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40 things you should do before moving to Canada

Updated: Mar 30

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Leaving your country can be a challenging journey. I will show you a list of 40 things to do before moving to Canada based on my own experience planning the entire trip from Chile to Canada.

I have separated the content in different categories so you can easily navigate through them.

Before I jump right in, here is a story that happened to me because I did not have this information.

If you are in a hurry, pick from the table of contents below for what you are looking for.

Table of contents

General Information

Services & Subscriptions

Health & Insurance

Savings & Banking

Home & Organization

Documents & Paperwork




Essentials for your trip


It was January 5, 2021 and in the middle of the Chilean summer, I went to the phone company with two clear objectives: to cancel my monthly plan and an insurance that protected my cell phone in case of damage or theft.

Everything went smoothly, we were already in pandemic so I had to wait a bit but finally I arrived at one of the more than 40 counters in the main office. I explained what my objectives were there and the executive helped me.

I signed what I needed, she confirmed that everything was in order and that I was going to receive a final invoice with the difference from the last bill, and I left.

I was walking to the bus stop and realized that I couldn't use Google maps to see my bus coming, because I no longer had internet.... of course... it made sense, I had just cancelled the plan.

So I went home, with one more task checked off my list. Since my trip was a month away, it was a huge relief.

A month later, when I was already settled in Canada. I started receiving bills in my email from my cell phone insurance. I contacted them by email and the response was that I had not cancelled it.

You can't imagine the frustration I felt, the only answer I got was "You have to come physically to the office to cancel the insurance" - I freaked out.

I complained by email, by social media, I asked for the recording of the office camera, and finally I formally complained to the institution that protects consumers in Chile (SERNAC).

I don't know what the successful measure was, but I don't receive any more invoices.

Things you should do before moving to Canada

I do not want you to go through this anxiety about forgetting something important, we know it is not like forgetting to take your wallet when you go to the supermarket around the corner.

I have compiled with my personal experience 40 things you should do before moving to Canada. I will present you tips from a financial point of view, related to the trip itself, preparation at home and much more.... so here we go!

General information

1. Create a checklist with your to-do list

This is the most important for me that is why I have added it as number one.

My partner always tells me that I create a checklist for everything, but I do it because it really helps me.

I suggest you create a checklist after brainstorming the things you need to do before traveling. If you prefer, you can get my FREE 3-page checklist below.

This is going to be useful for going back and checking your progress.

Think about your daily life, the bills you pay, and the things you do in your day-to-day life to start checking what you need to do to get everything in order in your home country.

Think that once you leave your country it is difficult to go back to fix something you did not close before traveling.

Services & subscriptions

2. Cancel phone and internet plans

I put this here because this caused me headaches as soon as I arrived in Canada.

If you have a phone (you most likely have one) with a monthly plan and/or a monthly internet plan for your home connection, be sure to call the company and check how to cancel it.

Check ahead of time if you have to inform the company in advance, if you have to physically sign something, and don't be like me: double-check if it's 100% canceled.

3. Check if you have to waive any subscriptions

As I mentioned in the exercise at the beginning. Brainstorm your daily life activities to see if you have any subscriptions to a service that you will no longer be able to use.

In my case, I had a subscription to a small company that removed the organic garbage from my home weekly and we had to notify them that we were leaving and would no longer be using the service.

On the other hand, you could go through the subscriptions you have but are not using.

It would be a sort of cleanup that I assure you will help you save money. Other examples of subscriptions could be Netflix, Amazon, etc.

4. Check if you have to notify your social security or pension plan

This is going to depend on your country and how this system works.

In my case, I didn't have to do anything. Leaving my job was enough, but check if you have to give advance notice or if you have to do any paperwork.

Think that you are not going to work or get a salary in your country, so you will stop contributing money to your pension plan.

Check how it works and what are the steps to follow.

5. Check your donations

If you are committed to some causes and currently give money frequently to support institutions or foundations. I suggest you review your donations.

