Tips to get settled in Canada

Published on May 3rd, 2021 at 08:00am EDT

Whether you’re just looking into which countries you might want to immigrate to or have your heart set on moving to Canada, you have questions about what’s involved in the process of getting settled.

What are the immigration requirements? What are the best cities to live in? How much will it cost to live in certain popular cities or provinces?

At Scotiabank, we know what it’s like to ask those questions – many of our employees are new to Canada themselves. People like Ivy Li, a Scotia advisor, who moved from China to go to the University of Toronto and remembers being shy and struggling with the language when she first moved to Canada.

She credits taking on part-time jobs to get experience speaking to different people with helping her develop her communication skills and leading to her job at the bank today. People also like Gurjeet Sidhu, a home financing advisor and former banker from India, who credits using LinkedIn with helping him connect with the community in Canada and find jobs.

We understand what you are going through and we are here to help. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about navigating Canadian immigration, settling, and getting a start on your new life in Canada.

Immigration requirements

The first thing that you’re likely wondering is what Canada’s immigration, study or work permit requirements are and whether you fit them. There are a number of ways you can get approval to move to Canada. Here are some of the most popular ways:

Express Entry

Express Entry is the main pathway for skilled immigrants who want to become citizens or permanent residents of Canada. First, you need to be eligible for one of the three programs managed under Express Entry. Then, you submit your profile and are scored based on a variety of factors such as your age, English or French skills, education, and your work experience. Approximately every two weeks, the Canadian government invites successful candidates to apply for permanent residence.

The Canadian government aims to process permanent residence applications in six months or less. The cost to go through the Express Entry process varies based on how many people are in your family and how much various requirements cost, like language tests, educational credential assessments, medical examination fees, and police clearance certificates. Permanent residence application fees alone cost $1,325 per adult and $225 per child. Hence, you should have a total budget of several thousand dollars.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Canada allows provinces and territories to manage their own Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) in order to help people who have the skills, education, and work experience needed in that particular jurisdiction to immigrate to Canada. Most provinces have different streams that have different immigration requirements for groups of students, businesspeople, skilled workers, and semi-skilled workers. Make sure to research each province’s immigration requirements, wait times and fees.

New pathways to stay in Canada

Canada is introducing special pathways so that essential workers, international graduates, and francophones can remain in Canada permanently. Some 90,000 permanent residence spots are available in 2021. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you may want to give strong consideration to these pathways to fast-track your immigration process.

Other programs

On top of the immigration options listed above, there are a number of other programs that you might be able to settle in Canada through. For example, there is the Quebec Skilled Worker Program and the Quebec Experience Program, which are run through a special agreement with the federal government on immigration where Quebec chooses which skilled immigrants who will best adapt to living in the province.

There is also the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program, which helps skilled workers immigrate to Atlantic Canada or international students and temporary foreign workers stay in the region.

Other options include Caregivers pathways, which help people who provide care to children, older people, or those who need live-in medical support and the Start-Up Visa program, which helps those who are wanting to start a business in Canada immigrate.

There are also some other highly specialized programs you might qualify for that you can learn more about on the Government of Canada’s website.

Family sponsorship

The Family Sponsorship program is one way to apply for permanent residence in Canada if you already have close relatives who live in Canada who are willing to sponsor you. Anyone who is a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, and at least 18 years old can sponsor a relative. Depending on your relationship to the person you’re sponsoring, the application time and fees will vary. For example, the application process takes up to 12 months when you sponsor a partner or a spouse but takes up to 20 to 24 months when you sponsor a grandparent. Also, it costs $1,050 to sponsor a spouse but only costs $150 to sponsor a child.

What about work permits?

Work permits can be given out for temporary workers in areas where Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) show there is a lack of workers in that area in Canada, for business people, for students, for caregivers, and agricultural workers. How to get a work permit and how much it will cost will depend on the work program you’re applying through. In addition, Canada offers dozens of work permit pathways that do not require an LMIA. These are commonly facilitated through free trade agreements between Canada and other countries. Such agreements, for example, allow youth, and business people from such countries to gain Canadian work permits.

What about study permits?

Canada is now among the top destinations in the world for international students and the federal government has exemptions in place to enable students to study in Canada during the pandemic. If you are unable to travel to Canada now, you can study at a Canadian designated learning institution while overseas and still be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP is highly coveted among students because it enables them to work in Canada, which can help them become eligible for Canadian permanent residence.

