What things should I keep in mind when visiting Canada?
- Canada is huge. Remember distances between cities are very large. Toronto and Montreal are a roughly one-hour flight from each other and they are two of the closer cities in the country. Ontario is big enough that you need at least 24 hours to drive all the way across it. In addition, travel options are limited.
- I hope there isn't much corruption where you come from, but in Canada it's pretty much limited to political fundraising. Police, courts, and government officials are all well paid and intimating that you can "speed things up" or forego procedures for a small payment will land you in jail if you're lucky.
- Canadians are familiar with a large range of accented English and French, but we may still have difficulty understanding you, even if you're from another European country like Italy or Greece. Be prepared to repeat yourself. Canadian vocabulary is also different and words that are commonly used in British, Indian, Australian and even American English may confuse us.
- Speaking of English and French, Montreal is pretty much the only place where you can easily get by in either official language. In the rest of the country either English is the only working language (even parts of Quebec), or French is (especially in parts of Eastern Ontario, Northeastern Ontario and New Brunswick).
- You're probably ready for the cold, but in the deep summer (August) most of Canada gets very hot (generally everywhere east of the Rockies and west of Oshawa). Toronto gets hotter than Mexico City in late summer (Mexico City is at altitude).
- Yes, we use cash a lot, but get yourself a debit card. Just about every place you can shop or eat takes them now and they are cheaper to use.
- Technically, Canada has about a dozen banks and many more dozen trust companies and credit unions. However, in reality, the "big five" rule banking and you probably want to hook up with one - Royal, Montreal, TD Canada Trust, Nova Scotia or CIBC. They have multiple branches in every country and any neighbourhood of any size will have all five within walking distance of each other. Otherwise, if you need cash, you're going to be using someone else's cash machine and paying $1.50 a withdrawal.
- Shop at Dollarama. They have lots of stuff from $1 to $4. They take credit cards now too.
- A Canadian will say "hello" to you every time they see you in a day, not just the first time. They will hold the door open for you even if you're not immediately behind them. They end a lot of sentences in the word "'eh" even though they say they don't. They will apologize if you bump into them. They prefer to use as few vowels as they can get away with so "Toronto" becomes "Trana" and "Calgary" becomes "Calgry". Get use to it and get used to doing it yourself.
- Yes, all the packaging will be in both English and French no matter where you live. Even if it's an imported product.
Canada is the second largest country on earth. It has three ocean borders and is home to a vast array of different landscapes, from mountain ridges to arctic tundras. With four distinct seasons the summers can be warm with temperatures around 20-30°C, while the winters will see it dipping below freezing with snow common, almost everywhere.
As a vast country, your life in Canada will be determined by where you choose to live, as lifestyle, weather, and career opportunities vary from one destination to the next. Popular choices for expats moving to Canada include Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, as well as world-class ski resorts, such as Calgary and Whistler.
A variety of languages are spoken in Canada. The province of Quebec has its own capital – Quebec City – and is predominantly French-speaking. It won't be French as you know it however, but French Canadian, which sounds slightly different to the language you may have been taught at school.
The Canuck language itself will also have variations in meaning which you'll need to get your head around: ‘noodles' means pasta; a ‘mickey' is a flask-sized bottle of liquor; a ‘pop' is a fizzy drink; a ‘klick' refers to kilometres and ‘keener' is someone who is overly enthusiastic. Canuck is not considered a derogatory term in Canada – and their ice hockey team the Vancouver Canucks are among the best in the country.
Looking for a house in Canada will be a familiar procedure but you'll need to provide proof of your credit and work history. Remember though your previous credit history may not be valid in Canada, and you'll have to start from scratch. Get yourself a good mortgage broker and a trustworthy estate agent. More information about this can be found contacting by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The only advice I can offer, due to your very generalized question, is to please figure out whether you are visiting or immigrating, because that is one thing Canada Customs will expect you to be clear about when you arrive at our border. And you will need to have the appropriate paperwork for one or the other.
If you give us some details about where you're coming from, what you plan to do here and, if you know, what part of Canada you plan to go to, I'm sure we can give you lots of useful pointers.