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Essential Things to Know Before Moving to Toronto

Posted Country Guides / January 31, 2014

If you decide to move to Canada, then moving to Toronto might be your natural choice. It is the capital of the province of Ontario, and with 2.8 million people, it’s the largest Canadian city, as well as its economic capital.

The city is regularly ranked very high on the lists of the best places to live in and also is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, with people from more than 200 countries. English and French are the official languages, though people speak French a lot less, and the local currency is the Canadian Dollar (C$). The city offers a whole lot in terms of cultural and social life, with National Ballet, National Opera Company, symphony orchestra, numerous theatres and music festivals, and thousands of restaurants and bars.

Locals have their own way of talking about their hometown, so don’t get confused if you hear people uttering names like “The Six,” “T.O,” “Hogtown,” “Hollywood North,” “Queen City,” or even “Megacity.”. All of those have their detailed origin, so go out on the web and explore some of the town’s lore and urban legends. It is said that a thousand miles journey begins with a single step, so let’s go over the basics.

What to Do Before Moving to Canada and Before You Employ an Overseas Shipping Company?

The first thing you need to do after you decide to move to Canada is to check what paperwork is required for it. Citizens of the United States do not need a visa to enter Canada. There are, however, a number of documents that are required and conditions to be met for a permanent move, especially regarding your future employment. Some professions do not require a work permit across the border. Still, most of them do, so be sure to go through the information posted online or to contact the consular office for a detailed guide to administrative issues.

It is also important to collect and bring all documentation regarding health, such as past surgeries, medical conditions, and medical records. All Canadian residents are beneficiaries of public health insurance, but it comes only after three months, so it would be good to pay for private insurance during that time.

Then there is the question of money. If you don’t have a job waiting for you, it’s highly recommended that you have a few months of living expenses covered, just in case.

Overseas Shipping Costs Shouldn’t Stop You From Moving Abroad

Establishing a life in another place is a big and often stressful event, especially so if that place is abroad. Staying on a budget is very significant, and the cost of international moving by sea or perhaps international moving by air is an item that can greatly affect it.

You’re probably tired of hearing this, but do your research before choosing a shipping company. It is important both because of the cost and quality of service. Check what kind of containers they use and whether that is fitting for your needs.

The cost of overseas shipping mostly depends on distance. During 2019, those varied from a few hundred USD, if shipping to a location relatively close to the US, to a couple of thousand USD if you are going to Australia or New Zealand, for example.

The final word on this may be to stay mindful of the budget, but spending a few extra bucks to ensure that your belongings arrive safe and undented is almost always money well spent.

International Moving Includes Finding a Job in Toronto

The local economy is booming, which is to be expected in the nation’s economic capital, so finding work should not be hard. Still, before you can get on with browsing the labor market, there are a few administrative issues to be taken care of.

To apply for a work permit across the border, you need a document called Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) accepted by authorities. Make sure to learn all about it and the paperwork necessary for it from relevant sources and acquire it before you move. Also necessary for working in Canada is a government-issued personal Social Insurance Number.

Since most relocations are motivated by economic reasons, the best option would be that you already have a job lined up and waiting. If not, visit some of the many websites that give an overview of the market and companies, with information on vacancies and professions in demand. Some of those sites will even help you with interviews.

Finance and insurance companies and banks are among the biggest employers in “Hollywood North.” As the very name implies, the movie industry is high on that list. Tech companies, too. Among the major, multinational companies that have offices here are Google, PepsiCo, Ford, Samsung, and AIG.

Of course, there certainly is a large number of lower-paying jobs, mostly in the retail and hospitality industry, but those are subject to special requirements for immigrant workers. In those cases, your potential employer would have to prove that he first interviewed a Canadian citizen for the same position and explain precisely why he needs you to fill the vacant job spot.

In case you have a more adventurous spirit, you may want to give it a try as an entrepreneur. Toronto’s start-up scene is robust and growing, and there is always a place for innovative ideas.

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Know the Cost of Living in Toronto Before Moving Internationally and Learn Some Tips for Saving Money

Compared to other big cities around the world, salaries in Toronto are lower. That is compensated by lower prices of mostly everything. The only exception to that is a very significant one – housing. But before we turn our full attention to that, let’s stay on lighter matters for a while.

Groceries, clothes, and consumer goods are mostly less expensive than in many counterparts. The same goes for dinner at a restaurant or a pint down at the local pub. Food is, by all accounts, excellent.

After a while, as you get the knack of twists and turns of “The Big Smoke” (now you know another nickname for this place), you’ll certainly find even better prices at a supermarket in an alley behind your workplace or in a cozy bar two blocks away from your home. Give some time to the search, and you won’t be disappointed.

