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- Boost Your Express Entry Score: Tips for Newcomers.
Canada's Express Entry system is a widely used pathway for skilled immigrants to obtain permanent residency. It assigns points based on a number of factors, including age, education, work experience, language proficiency and others. While some requirements, such as age, cannot be changed, there are opportunities to improve the Express Entry score by focusing on areas that allow improvement, such as English language proficiency, work experience and credential evaluation. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies to maximize your score in these crucial areas and increase your chances of success in the Express Entry system, based on our experience, which allowed us to increase the score significantly. Table of contents 1. Master the English test for Express Entry. 2. Optimize credential evaluation. 3. Gain Canadian Work experience. 4. Learn French. 5. Additional recommendations. 1. Master the English test for Express Entry. One of the most effective ways to improve your score in Express Entry is to improve your English test scores, whether it is General IELTS or General CELPIP. So far, to apply for Express Entry those are the accepted tests; if you want to know more about the one we took, check out Everything you need to know about the CELPIP test. Language skills can significantly increase your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. If the main applicant scores at least a CLB 10 in all skills, it can give up to 128 points for the application, so try to get as high a score as possible and if you need to retake it to improve your score further and focus on the skills you need to improve, do it! I repeated the CELPIP test and was able to improve by focusing on the skills I was missing points for. Here you can see the point equivalency if you take the IELTS instead of CELPIP. Here are some tips to excel in your English test: Prepare diligently: familiarize yourself with the test format and practice constantly using sample tests and study materials. At this point, it is not about studying the language but understanding the test format. Focus on your weaknesses: Identify the specific aspects of the language you need to improve and spend time strengthening these areas. If you have taken a test before, spend more time on the skills needed to improve your score; in my case, it was writing and speaking. Seek professional guidance: Consider hiring a tutor for specific guidance, feedback on your language skills and test-taking strategies. 2. Optimize Credential Evaluation The credentials assessment is another crucial aspect contributing to your Express Entry score. It consists of assessing your foreign training to align with Canadian standards. I believe that the way to optimize here is to evaluate in advance since, at least with WES, which is the institution we used, the report lasts five years, so after that, you don't have to stress about it. To give you an idea, as a main applicant, this gave us 126 points for the score; in my case, I studied to be a pharmacist. Here's how you can improve this aspect: Research recognized credential evaluation agencies: Make sure you select a reputable agency that is recognized by the designated organizations in Canada; always check Canada.ca for information. These agencies will assess your educational and professional qualifications accurately. As I mentioned, try to do this in advance so that you already have the results when you create your profile. See more details on credentials assessment in How to obtain an educational credential assessment for immigration purposes. Gather the necessary documentation: Gather all relevant transcripts and certificates to support your credential evaluation process. Make sure they are properly translated, if necessary. 3. Gain Canadian work experience. Once you arrive in Canada, look for opportunities to gain relevant work experience in your field. Not only will this strengthen your profile, but it will also help you get points for your Express Entry profile. For example, one year of experience from the main applicant gives you 35 points, while two years can give you 46 points. 4. Learn French Learning French can be a valuable tool to increase your Express Entry score and improve your chances of being invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence. French is one of Canada's official languages, and the Canadian government highly values language skills in both English and French. If you achieve a high level of proficiency in French, you can earn additional points under the language requirements of the Express Entry system. French can score under the Second Official Language Proficiency category and also under additional points: French Proficiency. So consider it as another alternative to get more points. 5. Additional Recommendations If you apply with your partner or spouse, the accompanying person scores fewer points than the principal applicant. Still, it is a score that can increase your chances of receiving an invitation, so don't discard that effort. Check if your companion can do an educational credentials assessment, as well as an English test and work experience in Canada also adds up. The difference in scores is high, but without a doubt, when you are looking to improve your profile, anything goes. For example, considering language, a main applicant with a minimum of 10 in all skills can score up to 128 points, while the accompanying person with the same test score can score up to 20 points. In general, the spouse or partner can contribute up to 40 points to the application, but again, it is an option to increase the total score. Improving your Express Entry score requires a strategic approach to enhance the areas within your control. By mastering the English language, optimizing your credential evaluation, gaining Canadian work experience, and learning French, you can increase your chances of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residency in Canada through Express Entry. If you have doubts about creating your profile, I invite you to review How to create your profile for Express Entry under Canadian Experience Class. Remember that it is essential to stay informed on the latest immigration policies and consult with professionals when necessary. I hope these posts give you an idea to double-check your current score and see if there is any chance to improve it.
- Tips on How to Find a family doctor in Ontario as a Newcomer.
As a newcomer to Canada, understanding the health care system in your province can be challenging, as each province has a different system. In this sense, it can also be complex when it comes to the next step, such as finding a family doctor in Ontario. However, having a family doctor is important for maintaining good health, especially when adjusting to a new country and lifestyle. As I mentioned, each province has a different system; if you are interested in knowing how to get a health card in this province when you are on a work permit, be sure to check out How to Get a health card in Ontario. In this blog post, we will cover how to find a family doctor in Ontario, the province where we live, the requirements to get one, recommendations, and the benefits of having a family doctor, considering that after two years, we decided to get one. Table of contents 1. What is a Family Doctor? 2. What if I don't have a family doctor? 3. Benefits of having a family doctor in Ontario. 4. Requirements to get a family doctor in Ontario. 5. How to find a family doctor in Ontario? 6. Recommendations for finding a family doctor in Ontario. 7. I found a family doctor, and now what? 1. What is a Family Doctor? A family doctor is a primary health care provider - the doctor you make an appointment with when you have a new health problem that is not urgent. Visits to a family doctor are publicly funded, so you do not have to pay; you only need to present your Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. A family doctor can provide direct care for you and your family about the diagnosis and treatment of common illnesses and injuries, referral to health specialists who can help you with a specific condition, support in managing a chronic condition (such as diabetes or high blood pressure), prescribing medications, and regular check-ups including physical exams and routine screening tests (for example, for cancer). 2. What if I don't have a family doctor? If you do not have a family doctor, no problem, you will receive medical care anyway, but you will probably have to go to a walk-in clinic and will be assigned a random doctor each time; this can result in a lack of continuity of care, as you may see different doctors each time you go. In addition, this can make it difficult to treat chronic illnesses or prevent health problems. A family physician can get to know you and your health needs, leading to more personalized care. Without a family physician, you may not receive care tailored to your health needs and preferences. That was our case; we went to the same walk-in clinic for two years, but each time we were assigned a different doctor, we went for specific health issues. As a result, we got the prescriptions we needed but did not have a trusting relationship with any professional. Another thing is that you will probably have limited preventive care, such as periodic medical check-ups. Without a family doctor, you can miss out on necessary preventative care measures that could help catch health problems early. We noticed that as soon as we were included in a family doctor, we had many tests done, which had not happened before. 3. Benefits of having a family doctor in Ontario Complementing the above, having a family physician in Ontario has many advantages. Here are some of them: Preventive care: A family doctor can help you stay healthy by providing preventive care, such as regular check-ups, immunizations and health screenings. Chronic disease management: If you have a chronic disease, such as diabetes or hypertension, a family doctor can help you manage your condition and prevent complications. Referrals: A family physician can provide referrals and coordinate your care if you need to see a specialist or require additional testing. Continuity of care: Having a family physician means you have a consistent source of medical care, which can lead to better health outcomes and a more efficient healthcare experience. Personalized care: A family physician can get to know you and your health needs. 4. Requirements to get a family doctor in Ontario. To get a family doctor in Ontario, you must meet specific requirements: You must have a valid OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) card. You may need to apply for OHIP coverage. You can do this by going to Service Ontario and providing the necessary documentation. See more details in the blog post on How to get a health card as a worker in Ontario. You will need to provide your medical records to the family doctor of your choice. This may include information about any pre-existing medical conditions or medications you take. Suppose you have previously visited a doctor or specialist. In that case, it is a good idea to request a copy of your medical records to bring with you to your first appointment, or if you have that information from back home, be sure to bring it with you so that it can be included in your medical records. This is not a requirement for you, but you need to find a physician accepting patients, bringing us to the next point. 5. How to find a family doctor in Ontario? Finding a family doctor in Ontario can seem overwhelming, but several resources are available to help you. One option is to check with local walk-in clinics or hospitals. These centers may have a list of family physicians who are accepting new patients. You can also ask friends or family members who live in the area if they have a family doctor they would recommend. Another option to get started is Health Care Connect, a Department of Health and Long-Term Care program that helps you find a family doctor accepting new patients. You can access Health Care Connect online or by phone, and they will ask you a series of questions that will help you find a doctor in your area. Find more details on this page. The option we used was the first one; we were always going to the same walk-in clinic, and one day they informed former patients that four doctors were accepting new patients; we selected the one who had seen us before and the one we felt most confident with and applied through their website. 6. Recommendations for finding a family doctor in Ontario. When looking for a family doctor in Ontario, finding someone who is a good fit for you and your family is important. Here are some recommendations to keep in mind: Location: Consider the location of the doctor's office and how easy it is for you to get to. Is it close to your home or place of work? Is it easily accessible by public transportation? Availability: Make sure the doctor's availability fits your schedule. Do they have evening or weekend appointments? Can you get an appointment in time if you need it? Specialty: If you have a pre-existing condition or a specific health problem, you may want to look for a doctor specializing in that area. Personal connection: It's essential to feel comfortable with your primary care physician, so consider factors such as their communication style and good patient care when making your decision. 7. I found a family doctor, and now what? Understanding that each process may differ, I will tell you about our experience after finding the Family Doctor. We saw the email from the walk-in clinic two blocks from our apartment, logged onto their website and registered as "I'm looking for a family doctor." Once scheduled, we received a call from the medical assistant to confirm that we were looking for a family doctor. She assigned medical appointments for me and my partner separately with the doctor. We attended our appointment, signed a document, and discussed our medical history with the doctor. Since we went to the same clinic for two years, some information was there, but we supplemented it with previous surgeries. I recommend you start compiling that information and create a list of the medical terminology, in case it is complicated for you. For example, we wrote down the date of diagnosis or surgery and the condition. Next, the doctor gave us physical examination orders for another day. We went there separately, had our ears, lungs, mouth and nose checked, and were given orders for blood and urine tests. The doctors can assign other types of tests if they deem it necessary. We are waiting for the results now, and when that happens, they will send us a message to schedule an appointment with the doctor to review the results. So far, the process has worked smoothly; getting hours has not been challenging, and the exams have been routine. I hope this post gives you an idea of what getting a family doctor is like. I wish you the best of luck in your search and that you find the best professional to meet your needs.
- How to Practice English Conversation: Tips for Newcomers.
