FRESH from Argentina (via UK) – A Newcomer’s Guide to Canada
Work, love or a desire for good coffee and abundant weed, has landed you in Vancouver. You’ve decided to stay. How do you establish yourself permanently in this lush corner of the Pacific Northwest? In our latest series, “Fresh”, we ask newly minted Vancouverites about the trials and tribulations they encountered when moving here. Today, we feature Candelaria from Argentina (via UK).
Candelaria is a talented designer and illustrator with an adorable Shiba Inu pup. She has worked in the creative field for a local interior design firm and a tech start up since arriving here in July 2015.
What brought you to Vancouver?
My husband received a job offer; he works in the movie business and Vancouver has attracted a lot of film and production companies. Though originally from Argentina, we had been living and working in London, UK so we moved from there, looking forward to living in a less hectic city surrounded by nature.
What documentation did you need to have in place before arriving?
The company sponsoring my husband took care of everything! It was very easy for both of us.
What documentation did you need to secure once here?
Once we landed in Canada, we had to spend some time in the airport upon arrival to secure our working visas. That same day, we got a Canadian mobile phone number (can’t do anything without it) and opened a bank account. It was very easy as we were dealing with the same bank we dealt with in the UK.
When finding a place to live, what were your biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenge was finding a place to live before all our belongings arrived (by ship) from the UK.
We tried to rent before moving here, but it was impossible to do remotely. There was never enough information provided on any listing. Also, we didn’t entirely trust Craigslist as we had heard of too many scams there! Having said that, most listings were posted there.
We also arrived at the end of the month, so all listings were gone or too high in price. Our Airbnb was booked for a few days only so we felt particularly pressured to find something quickly as the cost of temporary accommodation (Airbnb, hotels etc.) was really high, especially in the summer.
What did landlords expect from you?
They wanted reliable tenants that were able to pay, so they cared mostly about the income. We had to show the job-contract and provide 12-months of cheques.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before coming to Vancouver?
In Vancouver, you have to chase every listing (and some of them are so sketchy). It’s very stressful and time-consuming. Be prepared to fill the same information many times, attend countless viewings of tiny places with lots of people! In addition, we were frustrated by the many landlords and property managers we called who didn’t speak English. It made booking appointments even more challenging.
Another thing I wasn’t expecting – was the use of cheques! This seemed so outdated to us as we had used automated debit payments in London and Argentina for years. I wish we had the new app liv.rent to use during this entire apartment process. Not only could we have paid by credit card through the app – simply and securely- but also search for places, book appointments and conduct all communication through the app.
Other tips I’d pass along to anyone wanting to move to Vancouver:
- Start looking for units at the beginning of the month as all the good units are often gone by the second week of the month.
- Negotiate a rolling contract or month to month contract after a one year contract completes. Most landlords will only allow you to renew per year, which means more pressure to find a new place once you give your notice and not being able to break a contract any month you prefer. With a month to month contract, tenant and landlord will have to give each other a 60-day notice.
- Try to negotiate when a landlord increases the rent i.e. after the second year of rental. (For additional tips on negotiating rent, check out this post).
- As mentioned, download and use the Liv Rent app!! I love that this app removes a lot of the pressure associated with apartment hunting. I only have to enter my application information ONCE, creating a digital resume, AND all the listings and landlords are verified. In addition, I will be easily matched with units & landlords that I can trust…plus, it is so easy to book a viewing through the app!
- Also, if you are relocating to Canada, you can claim back expenses from the first 15 days in the country when you file your taxes. This includes costs associated with temporary accommodation, meals, and international-moving expenses. Lots of cash back!