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A comprehensive guide for moving to and living in Toronto
The official languages spoken are English and French. Chinese and Punjabi are the next most commonly spoken languages.
The Canadian dollar (CAD) is used and credit and debit cards are accepted countrywide. It is recommended to use one of the most prominent banks that have ATMS scattered across the city.
Toronto has a high level of safety, with minimal pickpocketing and scams. Dangers of mugging, natural disasters, terrorism, and harassment for women travellers is low. Just always stay alert and be smart, as you would anywhere you go.
Call 911 for emergencies or go to the nearest hospital emergency department. Walk-in clinics operate during working hours and provide routine or emergency care without a prior appointment.
In Canada, each province administers its own health care system so there are some differences between eligibility and prices. Doctor visits are available Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm or 6 pm, as well as on Saturday mornings. If you do not have provincial insurance coverage, or if there are no direct billing arrangements between the facility you visit and your private insurance, you will have to pay up front before the consultation. It is recommended that you seek a dedicated family doctor that will follow your health history. Walk-in clinics are also available without a prior appointment. If you need specific treatments, your doctor will refer you to a specialist, and waiting times to get an appointment can be long.
Toronto has a continental climate because of its position in the southern part of Canada and proximity to Lake Ontario. There are four seasons in Toronto with humid and hot summers and really cold winters. The average daily temperature ranges from 20 to 30°C in the summer and drops to as low as -33°C in the winter.
Many citizens of other countries do not require a visa to enter Canada for stays of up to 180 days. There are various visas available for travel in Canada:
1) Tourist visa—single-entry visa or multiple-entry visa
2) Work visa—valid for anywhere from two months to two years as an Open Work Permit or an Employer-Specific Work Permit
3) Student visa
Toronto is the home of Bay Street, the city’s largest financial centre with great employment opportunities and the heart of Canada’s working world. It is also the home of Canada’s five largest banks. Toronto is the leading contact between Canada and the US.
The Toronto District School Board ensures that all communities in the city receive their educational needs. The board has over 550 schools which are located in proximity to every residential area. Even children of expats qualify for free education. There are also international schools available in the city.
Cost of living & housing
The cost of living in Toronto is expensive compared to other Canadian cities but is still cheaper than comparably sized cities in Europe or the US. House rental is considered the largest expenditure in the city and consumes around 34.4% of residents’ monthly income. Despite the expensive cost of living, many expats still choose to relocate to Toronto because of its promise of an excellent quality of life. Cost of gas, public transportation, and major goods in the supermarket are still a reasonable price. Researching where you want to stay before you go will be useful as housing and rental prices will fluctuate depending on area when you consider public transportation, work, school, etc. Utilities cost is not usually included in rental pay; a majority of residents in Toronto receive a unitary bill from the City of Toronto which covers the cost of their water consumption and solid waste management. The typical lease agreement in Toronto is a minimum of 12 months and the average monthly rental prices are around $1,150 USD for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre and $850 USD outside the city centre.
Toronto Pearson International Airport is served by numerous major airlines from all over the world and is the busiest and largest airport in Canada. Taxis, airport limousines, and public transportation are easily available from the airport to the city. The easiest way to get around the core of Toronto is driving, biking, or public transportation by taking the TTC transit system which includes subways, streetcars, and buses, and GO Transit trains and buses are also available from downtown Toronto to different cities around the area. Expats should get an Ontario driving licence since the licence from their home country can only be used for 60 days.
Wi-Fi can be found almost anywhere and is easily accessible in shopping malls, restaurants, bars, and most places. There are a number of telecommunication carriers that offer a complete package of mobile, fixed telephone line, television, and broadband services.
Almost half of the population of Toronto was born outside of Canada, so you will be able to find food from all around the world without ever leaving the city limits. There are also many cultural food festivals celebrated every year.
Things to do
One of the top-selling points of Toronto is its extensive list of famous attractions. There is a lot to sightsee for a solo traveller as well as for families. Toronto is a progressive city that has managed to stay firmly connected to nature’s beauty. It is a dynamic metropolis that includes many outdoor activities like hiking, beaches to visit, and other activities like shopping and the popular nightlife, museums, and historical landmarks. It is also very easy to leave the city to go to Niagara Falls for wine tours or Collingwood for skiing/snowboarding at the Blue Mountains. The Toronto Zoo is also the most famous zoo in Canada and houses thousands of animals.
Canadians usually shake hands for introductions and before departing. Short hugs are also common for friends. Dress for the occasion. It is against the law to smoke within 9 metres of an entrance/exit of any building used by the public. Do tip for good service and do obey traffic signs and laws. Being on time is also very important.
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