Preparing to live in Canada

Preparing to live in Canada

Will you be living in Canada but you're not sure which bank to choose? Desjardins is here to help you make a budget and understand how to bank in Canada.

Open your bank account soon for an easy transition

In Canada, we have chequing accounts and savings accounts. Your account will come with a free debit card (also called an ATM card).

Doing it from abroad means you can:

  • transfer money into your Canadian account before you arrive
  • activate your account as soon as you arrive so you can focus on other things

Open an account

What's the difference between a credit card and a debit card?

You get a debit card free when you open your account. You can use it to make purchases or withdrawals directly from your account.

Use a credit card to charge your purchases and pay for them later. You have to pay back the amount borrowed before the due date. When you use your credit card wisely, you also build your credit score, which lets you borrow from banks and retailers.

About the Canadian financial system

  • The currency used in Canada is the Canadian dollar (C$ or CAD).
  • One Canadian dollar equals 100 cents.
  • Coins are made in 5, 10, 25, 50, $1 and $2 amounts and bills are printed in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations.
  • Every year, you have to file your income tax returns for the federal government and your provincial government.
  • Tax on goods and services varies between 5% and 15%.
  • The Canadian financial system protects your money, helps you make it grow and is subject to strict regulations.
  • Cheques are seldom used in Canada and mostly used to pay large amounts, like rent. You'll receive a few cheques when you open your account.
  • We recommend that you get some Canadian money before you arrive.

Make a budget for your move to Canada

What's the cost of living in Canada? When you make your budget, make sure you include the following common expenses.

  • Internet and television $75 to $120 per month
  • Basic mobile phone serviceapproximately $65 per month
  • Home insurance between $20 and to $40 per month
  • Car insurance between $40 and to $70 per month
  • Public transit pass $85 per month
  • Gas approximately $1.40 per litre
  • Electricity between $25 and $75 per month, depending on the season
  • Heating between $25 and $150 per month, depending on the season
  • Groceries $250 per month

What about rent?

Rent varies greatly between cities. For a 1-bedroom (or a 3 1/2 in Quebec), the rent depends on the neighbourhood and varies between $700 and $1,400 in Montreal, and between $800 and $1,600 in Toronto and Vancouver.

Do some online research to get an idea of what rents are in the neighbourhoods you like.

International transfers

With a bank account, you can receive or send international money transfers (subject to fees). On average, an international transfer takes 24 hours to 4 business days, depending on the type of transfer.

Learn more about international transfers

Accident and health insurance

Insurance provides emergency coverage in case of accident or illness. Get coverage at a discount while you wait to become eligible for the provincial health insurance plan, which is similar to the French social security system.

Get Visitors to Canada Insurance

Desjardins and financial education

We want to give our members and communities the opportunity to better control their finances. Choosing us advances your financial, cooperative and economic education.

What we do

Working and living in Canada

Our package for new immigrants to Canada includes a bank account and monthly plan to help your big move go smoothly.

See the welcome package

Studying in Canada

Our package for students new to Canada makes your life easier and comes with all the support you'll need while you're in school.

See the student package

Ask us anything

Moving to a new country comes with a load of questions. Our multilingual experts are here to help you.

Write us This link will open in a new window.

  1. This information is presented for information purposes only and is based on the cost of apartment living in Montreal, for a single person.