Ontario, Canada Report of what it's like to live there - 01/14/11

Personal Experiences from Ontario, Canada

Ontario, Canada 01/14/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I have lived in Romania, Jamaica, Czech Republic, USA and other places in Canada.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

My home base is Saskatoon. It is a 3-hour direct flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Father got a job here

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Half of the residents live in houses and half live in apartments. It depends on what you want to pay and how big you want your home to be. The best area for a family to live in is the High Park area. The best area for a single person is downtown.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Same price as in the USA and everything is avalable. There are also many grocery stores dedicated to a region, such as the Asian Grocery store or the Brazil one.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing, everything is avalabe here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

You could eat out everyday for your entire life and never eat at the same restaurant. There is a resturant serving food from every nation in the world, and all fast food places are here.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There are at least a dozen vegetarian resturants in Toronto. The best one I have been to in called Green Earth. There are grocery stores selling organic food.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No, there are some mosquitoes and wasps in the summer, but it is not too bad -- just annoying.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

There are dozens of post offices in Toronto.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very available. Do not know cost.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, dozens in the city.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use credit cards almost anywhere, and ATMs are everywhere.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There is a place of worship for every religion.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are many papers in English, and TV is widly available. Cost is same as in the USA.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is needed.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Not many, all sidewalks have ramps, and tall buildings have elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Toronto has a great public transit system that is very safe and affordable. I would recommend using public transit instead of a car, since traffic is bad here. Taxis are safe but expensive.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Bring any car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, it is widly avaliable.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

No, you can use cell phones everywhere in the city, and cell phone stores are everywhere.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very good health care, there are many vets and kennels here.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, many.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Wear what you want.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No, but it is a big city, so pay attention. Do not flash cash or be out alone at midnight. Just take the normal big-city precautions.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No health concerns, and health care is great here. Canada has universal health care so it is free for all.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate, like in any other big city.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very cold in the winter with tempratures getting to -20C. The spring and fall are very nice around +15. Summer is hot, with temperatures of 30-40C. There is lots of snow here in the winter, it snows almost every day. It does not rain too often.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are no international schools. All expats go to local schools. However, there is one rench school in Toronto.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not so much in public schools, however there are dozens of private schools who are dedicated to those whith special needs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Widely available.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, tons.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

HUGE!

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2. Morale among expats:

Most love it here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Shopping, bars, clubs, theaters, beaches, parks, reaturants and much more.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, it is good for all.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It is very good. Toronto has one ofthe biggest gay populations in the world. You will have no issues at all.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No, Toronto is very diverse, so no one is racist.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Culture, great resturants and the endless entertainment.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There is so much to do in Toronto. First, since it is so diverse there are interesting cultural areas -- such as Greek Town, China Town, and India Town. There are great parks --such as High Park-- which make for nice walks. There are great beaches along Lake Ontario. There is endless shopping in Toronto, you can walk for several km and see shops the entire time. There are many theaters, malls, clubs and bars. During the summer there is a festival almost everyday.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are not many unique local things here.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

There is so much culture here, in fact it is the most diverse city in the world. The beaches are great in the city, and there are great areas around Toronto.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES. I LOVE IT HERE.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

You can bring everything.

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3. But don't forget your:

Winter coat.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Most movies are filmed here, even if they are supposed to be in New York, since it is cheaper here.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a very rude city, and it takes a while to get used to. It is the one thing I hate about the city. Toronto was ranked as the 7th rudest city in the world.

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