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission when you purchase from the links at no additional cost to you. Don't worry; I only recommend products I use myself, and all opinions expressed here are my own. As a newcomer to Canada, learning a new language is essential to succeed in this new country. On the journey to improve my English, I explored many methodologies, as I explained in 6 tips to improve your English if you are considering moving abroad. One of the last resources I used that I wish I had discovered earlier was a platform called Italki. I used it for a long time and completed over 130 lessons while preparing to come to Canada and after arriving. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of learning a new language as a newcomer to Canada, the advantages of using Italki, how to create a profile, how to get the most out of the platform, price ranges and the differences between selecting a tutor or a teacher. Table of contents 1. Importance of Learning a New Language for a Newcomer to Canada. 2. Advantages of using Italki. 3. How to create a profile on Italki. 4. How to make the most of the Italki platform. 5. Pricing. 6. Differences between selecting a Tutor or Teacher. 7. Additional tips. 1. Importance of Learning a New Language for a Newcomer to Canada. Learning a new language is an essential step for newcomers to Canada. Language is the key to communication and understanding between people. Knowing the language spoken in the country where you live is essential to get by in everyday life. In Canada, the official languages are English and French. Depending on the province or city in which you live, one of these two languages may be the most widely spoken. Learning the language of the province you live in can help you communicate with your neighbours, colleagues and friends. In addition, learning a new language can open new doors for you, such as better job opportunities, social interaction, a deeper understanding of the country's culture and better performance on English tests required to apply for permanent residency and citizenship in Canada, such as the CELPIP test. 2. Advantages of Using Italki. Italki is an online platform that connects language learners with certified tutors and teachers. One of the most significant advantages of using Italki is its flexibility. Since the platform is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you can schedule sessions with tutors or teachers at a time that suits you. For example, you can find a tutor available if you prefer to learn early in the morning or late at night. You can learn a new language at your own pace, anywhere in the world and at any time that suits you. Italki offers many languages, such as English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, etc. In my case, I used it to practice English. You can choose the tutor or teacher that best suits your learning style and goals, whether you want to focus on conversation, grammar or writing. Another advantage of Italki is the affordability of the platform. Italki offers a range of prices for language lessons, depending on the experience and credentials of the tutor or teacher. This allows you to find a tutor or teacher that fits your budget. In addition, Italki offers a trial lesson option, which means you can try different tutors or teachers to find the one that best suits you. 3. How to Create a Profile on Italki. Creating a profile on Italki is very simple. First, visit the Italki website and select the "Start Learning" option. You will be asked to enter your email address and create a password. Once you have done this, you will be asked to select your language level and the language you want to learn. You will also be asked to indicate your reasons for learning the language and preferred learning style. After creating your profile, you can search for tutors or teachers using the search bar on the Italki website. You can search for tutors or teachers by language, teaching style and price. Italki also offers a feature to filter search results based on the availability and location of the tutor or teacher. Each tutor or teacher has recorded a video so you can browse to find the one you like best. 4. How to Make the Most of the Italki Platform. Having clear objectives to get the most out of the Italki platform is essential. Identify what you want to achieve by learning a new language and communicate this to your tutor or teacher. Be open and honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and ask your tutor or teacher for feedback on your progress. In addition, it is essential to set aside time for regular language learning. Consistency is vital to mastering a new language. 5. Pricing. Italki offers different price ranges for tutors and teachers, depending on their experience and credentials. Italki also offers a wide range of prices, so you can find a tutor that fits your budget. Fees range from $10 per hour for community tutors to $50 per hour for professional tutors. Some tutors also offer discounts for purchasing multiple lessons at once, which can be an excellent way to save money. I used to use this; once I found a tutor I felt comfortable with, I started buying packages with her, which saved me a few dollars. 6. Differences Between Selecting a Tutor or Teacher. When selecting a tutor or teacher at Italki, there are a few things to remember. First, consider the qualifications and experience of the tutor. Professional teachers tend to have more experience and training, but community tutors can also be good choices if they have relevant experience or qualifications. As mentioned in point 4, if you are unsure whether to choose a tutor or a teacher, it is worth considering your goals when learning English. A private tutor may be an excellent option to improve your conversational skills or learn vocabulary related to a particular topic. However, you may be better off with a teacher if you seek more structured grammar lessons or exam preparation. In my case, I just wanted to practice conversation to feel more confident in my skills, and I chose a tutor for that. It is also essential to read reviews from other students to get a feel for the teacher's teaching style and effectiveness. Many private teachers also offer a trial lesson or a short video introduction, which can be an excellent way to get a feel for their teaching style before committing to a longer lesson. 7. Additional tips I add here additional resources that can help you practice conversation in English. I have not used all of them, but you can explore until you find the one that fits your needs. Join a language exchange group: Language exchange groups provide an excellent opportunity to practice English with native speakers. You can find language exchange groups on websites like MeetUp or through Facebook groups. I've also seen English Conversation Circles posted in city libraries, but I understand those are only available to residents and refugees. Attend local events: Attend local events in your community to meet new people and practice your English. For example, last summer here in Mississauga, there were many festivals of different cultures, we went to most of them, and it was always an opportunity to buy something and even chat with people sitting near us. Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and practice your English in a real-world setting. Search for local non-profit organizations looking for volunteers in your area and websites in your city with food banks, pet shelters, etc. Find an English conversation partner: Find a conversation partner who is a native speaker of English and schedule regular meetings to practice your conversation skills. If you want to practice skills other than speaking, I suggest the following: Watch TV shows and movies in English: Watching TV shows and movies in English is a great way to improve your English level. Also, try watching programs with English subtitles to understand the language better. Listen to podcasts in English: Listening to podcasts in English is another great way to improve your listening skills. Look for podcasts on topics that interest you and listen to them regularly to improve your comprehension and conversational skills. Read in English: If you enjoy reading, keep reading books that interest you. This will allow you to gain more vocabulary; you can do it through physical books or download them. Listen to audiobooks: If you prefer to consume books by listening, you can search for audiobooks on apps like Audible. The advantage is that you can listen while walking or doing other activities. Overall, Italki is a powerful tool for improving your English skills as a newcomer to Canada. By taking advantage of the flexibility, affordability and variety of tutors and teachers available on the platform, you can quickly improve your language skills and start feeling more confident in your new home. For other ways to improve your English, check out Six Tips to improve your English if you're thinking of moving abroad. I advocate always continuing to improve your skills; if this platform doesn't suit you, that's fine, but find another way that suits you, take action and start practicing somehow. So go for it!
- New to Canada: Understanding the Education System for Your Children.
Moving to a new country can be a challenging experience for anyone, but it can be incredibly overwhelming for parents concerned about their children's education. I imagine that as a parent, you want to ensure that your child has access to a quality education that will prepare them for a successful future. You may have some questions if you are immigrating to Canada and are unfamiliar with the Canadian education system. In this article, I will address the most important questions for parents immigrating to Canada and provide information on navigating the education system when their children are in elementary or high school. I will also include additional information about Ontario, the province in which we live, and some details provided by three moms who recently arrived in Ontario and are using the education system for their children. Table of contents 1. What is the educational system in Canada like? 2. What documents must I bring when I move to Canada? 3. How can I find out which school my child should attend? 4. What if my child does not speak English or French? 5. How can I find out which level my child should attend? 6. Are there resources to help me understand the Canadian education system? 7. The education system in Ontario 8. Publicly-funded boards in Toronto and Greater Toronto Area (GTA) 9. Additional resources for Ontario. 10. Curious facts about schools. 1. What is the educational system in Canada like? The system is divided into elementary/primary school for the first eight grades of school (except Quebec, which has only six grades) and secondary or high school, which runs from grades 9 to 12 (except Quebec, which starts in grade 7 and ends in grade 11). In Canada, children usually start elementary school at the age of five or six and finish high school at the age of 17 or 18. After finishing high school, students can go to college or university. 2. What documents must I bring when I move to Canada? When you move to Canada, you must present certain documents to enroll your child in school. In consulting with the three moms I mentioned at the beginning, there were several documents they mentioned that I listed below. *Note that these documents may vary, so always inquire about your situation with the school or board to which you will belong. Use this for reference only. These documents include the following: Proof of your child's age: Passport or other identity documents such as a birth certificate. Immunization record: Parents must provide proof that their children are up to date on their immunizations. Proof of residency: This may include a rental agreement, utility bill or home/apartment insurance in the parents' name. It is used to confirm the address of the residence. Academic transcripts: If the child has attended school before, parents should bring copies of their transcripts to help with the enrollment process. Baptismal certificate: If the child will be attending a Catholic school. Visitor's or study permit (student). Tutor's status (study permit, work permit, etc.). 3. How can I find out which school my child should attend? Each province in Canada has its education system, so it is essential to research your province's system to determine which school your child should attend. The best way to find this information is to contact your local school board or district. They can provide you with information about the schools in your area, including which school your child should attend based on your address. The three examples I know of in Ontario were assigned based on the area where they live, which means the closest school they have in their neighbourhood. 4. What if my child does not speak English or French? Canada is a diverse country, and many schools offer programs for students who do not speak English or French as their first language. These programs are designed to help students learn the language and catch up academically with their peers. In addition, every district has a welcome and levelling office; at least the parents I met were given appointments before school started and assigned an academic advisor for any questions they might have. You can contact your local school board or district for more information about these programs and how to enroll your child. 5. How can I find out which level my child should attend? The level your child will take will depend mainly on age. According to what the moms mentioned, their children were tested in math and reading the day they visited the academic advisor's office. The level is assigned by age, but if it requires some levelling, your child may have some subjects in the level that corresponds to him/her and others in the previous level. 6. Are there resources to help me understand the Canadian education system? There are several resources to help you navigate the Canadian education system. The first place to start is the local school board or district where you plan to live. There they will be able to inform you about the education system in your province and answer your questions. In addition, several websites provide information about the Canadian education system, such as the Canadian Education Association and the Ministry of Education in each province. Here are the links to each province's Ministry of Education: Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northern Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. 7. The Education system in Ontario Since we live here and have contact with families who have come to this province, I would like to expand a bit on Ontario. Ontario is home to Canada's most extensive education system and has several publicly-funded boards that provide education for students from kindergarten to grade 12. Each board has its characteristics, so parents must research the various available options. 8. Publicly-funded boards in Toronto and Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Here are some specific details about the publicly-funded boards in Toronto and some cities of GTA: Toronto District School Board (TDSB): The TDSB is the largest board in Canada, serving approximately 250,000 students in nearly 600 schools. More information can be found on this website. Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB): The TCDSB serves approximately 84,000 students in 196 schools, providing a faith-based education to students from kindergarten to grade 12. More information can be found on this website. Peel District School Board (PDSB): The PDSB serves approximately 156,000 students in over 250 schools in the Peel region, which includes Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon. More information can be found on this website. Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB): The DPCDSB serves approximately 81,000 students in 151 schools, providing a faith-based education to students in Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon and Orangeville. More information can be found on this website. York Region District School Board (YRDSB): The YRDSB serves approximately 121,000 students in 171 elementary schools and 31 secondary schools in the York region, which includes Richmond Hill, Markham, and Vaughan. More information can be found on this website. York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB): The YCDSB serves approximately 50,000 students in 85 elementary and 16 secondary schools, providing a faith-based education to students in the York region. More information can be found on this website. 9. Additional Resources for Ontario. Several resources are available on the Internet to help parents navigate the Ontario education system. Here are some useful websites: Ontario Ministry of Education: This website provides information about Ontario's education system, including curriculum requirements and resources for parents. The website is mentioned in item 6 of this post. School board websites: Each school board has a website that provides information about the schools in its area, enrollment requirements and policies. Some details about Toronto and GTA are mentioned in item 8 of this post. Ontario School Locator: This tool allows parents to search for schools in their area based on their home addresses. More information can be found on this website. Ontario College of Teachers: This website provides information about teacher certification requirements and a directory of certified teachers. More information can be found on this website. Settlement.org: This website offers resources for newcomers to Ontario, including information about the education system and how to find schools in your area. More Information about Education can be found on this website. 10. Curious facts about schools Here are some of the particularities of the educational system that the moms I asked told me about compared to their countries: There are no monthly school fees (at least in their children's schools) as in countries like ours. In Ontario, there is a choice of public or Catholic school. Siblings can be assigned to different schools, especially if some are in elementary and others in high school. Some schools use uniforms, and some do not require uniforms. Children's attendance is managed through a platform. Every time your child does not go to school, it must be reported in the application. If your child does not attend school and that absence is not reported, the school immediately calls the parents. Requesting the use of the school bus depends on the distance from your home to the school. It is defined according to the meters that separate you from the school. Each district has a welcome and levelling office; at least the parents I met were summoned here before school started and assigned an academic advisor for any questions. Children receive all school supplies at the school; they do not have to buy or bring pencils, books, notebooks, etc. The baptismal certificate in the two cases I asked for was requested in the original language (Spanish). One of the parents said that when there are activities or events for the children where the parent has to pay some small sum, in this case, it was a Pizza event on Wednesdays, no cash is sent with the children, but they have to pay for by an application. I hope this post provides you with the basic information to begin researching the education system in Canada. As a parent, you should research and gather all the necessary documents before moving to Canada. If you do so, you will be able to ensure a smooth transition of your children into the education system and prepare them for success in their academic careers.