I had some automatic payments scheduled to withdraw money directly from my Chilean account, so if I wanted to keep supporting I have to be aware of always having money in that account.

On the other hand, if you know you are not going to have a job or enough money to cover the donations you make periodically. Be sure to cancel them.

6. Return any devices

I am not sure if this is something that might apply to your situation or maybe it can give you an idea of something similar.

I mean to return to the companies that delivered services to you, all kinds of devices, e.g. roadside charging devices, cable TV, internet modem, landline phone, security cameras, etc.

Make sure if you cancel a service or there is something that you will no longer use. Return it to the company that provided it. It will also help you to declutter your space.

Health & insurance

7. Check if you have to formally resign from your country's healthcare system

This is similar to what I mentioned regarding the pension plan. It is going to depend on how your country's healthcare system works.

In Chile, we have a private and a public system. My partner was part of the private system, so he had to physically go to sign to finalize the contract with them.

In my case, I did not have to resign because I got a transfer to the company where I was working, which kept me with the same Chilean salary, but for the purpose of this post, it will depend on your situation and your country.

Be sure to research beforehand if you have to notify the health system or sign any papers.

8. Cancel insurance that does not cover you abroad

If you are paying for any insurance for yourself or your family, I would recommend you review the conditions of that policy.

From a personal point of view, I had life insurance in my country, so I sent them an email to ask if that policy covered me in case I was abroad. With that, I could rest assured whether I could continue with the insurance or have to close it.

This can apply to health insurance, cell phone insurance, life insurance that does not cover accidents abroad, unemployment, and many other things.

I don't want something to happen to you, but it's better to be prepared.

9. Get medical checkups

Since you already know your local health care system, I would suggest you get a general medical checkup and get some routine tests done if it's something you feel you need.

I am vegan and was in the process of getting my B12 and vitamin D levels checked, I got an order but unfortunately did not organize my time to go and complete the tests there.

Once settled in Canada, and without an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), which is the card that gives you access to public health in the province of Ontario. It was expensive and took me a long time to figure out here how to do it and where to go.

Things to do before moving to Canada - Get medical checkups
Woman being attended by a physician | Photo by Media from Wix

Savings & banking

10. Save more money than you think

I don't know how to stress this enough. It depends on the country you are coming from, but at least in my country, the cost of living in Canada is much higher than in our home country.

I suggest you save as much money as you can. If you have already decided which province you want to live in. Use the internet to get an idea of the cost of living, rent, transportation, groceries, etc.

Consider that you are going to arrive and maybe you won't have a job right away and you will need to buy some things for your house, advance payments for housing, etc.

11. Eliminate or reduce your local debts

If you have saved enough money to close local debts, I recommend you do so. You will have peace of mind and will not have to worry about paying them from abroad.

I decided to use part of my savings to cover my student loan. It was not easy but I did the math and it was necessary because in the long run, it would be more expensive than paying once.

So I suggest you review your debts and find a way to close most or all of them if it is below your means.

Things to do before moving to Canada - Eliminate or reduce your local debts
Eliminate or reduce your local debts | Photo by Dylan Gillis

12. Check to see if you have automatic payments on your bills

Sometimes to make it easier to pay bills at the end of the month, banks give you the possibility to set up recurring payments or automatic withdrawals directly from your bank account.

If you have any services that deduct money directly from your account, be sure to cancel or stop the service in case you are not going to use it.

And again, call the bank to see if you have to sign anything on paper.

13. Create an international bank account

This is totally up to you, but you may have saved up some money when you are ready to travel that you want to bring to Canada.

Check online to see how you can bring the money or transfer it. What I did was to set up an international bank account, I did it with Scotiabank.

In short, it was expensive, because the Chilean bank charged me a commission for each dollar transferred, but somehow it was very useful. When I opened my account in Scotiabank Canada, they took the money from that account and it was immediately deposited there, so it was worth it.

When I was already settled in Canada and had my Canadian account. I decided to use a service called Currencybird that allows transferring Chilean money to Canadian dollars quickly and with less commission than our bank and it worked perfectly for me.

