First Steps in Ontario - Finding your new home

Updated: Mar 20

Welcome everyone to Immigrant Chronicles. Today's post will be about starting your life in Ontario and one of the first steps that you need to take to settle, finding your new home.

Image: Photo of Toronto and CN Tower

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Our move to Canada from the US was a multi-step giant planning project that took months to build and days to execute.

Once we were finally here, I thought I was done. How wrong was I? I had this naïve idea that because we were living in the US, it would be easy to move to Canada. Same continent, right? Totally wrong.

I realized that our job was only starting... Settling in a new country (no matter where you come from) is hard (especially more complicated during the pandemic)

It needs a lot of planning, information, resources and help.

I decided to write down the important first steps to settle in Canada, kind of chronological and logical way.

The first and foremost important thing in my opinion is to find a place to live.

Ontario Peel Region & Mississauga

I will be honest with you, before I moved to Canada, what I knew was pretty much only Toronto.

We really hoped to visit Canada before we did the actual move, but well global pandemic... Desperate times call for desperate moves. We moved to a country that we have never visited before...

Renting a place in general

When we moved to Canada, we knew we would be living in Ontario and thought most probably in Toronto (as that was I all knew back then... ) plus my husband's company is located in Toronto.

If you are living in Canada, you would already know that Toronto and Vancouver are one of the most expensive cities in Canada in terms of housing and rental costs. Therefore, we really didn't see the point to live in Toronto really, if Arda won't be commuting to office for the foreseeable future. Due to Covid, everyone is working from home for the foreseeable future therefore, it has been a blessing in disguise. We were able to rent a decent sized place with reasonable rent in our budget, in so called GTA region.

Greater Toronto Area in Ontario (GTA) is the area that encompasses Toronto till Hamilton. This are happens to be the most densely packed area in Canada.

Image: Map of GTA (Source: Wikipedia)

Almost all cities surrounding Toronto have a good reputation and lower cost of living in general. We read great things about Oakville and Burlington as they are good places to rent townhouses or houses and raise kids.

We currently live in Ontario Peel Region, Mississauga (oh, boy I almost never get that spelling right at first try...) and I will tell you the story of how we found our place.

Keep in mind that some of the information that I give might be specific to our area, region or province so please also do your own research if you are living or plan to live in another region or state.

You can see the map above for the region, right next to Toronto.

Image: Google maps Peel region

How did we find a place?

Well, that is a nightmare to remember to be honest.

We did months long search online through websites (before we came to Canada) and and also had an realtor agent.

Differences compared to US

To our surprise the rental market here is very different than NY, as it is kind of very structured the way things go here.

Back there, I had a referral from a colleague for an apartment close to the school and I remember going directly to the realtor office for the credit check and paper work. It was all so easy.

Here, we had to do couple of back and forth with the agents then days long paperwork. Only agents talk to one another and we realized we were not technically allowed to talk to landlord