- 10 Spring activities near Mississauga and Toronto
Spring is here, and it's time to explore the great outdoors! If you're a newcomer to Mississauga and the Toronto area, there are plenty of exciting activities to enjoy in the warmer weather. Here are ten things to do in the Mississauga and Toronto areas this spring that we've done and recommend. Table of contents 1. Visit the Toronto Islands. 2. Explore one of Mississauga's parks. 3. Explore High Park. 4. Check tourist attractions in Toronto. 5. Walk the Toronto beaches Boardwalk. 6. Visit the Niagara Falls 7. Enjoy a walk or bike ride along Toronto's lakefront. 8. Visit the Scarborough Bluffs. 9. Visit the Blue Mountains. 10. Sunset in Riverdale. 1. Visit the Toronto Islands. This is one of our favourites. The Toronto Islands are a must-visit destination in the spring. Located just a short ferry ride from downtown Toronto, the islands offer stunning views of the city skyline and Lake Ontario. Visitors can rent bikes, enjoy a picnic, or explore the islands' parks and beaches. Also, this island has cherry blossoms, so come out to enjoy and take pictures. 2. Explore one of Mississauga's parks. Enjoy the great outdoors that Mississauga has to offer. Find a selection of 14 parks and trails you should try that, in our experience, are spaces to connect with yourself and nature at 14 parks and trails to visit in Mississauga, Ontario. Admission to these parks is free and family and pet friendly. 3. Explore High Park High Park is one of Toronto's largest parks and a popular destination for locals and tourists. The park features over 400 acres of green space, including hiking trails, gardens, and picnic areas. Visitors can also enjoy various recreational activities, including tennis, swimming, and baseball. 4. Check tourist attractions in Toronto. Toronto has many tourist attractions; take your time and visit the CN Tower, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma and much more. You will find more details about places to discover on this page, where you can download a map with more than 50 attractions. 5. Walk the Toronto Beaches Boardwalk The Toronto Beaches Boardwalk is an excellent promenade along the shores of Lake Ontario. The promenade offers stunning views of the lake and Toronto skyline, as well as a variety of stores, restaurants and cafes. Visitors can also enjoy the nearby beaches and parks. 6. Visit the Niagara Falls This place is just over an hour's drive from Toronto and offers breathtaking views of the waterfall and plenty of attractions and activities. It can be accessed via Go Transit buses as well. Some recommendations for visiting places are walking along the falls, Cliffton Hill Road with the wax museum, Niagara Skywheel, ziplining, etc. 7. Enjoy a walk or bike ride along Toronto's lakefront. Lakeshore in Toronto offers a beautiful waterfront trail perfect for walking, jogging, or cycling. The Martin Goodman Trail stretches for over 56 kilometres along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, providing scenic views of the lake and the city's skyline. Along the way, there are several parks and beaches where you can stop to rest, have a picnic or simply enjoy the views. You can rent a bike from one of the many bike rental shops along the trail or bring your own. We did it last year using the service of Bike Share Toronto with the PBSC app. 8. Visit the Scarborough Bluffs Scarborough Bluffs is a must-see natural wonder in Toronto, along Lake Ontario's eastern shores. The bluffs also offer several scenic parks and beaches, including Bluffer's Park and Scarborough Heights Park, where visitors can hike the trails, relax on the beach, and take in the breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding landscape. 9. Visit The Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains, Ontario, offers plenty of exciting outdoor activities to enjoy during the spring season. Located 1 hour and 50 minutes from Mississauga, it is a beautiful place where you can enjoy strolling along the village street and enjoying the sunshine. You can also visit Collingwood near the Blue Mountains and enjoy several trails. We visited last week, and it was beautiful. 10. Sunset in Riverdale. Watching the sunset in Riverdale, Toronto, is a beautiful experience that will take your breath away. The view from Riverdale Park, situated on a hill overlooking the downtown Toronto skyline, is particularly stunning. The park offers a panoramic view of the city and Lake Ontario, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists. I hope this post gives you an idea of places to visit now that Canada's weather is improving. No matter which one you choose, go out and enjoy the sunshine and celebrate all you have accomplished since you arrived in Canada.
- Understanding the public transportation system as a newcomer to Canada.
As a newcomer to Canada, understanding the public transportation system can be difficult. However, most major cities in Canada have an efficient public transportation system that makes it easy to get around. In this blog post, I will provide an overview of Canada's public transit system and explain how it works in the country's major cities and the Greater Toronto Area. Let's jump right in! Table of contents 1. Overview 2. Public Transportation in Toronto. 3. Public Transportation in Montreal 4. Public Transportation in Vancouver. 5. Public Transportation in Calgary. 6. Public Transportation in Ottawa. 7. Public Transportation in Mississauga. 8. Public Transportation in Brampton. 9. Public Transportation in the York Region. 10. Public Transportation in the Durham region. 11. Public transportation between cities. 1. Overview Canada has a comprehensive public transportation system that includes buses, trains, subways, streetcars and light rail. Depending on the city, the system is managed by different agencies, and fares vary from city to city. One of Canada's most important public transportation systems is the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). The TTC manages the subway, bus and streetcar systems in Toronto, Canada's largest city. Other major cities with extensive public transportation systems include Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa. Major cities usually have websites for their public transport and generally have a trip planner and fare details. Once you arrive in the city, you can search their websites for the best route for the journey you need—more details of the websites are in the following paragraphs. 2. Public Transportation in Toronto The TTC manages Toronto's subway, bus and streetcar systems. The subway has four lines, and the bus and streetcar system covers the entire city. TTC fares vary according to age and the system used to pay. According to information on their website, buying tickets is slightly more expensive than using a Presto Card. The Presto card is a rechargeable card used to pay for public transportation in Toronto and other cities. The card can be used on all modes of transportation and offers discounts on some fares. You can access individual fares depending on how often you use the card, but monthly passes can help you save a little. More information on fares can be found on this page. 3. Public Transportation in Montreal The Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) operates the public transportation system in Montreal. The STM operates buses and the metro system, which has four lines and covers the entire city. In Montreal, the STM also offers a rechargeable card called the OPUS card, which can be used to pay for public transportation tickets. The card can be used on all modes of transportation and offers discounts on some fares. More information on the OPUS card can be found on this website. We visited Montreal last year and could easily purchase this card in one of the metro stations at a machine located at the station entrance; the card cost at that time was 6 CAD. You will find more information about this system on this page. 4. Public Transportation in Vancouver TransLink operates the public transportation system in Vancouver, which includes buses, trains, and ferries. SkyTrain is Vancouver's rapid transit system, with three lines covering the entire city. TransLink fares vary according to the zones you travel to; see below for an outline of the zones. In Vancouver, TransLink also offers a rechargeable card called the Compass Card, which can be used to pay for public transportation fares. The card can be used on all modes of transportation, and it offers discounts on some fares. If you visit Vancouver, you can easily buy a card as soon as you land at the airport, as the YVR Airport station belonging to Canada Line is connected, and you can buy it at a Compass Vending machine (CVM) at the entrance of the station. Last year we visited Vancouver, bought the card and could ride buses, ferries and subway without any problems. You will find more information about this system on this page. 5. Public Transportation in Calgary The Calgary Transit operates the public transportation system in Calgary, which includes buses and the CTrain. The CTrain is Calgary's light rail system, with two lines that cover the entire city. The fares for the Calgary Transit vary depending on your age and the mode of transportation used. They also have passes available, as you can check on their website. The Calgary Transit also offers an App called My Fare, which can be used to buy tickets for public transportation fares. You will find more information about this system on this page: 6. Public Transportation in Ottawa The Société de Transport de l'Outaouais (STO) operates the public transportation system in Ottawa, which includes buses and trains. The O-Train is Ottawa's light rail system, with one line that covers the city's downtown area. In Ottawa, the STO also offers a reloadable card called the Multi card, which can be used to pay public transit fares. The card can be used on all modes of transportation and offers discounts on some fares; according to the website, they also have personalized cards. You will find more information about this system on this page. 7. Public Transportation in Mississauga. MiWay manages Mississauga's public transit system. The system includes buses that cover the entire city, and fares vary depending on your age and how you pay your fare. For example, if you pay in cash the fare is CAD 4, but if you pay with a Presto card the fare is CAD 3.10. MiWay also offers a contactless payment system called Presto Card, the same one used in Toronto. They have recently expanded the system to allow you to pay for your ticket by credit card, debit card or mobile wallet. We used to use public transit very frequently, and some transit combinations allow you to save if you travel to surrounding cities; for example, travelling from Mississauga to Brampton, Oakville and Vaughan, there is a transfer time that gives you a free transfer ride. This is not the case when travelling to Toronto. You will find more information about this system on this page. 8. Public transportation in Brampton. Brampton Transit operates the public transportation system in Brampton. The system includes buses covering the entire city, and the fares vary depending on your age and payment method. They also have weekly and monthly passes. Brampton Transit also offers a contactless payment system, which allows you to pay for fares using your credit card, debit card, or mobile wallet. You will find more information about this system on this page. 9. Public transportation in the York Region York Region Transit (YRT) operates the public transportation system in Newmarket, Aurora, Vaughan and Richmond Hill. The system includes buses that cover the entire region, and fares vary depending on your age and payment method. YRT also offers a contactless payment system, which allows you to pay for fares by credit card, debit card, Presto card or mobile wallet. They also have two apps that allow pedestrians to pay transit fares: YRT/ Viva Pay App and Transit: Bus & Subway Times App. You will find more information about this system on this page. 10. Public Transportation in the Durham Region. Durham Region Transit (DRT) manages the public transit system in Oshawa, Ajax and Whitby. The system includes buses that cover the entire region, and fares vary depending on the means of payment and the age of the passenger. DRT also offers a contactless payment system, which allows fares to be paid by credit card, debit card, Presto Card or mobile wallet. You will find more information about this system on this page. 12. Public Transportation between cities. There is another way to move between cities; the one we have used the most is the one operated by Go Transit, which has buses and trains. The system allows you to pay with a Presto card or buy tickets directly at the stations or online. The fare depends mainly on the distance travelled, and unlike other means of transport, you must scan your card when getting on and off the bus or train to calculate your final fare. You will find more information about this system on this page. Via Rail is also a train company that allows you to move between cities. We have used the service between Toronto and Montreal, which works well. In this case, we bought the tickets through the website; you can find more information on this site. I hope this post has given you an idea of how the public transportation system works in Canada. As you can see, generally, the public transportation systems in these cities are managed by different agencies. Still, they all offer bus services that cover the entire city or region.
