Tips for your first few days in Vancouver
The first few days in a new city can be daunting. While there are a ton of exciting things you’ll want to do and see, you also have to think about all the boring, sensible things. Here is my list of all the important things I could think of in my first couple of days.
SIN – You will need to get to a Service Canada office pretty quickly and pick up your SIN (Social Insurance Number) it’s basically the same as an NI number. You can’t start working without this, as employers need it to pay you!
Bank Account – Setting up a Canadian bank account is probably something you want to do fairly quickly so employers can pay you easily. Banks over here are pretty different from the UK; they charge you to keep money with them!
As a newcomer make sure you shop around. I went with CIBC as they offered a ‘New to Canada’ account with no charges for the first year. I know a few of the big banks do a similar deal so take a look. I was also able to get a credit card with CIBC; this is something you will probably want in Vancouver as a lot of things (eg. Parking machines) will only take credit cards.
Also beware that taking out cash from an ATM can lead to charges too! I can withdraw from a CIBC ATM free of charge, but if I try to withdraw from another banks ATM I will be charged a fee – sucks but unfortunately that’s Canadian banking for you.
Phone – if you have an unlocked phone then you can get a sim only deal, which will obviously be cheaper than a full contract with a new phone. I managed to smash my phone after a couple of weeks of being here so I took out a contract for a new iPhone.
Phone plans in Canada are the most expensive in the world – I shit you not. It’s hard to find a good deal but I went with Virgin mobile. I have unlimited calls and texts with 2gb of data for $65 + tax per month, at the time this was the best deal I could find. Koodo are another provider who offer similar prices to Virgin and I have also heard they have good service coverage. You’ll find with the big 3 providers Telus, Rodgers and Bell, their plans are pretty much identical so there’s not much room for negotiation.
Accommodation – hopefully you’ll have arranged accommodation for your first few days/weeks with a hostel or through air bnb. Then you’ll have the fun job of finding a rental! There’s no ‘spareroom.com’ equivalent over here so you’ll want to head to Craigslist. Just a heads up, there are some very strange posts on Craigslist but at least entertaining to read!
You can also try Facebook groups such as For Rent Vancouver, I found this group helpful when I was searching. Contracts will typically start on 1st or 15th of the month, half a month’s damage deposit required etc. Please, please, please do not give any money without seeing the place – you wouldn’t believe how many people I have heard being scammed with this one.
GirlCrew – this one is just for the ladies (sorry!) but GirlCrew is a facebook community for women who are in the city and want to meet new people. They are global so there’s GirlCrew’s all over the world, which is pretty cool! It’s also a great place for recommendations, job postings, house shares. I’d recommend joining within your first few days/weeks, even if it’s just a way to feel like you’re not alone!
These are the main things I can think of for your first few days. Like I said, I’m sure you will have a ton of things you want to do as soon as you land, all more exciting than the above!
I hope I’ve been able to help a few people in their first few days, I know it can be pretty overwhelming!
Now, get out there and enjoy Vancouver!