then direct you to a "welcome" office where they will give you a tote bag :) and a lot of brochures and booklets with information about Canada and the things you need to do the next few days/weeks. Your final stop will be customs where you will give them your list of belongings (if you want to do that).

Past the airport (Take your passports with you to all the offices you will go to together with all your immigration documents)

A New Immigrant’s Initial Tasks (in a nut-shell):
-          Apply for Permanent Residency Card (PRC) at the arrival Airport (must have a local address in Canada for this), The PRC will be mailed to address in ~5 weeks.
-          Buy a Mobile and SIM card using your temporary landing papers (to prove you are a resident) and passport (till you get your PRC card). You need a Phone number as you apply for anything anywhere in this country.
-          Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card (are obtained at Service Canada office,  http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/sin/index.shtml). It will take 10 days (you’ll get the SIN numbers for all your family members printed on a paper when you apply, the actual cards come later).
-          Open bank account with one of the big banks. Check the banks section in my posts for more info.
-          Go Check Schools, because per schools you’ll have to check rentals in that area. For more info, check Schools and rental sections in my coming posts.
-          Check for rentals near the schools you want your kids to reside in.
-          Go to your home country’s embassy, and translate your Home Country’s Driver's License (if you have one), this will come in handy when applying for a Canadian driver’s license. Check Driving section for more info.
-          Go apply for your Province’s Health Card: You’ll need a Canadian driver’s license or a Bank statements (or anything with your address on it). They need proof of address (a lease agreement will suffice).


$$$...it's all about $$$
Source: CanadianBusiness
1-      Temporary Accommodation:

One of the first things to do before coming to Canada is searching for, and booking your temp. accommodation. By temp. accommodation… I mean: a place where you will stay for up to a month or so till you find a flat to move into.
Ask friends  or even rent something via TripAdvisor Rentals website or something of the sort.

Note: be careful when using your temp accommodation as you apply at different places (like when opening a bank account) as they will tend to send you mail to that address. This WILL be a problem if you are not careful. I had my Credit cards sent to a temp accommodation which I had moved out from!!!! (went well though..no issue al 7amdo lelAh).

2-      First few Years Rental:

Immigrants tend to rent unfurnished flats (lowering the costs as much as possible when they arrive). The important thing is to try and get a flat somewhere central (do your homework via the net on this one per the city you will be in). By central I mean… near transportation (bus-train-metro), super markets, laundry,…etc.

Here are a few good resources:
Rentals and more : http://kijiji.ca  

Things to check in a flat:
- Garage: reserved parking spot or entitles you to a discount on the monthly parking fee
- Heating: includes the price of heating in your rent
- Elec (hydro included)?
- Laundry available
- Gym or Pool?
- Elect type?
- Balcony?
- Open kitchen?
- Stove type (gas is nicer for cooking!)
- What appliances are included in the apartment
- Elevator?
- Maintenance
- Pets allowed? (may you’ll endup with dogs barking all night!)
- Limitation on number of people living in apartment?
- Deposit you pay when you sign the lease? (refunded when leaving)
- Note anything damaged or amiss and negotiate for repair or replacement

Things To inspect (if part of rental agreement):
-Water pressure
-Telephone outlets
-Locations of water main and fuse box
-Cable connection
-Screens on windows
-Heating and gas system
-Working appliances
-Security alarm system
-Washer and dryer

3-      Buying House:

Usually, after a year (or more) immigrants whom feel they are doing well (and have proper credit history – more details in banks section) tend to start searching for houses.
The reasons are obvious, besides investment, ownership, space… a major driver will be :You’ll get fed up yelling at your kids (if any) all the time wanting them to be keep quiet, as you don’t want neighbors complaining”.

Again, the same rule comes handy: “read a lot, research a lot, ask as many people as you can”.
I do advise going for a Real-Estate Agent as they make many things more clear (they don’t take money from you, they get their money from the seller…so no worries there!).

When buying a house, the rule of thumb is: “Location, location, location”… any real estate agent will tell you that. So, when comparing houses, give higher evaluation points for the location.

The buying process is quite straight-forward...

- Search for a house (with or without a Real-Estate Agent). Real-Estate Agent to sort out appointments for you;
- Get a Licensed Housing Inspector to check the house for you (provides you with a report on what needs to be fixed in a house). Real-Estate Agent can help identify one for you;
If you will go ahead with a specific house:
- Get a bank's Pre-Authorization on a loan that covers the house's selling price. MAKE SURE YOU SHOP FOR MORTGAGES (loans), as they differ from one entity or bank to another (check banks websites for rates and offers). I’d go for big banks (safer I think???);
- Give in a proposal (with conditions if you want certain things to be fixed or left for you to use...etc). Real-Estate Agent can help;
- After all formalities (usually a few proposals and counter proposals will take place before you get the seller to sign on the final proposal).
- Get final loan (mortgage) approval from bank;
- Agree on a specific Notary with Seller (where you and the seller will sign the contract). Again, Real-Estate Agent can help;
- Notary will call you a few days before Contract signing to meet up and sign a few papers (and checks).
- Meet at Notary and sign Contract. You might be asked to settle a few bills that the seller had paid for yet you will be benefiting from;
- 10 to 20 days later, you’ll get your contract papers via mail
- Plan your move… check for moving companies for rates, and try to avoid moving the 1st 2 weeks of July as those are the peak weeks.
Canada’s top Real Estate Database (list of houses being sold across Canada): http://www.realtor.ca

…to be continued.

Mood: Still Hungry :S

Canada 101 for Immigrants (1/5)

Source: AKCanada
So, It has been almost a year since I immigrated to “O Canada”, and what a year it has been!
I mean the amount of things I went through over this year, I could easily fit them into like 3 years or something.

There was so much to learn, understand, and experiment with… and there is still so much to come.

You’d be amazed how simple things can really stress you out. Things like bus tickets, schedules, gas payments, rental procedures, automated parking lot payment booths, traffic signage, customs, taxes… and so many other things.

Before I arrived here, I never imagined being stressed out about such (what seemed like trivial) things. But, put those along the fact that you barely know anyone, you have no job, your family is with you, no schools, lack of resources, and a final twist… lack of language (French)… the stress will be high.

The Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Ministry (www.cic.gc.ca/english/) has done a very good job in terms of trying to give you an idea of what to do, where to go, and whom to contact as a new immigrant (via their website, pamphlets, information at points of entry into the country). But, what an immigrant really lacks (from my experience) was the (what seemed as) simple stuff I mentioned before.
This led me to think… why not write a few posts about the day to day things we have to go through as new immigrants (till they become a normal part of our daily life).

Below are the topics that'll be covered per post (this one being Post 1)…

Post 2:
-          Before Arriving
-          Arriving
-          Accommodation
o   Temporary Accommodation
o   First few Years Rental
o   Buying a House

Post 3:
-          Bills
-          Clothing
-          Transportation
o   Public Transportation
o   Driving & Signs
o   Gas Stations
o   Parking
-          Medical Care

Post 4:
-          Telecoms & Internet Access
-          Banks
-          Taxes
-          Schools

Post 5… The Finale:
-          BEWARE Of Historical and Language Issues!
-          Norms & Misconceptions About Canada
Hope you’ll find them useful.

Mood: hungry!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Twitter Move!

I've decided to move to Twitter for short, on the spot posts (Tweets). If i have any long topics i might come back here (yet to be seen).

My Twitter name is "Fadfadation" (never saw that one...did u?!).
Link: http://twitter.com/fadfadation 

Mood: Feel like trying something new...