Moving to a new country is stressful enough, having to make a lot of decisions in your first few weeks can be overwhelming. Many people make poor choices when faced with stress and the pressure to act fast. The following are common mistakes new Canadians make as they try to settle in their first few weeks.
Signing Long term contracts
A very common mistake I’ve seen repeatedly is people signing long term contract for phone, cable, utilities and rent at ridiculous prices. Before you put that pen on paper, make sure you fully understand what you are getting into. Have you read the fine print? Are you able to get out of that contract if your circumstances change?
Relying on friends and family for information
People tend to give advice based on their experience. It’s okay to seek advice from friends and family, but you should also validate their information. Sometimes the information they provide might actually be outdated. For example, mortgage rules have changed so many times in the last couple of years. There was a time when you could buy a home with zero down payment and amortization of 40 years. Then it changed to 35 and then 30. If you are dealing with someone who bought their house a while ago, the information they have might not be up to date or relevant to your situation.
Information is readily available on the internet these days and you can also talk to a professional. Make sure you are making decisions based on current information.
Choosing to live in an area or City because of friends and family
Birds of the same feather folk together. This is very true when it comes to deciding on where to live for new comers. Very often, people tend to move into cities and neighbourhood where they know someone. This is good because you are close to your community support. However, other things that should weigh heavily on where you live includes your profession, access to amenities, schools or commute to work. Make sure you consider these before deciding on where to rent or live.
If you find a job on the opposite side of town and have signed a long-term rent lease, you might be stuck with a long commute to work.
Not asking the right question
If you think everybody in Canada have your interest at heart, then think twice! While there are very good people here, when it comes to selling products or services, the goal of the seller is to make sales. It is your responsibility to research what you are buying before making a decision. Don’t feel pressure by sales tactics that tell you the sale is for a “limited time.”
Changing Career or Going back to school
A lot of people get this advice from well-meaning people and some decide themselves as a result of being frustrated with lack of work, or not having “Canadian Experience.” It is true that certain professions are not allowed to practice in Canada without a Canadian degree or passing an exam. Canada provides the opportunity to retrain as an adult and you are able to ease back into the job market easily. But changing career or going back to school might not be the answer. In some cases, all you need is an assessment of your credential to determine its Canadian Equivalent. Organizations like IQAS and WES provide this service.
Going back to school does have it benefits, just make sure it is needed and that you are not wasting your time and hard earned money. Sometimes, what could be preventing you from finding a job is the terminology you are using when searching for a job.
For example, some countries may have a different title for certain positions or professions. A Customer Service Representative (CSR) in Canada could be called something else in your country. If you are not aware of this, you may not find jobs in this field.
Settling for just any job
I have heard of stories of people who got a job within weeks of arriving in Canada. But most don’t get a job for weeks and sometimes months. Because of the need to survive and pay bills, they may end up taking any job to survive. What happens next is that people get comfortable in such transition jobs and lose focus of their destination. Five years down the road, they are still stuck doing the same work.
Do whatever you have to do to survive your first few weeks and maybe years, but keep your destination in view.
Remaining Financially Ignorant
Among the top reasons people immigrate to Canada is for a better life. For many, this mean financial security. There are different ways to financial freedom in this country. It could be through employment, starting your own business, investment e.t.c. By not understanding the rules and regulations guiding these areas, people have made decisions that cost them money and moved them further away from realizing the financial security they are looking for.
I am not asking you go get a doctorate degree in Finance or something like that. You should however spend time understanding the Canadian financial world and how you can structure your affairs to take advantage of these rules.
Building Credit score the expensive way
One of the challenges new Canadians may face is the issue not having a Credit score. You need to have a good credit score in order to obtain loans or mortgages from lending institutions or even rent an apartment.
Many departmental stores offer their store credit cards to customers who don’t even have credit history. The only issue is that, these cards come with interest rate that can be as high as 28%! This is not a problem if you don’t carry a balance but, the moment you do, you are hit with a high interest on the balance of your card. And, not paying off your balance negatively affects your credit score.
A better way of building a credit score is to obtain a secured card. This type of credit card requires you to put a deposit down as a collateral, and the bank in turn gives you a card for the same amount as your deposit or a little higher. If you default, they keep your deposit. Once you establish a good score, you can then move to standard credit cards.
Not all credit cards are the same, some of the things to look for includes annual fees, interest rates and the type of rewards offered, Make sure you identify what is important to you before signing up for one.
Are there other mistakes you have made that I didn’t cover here? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.