- Preparing your finances for a move to Canada: what you need to know.
Moving to a new country can be an exciting and life-changing experience, but it can also be daunting, especially regarding your finances. Whether you're moving for work, school, or just for a change of scenery, preparing your finances in advance is essential to ensure a smooth transition. This post will explore what you need to know about preparing your finances to move to Canada. Table of contents 1. Cost of living in Canada 2. Set a realistic budget 3. Save more money than you think 4. Immigration fees 5. Eliminate or reduce local debts 6. Check to see if you have automatic payments on your bills 7. Open a Canadian bank account 8. Currency exchange 9. Apply for a credit card 10. Consider your tax obligations 11. Growing your savings 12. Education 1. Cost of Living in Canada. Before you start packing, it is important to research the cost of living in Canada. This will give you an idea of how much money you will need to save before you move. The cost of living in Canada can vary significantly depending on where you plan to live, so it is essential to research the cost of housing, food, transportation and other expenses in the province you are moving to. A helpful site is Numbeo.com, where you can filter by city and have benchmark prices for each category mentioned above. Be sure to also check out Cost of Living in Canada: Basic Expenses for Newcomers. 2. Set a Realistic Budget. Once you know the cost of living in Canada, you can begin to set a budget for your move. This will help you determine how much money you will need to save each month to meet that amount before your trip has started. Be sure to do a budget review exercise so you don't run into any surprises. Think that you will have to pay some additional amounts at first, such as at least two months' rent, and since most homes are unfurnished, you will need to invest in furnishing your new space. Another expense is winter clothing, which can be expensive at first; we tried to buy at lower prices by following the tips in Winter clothing in Canada: What to wear during the Canadian winter. 3. Save more money than you think. It depends on your country, but in our case, 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 in which province you want to live. Use the internet to understand the cost of living, rent, transportation, groceries, etc., as mentioned in item 1 above. That is why it is ideal to start saving as soon as possible. No matter how well you plan, unexpected expenses may arise when moving to a new country. It is essential to have a plan in place to deal with these expenses, such as a medical emergency or a car repair, etc. 4. Immigration fees. Understand the costs associated with the immigration process, including permit or visa application fees, legal fees and relocation expenses. All of these need to be taken into account when planning. The value of immigration costs will depend on which immigration program you choose and whether you decide to do the paperwork yourself or require the assistance of an immigration consultant, which will increase the budget required. 5. Eliminate or reduce local debts. Once you have defined the budget, you must set strategies to reach that amount in the established time frame. We implemented this suggestion, which may sound counterproductive, but in the long run, it helped us. 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, plus you will generate a clean record in case you need to apply for a loan in your country. So I suggest you review your debts and find a way to close most or all of them, if possible. 6. 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 allow you to set up recurring payments or automatic withdrawals directly from your bank account. If you have any services deducting money directly from your account, cancel or stop the service if you do not use it. And again, call the bank to see if you have to sign anything on paper. 7. Open a Canadian Bank Account. For this process, you have two alternatives: Create an international account from your country. Wait until you arrive in Canada and open an account directly at the bank branch. This is totally up to you, but there are alternatives to opening an international bank account from your country before coming. I used Scotiabank, where you create a virtual international account, then make an appointment and open your account when you arrive in Canada. They immediately deposit the money you already had in the virtual account. The second option is to arrive and apply to the bank of your choice and then see other ways to transfer your money to that account. Be sure to research different banks and account options before choosing a bank, as fees and services may vary. Here are some of the banks in Canada: Scotiabank, Neo Financial, RBC, CIBC, etc. 8. Currency exchange. Be aware of the exchange rate between the currency of your home country and your new one, as it can affect your purchasing power and the cost of goods and services. If you are relocating from another country, you must transfer your money to your new Canadian bank account. Research the options and compare fees and exchange rates for the best deal. Some examples you can check that at least worked for Latin American countries are Currency Bird, Remitly and Western Union. In our case, I was constantly checking the value of the Canadian dollar to transfer at the best possible exchange rate. 9. Apply for a Credit Card. A Canadian credit card can help build a credit score. However, it can be challenging to be approved for a credit card as a newcomer to Canada, as you will have no credit history in the country. One option is to apply for a secured credit card, which requires a deposit as a guarantee. This can be an excellent way to start building your credit history in Canada. I did it this way, and the bank held that money for at least the first year; then, I could increase my credit limit and get my money back. If you are unfamiliar with the term credit score today, I suggest you check it out since it is crucial to access loans, rent a new house, buy a car, etc. 10. Consider Your Tax Obligations. When you move to Canada, you will be subject to Canadian taxes. Research Canadian tax legislation and understand your tax obligations before you move. You may have to file a tax return in your home country and Canada depending on your situation. It is good to consult a tax professional to ensure you meet all your tax obligations. 11. Growing your savings. If you will move savings to Canada, look for a high-interest savings account or another tool to grow your money. I use a savings account with Neo Financial that offers me 2.25% per year, and I also have a Tax-free saving account (TFSA) where I can invest. Check out other financial products you can use to grow your savings. 12. Education. If you have children, research the education system in the new country, including school options and associated costs. The good news is that according to conversations with some newcomer parents in Ontario, you will not have to pay for school; only in some cases you will need to buy the uniform, but that's about it. Check this aspect depending on the province you are migrating to. I hope this post gives you an idea of the financial considerations you need to make if you are moving to Canada. To learn more about what to prepare before your trip, check out 40 things you must do in your home country before moving to Canada.
- Essential documents to gather before moving to Canada
Moving to a new country is an exciting adventure, but it can also be a stressful one. There are many things to consider and plan for, including the essential documents you must have before moving to Canada. In this post, we will look at some of the key documents you should gather before moving to Canada and provide tips on making the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Let's jump right in! Table of contents 1. Passport 2. Permit /Visa 3. Proof of funds 4. Birth certificate 5. Marriage certificate or Common-law relationship 6. Driver's license 7. Medical records 8. Insurance documents 9. Tax documents 10. Broad Power of Attorney 11. Scan important documents 12. Create a folder Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and these documents may change depending on the program you use to come, but at least this should give you an idea of what essential documents you should bring. 1. Passport As I mentioned in the 40 things you should do before moving to Canada, the first and most important document you will need when moving to Canada is your passport. Your passport is your primary identification document and is essential for travel to and from Canada. Ensure your passport is current and valid enough for your entire stay in Canada. If it is not, renew it while you are in your country. This may also apply to your national identity card if you have one. 2. Permit/visa If you are moving to Canada for work, study or tourism you will most likely need a permit or visa. The type of permit or visa you need will depend on your situation, including the type of work you will be doing, the length of your stay in Canada and your country of origin. Researching your options and applying for the appropriate permit or visa well before your move is essential, as processing times can be lengthy. On the day of your trip, bring all documents requested at the border to activate your permit. If you do not yet know which route to use to come to Canada, check out A Basic Guide to Moving to Canada. 3. Proof of funds You must provide proof of your financial situation when applying for a work permit or visa. This mainly corresponds to bank statements. You may also need proof of employment, such as a letter from your employer if you are coming to work for a specific company. Make sure you meet the requirements your permit requires for activation; for example, if you are coming on a Working Holiday visa, you must show that you have CAD 2,500. 4. Birth certificate If you are travelling with children, your children's birth certificate is an important document to carry with you when you move to Canada. It serves as proof of their identity and date of birth and is regularly requested for school enrollment. 5. Marriage certificate or Common-law relationship If you are married, you must bring your marriage certificate when moving to Canada. This document proves your marital status and can be used for various purposes. In Canada, a marital status exists that applies to couples who are not married but have lived together for at least one year. It is called a common-law relationship. For immigration purposes, there is a form that you sign in front of a notary and to which you have to add proof that you are living as a common-law couple, so review this and collect evidence of utility bills with the same address, shared bank accounts, shared rental agreements, etc. In our case, we used that documentation for my partner to apply for a work permit; if you want to know how we did it, be sure to check out How to get an open work permit as a common-law partner of a skilled worker in Canada. 6. Driver's license You will need a valid driver's license to drive in Canada. Depending on your situation, you may be able to use your current driver's license for a while after you arrive in Canada. However, you will eventually need to obtain a Canadian driver's license, which will depend on the province in which you live. You can do this by taking a series of driving tests or following a more streamlined process by using your previous driving license experience, depending on the province or territory in which you live. If you want to know how to do this in Ontario, check out How to get a driver's license in Ontario, Canada. 7. Medical records You should have copies of your medical history when you move to Canada. This may include records of any illnesses or medical treatments you have had. This information can help you get the medical care you need more quickly and efficiently. 8. Insurance documents It is highly probable that upon arrival in Canada, you will not immediately obtain the health card of the province where you reside. In Ontario, you get it after six months of working; here, you can see how we processed it. Given the above and as you will be in a temporary situation in Canada, you will need health coverage in case of an accident or similar, be sure to bring travel insurance that covers you during that period and is adequate for activating your permits. 9. Tax documents For tax-related issues, I suggest seeking support from someone who knows, but in my experience, tax obligations started to apply from the day we landed in Canada. I recommend you keep a record of all the income you receive during the year since the following year; you must declare the whole year, including what you obtained outside Canada. If when you travel, you keep some things in your home country such as salaries, property, etc., keep a record of facilitating the process during the annual tax return. 10. Broad power of attorney Verify 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. It is a document that allows someone to do whatever you need on your behalf. That person can represent you to sign papers while you are abroad, so make sure that person is someone you trust. 11. Scan important documents I suggest you scan essential documents that you do not want to carry physically but can use to do some online paperwork. You will save yourself headaches, and they take up very little space. 12. Create a folder Finally, create a folder with all the documents you will need (travel insurance, proof of funds, Port of Entry letters, etc.), especially those you will need at the border, and make sure you take them with you in your hand luggage or backpack and not in your checked baggage. I hope this blog post gives you an idea of what documents you should bring; be sure to check all the requirements of the permits you will be using and check if you will need to get more documents due to your particular situation. For more details on what other information you should not forget, check out 40 things you should do before moving to Canada.
