Coming to Canada Expectations and Realities - ICAN
Preparing yourself for a big move from Ireland to Canada can be exciting and stressful. Find information to manage expectations in relation to the cost of living, employment expectations, vacation entitlements, some helpful times to find a home and a job.
My journey to Canada, IEC, LMIA/temporary foreign worker program, Canadian employment expectations, Canadian Vacation entitlement,
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Coming to Canada Expectations and Realities

Before You Go

You can prepare yourself emotionally by reviewing the tips here

and by reading our

Newcomer Testimonial: My Journey to Canada


If you are coming on the IEC, the rules state that you must have a minimum of $2500 CDN, but this is not necessarily enough. By the time you pay first and last month’s rent, buy basic furniture (Canadian apartments rarely come furnished), buy a cell phone, and stock your fridge, your savings may be close to gone.

If you are coming on the LMIA/temporary foreign worker program, you need to bring even more savings if possible. Those on the LMIA can be laid-off. LMIAs are non-transferable.


This is an exciting time for you, but some of your expectations around employment may need to be mitigated.

Be prepared to take a “joe-job” to get you by when you first arrive while you interview for roles in your sector.

Expect to wait several weeks (and sometimes a few months) before landing a “career position.” The Canadian hiring system is slower than you will have been used to in Ireland. From applying, to interviewing, to second interviews, to meeting the team and signing contracts, will take weeks and sometimes longer.

Be prepared for quiet times in hiring: mid-November to early February and early June to September.

Vacation Entitlement

It’s a lot less than in Ireland–this is a big disappointment for many.

The basic entitlement is 2 weeks of vacation for every completed “year of employment”. After 5 consecutive years of employment with the same employer, the entitlement increases to 3 weeks of vacation. After 10 completed years, employees are entitled to 4 weeks of vacation. Find out more information on vacation entitlement here.

On the upside: There are a plethora of federal and provincial bank holidays!


Spend some time exploring your employment sector. Go on the various job sites for each major city (some are listed on our website). Read the major Canadian newspapers to follow economic trends. Check out the many employment guides on our Essential Guides page. Be sure you know if there are sector-specific Canadian (or provincial) exams you need to take to work in your sector.


You will need to “Canadianize” your CV. We call it a resume here. You will find a standard example on the Essential Guides page of our website (under the heading ‘Employment’). Have this done and ready to go upon arrival. As soon as you get a cell phone here, put your Canadian number on the resume. Do not send out your resume with a non-Canadian address or phone number. Do not list your nationality, date of birth, or status in Canada on the resume.

Finding a Home

Most apartments/homes in Canada come unfurnished. It is important to factor the cost of furnishing into your budget. You will be asked to pay your first and last month’s rent up front and landlords usually request references and credit checks before you enter a lease.

You will not have a Canadian credit check upon arrival.  Consider taking short term accommodation at first (be sure to follow our accommodation tips on social media every Friday to protect yourself from scams).  Once you have a job, landlords here may be more willing to consider your application.

Note that most leases begin on the first of the month so keep this in mind when booking your temporary accommodation upon arrival.

Know your rights as a tenant (again, follow our Friday tips).

Cost of Living

Groceries in Canada can be more expensive than in Ireland. You will be surprised by the price of cheese or a pint! Bread, milk, all the staples, are priced higher.

Furnished apartments: they rarely exist in Canadian cities. The majority of landlords will expect you to bring in your own furniture. Ikea and GoodWill/Value Village are the cheapest options. Also watch local Irish Facebook pages to see if those going home are selling their furniture.


Canada is the second biggest country in the world. It takes over a week to drive from one end to the other—our land mass spans 3 oceans. There are 10 provinces and 3 territories. In Ontario alone you can drive for two days and still be in the same province. If you live outside of a major city you will find your commute to be longer than that to which you are used. In certain parts of the country it will be difficult to function without a car. The major cities have subways, above ground commuter trains, light rail systems, and/or bus routes.