There are other services like Western Union, Remitly, and others if you want to check them out.

For more details on financial preparations, make sure you check Preparing your finances for a move to Canada: What you need to know.

Home & organization

14. End your rental contract

If you currently live in a rented place in your home country, be sure to let your landlord know ahead of time so they can accommodate a new tenant while you leave.

This can be helpful if you want to maintain a good relationship with the landlord. Remember that your trip may be temporary and you may later return and have a choice in the same place.

Things to do before moving to Canada - End your rental contract
End your rental contract | Photo by Media from Wix

15. Hire a real estate agency (If applicable)

If you own the place where you live and intend to leave it rented while you are traveling in Canada.

One of the options is to hire a real estate agency to help you with the whole process of finding a tenant, screening, securing payments, etc.

This can help you relieve some of the pressure, anxiety and give you back time to focus on other things in preparation for your trip.

Personally, I tried to do this process with an agency, but it was getting close to the time of my trip and they couldn't find any potential tenants. So I rented my house to a relative on my own.

16. Sell your biggest possessions

If you have assets that are going to depreciate when you are traveling. A good option is to sell them.

We sold my partner's car and our motorcycles after a long reflection on how these items were going to depreciate from being stored in our parking lot. So we let them go.

It was hard because they were part of our lives for many years and accompanied us on our adventures, but in the long run, this helps to increase our savings for our Canadian project, so it was worth it.

Things to do before moving to Canada - Sell your possessions
Julieta on her motorcycle on a trip from Santiago to Horcon, Valparaiso - Chile | Photo by @djshockchile

17. Declutter your closet

In this regard, I would say: be conscious, honest with yourself, and make sure you travel with only the necessary things. Donate, give away or sell and you will increase your savings and peace of mind.

In general, I have never been so attached to buying too many different clothes and I didn't have a big closet, but maybe this is not the norm.

So I would recommend going through everything you have in your closet and not traveling with too many clothes. I am sure you will find good quality and affordable prices in Canada.

Things you should do before moving to Canada - Declutter your closet
Declutter your closet | Photo by Sarah Brown

18. Sell or donate utensils you will not use

In the same spirit as number 17, I suggest you extend your pre-trip cleaning to your whole house and do it in advance.

We did it and I can tell you it was a lot of work. From selecting the items, posting on a platform, waiting for the buyer, confirming they were going to take it, being home when it arrived, etc. So be patient and do it hopefully months before your trip.

We sold bikes, a play station, a baby seat that I used for my niece, etc. Also, consider that if you can't sell them you can also donate them. For example, all the tools that Corita used we gave to a kitten adopted by a friend.

19. Sell or donate your plants

This is another detail you should take care of. If you are a plant lover make sure you find them a new home.

In my case, we had to give away our SCOBYs to make kombucha so this also applies.

Documents & paperwork

20. Check that your passport is up to date

This is a priority because a passport is not a document we use every day, we usually check it if we are going to take a vacation once in a while.

So make sure it is up to date, and that it is valid enough for your entire stay in Canada.

If it is not, make sure you renew it while you are in your country. This can also apply to your national identity card if you have one.

Things to do before moving to Canada- Check that your passport is up to date
Passport | Photo by Convertkit

21. Leave a Broad Power of attorney to someone you trust

I am not sure if this is something that exists in your country, but you may be able to find something similar. You can consult a notary or a lawyer.

I mean a document that allows someone to do what you need on your behalf. I mean that person can represent you to sign papers or whatever while you are abroad, so make sure that person is someone you trust.

I did not do it and I regret it, so don't be like me and find out how to get one in your country.

22. Collect information about your common-law relationship (If applicable)

In Canada, there is a marital status that applies to couples who are not married but have lived together for at least one year. This is called common law.

For immigration purposes, there is a form that you sign in front of a notary and you have to add proof that you are living as a common-law couple, so I think it is important to review this and collect proof of utility bills with the same address, shared bank accounts, shared rental contracts, etc.