Now, since “where to sleep” is as important as “what to eat and drink,” let’s talk about housing.

Understand the Housing Costs Before Relocating With an Overseas Moving Company

That housing in Toronto is expensive is an inescapable fact. Even though nominal prices are lower than in other big towns, they are on the constant rise in both renting and buying. The situation gets even more complicated because, unlike people in most of the other big cities, Torontonians actually live downtown, instead of streaming in every day to work and then heading back to the suburbs in the evening.

Because of that, renting a small apartment in the center goes from C$1200 upwards. Buying a home in the center is another option, but for that, you’ll have to spend at least around C$7000 per 10,7 square feet, so be prepared for a final price tag of at least seventy or eighty thousand for the cheapest flats and over a million for average ones. Prices for accommodation outside the center are lower, but that comes at a disadvantage that we will get to a bit later.

So, before your travel, do your research on the town and its neighborhoods and make a list of preferences. That can help you plan your budget better, and also find a flat or house closer to the workplace.

Another useful possibility is to share expenses with a roommate. There are websites that connect people in need of a roomie and help them find a suitable one.

Buying an Apartment and Moving with Your Things

If you intend to buy a property, then you only have to choose. Wherever you turn your eyes to in this place, there will be at least a couple of construction sites, with condos being built.

In that case, one of the things that you should consider is bringing furniture from back home. Once you go over the regulations to check if there is anything among your belongings that is for whatever reason not allowed to cross the border, call a reliable international relocation company to transport them.

Should the need arises, many companies offer storage space all through the town, so your furniture or other things can be safely stored until needed.

How to Choose the Best Place to Live In

Toronto is incredibly multicultural and diverse. Therefore it should surprise no one that it has 140 officially listed neighborhoods, with even more that aren’t on the books. If you’re to make your new living there, you should give some thought to the part of town that would most suit your needs.

Important questions include the price of accommodation and distance to your work, but also some more personal matters. Is there a restaurant of your favorite cuisine nearby, for example. Even a good old pub. Or good kindergarten or school for kids. Perhaps you want to live in a neighborhood with lots of trees, parks and other green spaces. Again, research in advance will make life a lot easier.

Also, having a subway station in the vicinity is always a huge advantage to have, and even more so if you don’t have a car.

Best Neighborhoods in Toronto

With so many of them on offer, making a list of the finest neighborhoods may be completely out of order, and every single online guide will put out a different one. Since “finest” comes down to every person’s own likings, the good thing is that “Queen City” can offer great things to everybody.

Do you enjoy long walks along the waterfront? Harbourfront or Beaches are places for you since they are located on the shores of Lake Ontario. Prefer to down a pint in famous bars? Yonge and Ellington. Want cheap but good food? Annex might be your choice, or Cabbagetown. Shopaholic? Go straight for Kensington Market or Queen St. West.

Unlike Back Home, Healthcare is Free

By becoming a resident of the northern US neighbor, you become a beneficiary of health insurance, which covers most medical and hospital costs. To use it, you need a Health Card, the second document that all Canadians must have, whether citizens or residents. As said before, insurance comes into effect after three months.

This metropolis has twenty public hospitals, most of them cooperating with medical faculty at a local university, but also numerous non-profit organizations dedicated to combating specific illnesses.

Opportunities for Education are Plenty

If you’re looking for a good education for you or your kids, you came to the right place. There are four public universities and four colleges, and four public school boards covering the need for primary and secondary education. Schools are almost evenly split between those with English as a first language and those that go with French.

Things to Expect When Driving

Shipping a vehicle overseas and getting around by car may be exciting, since making a wrong turn may prove to be a shortcut to your final destination. Or at least land you in your next favorite bar.

First of all, all drivers in Ontario must have a provincial driving license. A driving test may or may not be necessary, depending on the country you come from. Thankfully, the US is in good books, so you may simply exchange your driving license without passing a test.

Owning a car is an advantage because one of the points city’s known for is pretty slow public transport. On the other hand, be prepared for expensive parking fees, probably the highest in the country.

One thing that many people complain about is cyclists. They are everywhere and can drive even the most decent drivers mad. Yet, before you decide to go in full Mad Max mode on them, you should know that traffic cops are many and unforgiving. Traffic or parking violation, be ready for a swift fine.

And another way to make your cost of living lesser may be to share a ride. Or go to the dark side and get a bicycle.

