The life of an immigrant is not a long quiet river. Indeed it is not easy to adapt when you arrive in another country, even less when you are part of a visible minority. My family has lived these moments in France, I lived them , I face them again here in Quebec.
To integrate yourself in your new country you have to adapt to a new culture, a new climate, learn to live away from your family and your loved ones, but also make new friends. You have to learn a new language, find a job that matches your skills, a place to live in, and unfortunately you have to face sometimes (often?) discrimination.
Recently I was in Toronto and it is clear on the integration of immigrants that Quebec has not the same level of maturity that you can find in Ontario. Fear of the unknown is natural after all…
When you arrive in Quebec it will be necessary for you to go through some steps, which are part of the integration process. Information is not easy to find on the internet, that’s why many of us go to forums and social networks. Among the questions asked some are interesting, relevant, and others are less interesting. It would never occur to me to ask for example where to buy toothpaste, but there are no silly questions after all… I also noticed that some issues were recurrent, that’s why I will try to answer 10 questions that an immigrant often asks himself when arriving in Quebec. This could be useful to you if you decide to settle in the area!
1/ How do I look for an apartment?
Most people are searching on Kijiji, a website of small ads (the equivalent of Le Bon Coin in France). Generally a lease apartment lasts 1 year and starts from July 1, the date on which all the moves are made… at the same time, to the delight of moving and truck rental companies. Obviously it’s more fun to do it all at once, together is always better right? Also if you decide to leave your home you will need to find a new tenant.
For electricity you have to open an account with Hydro-Québec. Do not do it if charges are included in your home: you could end up like me with a bill for the entire building!
2/ Where do you buy appropriate clothing for winter?
When you arrive the easiest would be to go to Laurier Québec, which is easily accessible. You will also find some information on one of my previous articles (How to survive the cold?).
3/ What are the administrative steps to take?
Here are some steps that you must perform when arriving in Quebec:
– Request a NAS (Social Insurance Number) which is required to work in Canada.
– Register for the RAMQ (Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec) to benefit from the health care system.
– Go to the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance du Quebec) to obtain a Quebec driver’s license.
– Open a bank account (Desjardins, Scotiabank, RBC …). Then you will learn to familiarize yourself with your 2 new cards (debit and credit). The more you use them, and the better your credit history is, which will allow you to get loans and get better rates.
4/ What are the main telephone operators and Internet service providers?
Free, a cheap telephone and Internet provider in France, does not exist here. In Quebec a phone and internet package will be expensive for you compared to what you would find in France or Europe. The main suppliers are Fido, Rogers, Koodo, Bell, Videotron, Telus or Chatr.
For internet you will find your subscription at Bell, Telus or Vidéotron. To give you an idea a phone + internet package at Videotron will cost you a hundred dollars.
5/ Where can I buy food?
You can go either at Métro, Provigo, IGA, Super C or Intermarché. To spend less you will rather go to Costco or Maxi.
6/ What are the main furniture stores?
Brick, Leon or Sears for example. Otherwise Ikea delivers on Quebec City. You can also fing good deals at Meuble Gaétan, Armée du Salut or at Comptoir Emmaüs.
7/ How to get around the city?
Quebec City has no subway, so you will have to take the bus or the car to go around. You also have the option to hire a taxi or a famous platform linking drivers and individuals (be careful in France some people may want to throw stones at you!!). If you want to go to Montreal you can take the bus (Orleans Express) or car pool (Amigo Express).
8/ Where do I buy tickets for the bus?
You can either obtain tickets directly on the bus (cash only) or in pharmarcies (Jean Coutu, Familiprix, Uniprix), which sell not only medicines but also cosmetics or maintenance products. Some pharmacies even have a post office.
9/ Where do I rent a car?
The major car rental agencies are Enterprise, Discount or Avis. Communauto, a car sharing system (like Autolib’ in Paris), is also available.
10/ Where do I buy a car?
You will need a car to buy car! Indeed, most dealers are not located downtown.
Thanks to these tips you are now in good dispositions to start the Quebec adventure, so ready for the integrate yourself?
Do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions!