Monthly Archives: June 2015

Find the best manor to live in Toronto with other Brits

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Mainly Tottenham fans, with a small pocket of Arsenal

So you’re moving to Toronto, a new city and experience. But where’s the best manor to live in if you want to be near other Brits? (Or not, if you prefer!)

We have an (unpaid) guest article from the guys at Navut that may help you.

Why is Navut useful for British expats in Canada?

Moving can be a very daunting experience, and that goes quadruple for a Brit who has to get used to the large diversity of the landscapes and how drastically different each city and even the climate may be from one part of the country to the other.

So many unforeseeable variables can come into play when moving to a new country, making the expat experience both exhilarating and a bit frightening.

Even migrating to a friendly nation like Canada can be complicated, as there is so much an expat may not know about the country and its major cities.

A web service tailored to anyone moving to or within Canada, Navut removes a large chunk of the stress for British expats, namely by ensuring the area you will live in is perfect for you. With Navut’s Neighbourhood Finder — a tool that pairs you with areas in a city based on your personal preferences — any expat can make their move so much more smooth.

How, Navut? How?

Heading to a new country can be incredibly stressful, both on your mind and your wallet. Navut knows you want to keep your money in your pocket, which is why one of the major features on our Neighbourhood Finder is price range. Simply set how much (and how little) you’re willing to spend, and the Neighbourhood Finder will filter out all the areas that don’t fit your budget.

Just be sure to use a currency converter from British Pounds to Canadian Dollars to get a picture of the neighbourhood’s overall price.

So why don’t you tell Brits how they can learn about a city (and neighbourhood) before they even arrive in Toronto?

Brits headed to Canada have it a little more difficult than other expats in other countries. Just like its natural landscapes, Canada’s major cities are all quite varied and unique in character.

Rather than just create a bland description of an entire Canadian city, Navut’s original neighbourhood profiles — which are available for almost every major Canadian metropolises — give you the local edge, painting a mosaic of the area, rather than just a “one size fits all” stereotype.

No neighbourhood is exactly alike in any urban area, and Navut’s neighbourhood profiles will help you become familiar with all the parts that make up a Canadian city, well before you arrive.

Find a manor just like home (or the complete opposite)

Homesickness is a very real phenomenon. So is culture shock. So rather than just find any old neighbourhood in a new city, why not find one that reminds you of home? Happen to live near a bunch of greasy spoons and pubs back in Britain? Or were next to families in a quieter neighbourhood? Or need a space that is very bike-able?

No matter what your home was like, there’s no doubt that there’s a neighbourhood with some similar features in Toronto, and finding an area that is tailored to your needs is exactly what Navut’s Neighbourhood Finder is for.

On the other hand, you may be heading out of your homeland in search of entirely new experiences, and you firmly don’t want to live in an area anything like your old neighbourhood. Let our Neighbourhood Finder zero in on the manors which remind you nothing of home, so you can have an entirely new style of living in Canada.

Live in a manor with other Brit expats

Sometimes it helps to be surrounded by other people who know exactly what you’re going through. Not only can they share in your experiences — in this case becoming accustomed to living in a new nation — but you can also use those around you as a resource.

There’s no doubt that if you had a particular problem while living the British expat life in Canada, someone else experienced the same issue. Navut can help you find a neighbourhood in the city with a large British population, so you can be closer to your native culture.

How do we find neighbours just like us, but not based on nationality?

Where you were born does not entirely define who you are, and there’s no real need to live in a neighbourhood populated by other expats or those with your nationality. Still, as we said, having some common ground to share with your neighbours can help to initially break the ice and strengthen community bonds.

Students coming to Toronto will definitely want to live near other students, as will young families. The same can be said for professionals moving to Canada for work. By living in proximity to those who share a similar lifestyle, you’re more likely to interact, and more importantly, get along.

So try out Neighbourhood Finder and see which manor you get!

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Could you pass Canada’s citizenship test?

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Time to test your mettle

No one likes exams or tests. You have to drag yourself away from Corrie Street to revise, revise, revise. Toss and turn the night before and so on.

But it’s necessary if you’ve come across the pond to Toronto, like what you see and want to take that next step to becoming a Canadian citizen.

Just the Canadian citizenship test to tackle.

Thankfully for our ever-watching Google News Alert, we found this handy item from The Huffington Post Canada.

Give it a go and see how well you do.

Five quick tips from an immigration lawyer

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You already owe Lorne Waldman $500 in fees just by glancing at his photo

So you come over from Old Blighty, check out Toronto and think, “Hmmm, think I could make a go of this.”

Next steps? Probably legal advice.

Lorne Waldman, Founder, Waldman & Associates, graciously pencilled us in for five minutes to give a few tips on hiring an immigration lawyer.

What are the pros of using an immigration lawyer?

Not as simple as it seems. If you hire a good immigration lawyer he or she can help you through the labyrinth and find ways to qualify for permanent residence status. But I have seen cases where lawyers or consultants have given bad advice and made things worse.

It also depends on the complexity of the person’s situation. If the person has a good job in Canada and can easily qualify he or she may not need a lawyer. The major con of hiring a lawyer is the expense.

Realistically, what are the costs involved and are there programs or subsidies to help with this?

The cost depends on the lawyer and the work being done. I have seen lawyers charge thousands to do a permanent resident application. Some lawyers charge by the hour and the hourly fee will usually be in the hundreds of dollars.

In immigration matters many charge a block fee which will often be in the thousands for a permanent resident application.

Legal aid will cover some types of applications — applications for refugee status and some humanitarian applications … but most services are not covered by legal aid.

What are the top mistakes immigrants make in their application process that they should avoid?

The number one mistake is that they provide inaccurate information. This can lead to the person being rejected for misrepresentation.

The second biggest mistake is filing an incomplete application. If they do then the application will be returned.

Do you have any tips to speed up the immigration process?

Make sure you qualify under whatever program you are applying. File a complete application and make sure all the information is accurate. Do not file anything that is misleading or wrong.

Are immigrants to Toronto getting a fair chance to improve their life, for example, job opportunities?

No. There are many obstacles for immigrants, especially those in the professions who often find it difficult to get licensed in their professions.

Thank you, Lorne, some honest answers there. As always, Brits in Toronto recommends getting good legal advice in whatever course of action you may decide to take.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Caitlin King

Caitlin King

Computer says “no”

It’s been absolutely yonks since we featured a Successful Brit in Toronto, maybe because we’ve all been caught up in the excitement of the Pan Am Games or something.

Let’s go!

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

My decision to move here came at a time when I was searching for “more” — more from my career, more ways to see the world, and more opportunities for myself that I knew wouldn’t be possible from my relatively small Scottish hometown.

It’s been nearly two years now and I’m excited to see what’s next!

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

I’m extremely lucky in that I came to Toronto with a job already in place. I had been working with Uteach Recruitment for nearly two years in our Scottish office when it was decided that we were opening an office in Canada … and that I could be a part of that! I’m now the Resourcing Manager in our office.

We help teachers from overseas find full-time teaching positions in the UK, then we train them for free so that they can begin their international careers with the best chance of success.

There are so many opportunities for Canadian teachers in the UK, and being able to use my own experience of moving halfway across the world for work to help bright, enthusiastic teachers do the same thing is definitely one of the reasons why I enjoy my job so much.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

One of the best things is how friendly people are; I moved to Toronto alone and I can’t imagine how different my experience would have been if I hadn’t been welcomed into my office, my apartment building, and even my local coffee shop by some of the loveliest people I have ever met.

A year ago, my best friend from home was visiting and we asked two girls in a bar if they wanted to play pool with us — those two girls are now my closest friends here and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Also, patio season. Obviously.

