So after a long journey to get over here we had just 5 nights booked in a hotel in downtown and no plan. First jobs were to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN), a cell phone and a bank account! With these we figured we would be able to do everything we needed.
Harry had done a lot of research into which banks were best as in Canada you have to pay for most banks and most withdrawals. We decided to go with CIBC and as we went into the branch I spotted a poster on the wall advertising the ‘Newcomers to Canada’ promotion. Anybody who was new to Canada got free everything banking related for a year! Perfect, it meant no cost to get our own money! Bonus!
After asking around re mobile phones or ‘cell phones’ as they’re more commonly known as here, we went with a provider called Fido. We got a good deal which included unlimited texts internationally as well as within Canada (great to be able to keep in touch with home) as well as free evening and weekend calls and no contract. The only thing is, you have to pay an extra $10 a month for caller recongnition which is so bizarre so we opted out of this, we’re still finding it very annoying not knowing who is calling us though.
Our main priority after this was to find a place to live. Our hotel was in the ‘East End’ of town, surrounded by homeless druggies wandering around looking like people out of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ ,not the best place to be but the hotel was fine and the staff were really helpful and friendly.
Craigslist is North Americas version of Gumtree and where hundreds of rooms for rent are posted everyday so it seemed like a good place to start. We weren’t sure as to whether we wanted our own place or to house/flat share so though we would have a look at both. We set our budget at $1200 a month which could get us our own place but it would have to be a studio apartment. We arranged to see one downtown and got very excited when we were taken to the 22nd floor or a luxurious building, our hopes soon faded when the guy led us into his 2 bedroom apartment which he had converted the master bedroom of into a suite. It was literally just a bedroom with an en-suite and a microwave which somehow apparently qualified as a kitchen. When we asked to see the rest of the apartment he told us that part was his and all that was available for rent was the master bedroom. We then decided to go and have a look at a place in the West End sharing with a guy on his own, as soon as we arrived we realised the place was unfurnished and not willing to spend out on furniture to use for less than a year and then have to sell, we apologised and continued our search.
The next day we set up viewings at 4 different places, hopeful that at least one of them would be nice. 3 out of the 4 were located Downtown and were all really nice, the first two were 3 bedroom places sharing with another couple and a single with only one bathroom. 1 bathroom between 5 people seemed like a lot so we went to look at the 3rd place in a swanky area called ‘Yaletown’ this was sharing with just one guy and when we went into the apartment we both knew straight away that this was ‘the one’. Alejandro is from Mexico and is very into everything ‘Asian’ meaning the decor in the place was lovely as well as the smell of incense. He took us to the master bedroom which was huge with a big en-suite. We both loved it. We thought we should just go and check out the last place as it was in the area of Kitslano (Kits) which is near the beach and we had heard good things about it. We went along to a basement suite of a very nice lady who informed us that she had already rented it from the beginning of September onwards but we were very welcome to rent it until then, however, we both decided we didn’t want to move around and loved Alex’s place so gave him a call and we were told we could move in the following week!