Bonjour Canada: settling in tips
July 10, 2014
With its cosmopolitan cities, flawless landscape and multicultural society, Canada is an appealing destination for people that want to move abroad. Canada is the second largest country in the world in terms of greatest total area mass, made up of ten regions.
These top tips can make settling in to the Canadian way of life much easier as it can be easy to feel lost in such as a diverse and colossal country.
1. Know the lingo
There are over 9.5 million French speakers living in Canada, representing nearly one-third of Canada’s population. Quebec is home to the majority of Canada’s French speakers. While 85% of Canadians can speak English in varying amounts, it’s essential to have a grasp of some basic French phrases.
Since many of us haven’t practiced our French since our school days, taking up lessons can be a great way to brush up, and even meet other expats in a similar position.
2. Money matters
The Canadian dollar is the official currency of Canada, which is usually known as C$ to differentiate from the neighboring American dollar. Owing to the image of a loon (an aquatic bird) on the one dollar coin, the currency is sometimes referred to as the ‘loonie’.
Carrying a range of currency coinage is recommended as some retailers can refuse large payments for small items, due to concerns about counterfeit currency.
Tipping is an expectation in Canada, figures between 15% to 20% are the usual rate for tips in a restaurant. Don’t be offended if you see a tip automatically added to your bill – it’s not unusual for foreigners to be charged an ‘auto-grat’ on top of your bill.
3. Be weather wise
Temperatures in Canada are prone to changing and vary widely on the time of year and location. The average range fluctuates from 28°C to -30°C. If you’re moving to Montreal or Toronto, summer temperatures are likely to be rising, whereas parts such as Winnipeg experience the brunt of the cold weather during winter.
To avoid being stuck indoors during the heights of both the summer and winter months, research social activities and clubs to suit all seasons.
4. Stay social
Sport forms a huge basis of friendships in Canada so keep social by joining an ice hockey or lacrosse club, two of the nation’s favourite sports. It’s a great way to meet new people and build a new network of friends. If sport’s not for you, Canada has a great selection of theatres, cinemas, galleries, concert halls and community centers, each with their own individual appeal.
5. Familiarise yourself with the culture
Canada is a melting pot of different cultures with a large expat community, which has introduced a mixture of backgrounds and customs. Whilst Canada may be less strict on customs than other nationalities, there are still some certain behaviours which are worth understanding before you move.
Guests at a dinner party are expected to send flowers in advance of the event, and should neither clear their plate nor leave too much food at the end of a meal. When it comes to business, meetings tend to be more informal, with little time for small talk.
Want to know more about relocating to Canada? Check out our detailed settling in tips for all things Canadian.