Slow Public Transport Is Not a Myth, so It’s Something to Think About After Shipping Overseas

One of the first pieces of information you’ll probably get about Canada’s biggest town is that commuting takes forever. That may be true. On average, a citizen can expect to spend about 45 minutes per ride. Still, it’s reliable, and it’ll get you from A to B. You may choose to travel by bus, rail, one of four subway lines, streetcar, or ferry.

When it comes to paying for it, you may opt for a single ticket, but also a daily, weekly, or monthly pass.

Don’t Look for Trouble and No Trouble Will Find You

Compared to other cities of its size, Toronto is generally a safe place. Crime rates may be increasing in certain surveys, but they are still lower than in Ottawa or Montreal, for example. Taking a walk at night is no problem, so no worries there.

Yet, like in every other metropolis in the world, there are seedier parts, and parts to be avoided. That is also a kind of thing that any guide might tell you, so inform yourself and do your part for staying safe.

And be sure to secure your bike, if you own one. If not, there is a high probability that it won’t be there when you return for it.

Are You in for a Freezing Cold? Prepare for It When Moving to Toronto, Canada

Despite what might be your first thought when you think of Canada’s climate, Toronto’s weather is pretty mild. Average high temperatures during summer are around 80.6°F, while in the winter, they stay at about 32°F.

So hang on to your jacket, but you’ll rarely need anything fur-like to save you from the elements.

Things to Do Once You Are There

The good thing about the place is that you can do whatever you like, while within the law, of course. Toronto’s public library has more than eleven million books, the town is famous for its hospitality industry, from traditional pubs to hipster restaurants, food is excellent, and it has a lake.

Many Torontonians take pride in their beaches, nude included. And in case you ever get bored inside, get in a car and travel to some of the nearby destinations. Niagara Falls, for example, is just 74,5 miles away, and you can’t deny that it’s great. For travel to farther places, there are the Pearson International Airport and a few smaller ones.

Get To Know the Culture Before Hiring an International Moving Company

It’s really a feat to get bored in this place. Its artistic scene is booming, with over 200 performing arts organizations, be it ballet, opera or dance companies, orchestras, or theaters.

You’ll understand the nickname “Hollywood North” once you know that it hosts more than 80 movie festivals every year, with Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs being the most prominent.

In the other niche, the Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario are located there, as well as scores of other museums.

Sports Fans Will Be Delighted Moving Overseas

Last but not least, you’ll be living in the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame, just to begin with. If you’re a fan of ice hockey, Maple Leafs are your choice. In the other fields, Raptors took the NBA championship in 2019, Blue Jays are two-time World Series winners, and Toronto FC competes in the MLS. So no miss there.

Still, there are lots of local teams that compete in Canadian leagues, so take your time, do a quick search and give them a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

Final Tips for Moving to Toronto From the US

A final few words before we finish our little guide through the essentials. Most places in town are pet- and especially dog-friendly, so don’t hesitate to take your four-legged friend on a bar tour.

When it comes to bars, except on the days of festivals, the last call comes around 2 am. Also, tips are at 18%, with a tendency to rise to 20%.

And most important of all things to know: never, ever reject an invitation to a brunch! Seriously, people are obsessed with it.


What Is the Cost of Living Like in Toronto?

Toronto is one of the most expensive cities in Canada and the cost of living can be high, especially in terms of housing. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around CAD 2,400, and outside the city center, it’s around CAD 2,000 (according to Numbeo). Other expenses like groceries, transportation, and entertainment can also be costly, with the average price for a monthly public transit pass being CAD 156. However, salaries in Toronto tend to be higher than in other Canadian cities, which can help to offset some of the higher costs. Overall, while living in Toronto can be expensive, the city also offers a high standard of living and a diverse range of opportunities.

How Do I Find a Place to Live in Toronto?

Finding a place to live in Toronto can be a challenging and time-consuming process, but there are a few steps you can take to make it easier. One option is to work with a real estate agent who specializes in rental properties in the area, as they can help you find apartments or houses that meet your needs and budget.

You can also search for rental listings on websites such as PadMapper, Craigslist, and Kijiji, or use apartment-hunting apps like Zumper or RentSeeker. Another option is to join Facebook groups related to housing in Toronto, where landlords and tenants post about available apartments or rooms for rent. Additionally, it’s important to be prepared with necessary documents like references, proof of income, and a credit report to help make the rental application process smoother.

What Are Some Good Neighborhoods to Live in Toronto?

