Students have fun while having a drink

Planning to study at a Canadian university or college?

Download the Brief Guide to Studying in Canada

Planning to work in Canada?

Download the Brief Guide to Working in Canada

Your short guide to moving to and living in Canada 

If you’ve decided to move to Canada, this guide will provide helpful information on what you can expect: from socialising, working, studying, and more.  

The country has two official languages, English and French, along with roughly 100 distinct indigenous languages. French-speakers live in Quebec, while English is spoken everywhere else aside from the northern-most Nunavut region.

Business and work culture in Canada 

From tech and banking to the entertainment and energy sectors, Canada’s robust economy supports job opportunities in many fields. Large global companies also have offices here, including many well-known brands and franchises. 

Canadian work culture prizes friendliness, teamwork, and collaboration. Open communication is encouraged, meaning questions are always welcome to ensure clarity and productivity. Politeness and fair treatment are expected and being punctual is essential, whether it's a formal meeting or a casual gathering.  

Canadians value work–life balance and employees respect this. While dress codes can vary, the common thread is to appear professional and tidy. Unless you’re in a French-speaking area, English is the primary language of business communication. This means English proficiency is critical to professional success.

Learn more about working in Canada 

Studying in Canada 

Canada’s top universities include the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, McGill University, and McMaster University. 

Canada has become an increasingly popular destination for international students, with a notable rise in study permit applications. As of 2023, there has been a significant increase in new study permits issued compared to the previous year. Students are also exploring a broader range of provinces, contributing to a more diverse student population across Canadian educational institutions.  

Canadian universities offer a variety of courses and campuses are equipped with modern facilities. In terms of tuition, Canadian universities are typically more affordable than comparable institutions in the United States. 

For those from other countries, proving your English proficiency is key to studying at many Canadian universities. That's where tests like IELTS come in. By achieving a good score on the IELTS Academic test, you're showing universities that you can comfortably engage with your studies, interact in English, and be a part of the dynamic campus life.

Learn more about studying in Canada 

Cost of Living and Lifestyle in Canada 

Generally, the cost of living in Canada is high relative to other countries. In general, cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary are among the pricier places to live. Rent, transportation, and utilities might be higher here compared to cities like Winnipeg or Halifax. However, higher salaries are typically offered in larger cities.  

Canada’s landscape includes national parks, mountains, and lakes, which contribute to the lifestyle of its population and appeal to those interested in nature. The country's seasons provide different activities: skiing and snowboarding in winter, and activities like hiking and canoeing in summer.

In terms of cultural diversity, Canada's population includes a significant number of immigrants. This diversity is evident in its cities, where you can see and hear various cultural influences.

Visa Process for Canada 

Moving to Canada might seem overwhelming at first, especially when considering the visa and immigration processes. But with the right information in hand, it is a straightforward process. Here's a breakdown of common visa pathways. 

Canada student visas

The Canadian Study Permit is the most common visa for international students. To qualify, you'll need an acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada and proof that you have enough funds to cover your tuition fees and living expenses. 

If you want to stay and work in Canada after completing your studies, you can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This allows you to work in Canada for a period dependent on the length of your studies.

Canada work visas

Most work permits in Canada are job-specific, meaning that they are linked to a job offered by a specific company. To work for a different employer in Canada, you will need to obtain a new job-specific permit. In most cases, your employer will need to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This is used to ensure there are no qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada to fill your role.  

With this in mind, here are the most common work visa categories:

  • Temporary Work Permit - for those who have a job offer in Canada, this permit allows you to work for a specified period. The length of time you can work in Canada depends on your job offer. 
  • Open Work Permit - these permits are not specific to any employer or job. Some Open Work permits enable you to change employers, occupations, and locations of work. Others don’t allow you to change your occupation or location of work.  
  • Intra-Company Transfer Permit - if you’re an employee of a multinational company, you may be able to obtain a work permit to transfer to one of the company’s locations within Canada. 
  • Express Entry - a system for skilled workers to immigrate based on their qualifications, work experience, and other factors. 
  • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) - provinces select immigrants based on their specific needs, often leading to faster processing times. 
  • International Experience Canada (IEC) - for young people from certain countries, this program offers a chance to work and travel in Canada.