- Finding a Pet Sitter as a Newcomer to Canada
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission when you purchase from the links at no additional cost. Don't worry; I only recommend products I use myself, and all opinions expressed here are my own. Are you migrating to Canada with your beloved pet or pets and thinking about travelling to see this new country but not sure who will care for them in your absence? Going on vacation is always an exciting experience, but leaving your beloved pets behind can be a source of anxiety and worry for many pet owners. Back home, you had a circle, perhaps a friend, a cat-loving aunt or someone who used to give you a hand in caring for them. Well... unfortunately, being a newcomer, you don't have that circle right away. Let me show you how based on our experience, a pet sitter can help you with this and how we now travel knowing that Corita, our cat, is in the best hands. Table of contents 1. What is a pet sitter? 2. How do I find a trustworthy and reliable pet sitter? 3. What does a pet sitter do? 4. How much does a pet sitter cost? 5. How long can a pet sitter stay with my pet? 6. What qualifications or training should a pet sitter have? 7. How do I prepare my pet and home for a pet sitter? 8. What if my pet has special needs or requires medication? 9. What if there is an emergency while I am away? 10. Can a pet sitter stay in my home, or do they need to take my pet to their own home? 11. How do I get a pet sitter? 1. What is a pet sitter? A pet sitter is a person who temporarily cares for someone else's pet for a set period at the owner's home. Pet sitting is a great way to love and care for animals while their owners are away. It involves caring for the pet's basic needs, such as providing food, water, exercise and companionship, according to the owner's requirements. 2. How do I find a trustworthy and reliable pet sitter? Last year we discovered the TrustedHousesitters platform, which is a game changer to this day. TrustedHousesitters is a platform that connects pet owners with trustworthy pet sitters from all over the world. This service is ideal for pet owners who travel frequently or have to leave their homes for extended periods, as it offers a convenient and affordable way to ensure their pets are well cared for while they are away. You can be sure that the people participating in this platform are trustworthy and reliable, as they do not charge anything for caring for their pets. It is a friendly exchange between people who love pets and travel. In addition, the system works based on reviews, so you can always read the opinions of previous pet owners where the pet sitters applying to take care of your home and pets were. 3. What does a pet sitter do? The duties of a pet sitter are diverse and depend on your needs as a pet owner. Generally, they consist of caring for the pet's basic needs, such as providing food, water, exercise and companionship. It also includes primary care, such as brushing and bathing, and periodically informing you of the pet's condition, usually by sending photos or videos. You must detail all the information the pet sitter needs to know to perform their job to the best of their ability, including whether your pets need medication, ongoing training, maintenance of any routines you have created, etc. You can also request that they perform other tasks, such as taking out the recycling bins, watering the plants, picking up the mail, etc. 4. How much does a pet sitter cost? It depends on the platform; at TrustedHouseSitters, you don't have to pay for each pet sitter that takes care of your pets; you create an account on the platform and pay for the membership of your choice. They work on an annual fee for an unlimited number of pet sitters. The first step to using TrustedHousesitters as a pet owner is to create an account on their website. You must provide basic information, such as your name, email address and location. Once your account is created, you can create a profile with information about your pets, their needs and their home. This will help potential pet sitters better understand your needs and determine whether they fit your pets. 5. How long can a pet sitter stay with my pet? All the time you need, which you must indicate in the listing. I have seen postings for a weekend, a week, a month or even longer. Having a pet sitter ensures that your pets are cared for in the comfort of your home. This is especially beneficial for pets that may experience anxiety or stress in unfamiliar surroundings, such as kennels or boarding facilities. A pet sitter can give your pets individual attention and care, ensuring their routines and needs are met. 6. What qualifications or training should a pet sitter have? There are no requirements to be a pet sitter, they don't need an official certification, but since they are going to be in charge of your pet, you need to make sure they are a good fit. For example, if your pet needs a daily insulin injection, you will probably need someone with experience in that practice. Once your listing is active, you can look for potential sitters interested in your post. TrustedHousesitters allows you to search for people based on location, availability and experience. You can also view their profiles, read reviews from previous pet owners and ask them questions to determine if they are a good fit for your pets. 7. How do I prepare my pet and home for a pet sitter? Before you leave for your trip, preparing your home and pets for the sitter's service is essential. This may include cleaning and tidying your home, ensuring your pets have enough food and supplies and providing detailed pet care instructions to your sitter. Also, ensure the sitter has all necessary keys, security codes and other access information. 8. What if my pet has special needs or requires medication? If your pet has special needs, include that in the listing, so candidates know beforehand and simplify the onboarding process. Our cat uses an inhaler every morning (yes, she does), so we put together a little procedure with pictures of how it works and when we have an interview or pre-visit with our prospective pet sitter, we show them how to do it. 9. What if there is an emergency while I am away? Once you agree with a sitter to care for your pet, you prepare and send a document called a Welcome Guide to your sitter. It can be as detailed as you want, but with over a year of experience, I can say that this document is essential to make life easier for both of you. You include everything from the WIFI password to the cleaning products' location in that welcome guide. This is where you have the updated vet information, animal hospital, insurance, etc. So, complete this guide at the beginning, and then you must update it if something changes. 10. Can a pet sitter stay in my home, or do they need to take my pet to their own home? TrustedHousesitters works with pet sitters by having them stay at your home, so your pet is always in their environment, and you don't have to stress them out in an unfamiliar place. 11. How do I get a pet sitter? Now that you know the general information, here's what you need to do to get a pet sitter in easy steps: Register on TrustedHousesitters Create your profile and your listing with all the necessary details about your pets with more information, including their routines, any medical conditions or special needs, how long you need a pet sitter, and any other important information required by potential pet sitters. You should also include details about your home, such as its location, size, and unique features. Post your listing in plenty of time to choose a pet sitter that fits your needs. Wait for applicants to sign up for your listing or invite someone through the platform. Conduct interviews with your potential sitters (optional but recommended) to ensure they fit your pets and home. Once you have found a sitter you are comfortable with, it is time to finalize arrangements by accepting them into the system. Prepare your home as outlined in item 7 above. During your absence, keep in contact with the pet sitter to make sure everything is going well. TrustedHousesitters provides a messaging system that allows you to communicate with your pet sitter, ask for updates about your pet and address any concerns. When you return home, thank your pet sitter for the services and leave a review on TrustedHousesitters. Your review will help other pet owners find trusted pet sitters and provide valuable feedback to your pet sitter. If, in any case, you also want to be a pet sitter, be sure to check out The Beginner's Guide to Becoming a Pet Sitter. In our case, we have a combined membership at TrustedHousesitters that allows us to be a pet sitter and also be a pet owner to have someone care for Corita in our absence. I hope this post encourages you to experiment with a pet sitter, and I am sure you will find someone who can then be a frequent pet sitter, as you can send out individual invitations.
- 10 cities to live near Toronto as a newcomer to Canada
Toronto, one of Canada's largest cities, is a great place to live for newcomers. However, it can also be overwhelming and expensive for those just starting. Luckily, several cities around Toronto offer more affordable and family-friendly options. In this post, I bring you 10 cities to consider as a newcomer to Canada that can serve as a starting point if you haven't yet decided where to live. Table of contents 1. Mississauga 2. Brampton 3. Oakville 4. Markham 5. Vaughan 6. Richmond Hill 7. Pickering 8. Ajax 9. Aurora 10. Newmarket 1. Mississauga Mississauga is located west of Toronto, belongs to the region of Peel and is known for its safe and family-friendly neighbourhoods. It is also home to several major shopping centers, one of which is the Square One Mall, which makes it an ideal place for shopping lovers. It is the city where we live, and although the rental prices are similar to Toronto, it is a city that we love for its green areas. Public transportation is known as MiWay and is paid with the Presto card. If you want more details about this city, visit 14 Top Reasons to live in Mississauga and highlight its green areas, 14 parks and trails to visit in Mississauga. 2. Brampton Brampton belongs to the region of Peel and is located north of Mississauga. It is another excellent option for families, offering several parks and recreational facilities. It is also known for its cultural diversity, with a large South Asian immigrant population. Public transportation is called Brampton Transit, and as in Mississauga, you pay with Presto Card. A 1 bedroom apartment costs around 1800-2000 CAD, as reviewed on Numbeo.com. If you want to explore more, this is the city's official site. 3. Oakville Oakville, a more affluent city located west of Toronto, belongs to the Halton region. It is known for its upscale neighbourhoods and beautiful parks facing Lake Ontario. Its public transportation is operated by Presto Card and is called Oakville Transit. Oakville's main attractions are Gairloch Gardens, Lion's Valley Park, which we visited last year, and Bronte Creek Provincial Park. If you want to explore more, this is the city's official site. 4. Markham Markham is located north of Toronto in York Region and is a great place to live for those working in the technology sector. It is home to several large technology companies, such as IBM and AMD. York Region Transit provides public transportation and, like the others, can be paid for by presto card. Places of interest include Toogood Pond Park, Reesor Farm Market and Milne Da Conservation Park. According to this page, prices for a 1-bedroom apartment range from approximately 1800-3500 CAD. If you want to explore more, this is the city's official site. 5. Vaughan Vaughan is located north of Toronto and is a great place to live for those who love shopping and eating. It is home to several major shopping centers and many excellent restaurants. It is well known for hosting Canada's Wonderland, an amusement park that can welcome about 600,000 people a year, the 118,000 square meter Vaughan Mills shopping mall and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. If you want to explore more, this is the city's official site. 6. Richmond Hill Richmond Hill is another great option for families, with several excellent schools and parks. It is also known for its diverse population, with many Chinese and South Asian immigrants. Numbeo shows that prices for 1-bedroom apartments are between 1800-2200 CAD. Some of its attractions include Wilcox Lake, the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts and the David Dunlop Observatory. If you want to explore more, this is the city's official site. 7. Pickering Pickering is located east of Toronto in Durham Region and is a great place to live for outdoor enthusiasts. It has several parks and recreational facilities, such as the Waterfront Trail, Frenchman's Bay Marina and Pickering Museum Village. It connects to Toronto via the GO train with a 41-minute commute and has access to Lake Ontario. Numbeo lists a 1-bedroom apartment for around $1,650. If you want to explore more, this is the city's official site. 8. Ajax Ajax, part of the Regional Municipality of Durham, is another excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts, with several parks and trails to explore. It is also home to several large companies, such as Volkswagen and Dupont. It connects to Union Station in Toronto via the GO train with a 45-minute commute and has access to Lake Ontario. According to Trip Advisor, some attractions include Rotary Park, Greenwood Conservation Area and Ajax Waterfront Park. Prices for 1-bedroom apartments range from 1750 to 2300 CAD. If you want to explore more, this is the city's official site. 9. Aurora Aurora is located north of Toronto and Richmond Hill and is a great place to live for lovers of small-town charm. It is known for its historic downtown and excellent schools. There is not much information on Numbeo.com, but the website indicates that a 1 bedroom apartment can cost anywhere from $1500 to $1850 CAD as of the date I am publishing this post. Some attractions are the Aurora Historical Society & Hillary House, the Aurora Arboretum and the Canadian Moments Mural. You can connect to Toronto via Go transit. If you want to explore more, this is the city's official site. 10. Newmarket Newmarket is located north of Toronto and about a 15-minute drive north of Aurora. It belongs to York Region and is a great place to live for shoppers and foodies. It has several major shopping centers, such as Upper Canada Mall, and many excellent restaurants. According to Numbeo.com, rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center is around $2,000 CAD. A GO transit terminal in Newmarket can connect you to other places, including Toronto. This is the town's official site if you want to explore more. In conclusion, while Toronto is a great place to live, it is not the only option for newcomers to Canada. Many larger cities surrounding Toronto offer more affordable and family-friendly options, from safe and culturally diverse neighbourhoods to excellent schools and outdoor recreational facilities. Finally, I hope this post has given you an idea of other cities you can explore if you want to live near Toronto.
