Canada: First Things

In this post, I will write about finding a home, setting up a home, and the initial things we went about doing on our first couple of weeks here.

When we first began checking out places to stay on Kijiji, we never knew about the general obsession with credit checks and job references. We were being turned down one after the other because we couldn’t provide our credit history or proof that we had a job (because we were new here). This is where having a few contacts in Toronto helped us. We finally found a place in Scarborough, which was affordable with all utilities included and a laundry room. We had our friends show us around the locality. To our pleasant surprise, ethnic Indian supplies were widely available and so was Halal meat.

We did our initial essential home shopping from Walmart and the dollar stores. We were advised to register at the Bed Bank and the Furniture Bank which are government sponsored programs that provide beds and furnitures to newcomers for free. The bed would come quickly, while our appointed time at the furniture bank would take another two weeks. At the furniture bank we will be sent in groups to select our furniture from a huge collection of refurbished pre-owned furniture, and each group gets half an hour. The furniture is then delivered to our home, whose delivery charge has to be borne by us. This is a very helpful program which will definitely help us cut back on our expenses on our initial months here in Canada. We found some good furniture there to be honest, some as good as new, and were feeling fulfilled at the decision.

There was a lot of DIY involved in setting up a homeline, a cable and an internet connection for our home. We bought a landline handset and got an Ooma Telo retailer we found on Kijiji to come over and configure our homeline. For our TV, we bought an Android TV box from Amazon to stream our preferred channels over the Internet. We got our internet line from Distributel, who sent us our modem by courier. We had to buy a router for our wifi purposes. A Rogers (Distributel rents some of their services) technician came over at his appointed time to check if there is a signal coming via a cable which was already present in our apartment. We pretty much did the rest of the configuration ourselves. This is entirely different from what happens in Dubai or India, where the technician just hands us everything on a platter. So we have our home phoneline, our TV viewing and our browsing/app usage, all running on our internet connection.

And unless one has a job and frequent calling to do, a mobile connection is sort of out of question. There are no pay as you go arrangements here as far as mobile connections are concerned. Taking a monthly plan according to your calling, texting and data usage is what is usually done here.

We went and registered at the nearest Newcomer Centre where they helped us fill out our forms for the Child Tax Benefit and our Ontario Health Insurance Plan. We submitted the OHIP form at Service Ontario. We also began a joint bank account at CIBC, and got credit cards for both of us. Meanwhile, my husband went about applying for his G1 driver’s license. He went directly for the tests because he already had a driver’s license in Dubai.
Since we live in Scarborough, which is considered to be on the outskirts of the city, we started feeling the need for a vehicle. Grocery stores and other essentials were long walking distances away. Also taking the bus was not that profitable for shorter distances, so was taking a taxi. Hence, we were also on the lookout for a vehicle which served our basic purposes and was cheap too.

All in all, we were starting to get comfortable in our new home, making necessary adjustments here and there to accommodate a bare minimum lifestyle. Most importantly, we were acquiring an entirely new outlook towards things. We were hopeful that our sacrifices would pay off and our open mindsets would help us reach the place we want to reach. Hand in hand, we were discovering the Canadian way of things and were slowly finding our place here.