WORKING AND LIVING IN CANADA - WORK PERMIT TO PERMANENT RESIDENCE (JOURNAL OF A CITY GIRL)
Updated: Oct 9, 2019
FROM JOHANNESBURG TO TORONTO
Tracey is a self-proclaimed chocoholic from Johannesburg, South Africa. She came to Canada in 2015 on a work permit and she currently lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, Ryan, and her cat, Bella. Since arriving in Canada, Tracey has enjoyed exploring Toronto and travelling across Canada. To learn more about Tracey’s journey and experience in Canada, read our interview with her below.
What do you like most about living in Canada?
Coming from a suburban life in Johannesburg, South Africa and then briefly living the small-town life in Namibia, moving to Toronto, Canada afforded us a complete lifestyle change. We had never lived a "big city life" before, never had access to public transport, or even lived in a place that was safe enough to walk around all day and night. We love living in Toronto. The city is clean, safe, vibrant, full of green spaces, and we are walking distance from anything we really need in a day. Replacing daily traffic and road rage with tranquil walks to work and Sunday strolls along the harbour has been life-changing and also we quite like the snow.
Where do you live in Canada and why?
We rented a condo in downtown Toronto mainly because it's walking distance from my husband's office which allowed us the freedom not to drive or rely on public transit daily.
What were your first few weeks in Canada like?
It's very overwhelming to start from scratch again, I remember in the beginning marvelling at all the glass high-rise buildings, the masses of people strutting the sidewalks on a mission with earplugs in and a takeaway coffee in hand and I was just there trying to figure out where I lived.
Besides attempting to assimilate ourselves with our new surroundings and culture, we were dashing around trying to sort out the admin that accompanies arriving in a new place, such as setting up a bank account, health insurance, getting new mobile phones and a Social Insurance Number. Finding a place to stay and then buying basic furniture to tide us over while we waited for our container of belongings to arrive.
Familiarizing oneself with the small things is the hardest part. Things that used to be second nature are now completely foreign and there is no one to guide you through this process. Finding a local grocery store and navigating all the new brands and products (it took me nearly three months to find a feta cheese I liked), how to go to the doctor, figuring out what a "loonie" is, the best place to get pizza in your neighbourhood, and all this whilst trying to remembering the basics like your new phone number and where you live.
How did you go about moving your belongings to a new country?
We were fortunate. Since my husband's company brought us to Canada, they arranged most of the logistics. A professional moving company packed up all our belongings in Namibia and shipped everything. Three months later our stuff arrived in Toronto. We landed in Canada with only a suitcase each and our cat safely tucked away in her carrier. We had minimal furniture, kitchen utensils, and clothing for the first few months, so we had to camp out on the floor of our new apartment.
Why do you like living in a multicultural country like Canada?
As people who love to travel and learn, living in a city as vibrant as Toronto is incredible. Between the access to incredible food, the variety of festivals and neighbourhoods, there really is never a dull moment.
Anything you didn't anticipate or discover until you arrived in Canada?
Yes, after living in Toronto for almost a year, we decided it was time to explore a bit more of Canada and we planned a west coast road trip, through some of the famous national parks. During the planning process, we discovered we had to redo our driver's licences as our South African licenses were not transferable. At the ripe age of 30, with almost 13 years driving experience (and a few bad driving habits), we both had to redo the driving test from scratch to get a Canadian license.
What program did you come to Canada through (i.e. International Experience Canada, Work Permit, etc.) and what is your current status in the country (i.e. temporary resident, permanent resident, citizen, etc.)?
The company my husband works for sponsored his work permit and I am on an open work permit.
Where do you see yourself living in the future? Is Canada your forever home?
We were originally brought to Toronto on a three-year work contract. With the contract almost at the end of its term, we have started the process of applying for permanent residence as we have truly loved our time in Toronto and for now, this is where the best career opportunities for my husband are. We don't know if Canada is our forever plan, where we will end up is a question we can no longer answer.
Where can our readers follow your journey?
To learn more about Tracey’s story and to follow her adventures, visit her blog, journalofacitygirl.com.