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Most of us here at Moving2Canada were on a working holiday in Canada once upon a time, and because of our current jobs, we’re in touch with the current crop of working holidaymakers every single day.

We’ve pooled our knowledge to tell you about some simple things that will make your time in Canada more enjoyable, more successful, and more affordable.

So, let’s dive into those life hacks for working holidaymakers in Canada!

But before, make sure you don’t miss our detailed video guide to prepare for your Working Holiday Visa in Canada:

You can claim back loads of your taxes

We can probably agree that tax isn’t the most fun subject in the world. But do you know what is fun? Having an extra $1,000 cha-ching-ing its way into your bank account. That’s around the average tax refund working holiday participants receive when they file their Canadian tax return, but you really need to know your way around Canada’s tax system to get the full refund you may be entitled to.

Think, act, and speak long-term when meeting a prospective employer

In a job interview, words matter. Being on time matters, of course, as does knowing your own resume inside-out, having a good handshake, making eye contact, and wearing something appropriate. But what you actually say matters as much as any of that, if not more.

When you meet with an employer for an interview, the employer will be looking at hiring you as an investment in the success of the company; if the company hires you, there will be some sort of training period and then you — the employee — will keep learning new skills on the job. If you walk out the door weeks, or even months, later, the employer has to start all over again. Because of this, your chances of getting a job will plummet if you can’t address the fact that you may have only 24 or 12 months (or less) left on your work permit. So be prepared to address it, and preferably in a way that doesn’t make you seem needy.

Bad: ‘I’m in Canada for a year. I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Toronto, but I think I’ll be here for a few months anyway.’

Still bad: ‘My work permit is valid for another year or so. I’d love to stay in Canada and have already looked into how I can do that. A couple of my friends got help from their employer for a work permit, so I was wondering if you could help me with that too.’

Good: ‘My work permit is valid for another year or so. I’d love to stay in Canada and have already looked into how I can transition to permanent residence. I’ve already booked [or passed] my language test to get the ball rolling, as I don’t want to have to leave Canada for any period or rely on my employer for assistance.’

Of course, these interview techniques will only matter if you can get the interview in the first place. See our resume guide for advice on how to use this crucial document to win interviews.

Book trains on a Tuesday

ViaRail is the nationwide intercity rail service in Canada. They offer ‘Discount Tuesdays‘ and when you sign up for their email alerts, they’ll send a reminder every Tuesday with special deals. Often, this includes deals like Toronto to Montreal (or vice-versa) for $45 each way — a steal! The journey takes about 4 hours 40 minutes and brings you from downtown to downtown. It’s about four times cheaper than flying, and once you take into account getting to the airport, waiting around, and getting from the arrival airport to the city, it’s only a slightly longer total travel time to take the train, plus more comfortable and better for the environment. It’s a win-win-win.

ViaRail also offers discounted trips between many other cities and towns across Canada.

Clean up your online presence

If you’re on a working holiday in Canada today or arriving soon, it means your entire adult life up to this point has coexisted with the rapid growth of social media. That means there may be photos, posts or other media online with your name tagged or associated that you would not want a potential employer to see. Employers and recruiters can, and in many cases will, look up potential employees online. So that photo of the time you passed out at a friend’s 21st? Or that tweet you posted in 2013 that now looks a bit dodgy? Just delete it. Perform an audit of all your social media channels, including Facebook, X, TikTok,and Instagram, as applicable.

See what used items are available

When you move into an apartment or home in Canada, it’s quite possible that it will come without much furniture, or none at all. You’ll then look around and make a list. Right, I’ll need a couch, two chairs, a coffee table, a bedside table, a microwave, and two fans.

Something like that.

Before splurging thousands on all-new stuff, take a step back. You can probably source most, if not all, of these items second hand. Right now, someone on your block or around the corner is selling good quality items for next to nothing because, for whatever reason, this stuff just has to go. Kijiji and Cragislist are two particularly popular online classified ads websites. You’ll find what you need there, and save so much in the process.

One thing to be careful of, though, is that you check your items to make sure they’re in quality condition and free of unwanted pests. In some Canadian cities, bed bugs pop up from time to time, usually hiding within fabrics and furniture, like mattresses and upholstered chairs. Be sure you check for bed bugs before you hand over the cash.

Use FX transfer services when sending / receiving money internationally

A family member wants to send you a cheque (a cheque!) for your birthday. You lost a bet to your friend about who would win some reality TV show. Or you want to send some of your wages home (it’s nice to be nice). Well, if you need to send or receive money internationally, using a recognized FX transfer service can be a lot cheaper than going to your bank or depositing cheques. See our international money transfer page to start saving.

Cut your banking fees

Banks in Canada usually charge a fee for you to have a chequing account (called a checking or current account in some countries). But! As a newcomer, you can take advantage of some of the incredible offers Canadian banks make available for new arrivals. There are a couple of banks in Canada, like Scotiabank, that offer newcomers welcome bonuses or even a free chequing account for their first year in Canada. Some of these banks have other offers for newcomers and new account holders, too, though it depends on exactly what kind of account options you want.

To help you hunt down the best deals on banking and make sure that you have quick and easy access to your cool, crisp Canadian Dollars, we’ve put together a guide to choosing the best bank as a newcomer.

Start sharing

Depending on where you come from, you may be familiar with car-sharing. While the concept continues to be tested in cities around the world, there are only a few places where it has reached a truly critical mass level of participation. Fortunately for new arrivals in Canada who want to get around but may not have the funds to actually buy a car, Canada’s largest cities were early adopters of car-sharing. Vancouver, labeled the “car-sharing capital of North America,” has more vehicles per capita than any other city on the continent. Car-sharing is also popular in Toronto and Montreal, and it’s catching on elsewhere in Canada too.

If driving isn’t your thing, or you haven’t sorted out a license yet, or you want to have the option of two wheels or four, bike-sharing is also a thing! It can be highly convenient to have access to a bike and not have to worry about it being stolen, which is just one reason to join. Learn more about bikesharing in the following cities: Toronto (Bike Share Toronto); Montreal (BIXI); Vancouver (Mobi); Hamilton (SoBi).

Ride-sharing is also popular in some areas, though it comes with the obvious caveat that you likely won’t know the person responsible for getting you from A to B. In addition to Kijiji and Craigslist, both of which have dedicated ridesharing sections for various cities, there are some regional ride-sharing services. These include Poparide, which covers Canada but is more popular out west, and Amigo Express, which covers rides between locations in Quebec and parts of Ontario.

Got a hack? Email us at [email protected]

About the author

Hugo O'Doherty profile picture

Hugo O'Doherty

Canadian Immigration & Integration Specialist
Hugo O’Doherty has over a decade of experience and research in Canadian immigration, establishing him as a recognized authority on immigrant integration and adaptation. His personal and professional experiences with immigration have made him an expert on the practical aspects of successfully moving to and settling in Canada.
Read more about Hugo O'Doherty
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