My name is Michael Bricout and I moved to Canada from France in July, 2017. I have a master’s degree in marketing and for a brief period, I ran my own entrepreneurial venture in France. Currently, I work as a Product Manager with Ampli, an RBC Venture.
I have some family living in Quebec so I’d visited Canada a few times before I moved. In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to live and work in New Zealand as well. However, I really liked Canadians and the Canadian culture. Eventually, my girlfriend and I identified Toronto as a city with ample opportunities for personal and professional growth and we decided to move here on a working holiday visa, a popular option for French nationals.
While immigrating to Canada was relatively easy for us, finding a job and long-term accommodation wasn’t.
This is my story.
After moving to Canada, it took me about two months to find my first job. I sent out my resume and cover letter to multiple organizations but there weren’t any immediate opportunity conversions. Over a month into my job search I went to an open house at Yellow Pages Canada where I met some of their HR professionals. They saw value in my skills and that’s how I found my first job in Canada.
My key takeaway from this job search experience was that networking is very important. Don’t just apply to jobs online but attend meetups and networking events—that’s where the opportunities are! It’s also critical to research the job market and the city where you intend to settle. Look for newcomer services like Arrive that can help you out with smoothly transitioning into the Canadian life.
Without a job or a credit score, finding accommodation was equally difficult. For about two months, we moved from one Airbnb to another because most landlords wanted a credit report, which we didn’t have at the time. In absence of the credit report, some asked for six months’ of rent upfront! While exploring our options, we joined a Facebook group for French immigrants where we stumbled on a post for an available apartment downtown. We reached out to the group member who’d shared the post and finally managed to secure the apartment, by paying four months’ of rent upfront.
I realized that for a newcomer, finding long-term accommodation in Toronto is tricky. It’s key to be patient and also be mentally and financially prepared for unexpected situations.
After two years of living and working in Canada, my girlfriend and I applied for Permanent Residency (PR) and were successful in obtaining it.
I would recommend other newcomers to:
- Build their social network and cultivate meaningful friendships. My girlfriend and I used Facebook to meet other French newcomers. It’s easier to start by meeting people from your own country who have moved here.
- Experience different cultures. Toronto is a multicultural city, making it an excellent place to meet, interact, and learn from people of varied nationalities.
The three things I like the most about Toronto are: good brunches, winters are not as harsh in comparison to places like Montreal, and there’s a decent blend of nature and cityscape with the ‘big city’ vibes — all of which, I think, are good reasons to call Canada ‘home.’