Monday, January 12, 2015

Everything is different, I am getting used to it - June 2010

Aca passed the test for G1,the total cost was about 130 $ plus some papers we had to get from the embassy and translations.The car must then go to the safety and emission test and if it passes we can register it, you have six days after the purchase to do this.You should inspect the car before you pay for it or take it to the mechanic to see if it has some problems, because if the car cannot pass safety and emission test you can not drive it.The guy who sold us the car wrote a note on a torn piece of paper, saying I sell this car to "other guys name" at this price $ and signed it, we did not have any contract or anything, we registered the car to our name with that piece of paper, got the new plates and drove it.
There are also some taxes to be paid, it is difficult for us to get used to the fact that the tax is added to the price later, in my former country what you see is what you pay, but not here.The bill at the end of shopping can be much higher after the taxes are added, some things like cosmetics and clothes or luxury items have higher taxes while food is usually tax free, but not all of it, I am still trying to figure out how this works.In Ontario we have HST- harmonized tax of 13%, that means that if you think you have item in your cart that cost 100$ you will pay 113$ at the register, if the item is electric appliance or computer you will also pay environmental tax.
We bought a lap top computer, it was advertised at a price of 450$, after the taxes, environmental fee and such were added we ended up paying 560 $, this was a bit unexpected because we thought we were going to pay the advertised price, but this is how Canadian prices work.
Alcohol is sold at Beer store and LCBO it is much more expensive here, cigarettes are sold at a gas station or in special shops, you will not see them advertised or displayed anywhere because it is not allowed, rarely anyone smokes here, again coming from a country where everyone smokes even some kids and you can buy alcohol anywhere you want this was a huge surprise.One pack of cigs will cost from 7$ and up, they are expensive.
I don't use them so I don't really care, I actually like that I can breathe freely everywhere I go, and I totally agree as a mother that minors should not have access to alcohol as they please.
Another big surprise was the price of real estate here, omg the houses cost a lot, in Toronto houses cost millions in smaller towns the average for a single house is 300.000 $ if you are lucky.You can see this on MLS or realtor canada

The food costs pretty much the same as in my former country, which is crazy knowing that average income there is maybe 500, 600$ a month and here about 2000$.There you do not have enough money to cover food, utilities and living, and here if the whole family is on one minimum wage and they have a car it is not enough at the end of the month.The car is like one more child, that is what people say, you pay hundreds of dollars for gas and insurance, you pay maintenance, it takes a lot of money away from the monthly budget.
It is really hard to get somewhere without a car because in large cities like Toronto it can take more than an hour to get to somewhere, one street in Toronto can be 50 km long, I could have never imagined this before I came here.The public transportation is reliable, nice and clean and the kids don't pay up to a certain age, but it is not convenient for grocery shopping, if you plan to use it get a grocery bag that has wheels or a small pull cart.

In Kitchener and Waterloo we have a couple of markets that I really love, my favorite is St Jacobs farmers market.The food is fresh from farms and there is also eggs, meat and dairy products. I grew up getting my stuff from the market and I don't really like superstores and their unknown origin foods,I love Summer when we can go to the market on Saturday.
Shopping here is a bit like cavemen hunting around for food, except we hunt for good price, there is so many stores and they all have different prices for the same product.Sobeys is the most expensive one, Shoppers and Rexall are more expensive when it comes to some products than the other stores, what I mean is we buy Head and shoulders shampoo, in walmart it costs about 4 $, in PC stores about 5.5 to 6 $ at Shoppers it is 6.99 $ and so on, each item has different price in different store, you get store flyers weekly and you can see the prices and discounts there.We usually buy stuff at Fresco which has cheaper prices and Presidents choice stores that have a reasonable priced quality products.
Moving to Canada has been a huge cultural shock and an eye opener to me,I keep comparing my previous place and this every day.
There all houses are made of bricks to last hundred years and for next generation, here it's all made of lumber and plywood, you can hear every step and it all echoes and squeaks under your feet, it is so unpleasant.If someone sneezes on the top floor you can hear it in the basement.We do not have basements like this in our homes, they are not built because of ground water that floods them, but here the basement is actually another room in the house.
There people make their own house by themselves and fix stuff, here you are not allowed to do that because you do not have school for that or paperwork etc. everything needs to be done by a contractor who is licensed to do that work.
Garbage disposal is different, we stuffed everything in one sack and throw it in a bin, here everything is separated and recycled, there is even a compost bin.
The vehicles do not make smoke and pollution like as was used to in my other home, here when you walk by the road you can actually smell the flowers and clean air, not stench and fumes.
There is social assistance and welfare, families with kids get monthly financial support from the government, this is something new to me, but a really welcome change for us having a small baby.
Old people in Canada have a good quality of life, unlike in some other countries, they socialize and travel and they have good health care.
I am surprised that I can barely hear English on the streets, I do hear a lot of other immigrant languages, chineese, spanish, portugese,russian,indian, polish and other.
There is this one thing that I don't like though, people who come from somewhere tend to form ghettos,they cluster in one area of town because friends bring them there or find them rent and they get stuck in their own group and don't bother much to learn English and have better language skills.This does not help them to find a better job at all.They integrate into their own community and stay there.I did not want to go this way, because I am trying to escape from narrow minded people you meet in such ghettos and from the way of thinking filled with hatred and politics a lot of people from my former country still have in Canada, that was the main reason that made us leave the country and run away from wars and crises.
It's like living in that country all over again except here, no way and no thanks!