This article was produced in partnership with HSBC Canada.
All ready for your move to Canada? Exciting times, my friend!
Our advice? Be careful you don’t go overboard in packing for your move, there are some items that are better to purchase after you arrive in Canada. In this article, we go over eight must-haves for newcomers to Canada that you should ideally check off your list after arrival.
But, in order to get your must-haves, you’re going to need access to your hard-earned money and for this, you need a Canadian bank account. We recommend working with HSBC Bank Canada. HSBC Bank Canada is here to help welcome newcomers to Canada with their Newcomers Program, valued up to $1,350*.
Learn more about the HSBC Canada Newcomers Program and find out how you can get up to $1,350* in value when you get started with HSBC. Issued by HSBC Bank Canada.
Let’s dive into it!
1. Winter jacket & boots
Oh, you think the jacket and boots you got in the United Kingdom (or India, or Australia) are good enough for Canada? Think again.
Canadian winters are harsh, and having the proper gear is essential to making it through without turning blue (literally and figuratively). While you might think that the coat and boots that you use back home will be just fine, there’s a good chance that they won’t cut it in the Canadian cold.
Back in 2018, for example, the city of Toronto went through a deep freeze period where daily lows reached -36 degrees Celsius once you factor in the wind chill. If you’ve got winter boots with a flimsy sole, you won’t last five minutes on a frozen sidewalk at those temperatures before your toes start feeling jealous of the ice cube tray in your refrigerator.
It’s best to hold off on purchasing your winter attire until you’re in Canada and you can get expert guidance from those familiar with the Canuck climate. Plus, winter clothing is bulky and will take up valuable packing space.
One final note on winter clothing: this is one purchase where quality matters. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on the new season range from the fanciest brands, but you do need to make sure that your winter gear is decent quality. If money is tight, you can always find some quality gear at an affordable price in second hand stores or on online classified advertising sites.
2. Electronics (tablets, hairdryers, etc.)
Did you know that Canadian electronic systems use a different voltage level than many other countries in the world? If you’re from a country with a different voltage level then this will impact the ability of some of your electronics to function in Canada.
Canadian electrical plugs supply 120 volts of electricity. This is low when compared to voltages from the rest of the world. For example, most of Europe uses a 240 voltage system, twice that of Canada. This means that when you plug in your German hairdryer, you might only get a warm sigh of air instead of the hot jet stream you normally use to dry your luscious locks.
Notably, Canada and the United States use the same voltage, so if you’re moving from the U.S. you’re good to go!
The hairdryer example applies to lots of different electronic devices: tablets, cameras, printers, etc. If you’ve got a device you can’t live without, you might be better off selling it before you move and using the cash to invest in a new version in Canada where the voltage aligns properly. An alternative option is to invest in a voltage converter, which will enable you to use some devices in Canada that were designed for different voltage inputs.
Some electronic devices are compatible with voltage ranging from 100 to 240 volts, meaning that they should function properly no matter where you are in the world. Many cell phones and laptop computers are compatible with a range of voltages, so you might not have to get a brand new computer, although it’s worth checking the voltage input range of your device before you make the move.
On a related note, Canadian electrical sockets and plugs are Type A and B, which is different from the types of plugs used in many parts of the world, including all of Europe. A plug adaptor will allow you to use other types of plugs in Canada. If you forget to buy this in advance, you can always pick one up in the airport (although expect a marked up price).
3. Long-term accommodation
We’ve all done it before. Spent hours scouring the internet for apartment rentals and homes for sale in cities that we want to live in. It’s exciting to look through images of condos and neighbourhoods and start planning your life in your head! But, in many cases, it makes sense to wait to find long-term accommodation until you’re in Canada.
The unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of scams and misinformation out on the Canadian housing market. Scams range from the less serious, like posting old photos of an apartment that don’t show how messy it’s become, to the outright dirty, like straight-up asking someone for money to secure an apartment that doesn’t exist.
Regardless, one of the best ways to avoid all of these scams is to be able to visit apartments and houses in person. You can meet with landlords or real estate agents, make sure that the place matches the photos you saw online, and ensure that you’d actually be happy living in a place before making any long-term commitments.
Of course, sometimes it can make sense to book your long-term accommodation before you arrive. Maybe you have friends or family who can view a place for you, or maybe your employer provides assistance with arranging accommodation. We’re not saying that you must wait until you arrive in Canada to find long-term accommodation, just that in many cases this is the most logical way to avoid fraud and find a place you’ll enjoy.