Mistakes Newcomers Make in Canada

The most common mistakes newcomers make
The most common mistakes newcomers make
Written By
MTC Media inc
Published on
February 9, 2024

Mistake #1: Losing confidence

Immigration is a psychologically difficult event - your entire humanity is being jolted from the warm and comfortable home and implanted into a foreign and unknown environment. At first, it looks cold, unwelcoming and even hostile for some! Many lose their own identity with immigration - they become unconfident, displeased, and depressed. A simple task like going to the bank or grocery shopping becomes a challenge due to language and cultural barriers. An extrovert may become more introverted and shy, and an ambitious person may lose all their drive, start questioning their goals and become fearful. They struggle to build bonds in ways familiar to them, and they get frustrated and disappointed.

To fix that:

  • Try practising positive self-talk. It has a magical effect and it will eventually make you feel better.
  • Don’t strive for perfection. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake or fail at something - everyone makes mistakes, including hundreds of thousands of immigrants just like you.
  • Do not compare yourself to others. A Canadian or assimilated immigrant has years of life in Canada behind their shoulders. Your friends from school stayed in their own country with all the things familiar to them. No one’s experience is the same, and therefore comparing makes no sense!
  • Focus on the things you can change. That will help you to see some tangible progress and reward yourself more often.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people, who encourage and uplift you. 

Mistake #2: Taking on too much credit and getting stuck in debt

Canada, being a capitalist country, makes it very easy to acquire debt-free credit cards, rewards points, buy now pay later services, low-interest rates, promotions and so on and so forth. It is very appealing for a newcomer to buy a shiny new TV, take out a car loan and rent an expensive apartment - mimicking the North American consumerist lifestyle and spending money on stuff you think you need!

Don't do it. Taking on too much debt leads to a bad credit score and financial difficulties in the future. Your credit score is important for you if you want to get a job or move to a new apartment. Don't overuse credit cards - only spend what you can afford. Don't take large loans before you've secured a stable job and always pay your bills on time!

Mistake #3: Not saving or investing

Most immigrants coming to Canada often lack financial education and they don't save or invest money. They spend what they make, living from paycheck to paycheck - oftentimes dreading the day when an additional repair or unexpected bill comes in.

Sometimes, even if they save money, they end up just keeping it in the bank account letting it depreciate over time because they distrust the financial system and the markets.

Saving and investing are the best ways to build your wealth as a new immigrant in Canada - after all, if you want to buy a home, you need to have a downpayment and real estate is crazy expensive in Canada!

If you plan on buying a home or want to protect yourself from unexpected job loss or expenses, you want to make sure you have some money sitting in your bank account. However, given that money depreciates over time due to inflation, you also want to make sure that the money at least preserves its value over time.

Our recommendation would be to start saving and investing as soon as you can after moving to Canada. If you are not a financial guru, use auto investing platforms and make sure to make deposits on a regular basis. Even if you can make a tiny saving of 3 dollars a day, you will have over 1,000 by the end of the year! Believe us, 10-15 years from now you will thank yourself you did that!

Mistake #4: Staying with their own community

It is natural for us immigrants to stick to our own communities when we immigrate to Canada. In a place where everything is so foreign and unfamiliar, a pocket of your own community that speaks the same language and thinks the same way feels like a breath of fresh air. It naturally makes you feel less alone and gives you the initial feeling of comfort and safety. However, it will eventually result in a much longer period of adaptation when it comes to language, understanding Canadian culture and making connections necessary for your success in Canada. Also, it often results in a very one-sided, often negative perception of certain aspects of the way Canadian society functions, which makes some people regret their decision. 

Our recommendation is to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people from different cultures and discover various points of view and experiences. Upon getting to know them, you will learn that some cultures have a lot in common and we actually share similar experiences from time to time. 

Mistake #5: Overconsumption and overeating

Cheap processed and fast food is an easy option for immigrants to opt in for when they're struggling to find a job and counting every cent. It is a lot harder to find organic food here too, and you often have to pay more for it. The wide variety of novel foods - chips, cookies, etc also makes you excited and makes you want to try everything sometimes. 

Unfortunately, overconsumption doesn't help with the stress of immigration. Turning to food in times of increased stress and anxiety is a natural response, but you guys can be aware of it and work with it.

Our recommendation would be to be mindful of how your eating habits change after moving to Canada. Try to avoid processed foods, limit sweets and keep a good balance between organic and non-organic foods as much as you can. Many immigrants find their nation's markets and stores and choose to buy food there, since they often carry foods familiar to the given culture. Stay active, and say no to a sedentary lifestyle. Luckily there are many sports facilities available, often at no cost, and of course, there are plenty of gorgeous hiking trails and beautiful nature to explore.

Mistake #6: Getting stuck in a survival job

It is no secret that the main challenge immigrants expect to face in Canada is finding a job. It is important because it will allow you to pay for your food, bills and start building the future you came to Canada for. Most immigrants will often opt for the first low-skilled survival job they can find, just so that they can secure some income to feed their family. It is an admirable thing for immigrants to do - imagine you were an engineer or a doctor back home, and now you have to work as a barista at a coffee shop - it's real and it's just what you have to do to build your life sometimes!

As time passes, some immigrants may get stuck in that survival job for way too long, especially those who struggle with language and overall culture adaptation. They cease to believe they can’t get a better job, and even if they can - they don't believe they can succeed in it and stay in the newly found comfort zone of a survival job. All that makes them stay at the survival job, missing out on a chance to start building the career they want.

Our recommendation is to be a bit more ambitious than you see yourself. Don't settle for a survival job, believe in yourself and actively work towards building the life you want. You’ve already done the hardest thing, you’ve left everything you know behind and moved to a new country - it only gets easier after that. Be open-minded and don't forget to network. Canada is a country of opportunity, and it rewards people who take risks, it also doesn't punish you too hard when you make mistakes.

Mistake #7: Not asking for help

When you are in a new environment, you start changing psychologically, emotionally and mentally. It's a gradual change, but for some, it's very uncomfortable. The older you are, the more uncomfortable that change might feel, some try to resist it, and some feel like they are losing their individuality. In this case, don't be afraid to ask for help - maybe see a therapist and discuss what's bothering you. Sometimes talking about your issues out loud is a great first step to resolving them.

The same goes for material things. If you need anything, don't be afraid to talk about it. There are multiple charity organizations in Canada that can help by providing many things: starting from clothes to furniture and electronics. Community centers and churches can help too. Other immigrants can help a great deal, they know the struggle of being a newcomer, they had to take the same steps when they came to Canada, and they can help you figure things out and give you advice. You'll save time and stress trying to solve the problem from scratch and on your own.

Mistake #8: Not doing a research

This is actually one of the biggest mistakes people make when moving to a new country. Whether it's how they prefer to live, by relying on others, or simply don't have enough time - many people don't do proper research when immigrating.

Don't ever assume that all systems in Canada work the same way as in your home country. Some systems differ even from province to province, so once you're in Canada and you want to move to another city, don't assume you already know everything.

Anticipate your steps and read about the main questions you might have to know about to avoid any mistakes beforehand.

Simply put: prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

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Mistakes Newcomers Make in Canada

Make That Change is made by immigrants for immigrants.
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