Moving to Toronto
December 2, 2017 2:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving from Sydney to Toronto next March. I have the basics lined up - airbnb booked for the first 2 months, insurance cover before OHIP kicks in. Our first day will be dedicated to exciting things like applying for an SIN, opening bank accounts, getting a phone plan, possibly exchanging drivers licence. Looking at forums, I think that covers all the important stuff, but is there anything that I am missing or any quirks I should be aware of?

Other possibly pertinent info: We haven't got jobs lined up, but will start looking before we go and have sufficient savings to cover us for 6 -12 months. No kids, so don't need to worry about schools.
posted by Kris10_b to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I dont know what the weather is like in Sydney, but it's probably gonna be around 0 degrees celsius in March in Toronto. Not to mention slushy. You'll probably need to have waterproof footwear.
posted by winterportage at 2:48 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

You mentioned OHIP, but in case you overlooked it, you will need to get health cards -
posted by davebush at 2:57 PM on December 2, 2017

Best answer: Get a printed driving record from the RTA before you leave Australia. Ontario won't issue you a license without one, and a faxed copy won't do.
posted by glitter at 3:10 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you are importing any vehicles (car, atv), be sure you have all of the original ownerships, as well as all customs documentation. You will need the papers at Service Ontario to register your vehicle in the province.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 3:23 PM on December 2, 2017

Best answer: Remember to bring enough power adapters and/or voltage converters for any appliances/devices you plan to bring along. Also, our public library system is pretty amazing in terms of the services it provides and the breadth of resources it gives you access to, so I would recommend getting a library card as soon as possible. If any specific questions about Toronto come up in the coming months or once you've arrived, feel free to memail me!
posted by as_night_falls at 3:46 PM on December 2, 2017

Best answer: What is your immigration status here? And are you formally married? What you can or need to do changes quite a bit depending on that.

You won't be able to get a Health Card until you're OHIP eligible.

It's worth noting that you can exchange an out-of-province driver's license at the ServiceOntario College Park. This is the only ServiceOntario where you can do it. Otherwise you have to go to a DriveTest centre.

Get Presto cards and set them up for autoload.
posted by grouse at 3:48 PM on December 2, 2017

Best answer: For Internet, I'd recommend Teksavvy instead of Bell or Rogers, both from a cost and customer service point of view. They mostly have month-to-month plans, so if you want to switch away from them to something else after you've explored your options a bit more, it's painless.
posted by clawsoon at 3:51 PM on December 2, 2017 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips so far! You've even saved me another question with the waterproof boots tip. I have warm layers and jackets covered, but no waterproof boots!
We have permanent residency and are married.
posted by Kris10_b at 4:06 PM on December 2, 2017

Getting a library card me be a bit difficult until you get a permanent address but you can get a temporary non-resident one for $30. The library has streaming Criterion Collection movies, if you want to spend cheap nights in. Agree with winterportage on getting proper footwear but there should be lots of end-of-season sales by then.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:08 PM on December 2, 2017

Toe rubbers? Do you know about those?
posted by DarlingBri at 4:18 PM on December 2, 2017

On the boots, I actually find it difficult to find winter gear in stores by March -- even in places with real winter, retail tends to shift sharply to spring/summer collection by January after Christmas/Boxing Day sales.

It's endlessly frustrating, particularly when you're trying to buy gloves in February because you just lost yours but the stores are full of swimsuits and shorts, but it's my experience in all wintry cities I've lived in.
posted by andrewesque at 4:27 PM on December 2, 2017

Metro Morning, 5:30-8:30am on FM 99.1 (radio), usually has intelligent discussion of what's going on in the city.

The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail are two of the only remaining large independent newspapers in Canada, with the Star focusing more on social justice issues and the Globe focusing more on business issues. Much of the other English-language press in Canada is owned by Postmedia, whose flagship is the right-wing National Post.

Try the roti at the Island Foods at King and Dufferin.

Memorize the subway stations. When people give you approximate directions, they'll almost always involve major roads that share a name with a subway station. King and Dufferin, for example: I just did it. If you're taking transit, you can get to King and Dufferin via the bus south from Dufferin Station or the streetcar west from King Station. If you're asking a taxi to pick you up, they'll sometimes ask you what your nearest major intersection is, in order to make sure they're not mixing up similarly named streets in different parts of town; the major intersection will generally involve streets that share names with subway stations.

If you're driving, don't pass a streetcar on the right side until you're familiar with where their stops are. Best not to run someone over who's stepping off.
posted by clawsoon at 4:43 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bring vegemite
posted by crazycanuck at 5:10 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can actually get vegemite at the Loblaws at Yonge and Carlton. There are also an increasing number of Australian pie places if you need a taste of home.

Some government documents have long delivery times so if you’re unsure when you’re going to move into a permanent place, you might want to rent a post office box somewhere. Also, you can apply for OHIP as soon as you have your SIN and an address - they’ll automatically send it to you once your waiting period is up.

Almost everything government you need to do at the provincial level (not SIN) can be done at the College and Bay Service Ontario location. It’s a one-stop shop.
posted by scrute at 5:28 PM on December 2, 2017

The rental market has been bananas recently, so be prepared and start looking early.

If you're driving, don't pass streetcars on the right anywhere near a stop.

If you're biking, be careful with the streetcar tracks.