The first step to study in Canada is to gain a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Canadian DLI. DLIs are colleges, universities, and other educational institutions authorized by Canadian governments to welcome international students. Once you gain a LOA, you can submit your study permit application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Generally speaking, you need to demonstrate to IRCC that you have a LOA, are proficient in English or French, and provide evidence you can financially support yourself and any family members joining you in Canada.

From getting your permit approved to paying for living expenses, the Scotiabank Student GIC Program can help you plan for your education. We can help you meet the study permit requirements of IRCC faster by showing proof of funds – and provide you with access to money to help pay for living expenses while you’re studying in Canada. We’ve helped more international students get their study permit than any other bank in Canada.

Before you hit the books, the Scotiabank StartRight® Program for newcomers1 can also help you start banking in Canada with access to no monthly fee accounts2, unlimited debit and Interac e-Transfer transactions, unlimited international money transfers3 and more. It’s all part of why Scotiabank is the bank for newcomers.

The cost of settling and living in Canada

The cost of settling in Canada can be significant.

Once you have been approved to immigrate to Canada, there are the added costs of travel and moving costs – making the expenses you’ll incur to settle in Canada vary from the thousands of dollars to the tens of thousands of dollars.

Once you arrive in Canada – living here will also be expensive. According to Numbeo, a database that compares cost of living around the world, as of March 2021, the average monthly cost of living in Canada for a family of four without rent is around $3,674 whereas the average cost of living for a single person without rent is around $1,109 per month.

Rent can vary significantly in Canada based on where you live and what kind of rental property you live in but most Canadians spend around 35% to 50% of their income on a combination of utilities and housing and the Government of Canada estimates that immigrants will likely pay at least $350 per month to rent a room and at least $2,000 per month to rent a large apartment or house.

Things to consider while deciding the province or city to settle in

When it comes to where to settle in Canada – there are a number of factors to consider before making a choice.

You’ll want to consider things like the cost-of-living, average salaries in the area, weather, lifestyle, the cost of rent, the cost of real estate, and other factors. Here is an overview of cost of living across Canada:

Atlantic Canada

Many people move to Atlantic Canada – which includes Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island – to take advantage of its less expensive real estate and natural beauty. Average rents tend to be much lower than elsewhere in Canada with rent for a two bedroom in Moncton, New Brunswick costing an average of just $1,165 per month and rent in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island costing just $1,401 per month. The average salaries of Atlantic Canada provinces are $55,508 in Newfoundland and Labrador, $45,912 in Prince Edward Island, $48,470 in Nova Scotia, and $49,511 in New Brunswick.


Quebec is a popular choice for French speaking immigrants. It prioritizes French speaking immigrants through its provincially run immigration programs and real estate prices tend to be lower than other provinces – even in its urban centres. Quebec has an average provincial salary of $49,511.


Ontario is the most popular province to immigrate to because it is the site of Toronto, Canada’s most populous city and a place where there are vibrant communities of immigrants for you to connect with. While living in Toronto is particularly expensive with home prices an average of around $850,000 and rent costing an average of $2,300 per month for a two bedroom apartment, there are places in Ontario that come in among the cheapest to live in Canada to live, such as Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario where it costs just $1,000 for a 2 bedroom apartment. Ontario has an average provincial salary of $55,524.

The Prairies

Many immigrants decide to move to the prairies for the economic opportunity of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.  Average rents are more expensive in major Alberta cities with rent for a two bedroom in Edmonton costing an average of $1,250 per month and rent in Calgary costing an average of $2,300 per month.  Average rent for a two bedroom in Winnipeg, Manitoba is $1,223 per month and average rent for a two bedroom in Regina, Saskatchewan is $1,222 per month. The average salaries of prairie provinces are $61,865 in Alberta, $49,661 in Manitoba and $54,371 in Saskatchewan.

British Columbia

British Columbia is another popular immigration destination as it is the home of Vancouver, a beautiful city surrounded by water and mountain views whose lifestyle and moderate temperature allow you to ski and golf in the same day. Vancouver and its surrounding areas are particularly expensive with home prices an average of $1.3 million and rent prices an average of $2,793 for a two bedroom apartment. However, there are places in BC that come in much more affordable in terms of rent and real estate. British Columbia has an average provincial salary of $53,416.

What to do once you move to Canada?

