Monday, June 27, 2011

Traps for beginners

 I always try to be as realistic as possible, not everyone will like being or living in Canada at first. We honestly thought that by getting our visas and documents we have finished with the paperwork, but there was even more forms and papers waiting to be filled and filed, you are never finished with bureaucracy. First of all you'll need to open a bank account, we went to the President's choice bank ( can be found in most Superstores or Loblaws and such) and opened a no fee account, paid 500 dollars on it and got our debit cards. Now we existed in the eyes of the money and credit scores world. We could rent something, pay our bills and get the  Internet access. They will explain to you how to shop for points on your cards, but try at first not to apply for MasterCard or other cards they'll offer you, in most cases new immigrants are refused because  they either don't have a job or not a well paid one or for some other reason...every time they refuse to give you any of the plastic cards bad credit points are added to your credit history. This shows to the banks if you are good buyer or not, after a few years when you want to buy  a car or a house or something that costs enough for borrowing money from the bank, they will review your credit score and seeing that you have "bad" credits even if it's not your fault, they will offer you less favourable conditions under which you can borrow money from the bank. This is a little game that I despise, you can argue that the bad credits caused by refusals are deleted from your record, but the damage is already done. Bad credits are given to you to describe numerous purchase behaviour, if you were refused for a credit card, if you paid your rent late or similar.

1. Having a car (or not)

Good people are everywhere, I've met a lot of them here. I couldn't even count how many little things they have done to make us feel better, they helped with the moving, gave us some furniture and dishes, most of stuff I bought online on bought only necessities , mattress for us crib and chair for the baby and some kitchen things and table with chairs. The first couple of months really felt like camping .
The only thing we had to buy at all cost was a car, we bought cheap used one for amazing 900 $,chrysler intrepid '98. The cities are huge and sometimes one street is 100 km long and you can't go anywhere without a car, you have to shop diapers and baby stuff and food and have to carry that around with crying baby...the car saved us a lot of trouble and money.Found that on too. My husband had to go to Toronto for a job interview because he couldn't find one in his field in Kitchener,thanks to the fact that he was able to travel there, he got that job.I can't imagine how hard would it be for him to concentrate on his answers and interview in whole if he had hours of riding the train and public transportation behind him, it would have taken him more than 4 hours to get there by any other way and he would have been dead tired.
The only bad thing about having a car is that insurance houses are merciless towards newcomers and will rip you off if you let them.Try calling as many as you can and brokers too to find the best offer.It took us 3 months to negotiate price of 230$ instead of 400 $ a month (what was the offer they all kept giving us when we moved to Toronto.)

2. Prices

Small pond lots of one store a t shirt can cost 5$ and the same shirt will cost 25 $ in other store, some stores such as sears and bay are always more expensive than others. I bought a blanket in Wallmart for 10$ and saw it later in zellers for 25$. If you're not a fashion freak you can use fliers and internet to see where to shop and save, there are outlets for clothes and furniture or factory stores that are cheaper, there are discounts and rollbacks all the time, don't shop at real prices wait for clearances and discounts if you can, you'll save at least half of your money. The same goes for food and cosmetics. If you come from a country with metric measures like I do always remember that prices are per LB that is for 450 grams not a kilo, sometimes it just seams cheap but it's not.
If you don't like it or find it somewhere cheaper simply return it to the store in 10 days and they'll get your money back.(unless its food )

Keep all your bills during first 6 or 7 months, if you have to apply for welfare they will want to know where you've spent your money.On the other hand you will want to know how high are your monthly costs for food and housing too, to be able to manage your income and spending.

3. Providers

There are Bell, Rogers, Primus and some other ones.Each of them will "fish" you with their offers...and there are many options, bundles and prices.For international phone calls we used Startek or blue tone ranging from 7 to 11 cents per min, in whole I had no complaint about them, however the other ones are disastrous. The cheapest package will get you barely usable internet speed with interrupting or breaking skype calls, if you use above your limit you will be punished with extra 60 $ on your monthly bill and if you try to escape a bad provider you will pay another punishment of more than 70$. The more expensive bundles are more or less the same except they cost a lot more, our first income was one minimum wage salary and we barely had enough to cover our rent and food, giving more than 100$ a month for phone, net and TV and not even a useful ones seemed to much, after one year in Canada I still don't have a TV, nor do I miss it. For the time I have to spend watching it , couple of hours a day, I don't want to pay 100$ especially not for the channels in offer that don't suit me at all.It's up to you, if you need it, try finding a deal that best suits your needs and remember that you won't be able to get out,  even if they raise the price after few months, without being fined.

4. My favorite after the credentials recognition, the Driving license

It seems that two things are totally blurred and ignored after you come here, namely your diploma and your ability to drive here. I have driven for 12 years in Europe, and so did my husband and yet they treated us as if we have never driven a car in our life, we got our letters from the consulate that confirmed we did and scheduled tests to pay and get a canadian license. It costs under 100 $ all in all without classes and translations, and it can be done in one day if you're familiar with Canadian driving, I suggest taking a few classes just to get a hang of the rules.Also, google out G1 tests, there are numerous pages out there.
Go here to learn link
I wish it was that simple with the credentials too.

That is the one thing that makes me angry every time someone talks about it...The only reason I was able to apply for SW visa is the fact that I had a diploma in a field that was then on the NOC list. My diploma and language knowledge got me the points and a chance to immigrate.But after that  our diplomas, skills and knowledge was erased the moment we landed. we were complete zeros, no canadian experience no work- no work no canadian canadian degree, no work and so on.
Luckily for us my husband was an IT with some knowledge of things in his field and it took him couple of months to find a job in junior position. Before that he had to work shifts on assembly line  machine in a factory for a minimum wage.I'm still in that no work limbo, trying to get something out of my two diplomas...
There are ,however , many bridging programs that can help you if you are in a certain field of work.They mostly exist for green careers, IT and medical profession. Try finding them on government sites, colleges and settlement org's, they are always shutting down some programs and making new ones so check regularly.