You never know if this might be useful in Canada.

If your marital status is married, be sure to bring your marriage certificate which can be the equivalent for paperwork here.

23. Scan important documents

I suggest you scan important documents that you do not want to bring physically, but that could be used to do some paperwork online. You're going to save yourself some headaches and they hardly take up space.

Things to do before moving to Canada - Scan important documents
Scan important documents | Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

For more detail about documents, you should bring to Canada, make sure you check Essential documents to gather before moving to Canada.


24. Validate your credentials or degree

If you think you have a small chance of coming and your plan is to apply for permanent residence.

I suggest you evaluate your credentials in advance. It is expensive and involves following some protocols but it is better if you can do it and you don't have to ask for favors from family or friends while you are in Canada.

In this post, I will tell you about our educational credential evaluations. I did mine while in Chile and Aldo did it from Canada.

25. Quote an English course (If applicable)

If you have already read a bit of this blog you will have noticed that we are fervent advocates of the working holiday program.

The thing is that, as we know, it is a random selection, you may not receive the invitation to apply, but you may still have the desire to travel, as we did.

Aldo never received the invitation to apply, but the plan was to come together, so our plan B was to buy an English course for him.

We did a lot of research and quoted different courses, made comparison charts and in the end, he chose the same school where I did a course 6 years ago.

If you want to practice your English skills while you prepare for your trip, you can use a platform like Italki, they have teachers and tutors from all over the world. The classes are affordable, you choose the availability and help you feel more confident when you speak. I have completed more than 100 classes on it.

Things to do before moving to Canada - Quote an English course
Quote an English course | Photo by Media from Wix


26. Find a place for them

I have decided to include this option even though it is not the option I personally chose, but maybe it is your case.

If you have a pet: cat, dog, fish or whatever and you are going to travel but you have decided that your little friend will not come with you. Make sure you choose a good place for him/her to stay ahead of time.

A place where someone will take care of them responsibly, where your pet will get food, water, and have all their needs met. And perhaps more important than the place is the person who will take care of them, who will have patience, and experience and will love them as you do.

27. Prepare your furry one for the trip

On the other hand, if when you are planning your trip, the first individual on the plane is your adorable pet (as was my case) there are a lot of activities to complete before the big day.

This topic I have covered in another post because there are several details I would like to explain. If you want to see that post click here

Things to do before moving to Canada - Prepare your furry one for the trip
Corita at the airport in Santiago, Chile before boarding to Canada | Photo by @djshockchile


28. Ask about any possibility of relocation within your current job

I have added this option because it was what personally worked for me.

I think it may be an option if you work in an international company. If you like your job and you know that the company has offices in Canada. I suggest you check to see if there are any programs available within the company that you can apply for and maybe opt for a transfer from your country to Canada.

I was going to leave my job and my manager suggested that I look for a possibility within the company and use an available program. I did and it worked.

29. Quit your job (if applicable)

Well, if the possibility mentioned in item 28 is not an option, you will have to proceed with 29. This is obviously going to depend on your personal situation.

See if you have to notify your employer in advance if there is a deadline or maximum time you have to comply with to avoid problems and thus be able to leave with peace of mind.

30. Resume and cover letter

If you are going to work, I recommend that you prepare a draft cover letter and a Canadian- style resume so you don't have to start from scratch the day you start looking for a job.

The Canadian-style resume is brief, tailored to the position you are applying for, without a photo, and without including personal information such as religion or anything similar.

Do your research ahead of time and learn about the resume and cover letter. Typically, these are the two documents you need to apply for a job in Canada.

Essentials for your trip

31. Prepare a stock of essential medications

If you or someone travelling with you has an illness that requires ongoing medication.

I suggest you prepare a supply of medications. so that you can be covered while you find out how the system works in the province where you live.

Go to your doctor and ask him/her to give you a prescription to carry on the flight in case you have to explain what you are bringing in those quantities.