The worst thing? Thinking I could survive my first winter here in a parka that I brought from home. I have learned from my mistakes.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

We are all over the place in Toronto, so it’s not difficult to meet other Brits when you’re out and about. I go to The Caledonian for my haggis fix and I go to The Football Factory to shout at men kicking a ball on television.

I’m doing absolutely nothing to help break the stereotype … but eating unhealthy food and loudly denouncing football teams in public does make me feel a lot closer to home!

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

Do not trust a streetcar to get you anywhere on time. Walk around and get lost as often as you possibly can. You might as well, the streetcar’s going to make you late anyway.

Be unapologetic and unrelenting in your search for the perfect poutine.

Enjoy yourself and everything this city has to offer you.

Great advice, Caitlin, especially about the parka! She also has a blog and Twitter account for those who want to follow the adventures of a Scot having fun in Toronto.

What are your pension options as a UK expat in Canada?

Shannon Hope

Shannon Hope, pressing the security button under his desk as you walk in

What are your pension options as a UK expat in Canada? We have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER.

So luckily, we have a guest article from Shannon Hope. He is a senior wealth advisor at Expat Advisory Worldwide in Toronto [Facebook link if you’re a social media guru].

Shannon is also a retired professional hockey player who played for the Peterborough Pirates, the Cardiff Devils and Captained the Great Britain national hockey team from 1995-1997. Shannon was inducted into the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999.

Face off, and here we go …

What to do with one’s UK pension is the question on the minds of many UK expats in Canada. After all, Canada is one of the top destinations of choice with over 600,000 UK expats.

Up until 2006, there were no options. However, in April 2006, a new program was launched in the UK as part of new legislation with the objective of simplifying pension schemes.

This program, called the Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS), is an overseas pension scheme that meets certain requirements of the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and can receive the transfer of UK pension benefits without incurring taxes or charges.

As a result, UK expats may be able to transfer their UK pension to an approved RRSP provider in Canada.

QROPS are increasingly popular with UK Expats in Canada due to the tax advantages they offer on pension drawdowns and the ability to designate a beneficiary in the event of the pension owner’s death.

Pension funds left in the UK are heavily taxed, commonly referred to as a death tax, and could be as high as 55%. Transferring a UK pension into a QROPS eligible RRSP in Canada can help avoid UK taxation.

There are many advantages to transferring your pension such as:

  • The Canadian Dollar/British Pound exchange rate is at the best it has been in quite some time
  • Minimizing taxes and leaving more of your hard earned dollars to your family/estate
  • Control and consolidation of your assets

There are many other factors besides the QROPS legislation to consider including your personal financial situation and estate planning priorities.

At Expat Advisory Worldwide Inc. our team of wealth advisors are seasoned experts in UK pension transfers and can assist UK expats in developing an integrated, comprehensive and customized financial plan.

Thank you , Shannon. We never knew all that actually so have learned something too!

Citizenship rules change June 11, 2015

Chris Alexander, Citizenship and Immigration Minister

Chris Alexander, Citizenship and Immigration Minister

“A final suite of reforms to strengthen and modernize Canada’s citizenship laws will be fully in force as of June 11, 2015. The changes — part of a package of measures approved by Parliament last year — ensure new citizens can fully and quickly participate in Canada’s economy and Canadian society.

“The first set of provisions that came into force last summer to strengthen Canadian citizenship and speed up application processing times are already paying off. New citizenship applications are being finalized in a year or less, and it is expected that the backlog of older files will have been eliminated by the end of this fiscal year. Individuals who submitted a citizenship application before April 1, 2015 will have a decision by March 31, 2016.

“Among the many benefits of the government’s citizenship reforms, the new provisions will deter citizens of convenience — those who become citizens for the sake of having a Canadian passport to return to Canada to access taxpayer-funded benefits that come with citizenship status, without having any attachment to Canada, or contributing to the economy.”

Full story.