The library system is AMAZING.
posted by cacofonie at 7:26 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Toronto is laid out on a grid with a lake all along the south side. The whole city slopes downhill very slightly towards the lake, which I find helpful for orientation- look into the distance a few blocks and the direction where you can see a mild uphill slope is usually north.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:02 PM on December 2, 2017

the direction where you can see a mild uphill slope is usually north

Also, just look for the CN Tower. It's big. You can't miss it. It's almost always south of you, unless you're on the Lakeshore or at Harbourfront.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 12:28 AM on December 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We have permanent residency

Whenever you enter the country you must have your permanent resident card with you. (If you have confirmation of permanent residence, you will become a PR when you actually arrive in Canada, so don't need the PR card until after that.) If you use an automated kiosk, use the PR card to identify yourself, not your foreign passport. PR cards expire after five years, so either make a note to renew at some point, or start planning to apply for citizenship.

To apply for citizenship you will need an exact record of all of your non-Canadian travel going back five years. Start keeping this record now; you don't want to try to reconstruct it years later. I use TripIt to keep track of all of my trips.

Apply for NEXUS as soon as possible. Not only does it greatly expedite traveling into Canada or the U.S. at the border, but it also gets you expedited treatment at U.S. and Canadian airport security inspection even domestically.

BlogTO is the best place to read about things to do and places to eat in Toronto.

Welcome! Toronto is a great place and the Toronto MeFites are great people. Call a meetup once you've settled in so we can welcome you in person.
posted by grouse at 8:31 AM on December 3, 2017

You might want to establish a credit history ASAP, but they won’t issue a credit card off the bat since you just moved to the country and have no history (it isn’t carried across countries). The solution to this is get a credit card with a bank where you put $500-1000 up front and you aren’t able to exceed what the balance is. It looks like you’ve got enough to support this already.
posted by furtive at 8:52 AM on December 3, 2017

Best answer: You'll be able to exchange driver's licences. But a separate issue is car insurance.
Unless you can show that you have had car insurance in Australia you will be treated as a novice driver. This is expensive in Toronto.
How long you have had your licence is not relevant to the insurers.
It's your previous insured history.
You will need a letter from your insurer similar to this one

I linked to B.C. insurance but the same principle applies .
posted by yyz at 11:29 AM on December 3, 2017

It's worth noting that you can exchange an out-of-province driver's license at the ServiceOntario College Park.
Fun fact: ServiceOntario College Park is in the building in the first three seconds of the video for 'Rise Up' by the Parachute Club.

How are you planning to get around? The subway is fairly reliable, but surface traffic - buses, streetcars, and automobiles - can get congested. It is wise to learn the rush hour for your route. TripLinx is a great (but not perfect) resource for determining which public transit will get you to your destination.

The most popular websites for job searching are Monster, Workopolis, and LinkedIn. They are all free. You fill out a profile with your contact information and whatever employment-related information you want to publish. I have found that your profile will get more attention the more often you edit it.

I actually find it difficult to find winter gear in stores by March
MEC is a great source for warm winter clothing. It is a co-op - a lifetime membership is $5. SAIL and Sporting Life are more conventional sporting goods stores. It is important to get good footwear... the Public Works Department puts salt on the snow to make it melt, and the resulting salty slush is cold, wet, and corrosive to leather.

And, yes, do please call a meetup once you get settled... Toronto MeFites are pretty awesome!
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 4:33 PM on December 3, 2017

Best answer: Couple things I thought of that haven't been covered yet that maybe helpful.

The big five banks (Scotiabank, RBC, BMO, TD and CIBC) all have new resident packages that help you set up bank accounts and establishing a credit history. Highly recommend checking them out and compare, I personally bank with TD and a credit union but all banks are similar.

If you are driving in Ontario and most of Canada, you can turn right on a red light if it is safe to do so unless otherwise posted (sign saying no right turns, etc) which is different than Australia as I understand it.

While I don't personally condone speeding, you may find that speeding is more tolerated here on highways. For example, traffic will regularly go 10km over the posted limit on highways, and up to 20 over on the 400 series highways (401,etc). I typically do 10 km over the limit on highways and regularly pass speed traps with no issue, and have never got a ticket. In town I do the posted speed limit.

Our retirement savings vehicles consist of self funded accounts (RRSP, TFSA) which you will be eligible to contribute to as a PR. I'm not super familiar with Australian finances, but you may (?) be eligible to transfer your superannuation to an RRSP if you choose to stay in Canada. I personally have no experience with this but a expat Canadian friend who lives in Sydney mentioned this to me.

When/if you start working as a typical employee you will notice that there are deductions for CPP and EI on your paycheques. These are mandatory contributions to government proforma the Canadian Pension Plan (government organized retirement) and unemployment insurance. From what I understand, your contributions to CPP are eligible for credit in the Australian old age security plans under a tax treaty if you decide to go back eventually.

If you are planning on bring a mobile phone, it probably needs to be unlocked. If you do plan on getting a cellphone plan here, it can be stupid expensive for data (apparently we have the highest mobile plan costs in the developed world). I would suggest staying away from Bell, Rogers and Telus (the big three) and using a discount brand like Koodo, Zoomer, Virigin, Fido, or Public Mobile.
posted by snowysoul at 10:38 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're going to be using public transit (the TTC), I'd recommend you buy the existing daily/weekly/monthly passes that are still offered. The TTC has been rolling out their new electronic PRESTO fare system for a while, but it's been really buggy, and has caused a fair amount of frustration for people. So I'd stick with the old passes while you still can.
posted by Kabanos at 2:03 PM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

The legacy passes are great if you ride a lot but if you don't, they can be way more expensive. For example, on a weekday a day pass is more expensive than Presto unless you are riding five or more times that day. For a monthly pass it's 49 trips a month to break even. I know this because I make these calculations every month to decide whether to buy a pass or use Presto, but having to buy new passes in person all the time is a huge pain.
posted by grouse at 1:51 PM on January 4, 2018

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