Once you get settled in Canada, it’s important to take care of all the essentials like finding a place to live, getting your health insurance, getting your Social Insurance Number, connecting with your consulate and community organizations that help immigrants or connect you with other immigrants, obtaining your drivers’ license, and getting a Canadian bank account.

At Scotiabank, we have a special Scotiabank StartRight® Program for newcomers to help you get your financial affairs in order so that you can start living your new life. As part of our support for newcomers, we make the process simple. It’s hard enough to move to a new country and make all these life changing and complex decisions. We help make the financial part of your new life easy.

You might even end up working with a fellow immigrant to set up your new financial life – who will give you tips for how to get settled. Sidhu says the most important thing to getting settled in Canada is networking.

“Newcomers remain active on online networking platforms and they should not hesitate to connect to people of their professional backgrounds,” he says. “Canadians are really helpful, they will join others over coffee if anyone needs their advice or help. Out of all the sites, LinkedIn and Facebook are the two major platforms which are really useful.”

Li suggest similarly taking risks to make connections, “Try to talk to different people, step out of your comfort zone,” she says. Both are confident if you do that, you will find your place in Canada and build a great life here – just like they did.

How to Get a Job in Canada: Sign up for our next webinar!

CanadaVisa and Scotiabank invite you to join our free webinar on Wednesday May 19: How to Get a Job in Canada!

About Scotiabank

Scotiabank is one of the top Canadian banks and a leading bank in the Americas. Guided by our purpose “for every future”, we help our customers, their families and their communities achieve success through a broad range of advice, products and services.

Launched in 2008, the Scotiabank StartRight Program is designed to simplify banking for Canadian Permanent residents, International Students and Foreign Workers who have recently landed in Canada. We can help ease your transition to Canada by getting you started with a Scotiabank International Account that allows you to transfer up to $50,000 before you arrive to help you feel more prepared knowing you have proof of funds ready. We can even help fast track your study permit with the Scotiabank Student GIC Program.

Our Scotiabank StartRight program can also help you start banking in Canada with 12 months of free banking, access to credit with no credit history, unlimited no-fee international money transfers, and expert help from Financial Advisors.

We also launched ScotiaRISE – our new, 10-year, $500 million community investment program designed to help promote economic resilience among disadvantaged people and communities. In particular, the program is centred on using funding and partnerships to increase graduation rates and postsecondary enrolment, help newcomers feel at home faster and secure meaningful employment and senior opportunities for underrepresented groups. It’s all part of why Scotiabank is the bank for newcomers.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as financial, tax or investment advice or guarantees about the future, nor should it be considered a recommendation to buy or sell. Information contained in this article, including information relating to interest rates, market conditions, tax rules, and other investment factors are subject to change without notice and The Bank of Nova Scotia is not responsible to update this information. All third party sources are believed to be accurate and reliable as of the date of publication and The Bank of Nova Scotia does not guarantee its accuracy or reliability. Readers should consult their own professional advisor for specific financial, investment and/or tax advice tailored to their needs to ensure that individual circumstances are considered properly and action is taken based on the latest available information.

1 Scotiabank StartRight Program, created for Canadian Permanent residents from 0–3 years in Canada, International Students and Foreign Workers.

2 Eligibility: To qualify for the 1-Year No Monthly Account Fee Offer (the “Offer”), open a new Preferred Package account under the StartRight® Program (the “Account”) [Employees of The Bank of Nova Scotia (“Scotiabank”) and individuals who are currently or were previously holders/ joint holders of a Scotiabank chequing account within the last 2 years are not eligible for this Offer.

How this Offer Works: During the first 12 months, your monthly Account fee will be waived and will not appear as a charge on your Account. The Account must be open and in good standing at the time of the waiver. All applicable service charges on the Account will continue to be applied monthly. After the first 12 months, you will begin to see the monthly Account fee charged to your Account unless you maintain a minimum daily closing balance of $4,000, in which case the monthly Account fee will be waived per the Account terms and conditions. This Offer is non-transferable and cannot be combined with any other offers. Maximum one Offer per customer. All rates, fees, features and benefits are subject to change. Offer may be changed, cancelled, or extended at any time without notice.

3 Foreign currency exchange rates apply. A transfer needs to be made from an eligible Scotiabank Chequing or Savings account.

® Registered trademarks of The Bank of Nova Scotia.

Interac e-Transfer is a registered trademark of Interac Corp. Used under licence.

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