Newcomers to Canada are often stressed about money matters: transferring money from home, opening a bank account, and being financially secure until they find employment. In this blog, we’ll share a few budgeting tips that will make you feel a little more confident about your finances while settling in. We’ll do that by briefly considering the experience of a newcomer, Harminder Ralhan, who recently landed in Toronto.

Meet Harminder

Harminder moved to Canada in July 2019 after completing his soft landing back in October. His initial stay in Toronto was a good pilot run that allowed him to understand the various living expenses and thus, plan for his permanent move.

Like many others, Harminder did some basic research before his soft landing: he looked into the Canadian banks, banking system, and the different types of newcomer bank accounts that were available. While he didn’t have a fixed budget or specific plan, he booked his stay in advance which made it easier to ‘guesstimate’ expenses, given that rent and utilities are major components (30-50% of your income) of living costs in Canada.

After his first three months in Canada, Harminder figured out that he could have saved some money by shopping at specific grocery stores, browsing their weekly flyers, or even by leveraging the two-hour transfer limit on TTC by buying a  PRESTO card.

Navigating the Canadian banking and financial ecosystem and budgeting for your expenses can be overwhelming. Get the informative, free, downloadable Finance Guide by Arrive and set yourself up for success.

Here are five tips to help you get your Canada budget started:

  1. Sites like Numbeo are good starting points to understand the cost of living in different cities.
  2. Begin by budgeting for rent, food, travel, utilities (such as hydro, heat, air conditioning, phone plan, cable, and internet), and entertainment.
    • Phone, cable, and internet may comparatively be more expensive than your home country.
    • Groceries: Check the websites for local price-focused grocery stores (Freshco, No Frills, Independent City Market, Metro, Sobeys, or Walmart).
    • Transit: The TTC website has information for fares and passes which helps plan for travel expenses using public transit.
  3. Don’t forget to consider additional expenses for:
    • Furniture: Check out websites for Ikea, Structube, and Wayfair to get an approximate sense of furniture costs.
    • Insurance: Some provinces in Canada have a wait time until you are covered by provincial health insurance. Ontario, for example, has a 90-day wait period. Be sure to purchase private insurance for the timeframe that you’re not covered.
    • Paid subscriptions: Entertainment options for on-demand music or video streaming services are an added cost that should be factored in.
  4. Chat with friends, family, and Arrive Connections in Canada to get first-hand insights on the cost of living.
  5. If you’re moving with your family, be sure to extrapolate the costs to cover all members.

In summary

Research and advance planning can not only help you reduce stress but it will also allow you to have reserve funds until you find a stable source of income.

Arrive’s webinar, Finances in Canada 101: What You Need to Succeed, is an excellent way for you to learn the ins and outs of personal finance in Canada, and how to set yourself up for financial success. You’ll learn about everything from bank accounts to budgeting. Watch it now!

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About Arrive

Arrive is powered by RBC Ventures Inc, a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada. In collaboration with RBC, Arrive is dedicated to helping newcomers achieve their life, career, and financial goals in Canada. An important part of establishing your financial life in Canada is finding the right partner to invest in your financial success. RBC is the largest bank in Canada* and here to be your partner in all of your financial needs. RBC supports Arrive, and with a 150-year commitment to newcomer success in Canada, RBC goes the extra mile in support and funding to ensure that the Arrive newcomer platform is FREE to all. Working with RBC, Arrive can help you get your financial life in Canada started – right now. Learn about your banking options in Canada and be prepared. Click here to book an appointment with an advisor.

* Based on market capitalization


This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.