Who are you?
My name is Judit. I am 32 years old and from Europe. At the moment I am working as an Administrative Assistant in a small company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada even though I am originally a language teacher. I have already travelled and lived in some European countries. During that time I worked as a teaching assistant and also gained experience in sales support and customer related positions in multinational companies. That was a perfect opportunity to improve my language and personal skills. I always loved challenges, changes which are involved in moving to another country. It makes me feel like an explorer not just of new countries, but myself also.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada in September 2010 with my partner who has already had his permanent resident visa and he got transferred within his company from Europe to Canada. We needed to wait two months to receive my permanent resident visa. We decided together to move abroad for a better change. We are originally from two different European countries. Therefore Canada seemed to be the perfect place to settle. The main reasons were the multicultural diversity, widen work experiences and broaden my outlook.
What challenges did you face during the move?
The challenges have already started before the move preparing everything for the immigration, collecting many proofs of our relationship, filling in many forms and make a payment. The first challenge to face was funnily the jetlag.
We needed one full week to get used to 8 hours time difference. The first days we were awake during the night and continuously searching apartments, cars to buy and I started to look for jobs also. Then the challenges continued. We needed to rent a car at the airport. Driving is different than in Europe, the roads are wider there are more lanes on the highways and so on. We needed some weeks to get used to the driving.
Then looking for accommodation, buying cell phones, plugs for the computers, calling rental agencies, landlords, visiting apartments, opening bank accounts, buying a car, sort out social, health insurances, exchange / restart the driving licence.
When we had the lease agreement signed the next step was to out the property insurance. Then the car insurance was the next task to do after buying a vehicle.
Following that I had to face the challenges of job search, getting used to move in Toronto which was very easy by public transport. By car moving in the city is a nightmare.
How did you find somewhere to live?
First we booked a room for two weeks with kitchenette and free wi-fi in Studio 6, Mississauga. The location was perfect as it close to the airport. We were so jetlagged that we knew we needed something nearby. We were browsing the net, kijiji craigslist and similar websites.
We were looking for a furnished one bedroom apartment first of all in Toronto. It seemed to be impossible, but we didn’t give up searching. However we were lucky enough to find a furnished one bedroom apartment in west Toronto. We signed a 6 months lease so we had enough time to know the city and search for an apartment in the area what liked the most and was also not so far from my workplace. We had only one car. My partner was working in Oakville, but we chose to live in Toronto as it seemed to have more opportunities to find a job and that was right.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, there are many. I live just at the west end of Toronto which is already the beginning of Etobicoke. The area is mixed up of expats and Canadians. Regarding other expats in my area they are mostly from Europe, some of them from Asia.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
The locals are very nice, friendly, always willing to help and very polite in general. It is easy to start conversation with them. Of course there are exceptions like everywhere in the world. I have friends both expats and Canadians.
What do you like about life where you are?
High Park, the biggest park of the city is very close to my place. The lake is 5 minutes away by bike. The grocery store, bookstores, post office, many restaurants, pharmacies, swimming pool, library and childcare facilities are just steps away. Subway and other TTC buses are nearly at our door. The public transport is very effective and fast in Toronto. I am very pleased with it. Many events, festivals (free also) take place (especially when the weather is good) in my area and in downtown also which is maybe 15 minutes by subway.
I like the safety of the area where I live. It is one of the safest in Toronto.
Another good advantage is there are many job opportunities and free services for new immigrants.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I am far away from my family, my parents, grandparents and sister. Winter could be shorter. The car insurance could be less expensive. The people are more stressed and here in Canada what I see they live more for working than people in Europe who work for living.
People have fewer days off, less time for holidays in Canada than in Europe.
The quality of health care is worse also (at least here in Toronto).
I feel like sometimes in a fast food restaurant where the quantity is most important then quality.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Be prepared before you come. Search on forums on the Internet and ask people about the area where you want to settle in Canada. Find as much information you can about accommodation, calculate possible prices and expenses and come with enough money. Also if you or your partner doesn’t have a job start to apply for jobs before you enter Canada if you are already having a visa.
Keep in mind you might not find a job right away. It depends what is your work experience and what kind of jobs you are looking for. It might take two weeks or maybe months to find the right work for you. Be ready financially and mentally for that time. Always search, keep your eyes open and get in touch with people and start networking.
Never give up, never forget that `you can do it`.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to stay in Canada until it is possible and I like it. However me and my partner would like to move to a smaller town and probably stay in Ontario. It would be a better place to plan family as it is more quiet, less stressful there is more air and space.
Other advantages are the lower prices of housing, car insurance, childcare and probably other cost of living ( like hydro and water).
Another important factor is the weather in Ontario which is not so bad. Even though the summer could be longer and the winter shorter, but at least we don`t have that much of a rain here. I am looking forward for the moving.
I know it will be another challenge to face which will be not so easy, but it will definitely boost my self- confidence, make more flexible and creative at the same time.