- Cost of living in Canada: Basic expenses for newcomers
Canada is a popular destination for immigrants due to its strong economy, high standard of living and welcoming culture. However, the cost of living in Canada can shock newcomers, especially those from countries, like ours, with a lower cost of living. Understanding the expenses associated with living in Canada is essential for anyone planning to immigrate to a new country. This post will explore some of the higher expenses you can expect to encounter as a newcomer to Canada. We will also include our personal experience living in Mississauga, Ontario, as a two-adult couple with no children. Remember that these are basic expenses you will have to pay monthly living in Canada. In addition, you will need to budget for entertainment expenses, arrival expenses (tickets, college tuition, etc.), retail purchases, etc. Table of contents 1. Housing 2. Food 3. Transportation 4. Utilities 5. Healthcare 1. Housing One of the most important expenses you will face in Canada is housing. If you don't know what to expect when renting a property as a newcomer, you can read How to Rent Your First Home as a Newcomer to Canada. The cost of housing varies depending on the city you're in and the type of housing you're looking for. In Toronto and Vancouver, two of Canada's largest cities, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is over $2,000 - $2500 per month. In smaller cities like Quebec City or Halifax, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is around $800 to $1,600 per month, according to the information retrieved from Numbeo.com; by the way, I recommend this page to explore more details of the cost of living of the city you want to check. In the last two years, prices have gone way up; we have lived in a fully furnished 1 bedroom apartment in Mississauga, Ontario, for 1750 CAD per month since the beginning of 2021. Still, we know that similar apartments today hover around 2500 CAD, even unfurnished. 2. Food Food is another major expense you will face in Canada, and the amount of money spent on food will depend on the size of your family and your preferences. If you want to save money on food, you can buy groceries and cook at home; if you want to know other resources we use to spend less on food, I invite you to read 16 tips for buying groceries on a budget in Canada. In our case, we spend around 400-500 CAD per month trying to cook at home most of the time, trying to use apps to save on food and also, taking into account that we follow a plant-based diet, we don't consume dairy, eggs or meat, which sometimes have higher prices, compared to legumes or vegetables. 3. Transportation Transportation costs in Canada vary according to the city and the preferred mode of transportation. In Toronto and Vancouver, where public transportation is well-developed, a monthly transit pass costs between $150 and $200. In smaller cities, where public transportation is less developed, owning a car sometimes becomes the best option. In our case, we used public transit for a year and a half in Mississauga, as we didn't have to commute daily with 50 CAD a month on the Presto Card; we were fine, but if you have to commute every day, this expense will increase. Consider that the fare on MiWay (Transportation in Mississauga) is 3.1 CAD. After a year and a half, we bought a used car for 5300 CAD, and it has come in handy, especially for saving time. A trip that used to take an hour by bus is now 15 to 20 minutes. However, you must remember that other expenses appear when you have a car, such as a car insurance (we pay 178 CAD/month), gasoline (about 1,40 CAD per litre) and maintenance. If you want to know how we complete the process to get a car, you can check out How to Buy a Car as a Newcomer in Ontario, Canada. 4. Utilities Utility costs, such as electricity, gas (if applicable), tenant's insurance and Internet, should also be considered when calculating your budget to come to Canada. For our 1-bedroom apartment, the monthly electricity payment is around 50 CAD. There are special times during the day when the rates are lower, such as weekends or between 7 pm and 7 am, that can help you save a little. We also use the Internet, and our monthly payment is around 96 CAD. Depending on the place you are renting, you must pay a tenant's insurance that will protect your belongings in case of any problems with the property you are renting; we pay 25.16 CAD per month. If you want to rent a house, check if there are additional costs for snow removal or other, which in our case, are not required to pay. 5. Healthcare Canada has a publicly funded healthcare system, which means that all residents can access basic medical services at no cost. However, when you are a newcomer to Ontario with a study or work permit, you do not have access to this system. You must stay in the province for a couple of months to apply; if you want to learn about that process, I invite you to visit Health Card for Work Permit Holders in Ontario. In addition, some services, such as dental care, eye care and prescription drugs, are not covered by public health care and can be expensive. The cost of private insurance, which covers these additional services, can range from $100, $200 or even more per month, but usually, the company you work for provides that insurance or you can pay for it yourself. This summary can help you get an idea of the fixed monthly expenses and help you calculate your budget for moving to Canada. If you are already in Canada, are there other essential payments in your province that need to be considered here?
- The beginner's guide to becoming a pet sitter.
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission when you purchase from the links at no additional cost. Don't worry; I only recommend products I use myself, and all opinions expressed here are my own. In this post, you will find the answer to how pet sitting is a great option to travel and save money during your stay in your country or another. You may have heard about the concept of petsitting; I'm going to break down the doubts you may have and give you tips according to my experience taking care of pets for more than a year so that if you want to start doing it, you can be prepared for success. To clarify, this is based on my experience and is something I do as a hobby, not as a job. That's one of the reasons I love doing it because, in short, it's a great community of people who love to travel and care for pets. Let's jump right in! Table of contents 1. What is Petsitting? 2. What do I need to be a pet sitter? 3. Is there a high demand for pet sitters? 4. What are the duties of a pet sitter? 5. Advantages of petsitting 6. Which platform to use, and how does it work? 7. How to define where to travel? 8. How to apply for a listing and increase your chances of being accepted? 9. How to prepare for a preliminary interview or visit? 10. Reviews 1. What is Petsitting? Petsitting means temporarily caring for another person's pet for a set period at the pet owner's home. Petsitting is a great way to love and care for animals while their owners are away. It involves taking care of the pet's basic needs, such as providing food, water, exercise and companionship, according to the pet owner's requirements. 2. What do I need to be a pet sitter? There are no requirements to be a pet sitter, you don't need an official certification, but since you will be in charge of another being, I would say you have to: Have a liking for taking care of animals (cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.). Be responsible, punctual and able to follow instructions. Be clean and tidy because you will be in someone else's home. 3. Is there a high demand for pet sitters? So far, I only use a platform called TrustedHouseSitters and every day, there are new positions available in different provinces, so you can see that a pet sitter is needed in every season. 4. What are the duties of a pet sitter? The duties of a pet sitter are diverse and depend on the pet owner's needs. Generally, it consists of caring for the pet's basic needs, such as providing food, water, exercise and companionship. It also includes primary care, such as brushing and bathing, and periodically informing the owner of the pet's status, usually by sending photos or videos. In some cases, pets need medication or continued training if the owner has been working on it. That is why it is essential to check in detail what is requested in the listing to see if you have the experience and skills that will allow you to feel comfortable performing the required tasks. Since you are staying at someone else's home, sometimes the listing includes watering the plants or taking out the recycling on the day the recycling service comes by, etc. 5. Advantages of pet sitting Here are some of the benefits we've seen from another year of doing it: Pet-sitting can be an incredibly rewarding experience, as it provides the opportunity to share the love and bond with an animal you don't have or give companionship to while you're on vacation. In addition, it allows you to stay for free in beautiful places of your choice. It can allow you to learn more about a specific breed and gain valuable animal care experience. It can be an excellent way to develop your skills. Caring for someone else's pet can allow you to learn new skills and become a better pet owner. We have put into practice with Corita, our kitty, several things we have learned from other cat owners. Overall, pet sitting can be an incredibly rewarding and beneficial experience. Not only can you save money, but you can also give back to the community, develop skills and build strong bonds with other animals. 6. Which platform to use, and how does it work? So far, I have only used one platform and this year; we renewed the membership without overthinking it because it's worth it. The platform is called TrustedHouseSitters, and here's what you have to do to pet sit with them: Go to the TrustedHouseSitter website. Explore whether you want to become a pet sitter, whether you want to register as a pet owner or both. Create an account Choose the plan that fits your profile*. This platform works with annual plans, meaning you pay a fee/membership, and you can use the platform for unlimited pet sitting for a year. *Check the updated values on the platform, but we paid 229 CAD for a combined membership this year (we have a combined membership because we take care of other people's pets, but at the same time, we have a pet sitter in our home to take care of Corita). Once you purchase your plan, you complete your pet sitter profile, including: Profile details: you must include your details such as occupation, date of birth, whether you are travelling alone or accompanied, etc. About yourself: stating your motivation, why you want to be a pet sitter, and an introduction. Also, include photos of you taking care of other pets if that happened in the past. Your experience: Here, you can include experience taking care of pets in the past; I realized that I had taken care of cats and dogs for friends when they were travelling, and all that information goes here. Your preferences: Here, you can include if you have a specific location you are interested in. Completing these sections will take time, but I recommend you take as much time as you need because this is essential for the pet owner to read your story and trust you. 7. How to define where to travel? Depending on your preferences, this platform is available worldwide; you can even enter TrustedHouseSitters, explore a place you want to travel to, and see if there are listings available. Once you have completed your profile, and if you want to go on vacation or travel close to home, you can create filters by location. For example, since I work from home, I made a filter within "Ontario" (the province where I live) and "cats." Hence, I get a notification to review and apply immediately whenever a listing is uploaded. Remember that this platform allows you to coordinate only the contact with the pet owner. Still, you are responsible for getting your documents to travel to the place and buy your tickets, visas and everything necessary. 