Canadian visa requirements

Each visa pathway has its own set of requirements. These might include proof of funds, health checks, and police clearance. Skilled workers might also need an evaluation of their educational credentials and work experience. 

For most study and work visa routes, proving your proficiency in English is crucial. That's where the IELTS test comes in. The test is widely recognised by the Canadian government and helps prove your English language ability to the Canadian visa authority.

For many, IELTS success is the first step towards securing their Canadian visa.

Healthcare in Canada 

Under the Canadian healthcare system, citizens and permanent residents have access to essential medical services without paying out-of-pocket. Temporary foreign workers and international students may apply to access public health insurance from their province or territory.  

There might be a waiting period in some provinces. During this period, it's a good idea to have private health insurance to ensure your healthcare needs are covered. Once you receive your provincial health card, you can access the same public services as any other resident. 

While the universal healthcare system covers many basic services, some opt for additional private health insurance. This insurance can lead to faster care and covers services not included in the public system, such as prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, and some specialised treatments. Many employers also offer health benefits packages, which can include these additional coverages.

Social Life and Networking in Canada 

There are many social events to choose from in Canada, with even smaller towns frequently hosting community fairs. Canadians love festivals, which can range from celebrating the winter snow in Quebec's Winter Carnival to Vancouver's Folk Music Festival.

Sports also play a significant role, with ice hockey games being a central social event for many. For those looking to embrace the local culture, community centres often hold classes, from ice skating to making maple syrup. 

Canada is a hub for professional networking, with countless meetups, seminars, and conferences across industries. These events are more common in cities and commercial centres. 

Knowing English — or French in certain parts — can significantly enhance your social experiences in Canada. Being proficient ensures you can engage in conversations, understand cultural nuances, and genuinely feel a part of the community.

Achieving a good score on the IELTS test can help. When you prepare for an IELTS test, you’ll develop your English and confidence. The better your English, the more you’ll be able to effectively engage with others and form meaningful relationships. 

The Role of IELTS for Life in Canada 

Before you move to Canada, you first need to prove your English proficiency to Canadian visa authorities, schools, and employers. As the most popular English proficiency test in the world, IELTS is a trusted partner that can help you prove your English and achieve your goals.  

Millions of people choose IELTS every year. Here’s why you should choose IELTS when taking the next step in your journey to Canada: 

  • IELTS is globally recognised - IELTS is recognised by over 12,000 organisations around the world and most Canadian institutions that require proof of English ability.  
  • IELTS is fair, accurate, and comprehensive - IELTS assesses the four core English skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. IELTS tests focus on accuracy and fairness and examiners are qualified and experienced English language specialists.  
  • IELTS is everywhere - IELTS has over 4,000 test locations in 140 countries across the globe.

Take your IELTS test with the British Council 

We have 90 years of experience providing worldwide English education and assessment, making us a safe choice. We also provide more free preparation than any other test provider.

Plus, when you book with us you unlock IELTS Ready — which offers interactive activities, expert masterclasses, and over 40 practice tests. Make sure you book early to make the most of these resources.  

All official British Council IELTS test centres are modern, comfortable, and conveniently located. Book your test now and access IELTS Ready today.  

Learn more about studying or working in Canada 

There’s a lot to know when it comes to moving to Canada. To help, we’ve created guides with actionable steps to help you as you follow through on your decision to study or work in Canada.  

Get your free copies by clicking on the relevant link below.

Planning to study at a Canadian university or college?

Download the Brief Guide to Studying in Canada

Planning to work in Canada?

Download the Brief Guide to Working in Canada