Thursday, November 29, 2012

Driving in Canada-June 2010

Here's the thing,
I keep blaming myself for being too lazy to translate my huge Canadian immigrant experience blog into English, by now there are some 200 posts...and it's been here for the last 5 years but in my first language.I keep feeling guilty because I know there are so many things I needed to know and there was no one to tell me, to make my path and new life a little bit easier...and now I am not finding time to share them with other newcomers who will benefit from the things I have learned.
By now it has almost 400.000 visits, and it has brought some great people in my life and I know that it has helped many coming from my former country or neighborhood, so I decided not to translate all the posts, just to try to sum up things I found useful and important over the last couple of years.

Getting a drivers license in Canada

If you have driving experience from your former country you will need to bring a proof of that like your old driving license translated to English, you might be asked to get a letter from your embassy that you have a certain number of years of driving experience in order to get a chance to get full G Canadian driving license, you will need a certified translation of your driving document, a passport and PR card,as well as some money.
You can buy a car right away but you cannot register or drive a car without Canadian license, the international one is valid for only 2 or 3 months and you would have to rent a car.
More about that here

When buying a car you should know that a car here has to pass safety and emission test first and then it can be registered to your name.

Basically you can call and ask which papers you need to bring and then go and take the test - examples here, the price in Ontario is less than 100$ there is more info here

You can take the test and the driving on the same day if you are ready, however keep in mind that the car insurance for newcomers is relentless and very expensive, as newcomers we used to pay up to 400$ per month sometimes, while an average Canadian driver pays about 100$ or even 80$. If you do the driving course with an instructor and he signs that, your insurance rate can be up to 30% lower in the future.It will cost you a couple of hundred dollars to take classes but it will be a good investment in the long run if it can keep your car insurance rate lower next couple of years.

The cost of insurance depends on where you live, where you work and who is driving the car beside you, also which insurance company you choose.Our best so far was TD.
Drivers handbook here

As you won't be able to have your own car for the driving test, consider renting one or renting from your driving instructor or if you have friend or family here borrowing from them.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thank you -Thursday, June 17, 2010

What many do not know is that we are currently guests of the people from whom we rented an apartment.Before we got visas, we only had an elderly friend here, and the option to ask him to rent a motel room for us until we have all the papers done which  takes one month, and we hoped to find some cheap apartment then.
We were quite confident that we will go through stressful transition with a small baby in a motel without transport and unable to rent anything.We were so wrong.
Luckily for us a few days after we received visas my sister told me I should contact her friend from college who moved to Canada many years ago and lives in Kitchener, just to ask him about the things we are concerned - the arrival and the  job.We did find him on facebook and talked , as it turned out they had an apartment to rent us and so we ended up coming to Kitchener.But they also told us (which confirms my thought how people are really really nice here)  that there is no need for us to go to the motel first until the tenant moves out, but to come into their house because  they are already going to sea and vacation.Of course I burst into tears, instead of semi-clean, noisy little room in the motel and bed and food for the baby, I got a place in the house with a garden in the suburbs with a cot and toys for the baby, I can not describe how I felt when we arrived.
They arranged everything for the baby and us, filled the fridge with food and left us their keys and they never met us before in their life.They even organized their friend to take us  to finish our paperwork and get drivers license...
What they did for us erased every bit of the doubt that I came to the right place, and that this is a nice country to live in, and I am endlessly grateful to them for being there for us in our time of need.

Prices, shopping and driving- Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Today we went to the store, got some fruits, vegetables, meat, etc.. We went to the cheap store and bought  mostly stuff on discount, here are some prices of what what we bought and the final bill was about 150 cad.
pressed orange juice 2.7 l .......... 4 cad
fresh milk 4l .......... $ 5
cardboard milk 2l .......... $ 4.17
Yogurt 750g ............... $ 2 is not like us but as sour milk: (
500 ml sour cream ............ $ 2
tuna canned in water $ 0.88
baby food jars 200g $ 1
450g apples $ 1
eggplant 450g $ 1
blueberries 300g $ 1.50
450g courgettes 1.30
$ 1 cucumber 450g
300g peanuts $ 1.60
fruit yogurt 6 small units of 100ml $ 2
cream cheese $ 3
500g chicken breast $ 6
pepper 420g $ 1.18
2 kg of bananas $ 2.80
500g carrots $ 1.30
mayo 300ml $ 2
hard cheese 500g $ 6
chicken liver $ 2.20
Beer 18 tins 0.35 ml $ 25
pepsi cans 12 $ 3
600g frozen fish $ 6
450g pork ribs $ 4
Water 24 bottles $ 3

If you are wondering what will we do with all this, it is because we do not have car yet so we were buying for the next 2 or 3 weeks,it has to last until we can find a friend to take us shopping again or get a car.
Most of the things for kitchen and dishes I buy at the dollar store, clothes are cheap and made in China, they don't last long in the dryer...

You cannot get around here without a car.

My husband  has passed the tests for the G1,  the total cost about 130 $ plus translation and the cost for letter from consulate.The car goes to the safety and emission test, and you must do that in the period of six days after the purchase not later.
Every time you are paying something you have to add the costs of taxes which are not included in the price and are usually up to 18% depending on the merchandise.

Coming from the place where everything is included into price I always get a bigger bill than I expect at the register, I always forget about the extra taxes.
In the center of Kitchener there is a market on Tuesdays and Thursdays to which I have not yet been, and at the end of a St.Jacobs there is beautiful Amish Market, where you can buy organic food, of course, twice as expensive than regular stores food.
There is also a meat market and great Polish butcher store Euro deli.
I browse flyers with discounts and it reminds me of a new way of hunting food so unlike our ancestors cavemen, people here mostly go shopping on Saturday, I avoid that because it's too busy for me.
There are so many microwave dishes and loads of junk food everywhere.
What I like so far:
- Lots of free wild animals, birds, geese, bunnies, racoons...great parks and nature.
- Playgrounds on every corner, love it, never that where I came from.
- Apartments  are more spacious
- Houses are bigger and prettier, cars too
- Air is so clean, there are no emissions or garbage lying around
- Almost everyone I've met has a job that can provide for what they need in life
- There are organizations that help immigrants
What I do not like:
- common laundry washer and dryer that I have to use with all the other people and pay
- there are some areas that kinda look like getos 
- Living of our savings things are expensive and we do not have income yet