Laissant mon coeur en Afrique, je reviens à la neige.
November 16, 2011 5:00 AM   Subscribe

Moving back to Canada on short notice... like, tomorrow. Ugh. Help me figure out the logistics of living in the Western world again!

Long story short, a couple days ago I was told by my employer here in Uganda that they are no longer in need of my services, and I need to leave. I had 12 hours to pick a new destination, to which they would buy my plane ticket. I chose Montreal. I move there tomorrow.

It's been almost 3 years since I've been to Canada (originally from the GTA), though I've never been to Montreal. I just knew I wouldn't have to worry about work visas etc. if I was back in Canada, plus gaining resident status again will make school cheaper. I'm (85%) bilingual, so language won't be a problem. It's everything else that's confusing me!

I have a bunch of random questions... sorry if they're not well thought out. I've googled the general info, but some of the details aren't figured out yet. This is all happening so fast!

1. I need a phone. I have an unlocked sim card phone I've been using abroad. Will this work in Canada? I'd like something temporary (but affordable) at first until I get settled and get an iPhone, so a pay-as-you-go would be best. Can I just buy a sim card from Telus or something? Which company is the cheapest?

2. I need a health card. My Ontario card was stolen in Vietnam, but I don't know whether I should renew the Ontario one at first, or apply for a Quebec one immediately. (I don't know whether the govt. knows I've been abroad, and thus ineligible for OHIP for 3 months) As a Canadian citizen, can I just walk into the Regis in Montreal with my passport and birth certificate and apply for a new one?

3. I need a driver's license. Same as the above question, should I get a Quebec one, or renew my Ontario one? I won't have a car for the forseeable future (6-12 months), but it would be nice to have one as ID, and in case I need to rent a car.

4. What are the best sites for Montreal news/events/concerts/social stuff? For example, I loved the Torontoist blog, and the Time Out blogs for various cities. Is there anything like that for Montreal? English slightly preferred, but French is ok too.

5. Apartment Rentals confuse me. I've found a temporary apartment, er, 7.5 coloc, where the current tenants are ok with me just staying 1-2 months until/if I find something better, or closer to hypothetical job. I have no idea about the laws of such stuff. Do I just move in and pay them cash at the start of each month? Do I have to sign anything, or speak to a landlord? This is all so confusing.

6. I won't have problems at customs/immigration, will I? My mom has graciously been filing my taxes for my while I've been away, so that's ok. I just want to make sure I don't get stopped and asked about all my activities in the past 3 years. Oh, and they don't have any of those creepy US-style scanners and groping at the YUL airport, do they?

I'll likely have more questions later, but these are my most urgent ones. Anything else you think I should know about returning to Canada/Montreal is also greatly appreciated! I'll be sure to schedule a meet-up soon, to meet all you awesome Quebec Mefites!

Merci beacoup!! :)
posted by hasna to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1. Yes, there's all kinds of prepaid sims you can get. Rogers, Fido, 7-11, (etc) all sell them. I've heard Fido is probably the best deal right now.
2 + 3. It's my understanding that you'll need to show proof of residency in the province for those sorts of things. An apartment lease, utility bill, or something with your in-province address on it (addressed to you) should enable that.
4. Can't say, not from Montreal
5. That's really dependant on the landlord and the situation. Ask your landlord how s/he wants payment. Make sure you get a receipt.
6. Customs doesn't really care about taxes. Since you're Canadian, they will probably wave you through, unless you have fruit or something on you. Be honest, don't volunteer any more information than they ask, and don't worry!
posted by blue_beetle at 5:34 AM on November 16, 2011

Disclaimer: I am a USian, not a Canadian. But I have insight towards question 5.

I really, REALLY doubt that you are going to be asked to sign anything for a temporary apartment on such short notice. This sounds like a "roommate" situation, similar to the one I'm on -- my name is the only one on the lease, so the landlord only wants to deal with me; my roommate just gives me the money at the start of each month towards the rent. She doesn't have to sign anything or deal with the landlord, and she has no legal obligation towards me. she also didn't have to do a credit check or anything like that.

It sounds like you've found a similar situation, where you just give your roommates the money at the start of each month for the rent. In a very, VERY technical sense, THEY are your "landlords", and such arrangements are REALLY informal. So you should be fine. I'd be very surprised if you're asked to sign any kind of formal lease for such a short-term "I'm using the spare room for a month" situation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:35 AM on November 16, 2011

Following blue_beetle's answer:

2&3. I would definitely think that it's easier to re-establish your Ontario Health Card than getting a new health card ('carte soleil') from Quebec, where you've never lived. Regardless, you would need a new OHC after being out of the country for a while, esp. since the last was stolen.
4. The Hour, Mirror and Voir are a good start.
5. Quebec rental laws are a whole different bag. I would just go with your temporary arrangement, and talk to people on the ground once you get there. You will likely have to sign a year-long lease. (My info is terribly out of date.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:01 AM on November 16, 2011

(A lease for your permanent place, I mean.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:03 AM on November 16, 2011

By the book you have to inform Border Services that you are returning to Canada to take up residence (here's a document from their website) and possibly pay duty on some goods.
posted by smcniven at 9:00 AM on November 16, 2011

2. Quebec Health Card info pertaining to new registrants.

3. By looking on this page, if you've been without a driver's license for more than 3 years you will likely have to pass a driving test. Otherwise this page will help.
posted by lizbunny at 9:05 AM on November 16, 2011

I do a Montreal news site – Montreal City Weblog – and also like Openfile and the CBC Montreal site. The English-language daily is called the Gazette and is behind a paywall. If you read French, La Presse is the most comprehensive daily. (Hour, Voir and the Mirror are weekly cultural paper – useful as far as they go but not great news sources.)

Both the Montreal Livejournal community and, believe it or not, the Reddit community can be helpful in answering questions and helping you find stuff. Reddit's community has a useful sidebar with stuff about things to do.

I don't have the impression you need to talk to the landlord at the coloc place unless you get involved in rolling the lease over for another year, which probably won't happen till July 1st. Just make sure you understand how much you owe and what the ground rules are with your colocs and you should be fine.
posted by zadcat at 8:22 PM on November 16, 2011

Oh, and you might also need winter clothes in a hurry. In your shoes I'd pick up a used coat quickly just to keep warm in, and shop later for something you actually like. Hat, mittens, boots, etc. - if you've lived in Toronto expect the winter to be colder, harder and longer than you're used to.
posted by zadcat at 8:24 PM on November 16, 2011

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