Thursday, February 01, 2018

Moving to Canada - Part 1 - School and Housing

 
I have a lot of friends who are moving to Canada from the Middle East, so I have noticed the questions they ask sometimes follow a common thread. I thought I would pen this note down on some of the usual things to consider when uprooting your whole family from one place to Canada. This is specifically for moving to Toronto, but with a little change can apply anywhere in Canada.

This is probably part 1 of a multi part series.

Schools

Public education is free for all legal residents of the country and is funded by the province, and handled at the municipal level.

Schools in Canada are from September - June. During March, there is a week's break called March Break (also known as Spring Break). The exact dates of the breaks vary from school board to school board.  This is the Toronto school board calendar for 2017-2018.

Almost all public schools are of a similar standard.

In Toronto, the schools in North York are a bit better as the area is a bit more posh (and expensive). There are some schools that should be avoided as they are in areas commonly inhabited by refugees from poor countries and other people who are economically disadvantaged, so they have some issues (such as drugs, gangs). Although with time, those issues are being tackled, but you should be aware.

In Ontario, you can take a look at some rankings here.

http://ontario.compareschoolrankings.org/elementary/SchoolsByRankLocationName.aspx

Don't rely too much on them. Anything 5 and up is ok. You should always be dealing with a reputable real estate person (a realtor) who will be knowledgeable about these things, which brings me to my next point.

Areas in Toronto

Toronto is divided into boroughs - Scarborough is generally affordable and ethnically very diverse. Downtown is very expensive. North York is good and expensive. I have no idea what's there in Etobicoke (sorry). If it were up to me, I would see North York and then Scarborough as an option to reside in.

Avoid, AVOID, renting or living near an area called Jane and Finch (the intersection of Jane St and Finch St). Never go there. Also avoid Kennedy and Eglinton. Also avoid Westhill.

If you go out of Toronto, then you can look in Mississauga (west of Toronto) or Pickering (east of Toronto). I would go with Mississauga as it's a hip and happening place.

Regarding availability of housing, May and June is when most people move or change residences in Toronto. So you will get lots of vacancies around that time, but also lots of people are looking so things get snapped up very quickly. So, for example, if you move to Canada in March, there should be less listings (less choice) but the landlord is more likely to negotiate the rent down.

You can rent an apartment, a condo or a house. An apartment is a flat in a building - the whole of which has been made to rent to renters. It's cheaper than a condo, which is also an apartment, but the building it's in is mostly owned by individual people, and not one corporation. Condos are more upscale than apartments, and expensive, and have facilities such as pools and gym.

All rent estimates I am giving below are by area, so better area = higher rent. Also, this is as of late 2017.

Rent:
Condo 2 bedroom is $2000+,
1 bedroom is $1800+ (per month).
Apartments may be 100-200$ cheaper in the area.

Utilities (if not included in rent):
Water - $100
Gas+Heating - $100
Electricity - $100

Other costs:
Internet - $60
Transit (bus) - avg 1$20 / person/month (kids are free)
Each ride on bus is $3.5, monthly pass is 145$
Grocery (family of 4) $500-$800
School - free
General Health Doctor - free
Medicine for kids - free

As I said, this is likely to be a many part series. In some other (future) parts, insha Allah I will talk about cultural factors, children, society etc. when you move in.

Check also my Dubai vs. Toronto series.

1 comment:

Pervisha said...

I do remember specifically commenting on this one. I wonder where did the comment go.

Good post. Assalamo Alaikum.