10 mistakes to avoid as a newcomer to Canada

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: March 27, 2024

Starting a new life in Canada can be both exciting and daunting.

On one hand, newcomers are coming to Canada with the opportunity to start fresh after leaving their home country, a move that gives them a chance to build a prosperous life for themselves and their families in a country that has ranked in the top three of U.S. News’ Best Countries ranking for three consecutive years.

On the other hand, moving to Canada can be nerve-wracking for newcomers because they are arriving in unfamiliar territory. This can leave newcomers to Canada prone to making mistakes when they first arrive.

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From cultural misunderstandings to financial missteps, the following will provide essential tips that will hopefully set you on the path to success in your new home.

Mistake 1: Underestimating the Canadian weather

Unlike some of Canada’s top newcomer source countries, such as India, where weather patterns are often less volatile, weather conditions in Canada are usually somewhat extreme across different seasons and provinces.

Therefore, newcomers need to ensure they are adequately prepared for the climate conditions they will face when they arrive in their destination province.

To begin this preparation, newcomers can take advantage of online resources like the dedicated CanadaVisa webpage listed below, which discusses how to dress for the Canadian weather.

Read: How to Dress for the Weather

Mistake 2: Lacking insight into your new locale

A significant pitfall experienced by many newcomers, which can affect both their lifestyle and job prospects in Canada, involves the consequences of failing to thoroughly research the specific province or city they will be landing in.

Although many newcomers may be able to understand some generalizations about life in Canada as a whole, it is important to also understand that each province and territory across Canada is unique. From different employment opportunities to unique education systems and healthcare programs (more on that later), newcomers should take the time to conduct a detailed and focused search into what life is like in their specific destination province/territory.

Dedicated webpages like those listed here can be a valuable tool in aiding newcomers with this research:

Note: Webpages for Canada’s other nine provinces and territories can be found here.

Mistake 3: Delay in establishing financial foundations

Ensuring that you set the right financial building blocks for you and your family, and making sure that this process is started early, is key. In other words, because the Canadian banking system for newcomers to Canada can be different than what you are used to in your home country, not opening a Canadian bank account or properly understanding credit systems early on can be detrimental.

More: Banking for Newcomers to Canada

Mistake 4: Unfamiliarity with Canadian workplace norms

Canadian workplace culture is very different from the reality in many newcomer source countries, particularly those outside North America. For example, there is a specific Canadian-style resume that newcomers are advised to follow when looking for work.

Networking is also an important part of finding a job in Canada. Therefore, one area where many newcomers to Canada falter is misjudging the nuances of professional workplace etiquette and communication in Canada.

Click here to learn more about the Canadian workplace, including how to prepare for job interviews and help with understanding workers’ rights in Canada.

Mistake 5: Disregarding the benefits of educational advancement

A big part of living a comfortable life, especially in a new country, is professional growth and development. Therefore, skipping opportunities to upgrade skills or gain qualifications that may enhance your employability is a mistake all newcomers to Canada will want to avoid.

Whether that involves going to school, finding a new career or enrolling in a bridging program, there are many ways newcomers can enhance their employability and progress forward in their pursuit of a better life in Canada.

Mistake 6: Inadequate research on housing options

Every province/territory in Canada has a unique housing market. Rushing into long-term rental or purchase agreements without exploring the different communities in your destination and understanding local real estate markets can have long-term negative impacts.

The following webpages can aid in understanding housing in Canada:

Mistake 7: Neglecting to cultivate local connections

In a similar way that networking is important to a newcomer’s employment in Canada, building a supportive network of other Canadians in your local community is helpful for both personal growth and professional opportunities.

Neglecting this task as a newcomer to Canada can make it significantly harder to acclimate to your new surroundings and establish a comfortable lifestyle in your new home.

Mistake 8: Not registering for healthcare promptly

Every province and territory has its own healthcare system and, while some local governments require newcomers to wait before being able to access public healthcare, all Canadian governments recommend that newcomers obtain private health coverage as soon as possible after arriving in Canada.

Failure to do this can leave newcomers with a significant out-of-pocket price to pay for healthcare, which many people cannot afford immediately upon arriving in a new country.

The dedicated webpages here, for each province and territory across Canada, can provide more details about the specific healthcare system in each region, including any wait times associated with public healthcare enrolment and how to obtain private healthcare in the meantime.

Mistake 9: Incurring unnecessary early expenses

Avoiding initial financial splurges by understanding the cost of living and budgeting wisely is key to establishing a comfortable life as a newcomer to Canada. Learning about saving and investing can be key to achieving this goal.

Mistake 10: Overlooking accessible settlement support

Often worried about establishing a good foundation for themselves and their families, many newcomers miss out on valuable, often free, resources specifically designed to assist newcomers in adjusting to their new life in Canada.

Many free settlement services that are available around the country often go unused by eligible Canadian newcomers.

Settlement services often have varying eligibility criteria. This is because eligibility often depends on who is funding the provided services. As an example, settlement services funded by Canada’s federal government – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) – are only available to permanent residents, refugees, protected persons, and some temporary residents.

These settlement services assist newcomers in a variety of areas, from language training and health/social services to job searching and general employment assistance.

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