Are you immigrating to Canada?
If so, then you’re welcome here! I’m happy to have you as my neighbour. Here are some tips from me for people who are coming over to live in Toronto. This is a basic list that I’ll keep updating in the future.

Food

You might live near “convenience stores” that have some food, but very few people use them for regular groceries. The food products at Convenience Stores tend to be unhealthy and stale. You’ll want to look for a large grocery store (No Frills, Metro, Loblaws etc.). If you want groceries delivered directly to your home, Metro.ca is the best in my family’s experience. Depending on what part of town you’re in, the best supermarkets are the independent Asian/Southeast Asian supermarkets (Galleria, C&C, Sunnymart).  

Here’s a map of the best Independent Grocers that I know of. Use this shared link to edit the map and add any new ones!

Use the library

As soon as you have one of the following documents with your address on it (example docs: https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/using-the-library/your-library-card/identification.jsp ), you can get a free library card. You can use a copy of your lease agreement as proof of address. The library has books, e-books (through Overdrive), free access to things like O’Reilly books through the web and free Wifi access.

Transportation

The Toronto public transport network is called the TTC. You will be able to pay cash to board a bus, but you’ll need exact change – drivers do not provide change. You will eventually want to purchase & load money onto a card called “Presto” to take rides on the TTC.

You can get a free Presto card at the Library (https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/services/presto.jsp)

Getting to your new home from the airport

You have a couple of options.

  • Airport Taxis” charge a flat fee to get you anywhere in the city.
  • There is also the “UP Express” train(https://www.upexpress.com) combined with the subway/bus.
  • Finally, there is the “purely on the TTC” option with the 900 Express bus.

You can do some research and make tradeoffs based on cost vs. how physically demanding it’ll be to get to your destination with luggage after a flight…

Freebies for newcomers

The Canoo app has huge discounts/free entry for newcomers. Here is a press release that tells you a bit more bout their partnerships: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/meet-canoo-2-0-free-access-to-over-1400-experiences-for-millions-of-newcomers-890535358.html

You can also borrow a pass to the aquarium/museum for free from the Library (https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/museum-arts-passes/).  

The weather

(This section is about November/Winter – I initially created this list for someone who was arriving in Nov. 2022). In November, the temperature will go down to about zero.

In December, it will start going below zero. The winters here are fine, as long as you have some warm clothes. You can purchase winter clothes at Walmart, Mark’s Work Wearhouse, Hudson’s Bay Company, Winners.

You’ll need a warm winter coat, a toque for your head, gloves, winter boots. I recommend getting “long johns”/long thermal underwear – with them, you can wear a pair of regular jeans all through the winter and still stay warm.

For boots, look for tread with ridges – if the bottom is too smooth, then you’ll slip on icy surfaces.

For boots & clothing, if you see that an item has “Thinsulate” insulation then that’s a good item to get. It’ll be warm. It is painful/harmful to have exposed ears or hands once it goes below -10.  

What to do in November/December/Winter

Buy a cheap plastic sled at Dollarama, and slide down a snowy hill. There will be some Christmas decorations downtown (Eaton Centre mall, Hudson’s Bay store nearby, Nathan Philips Square).

It gets dark early in December (like 5pm) so I recommend getting some sunshine while walking around every day. Toronto’s strengths are the variety of different ethnic foods available and the park/ravine network. A hot chocolate at a chocolate store called “Soma” is a good winter activity.

Finding work

These are just the top-level tips I have for finding work:

  • Read up on your rights as an employee in Ontario.
  • Note your future Toronto address (or even just the Postal Code, if you don’t know the exact address) on your Resume
  • Nobody used Cover Letters – don’t create one. Create a solid Resume and lightly tailor it to the main employer needs you see in the job listing.
  • For jobs in the Digital/Marketing industry, you can see most listings at Linkedin Jobs and Indeed

Are you a newcomer who has more questions?
Are you a Torontonian with tips you’d like to add?
Write them down in the comments section below!