Toronto is a large and diverse city with many great neighborhoods to choose from, depending on your lifestyle and preferences. Here are a few options:

  • The Annex: A trendy and diverse neighborhood with a mix of historic homes, modern condos, and bustling streets filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes.
  • Leslieville: A family-friendly area with a vibrant arts and culture scene, with plenty of parks and community events.
  • Queen West: A popular neighborhood for young professionals, with a wide variety of bars, restaurants, and boutique shops.
  • Distillery District: A historic district with Victorian-era industrial buildings that have been transformed into trendy condos, restaurants, and galleries.
  • Yorkville: An upscale area with high-end shopping, luxury hotels, and some of Toronto’s best restaurants.
  • Harbourfront: A waterfront neighborhood with plenty of outdoor activities, like parks, beaches, and bike paths, and some of the best views of the city skyline.

These are just a few of the many great neighborhoods in Toronto to consider when looking for a place to live.

What Is the Job Market Like in Toronto?

The job market in Toronto is generally strong and offers a wide range of opportunities across many industries. The city is home to several major corporations, including banks, technology firms, and media companies, as well as a thriving startup scene. Some of the key industries in Toronto include finance, healthcare, education, and technology, but there are also opportunities in fields like manufacturing, tourism, and entertainment.

While the pandemic has impacted the job market in Toronto and Canada as a whole, the city is expected to rebound and continue to grow in the coming years, creating new opportunities for job seekers. It’s important to note that the competition for jobs can be high, and it may take time and effort to find the right position. Networking and having relevant skills and qualifications can be key to success in the Toronto job market.

What Is the Healthcare System Like in Toronto?

The healthcare system in Toronto, and in Canada as a whole, is publicly funded and provides universal access to medical care for all residents. This means that essential medical services, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and some prescription medications, are covered by the government through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). There are also many private clinics and hospitals in Toronto that offer additional services for those who can afford to pay out-of-pocket or have private insurance.

Overall, the healthcare system in Toronto is considered to be of a high standard, with many top-rated hospitals and medical research institutions in the city. However, wait times for non-emergency procedures can sometimes be long, and some people may choose to seek medical care in the United States or elsewhere for certain specialized treatments.

How Do I Get a Visa to Move to Toronto?

The process of obtaining a visa to move to Toronto will depend on your individual circumstances, such as your nationality, the purpose of your move, and your employment status. The most common types of visas for people moving to Toronto are work visas, study permits, and permanent residency visas. To obtain a work visa, you will typically need a job offer from a Canadian employer who is willing to sponsor your visa application. Study permits are issued to those who have been accepted into a Canadian educational institution.

Permanent residency visas allow you to live and work in Canada permanently and can be obtained through a variety of programs, such as the Express Entry system, the Provincial Nominee Program, or family sponsorship. It’s important to carefully research the visa options and requirements that apply to your situation and to ensure that you meet all eligibility criteria before applying.

What Is the Education System Like in Toronto?

The education system in Toronto is highly regarded, offering a wide range of options for students of all ages and abilities. The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is the largest school board in the city and provides publicly-funded education from kindergarten to grade 12. There are also many private schools, both religious and secular, as well as international schools that offer programs in various languages.

Toronto is also home to several post-secondary institutions, including the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and York University, among others. These universities offer a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate programs, including many in fields like engineering, business, and health sciences. Overall, the education system in Toronto emphasizes diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence, and is well-regarded both locally and internationally.

What Is the Transportation System Like in Toronto?

The transportation system in Toronto is extensive and offers a range of options for getting around the city. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) operates an extensive network of buses, streetcars, and subways that serve the city and its suburbs, with regular service throughout the day and into the night. The TTC also offers a variety of fare options, including single-ride tickets, day passes and monthly passes. In addition, there are several private companies that operate bus routes in the city, as well as taxi and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

For those who prefer to drive, Toronto has an extensive network of roads and highways, although traffic can be heavy during rush hour. Biking is also a popular option, with many bike lanes and paths throughout the city. Overall, the transportation system in Toronto is well-developed and offers many convenient options for getting around the city.

How Do I Transfer My Belongings to Toronto?

Transferring your belongings to Toronto can be a complex and time-consuming process, but the best option you should consider is shipping overseas with an international moving company. Hiring an overseas moving company that specializes in international relocations allows you to relocate stress-free, as their team can help you pack and transport your belongings safely and efficiently. An overseas shipping company can help you ship your belongings by sea or air, depending on your needs and budget.

It’s important to research and compare different providers to find the one that offers the best combination of cost, reliability, and quality of service. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that your belongings comply with Canadian customs regulations and have the necessary documentation, such as a detailed inventory and a customs declaration form. Overall, with careful planning and the right support, transferring your belongings to Toronto can be a smooth and stress-free process.