8. How to apply for a listing and increase your chances of being accepted? Once you find the place and the pet you want to take care of, you have to apply for that sitting and try to be quick because some areas receive a lot of applications quickly. Here are my recommendations: Read in detail all the information on the listing, paying particular attention to the type of pets, responsibilities and if there is any special care you have to do. If you think you meet all those requirements, there is an option to Apply, and you must write your application. Personalize that email; I recommend you don't send the same email to everyone. As a pet owner, I loved it when a pet sitter addressed her email to Corita and me, I thought it was lovely, and since then, I have used it in my emails because it denotes that you care about that pet and that you consider them special. Be polite and show that you can do the tasks and have read the instructions. Read in detail and connect with what the pet owners have included in their profiles. Be accommodating and offer the option to have a video call or, if you are near their home, offer a preliminary visit. See item 9 for examples of what to ask. Don't be in a hurry; apply only if you are 100% sure you can go there. In our first experience as a pet owner, someone applied to take care of Corita and several weeks later, that person cancelled their stay, and we had to start the process all over again; it was not pleasant, and I am sure I will not consider that person next time. If you get a response, reply as soon as possible. Once everything is ready and you are accepted, the pet owner will send a confirmation through the platform, and you will have to confirm it once more; then, you are ready! I will leave here 2 examples of actual emails we sent to pet owners and where we were accepted. Example 1: The listing was two hours away from our house. Hi (Pet owner name), (Pet name 1), and (Pet name 2), I hope you are doing well. I am writing because we would love to take care of your kitties while you are away. We are (our names); we live in (the place where you live), (country). So we would be happy to accommodate travel to (the place where the pets are) for the days you need and take care of (Pet 1) and (Pet 2). We are cat lovers. We also have a kitten (Corita) who, once we confirm travel, will be cared for by a Trusted Housesitter. We have recently cared for other kittens (including other places if you already have previous experience) through the platform. Feel free to check our profile, and if you like, we can arrange an interview/video call to resolve any questions you may have. Thank you very much for reviewing our application Have a great weekend Example 2: The listing was in a Canadian city 5 hours by plane from Toronto. Hello (Pet owner name), (Pet name 1), and (Pet name 2), I hope you are doing well. I am glad you are planning your first trip post-covid. (we refer to what the pet owners had put in their profiles) I am writing because we would love to take care of your kitties while you are away. We are (your name); We live in (the place where you live), (country), and we already have our air tickets to go to (the place where the pets are) between June 26 and July 3. So we would be happy to accommodate to go to (the place where the pets are) for the days you need and take care of (Pet 1) and (Pet 2). We are cat lovers, in fact, we have a kitty too (Corita) who will be cared for by a Trusted Housesitter as well, and we recently took care of another cat in (Other experiences) through the platform. Feel free to check our profile, and if you like, we can arrange a video call to resolve any questions you may have. Thank you very much for reviewing our application Best regards Don't be discouraged if you don't hear back or if someone notifies you that you have not been selected. Thank the pet owner, and keep looking for another opportunity. 9. How to prepare for a preliminary interview or visit? Let's think that you have already had a preliminary conversation with the pet owner and will have a meeting with them, either online or in person. In that interview, you should always be prepared to ask about pet behaviours and activities; remember that you will be there taking care of their pets, and that's your priority. Here's a quiz on what to ask. Here's what we've learned from experience: Cats: Feeding: what type of food you use, where it is located, portion size and how often. If it has an automatic feeder, how does it work and how often does it release the food? Water: Where it is located and how often it needs to be changed. Litter box: Where is it located, where to dispose of the litter (directly in the bathroom, pick it up, put it in a container, etc.), if there is more stock to replenish, etc. Does (pet's name) need any medication? Anything special we need to know? Any special prohibitions, not to go out on the balcony, not to climb into the dishwasher, etc. Does (pet's name) have any routine that he/she would like to keep (play at night or groomed at a particular time, etc.)? Is (pet's name) allowed on the balcony? alone, under guard, only accompanied. How does it work when the cats go outside? How long do they stay outside? If applicable. Do the kitten(s) sleep with us? Dogs: We haven't cared for puppies yet, but we prepared these questions for an interview: (Pet's name) walks X times a day - how long should those walks be? Is she friendly with other dogs? If we meet someone on the road, for example. Does (pet's name) always need to be on a leash? Does (name of pet) need a toy with her/his when we take her for a walk? Do we need to carry water for (pet's name), and does he/she have a particular container for it? Anything special we need to know about (pet's name)'s routine? About the house: How many plants do you have, and where are they located? If it is necessary to water them Do we need to take out the garbage or recycle? Do you need to inform the concierge about our stay? If applicable What time do you want me to arrive? What time do you need us to leave? If you feel it is necessary, you can respectfully ask for the following: Can I cook at your home? How is the system for paying for public transportation? Are grocery stores close enough to walk to, or do we need to shop in town? Do you have parking, or is there parking near your home? 10. Reviews The only way to gain a good reputation as a pet sitter is to do it right. The TrustedHouseSitters system works through the reviews pet owners can leave on your profile after you've taken care of their pets. So give it your best, and you will receive a lovely 5-star review. The same you can do for the pet owner; at the end of your stay, you can leave a review and explain your experience to help the rest of the community who might visit that pet in the future. This way, the next time you apply for a petsitter opportunity, you will already have reviews on your profile, and pet owners will be able to trust you more or even former pet owners you already visited will be able to contact you again to take care of their adorable pets once more. I hope this post helps you understand how petsitting works; see if it's something you want to do and take the leap! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on Instagram @julietafromhappysoy.
- 5 things you can do today to prepare for your trip to Canada.
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission when you purchase from the links at no additional cost. Don't worry; I only recommend products I use myself, and all opinions expressed here are my own. A new year begins, and most people start planning big and small goals. If this is the year you've decided that coming to Canada is your goal, I bring you five things you can do today to make your trip or whatever you're looking for in Canada a reality. Let's jump right in... Table of contents 1. Define what step you are at 2. Research and decide which program works for you 3. Start learning English or French 4. Apply for a Working Holiday 5. Start your permanent residence application 6. Do you want to travel more? 1. Define what step you are at Everyone's journey is different, no matter how much it resembles that of another person or family; you must first understand what stage you are in: Do you already know what program might be useful for you to come to Canada? If not, check item 2. Are you fluent in languages (English or French)? If not, maybe you should start with point 3. Are you between 18-30 years old or 18-35 years old, and have you noticed that you might be able to apply for a working holiday? If you don't quite understand what this is about, check item 4. Are you planning to apply for a permanent residence this year? You can start with the steps indicated in point 5. You are already in Canada, and you want to travel more in the country? Check item 6. 2. Research and decide which program works for you You have been thinking that moving to Canada would be a good idea, but you are still not sure where to start; I am going to summarize the basics you should know: Canada is a country that has several immigration programs that could allow you to travel and settle in this country either as a student, worker, visitor or permanent resident. There is only one official website where you can find all the information and where the applications are made; that website is Canada.ca. You can do all the paperwork yourself, or you can hire agents authorized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to do it for you. In that case, you have to pay them for their work, but remember that no one can guarantee work, study, visit permit, etc. If you don't know where to start, you can read this blog post I created with a Basic Guide on How to Move to Canada. 3. Start Learning English or French Canada has two official languages, English and French (used mainly in the province of Quebec). No matter which province you want to live in Canada, language is important. Whatever level you are at, if you want to facilitate the process of getting a job, interacting with other people or carrying out day-to-day activities comfortably, you will need to learn the language. Maybe now is the time to start that English or French course you've been thinking about. Learning English or French will never waste time or money; it is an investment in yourself. You can check out 6 tips to improve your English if you are considering moving abroad to see what other options you can explore to start learning the language. 4. Apply for a Working Holiday Canada has Working Holiday agreements with more than 30 countries. Usually, Working Holidays are open work permits that allow you to work between 6 months and 2 years in Canada. Normally the calls for applications open at the beginning of the year, and you only need your passport to create your profile. You can check Everything you need to know about working holidays and create your profile following the instructions in How to submit a profile for Canadian Working Holiday. 5. Start your permanent residence application You have researched, and your profile meets the requirements to apply for permanent residence in Canada through the Express Entry Program. There are two steps you can take so that when the time comes to create your profile for Express Entry, you already have the documents ready: You are required to have the results of an English test, either CELPIP or IELTS. You can find more information about the CELPIP test in Everything you need to know about the CELPIP test. Did you obtain a degree in your country? You can start to process the validation of your credentials; the report lasts five years so you can use it in the future. You can guide yourself through this process following the instructions in How to get an Educational Credential Assessment for Employment or Immigration Purposes. If you are already in Canada and meet the Canadian Experience Class category requirements, you can check How to Create a profile under the Canadian Experience Class. 6. Do you want to travel more? You are already in Canada or your home country but have decided you want to travel more this year. A good option is to create a profile on an app called TrustedHouseSitters, which allows you to access a database of thousands of pet owners who offer their homes for free to stay there while you take care of their pets. All you have to do is pay for a TrustedHouseSitters membership. We've had this membership for a year now and have been able to travel to places like Victoria, BC; Montreal, QC; and Peterborough, ON, just by investing in the tickets to get there. If you want more tips for cheap travel in Canada, you can read How to travel in Canada on a budget. I hope this post has given you some ideas of what you can do to start or continue your trip to Canada. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a DM on Instagram.