What Are the Cultural Differences I Should Be Aware of When Moving to Toronto?

Moving to Toronto, you will encounter a diverse and multicultural city, and it’s important to be aware of some cultural differences that may exist. Canadians tend to value politeness and respect and may apologize often, even for minor things. They may also be more reserved than people from other cultures and may take time to build relationships. Toronto is a diverse city, and you may encounter people from many different cultural backgrounds and religions.

It’s important to be respectful of these differences and to be open to learning about and celebrating different cultures. In terms of social norms, tipping is generally expected for many services, and punctuality is important for meetings and appointments. Overall, being respectful, open-minded, and willing to learn about the local culture can help you integrate into life in Toronto more easily.

What Is the Weather Like in Toronto?

The weather in Toronto can vary greatly depending on the season. In the summer months from June to August, the weather is warm and sunny, with temperatures averaging around 25°C (77°F). However, the humidity can also be high, making it feel warmer. Fall weather is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from 10-20°C (50-68°F), and colorful foliage is a popular attraction. Winter in Toronto can be cold and snowy, with temperatures averaging around -6°C (21°F) in January. It’s important to dress warmly and be prepared for winter weather, including snow, ice, and wind. Spring temperatures are similar to the fall, with an average of 10-15°C (50-59°F), but with a higher chance of rainfall. Overall, the weather in Toronto can be highly variable, and it’s important to be prepared for changing conditions throughout the year.

How Do I Meet New People and Make Friends in Toronto?

Meeting new people and making friends in Toronto can be a fun and rewarding experience. One way to connect with others is to join a group or club that matches your interests, such as a sports team, book club, or music group. Volunteering is also a great way to meet people while giving back to the community. Toronto has a vibrant arts and culture scene and attending events such as music festivals, art exhibits, and theater performances can be a great way to connect with like-minded people.

Another option is to take a class or workshop on something that interests you, such as cooking, photography, or language learning. Social media and apps can also be helpful for meeting people in Toronto, with platforms like Meetup and Bumble BFF designed specifically for making new friends. Ultimately, making friends in Toronto is about being open, friendly, and willing to try new things and building relationships over time through shared experiences.

How Do I Find a Job in Toronto Before I Move There?

Finding a job in Toronto before you move there can be a great way to secure your income and make your transition to the city smoother. One option is to research companies in your industry and apply directly to job openings through their website or email. You can also use online job search websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor to find job postings in Toronto. Networking can also be helpful, so attending virtual job fairs and connecting with people on LinkedIn can increase your chances of finding a job.

Another option is to work with a recruitment agency that specializes in your industry, as they can help match you with relevant job opportunities in Toronto. It’s important to tailor your job search to the Toronto job market and be prepared to sell yourself to potential employers, highlighting your skills and experience as well as your enthusiasm for living and working in Toronto.

Can I Bring My Pets With Me When I Move to Toronto?

Yes, you can bring your pets with you when you move to Toronto, but you’ll need to make sure you follow the necessary regulations and requirements. Dogs and cats are subject to certain restrictions, such as mandatory vaccinations and registration, and some breeds may be prohibited or require a special permit. You’ll also need to provide documentation, such as a health certificate, and may need to quarantine your pet upon arrival.

It’s important to research and follow the guidelines provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to ensure that your pet is eligible to enter Canada and that you have all the necessary paperwork and information. Additionally, it’s a good idea to research local pet-friendly housing options and veterinarians to ensure your pet’s well-being once you arrive in Toronto.

What Are Some Popular Activities to Do in Toronto?

Toronto is a vibrant and diverse city with many popular activities for residents and visitors alike. Here are a few options:

  • Visit the CN Tower: The iconic tower is one of Toronto’s top attractions, offering stunning views of the city skyline.
  • Explore Toronto Islands: Take a ferry to the islands and enjoy a day of beaches, parks, and outdoor activities.
  • Check out the city’s museums: Toronto is home to many world-class museums, including the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • Shop and dine in Kensington Market: This bohemian neighborhood is known for its eclectic shops, restaurants, and street food.
  • Attend a sports game: Toronto is home to several professional sports teams, including the Raptors, Blue Jays, and Maple Leafs.
  • Visit the Distillery District: This historic district is home to many art galleries, restaurants, and boutique shops, all housed in beautifully restored Victorian-era buildings.

These are just a few of the many popular activities to do in Toronto. The city is also known for its festivals and events, lively music and nightlife scenes, and many parks and outdoor spaces.

Steven Rogers

Apart from sharing Captain America's name, our freelance writer Steven is also a big fan of moving, history, and geography.

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