- 6 tips to improve your English if you are thinking of moving abroad
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission when you purchase from the links at no additional cost to you. Don't worry; I only recommend products I use myself, and all opinions expressed here are my own. Undoubtedly one of the main struggles, when you want to move to Canada, is learning the language, which in this case can be English or French, depending on the province you are moving to. One of the best tools that will help make your process of migrating to Canada smoother will be your language skills. In this post, I will focus on giving you six tips that I have personally used and that have helped me learn and improve my English and that today have allowed me to work in an English-speaking environment. All these recommendations are based on my personal experience and to give you alternatives so that you can choose the best option. I will leave my story here (disclaimer: long story) to show that it doesn't matter if you have never had English in your life; with dedication and perseverance, you can progress. Of course, you can jump directly to the content that follows the next table of contents. Table of contents 1. Taking personalized classes 2. Take an English course abroad 3. Take an English course in your country 4. Take online tutoring with native people 5. Surround yourself with English 6. Additional tips I was born and raised until I was 11 years old on a rural island in southern Chile, the island is called Butachauques, and there were no more than 300 families there. I attended the first seven grades at the island school (at that time, we only had those courses available) and there, I had no English. Then, when I turned 12, I left the island to attend a boarding school to complete the 8th year of primary education. I remember the teacher did a diagnostic test, and I knew nothing. You may laugh, but I remember the teacher did a dictation, so we had to write down what we heard. She mentioned the verb "To be," and I wrote "To by" in case there was any doubt that I didn't know anything. It had to be a traumatic experience because I still remember this after more than 20 years of my life, and the teacher was terrifying. Well, I think my journey with English started there, we had a couple of hours of English a week, and I began to learn little things, but I never connected any sentences. Then I moved to another boarding school and finished high school, English was a mandatory subject, and I studied a lot so I got good results in the exams. Still, in reality, I was unable to understand the listening exercises, articulate a sentence or speak. I remember that all the presentations I had to do were memorized word for word. Then I went to university and never had a subject related to English. Still, we had to read a lot of scientific publications and books in English, so I started to understand the technical information of my career: pharmacist. When I finished university, I was 22 years old, and I had to do an internship, so I moved to the capital, Santiago, and coincidentally the room I rented was in the apartment of a lady who worked doing English classes (destiny, I think). That's how I started taking classes with her every week. We began with the verb "to be," and it was the first time in my life that I could understand and articulate short sentences; it was amazing. I don't know if it was the way she explained it or the dedication I put into it because I decided to learn it, and I didn't have to take any exams or a combination of both but it was one of the best things I did at that time. I spent about a year in classes with her, keeping it consistent every week, and then I decided that I was going to take a course abroad to improve my English and immerse myself in real life. I saved money for three years, which allowed me to travel to Canada for three months to do a full-time course. It is something I highly recommend. Then I returned, my fluency improved, time passed, and I stopped practicing and having classes. After some time, I noticed that I was losing what I had learned, and I panicked, so I decided to look for courses in my country. Those who live in Chile will know these places, but I did two courses, one with KOE and another with Tronwell. I completed 100% of the courses, kept the constancy, and went every week to the classes; in short, I got benefits from both. Once I finished these courses, I realized that I knew the grammar but I still did not feel confident speaking English. Finally, long story short... I discovered the Italki platform and started practicing my English with Canadian tutors since I was planning our trip to Canada from Chile. Then I moved to Canada, and I was still training in Italki until last year. To give you an idea, today I am working 100% in English; my pronunciation is not the best because I finally speak English with the Spanish rules that I have spoken all my life; I have a Spanish accent, but people understand me when I speak and that is the important thing. I am going to summarize the steps I have taken to learn English, and I hope they can guide you in the next steps you can take. 1) Taking personalized classes By this, I mean finding a private teacher who will dedicate the time exclusively to you; I would say that this has many advantages, such as the following: The teacher can accommodate their strategy to your particular case. If you have classes with the same person all the time, you will gain the confidence to talk and make mistakes. Since the time is dedicated to you, you don't have problems with your classmates advancing faster and getting lost in the content. Personally, I started with this; as I mentioned in my story, my landlord, just out of university, gave me English classes, so I took lessons with her. That was only ten years ago; I would say that I started learning English when I was already an adult. I highly recommend that if you don't have any foundation in English, you start with something like this. Find someone who will be patient and help you build a solid foundation for your learning. I didn't know if I would use it at the time, but I was curious and started. 2) Take an English course abroad Taking private lessons every week, I began to understand and connect the words, and so was born the desire to take a course abroad, to practice and immerse myself better in an English-speaking environment. That's how I started planning to go to Canada to take a course. I saved money for three years, enough to pay for three months in Canada. This trip was huge for me because it was my first time out of the country. This happened when I was 26 years old (2015), and it made me accelerate the learning process. Since you are in an English environment, you have to speak, and you are forced to do so to communicate with your classmates and your host family. The school where I took the course is ILAC (International Language Academy of Canada), located in Toronto and Vancouver. I highly recommend this school because I had an excellent experience, and it is also where Aldo completed a 9-month course last year and had a great experience. 3) Take an English course in your country If you can find an English course in the country where you live, I recommend you to take it, primarily because they help a lot with understanding grammar and vocabulary. In my case, years went by after I came back from Canada, and I stopped practicing until I noticed that I was losing what I had learned. So I took action and looked for courses in Santiago, Chile. There are different institutions; take what fits your budget, but do it. I took two courses after returning from Canada. First, I took a course at KOE, which helped me a lot to practice speaking and when I completed that one, I went to Tronwell, which has a different structure and helped to reinforce more grammar. I know that taking yearly courses is expensive, but the key is to commit to your learning and not miss any English classes because your future self will thank you for it. Taking English courses is an investment for yourself; it will never be something you will lose. So if you are on the fence about investing in a course, please do it. 4) Take online classes with native people This is one of the tactics I wish I had discovered earlier. Once I finished the above courses after two whole years, I still felt I was not confident enough to speak. Also, I was working and living in a Spanish-speaking environment, so I never practiced English. I don't quite remember how, but I discovered the Italki platform, but this is a no-brainer. Italki is a platform where you can find teachers or tutors, take classes in English or other languages in a pretty varied price range and filter by the tutor's country of origin if you are interested in speaking with native speakers. In my case, I looked for a tutor from Canada and took several classes a week, and it helped me in three ways: 1) Making sure someone native understood me and corrected me. 2) Gain confidence because someone could understand me. 3) Keeping my dream of Canada alive because, in every conversation, we discussed life in Canada. I highly recommend this platform. Besides, you can try different teachers or tutors until you feel confident because you can buy an individual class and if you don't feel comfortable, look for another one. I kept having classes until a couple of months in Canada, which helped me a lot. If you want to know more details about how to improve your conversation skills, make sure you check the post How to practice English Conversation: Tips for newcomers. 5) Surround yourself with English These little things help you immerse yourself in an English environment, especially if you are still in your home country. Do you like watching YouTube videos? Use that to your advantage. Look for content you like but in English. Nowadays, you can add subtitles (closed captions), and it doesn't matter if you can't understand everything, but at least you will use that time to practice listening. Do you like to binge-watch Netflix? No problem, but do it in English and use English subtitles. Do you spend hours scrolling Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook or others? Use that time to your advantage and follow social media in English, not necessarily people who teach English, but look for topics you like (I did it with minimalism, veganism, zero waste, cats, etc.) so that at least when you are consuming content, you are practicing a bit of listening and reading. Set your cell phone language to English, you probably spend a lot of time on your mobile, so you start to get familiar with English words. Use Apps that teach you English, the one I used was Duolingo to learn the basics, you don't need to pay, and you can keep track of your progress and set a daily time to practice. You can find 30 minutes during your day to practice English. 6) Additional tips If it is in your plans to come to work with a working holiday or other, I recommend that you do not worry about English certifications. You do not have to prove that you have an English certificate. What is essential when you are looking for a job is that you can speak in an interview. Surround yourself with people who have the same goals as you. If possible, meet people who speak other languages, but if you meet people only from your country, try to speak in English too, to practice. Finally, don't worry about your accent; as I always say, the only thing your accent shows is that you speak at least two languages and that's admirable. I once read from a content creator who answered: How to learn English in 3 months? and the answer was How long did it take you to understand your native language? so don't expect quick ways to learn English, but please start today; your future self will thank you. I hope this clarifies that there is no easy way to learn English, and you have to practice practice and practice. Whichever way you decide, start today and do something to start learning it. If you know another tip that has helped you, let me know in the comments
- 14 Top Reasons to live in Mississauga
You have just started with the idea that you want to move to Canada, and you are looking for information about places in Canada to help you make the final decision. If you don't know how big Canada is, I invite you to check out 13 tips for choosing the best place to live in Canada. In this post, I will give 14 top reasons to live in Mississauga, Ontario, where we currently live. After a year and a half, we have seen enough to convey how we feel about this city. The name Mississauga comes from the indigenous people who lived in this area. There are many interpretations of how this word came about, the most likely being that it is an Ojibwa word meaning "river of many mouths." Table of contents About Mississauga Reasons to live in Mississauga About Mississauga First, let's situate you on the map to understand where this city is located. Mississauga is a city in the province of Ontario and is part of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). It is the sixth largest city in Canada and is located about 23 km west of Toronto, which means it is a 30-45 minute drive from there. It is part of the Peel region, which includes Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. It shares borders with Etobicoke, Oakville and Brampton. Currently, the population is around 717,000, and the city has access to Lake Ontario. Top reasons to live in Mississauga You may be wondering what is unique about Mississauga, and here I will list a few things we love about this place that may give you an idea. 1. Education If you're coming with kids, Mississauga offers several options, from free public and Catholic schools to private schools. You'll want to check out two school boards: the Peel District School Board and the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, responsible for Mississauga's elementary and secondary schools. If you are an international student, some institutions are located in this city, for example, the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). There are colleges such as the Sheridan Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning (Hazel McCallion Campus) and Humber college. Mohawk College and Lambton College also have satellite campuses in Mississauga. You can review the designated learning institutions on this official site to help define the best place to study. 2. Toronto Pearson International Airport You may already know, but Toronto Pearson International Airport is located in Mississauga, not Toronto. This can be an advantage if you have family visiting or like to travel frequently. 3. Celebration Square This is one of our favourite places in Mississauga. It is located in the City centre of Mississauga and where the community participates in events throughout the year. There are festivals every weekend during the summer where you can try different food and have fun with family and friends. During the winter, the landscape changes and an ice skating rink is set up. 4. Family Friendly It is a quiet city where families with children are often seen strolling through the parks. It is a family-friendly place with parks where there is always a playground for children of all ages. It is also a pet-friendly community. Not a day goes by that you don't find someone walking with their dog. 5. Parks If you love the outdoors, this place is for you; there are more than 300 parks and trails you can visit all year round. Going for a walk after lunch or in the morning is not a problem if you live in Mississauga. You can check out our collection of 14 parks and trails to visit in Mississauga to get an idea. 6. Transit system Public transit in Mississauga is called MiWay and operates with the Presto card like the rest of the surrounding cities. MiWay users can connect to GO Transit, TTC (including Kipling and Islington subway station), Brampton Transit and Oakville Transit. In addition, there is the Square one terminal, where you can take buses and travel to different places such as Niagara Falls, Vaughan, Hamilton, Milton and others. There are also train stations (GO train) in Mississauga, such as Cooksville, Erindale and Port Credit, which connect you to Toronto or other places. GO bus services connect you to Toronto or other places in about 30-45 minutes. If you have a car, Mississauga is well connected to Toronto via highways 401, 403, Hurontario and QEW (Queen Elizabeth way) Here you can see how to get your first car as a newcomer or get your driver's license if that is one of your goals. 7. Square One Shopping mall If you like to shop or window shop and have it all in one place, you can visit Square one mall in the City centre. It is the largest mall in Ontario, Canada, and has more than 350 stores and restaurants. It is especially attractive in winter if you have no other plans outside. 8. Multicultural Mississauga attracts diverse cultures, religions and languages. According to the 2021 census, 47% of Mississauga's population identifies as immigrants. During the summer, it was beautiful to participate in Filipino, South Asian, Italian, Latin American, Muslim and other festivals in just a few days. All of them are in Celebration Square. About 50% of the population speaks a language other than English. You can check the details of the languages spoken at this link. 9. Health The health care system works with the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP); in this post, you can see how to get a health card, especially when you have a work permit. There are two hospitals: Credit Valley Hospital and Trillium Health Centre, and several walk-in clinics if you need to go to the doctor. 10. Port Credit If you like water activities, you'll love Port credit. It's the area of Mississauga where Lake Ontario is located. People go there to paddleboard or use kayaks; you can enjoy those activities, especially in summer. 11. Weather The weather is similar to Toronto. There are four seasons: summers are warm, and winters are freezing, snowy and windy. Throughout the year, the temperature usually ranges from -8 °C to 26 °C and is rarely below -17 °C or above 30 °C, but there are also some days when these temperatures are reached. 12. Job opportunities Some industries in Mississauga include advanced manufacturing, financial services, information and communications technology and life sciences. In addition, the city has the most extensive logistics sector in the GTA. 30% of the Greater Toronto Area's (GTA) logistics sector is in Mississauga. Some companies in Mississauga include Amazon, PepsiCo, Oracle, HP and Samsung. If you want to check the job opportunities in Mississauga, check this link as a sample. 13. Housing and accommodation Prices to find accommodation is similar to Toronto, but maybe 5-10% less. In our case, we paid for a one-bedroom condo 1750 CAD, but this place was rented during the pandemic when people were restricted from entering. Now prices are higher, we know someone who is paying 2550 CAD for a one-bedroom condo, but you can check Numbeo to get a general idea of what the cost of living is like in Mississauga. Here is the link. You can check out the post on how to rent a place as a newcomer to better understand the process of renting a place here. 14. The best area to live You may now be wondering what the best area to live in Mississauga is. As far as we know, there are several neighbourhoods: Port Credit, Streetsville, Erindale, Erin Mills, City Centre, and Cooksville, among others. From our perspective, we live in City Centre, and for us, it is one of the best places to live because you have the Shopping mall, Celebration Square, banks, supermarkets, parks, access to public transportation, universities and everything at hand. We lived for more than a year, going everywhere on foot or by public transportation, and had no problems. Hopefully, these 14 reasons give you an idea of what a great choice this city is as a destination and what makes Mississauga a great place to live. And would you live in Mississauga? Let me know in the comments below.