How do I prepare for my first days as a newcomer in Ontario?

Whether you immigrated with your family, as a student, or to work, there’s a lot to do when settling in a new country!

How do I find housing?

Finding a place to live is everyone’s first priority. During your first days, you may need to find a temporary spot. Use Google to look for hotels and short-term rentals.

To find a more permanent place to stay: 

  1. Research. You can go on local rental listing websites, ask family and friends, and just walk around a neighborhood to look for “For Rent” signs. 
  2. Get support. Ontario has several settlement agencies that support newcomers. You can also contact property management companies who connect tenants with landlords, but they may charge a fee.
  3. Save up. Most landlords require both first and last month’s rent to use as a deposit. Make sure you know what your landlord is legally allowed to ask you to pay for. Check out this podcast about legal info for renters paying deposits
  4. Gather documents. Tenants often need to submit rental applications and, if you’re selected, you may be asked for references, proof of employment, etc. You’ll also need to sign a lease. 
  5. Know your rights and responsibilities. Tenants must respect their rental agreement, and landlords must maintain the unit. It’s important to know how housing is regulated in Ontario so you don’t get into any trouble and so you can advocate for yourself.

If you’re an international student, your college or university may provide dormitories where you share a room or common area with other students. If this is out of your budget, you can also find a room to rent near your school. Check out your school’s bulletin boards, Kijiji,, or Facebook groups for listings.  

Where can I get support?

Once you have a place to stay, it’s a good idea to figure out what local services and online resources are available to help you find a job, register for school, and other day-to-day needs. 

Here's where you can go to get support:

  • Settlement services are offered by organizations and agencies that help newcomers with housing, employment, applications, and more. 
  • Community health centres provide free and often culturally-sensitive health services for local residents. 
  • Libraries allow people to borrow books and videos, use the computer and internet, and join newcomer programs.

How do I register for school?

Every child who lives in Ontario is entitled to free public education from kindergarten to grade 12. It is mandatory for all children between 6 to 18 years to attend school. 

Elementary schools provide education for grades 1 to 8. High schools (or secondary schools) provide education for grades 9 to 12.

Learn more about how to enroll a child in a public school.

After high school, students can choose whether they want to attend a post-secondary institution like college or university. 

Learn more about colleges and universities.

Post-secondary schools require students to pay their own tuition, but you can can get help paying for school through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

Learn more about OSAP.

How do I find work?

To get a job, you’ll need a resume and cover letter. You’ll also need to prepare for an interview, where they may ask you for a reference.

Here’s what you can do step-by-step:

  1. Find an Employment Centre. These centres help job seekers find and apply for jobs.
  2. Research. Look for job postings on online portals, local businesses, and the library.
  3. Network. Talk to friends, family members, teachers, counselors, and anyone you’ve worked with in the past about opportunities and advice.
  4. Make a resume. List your education, skills, and any experience (including volunteer work).
  5. Write a cover letter. Explain why you’re interested in the position and why you’d be a good fit.
  6. Prepare for the interview. Make a good impression by reviewing what the job requires you to do and researching common interview questions.

What identification documents do I need?

You’ll need different kinds of ID to get housing and employment, access public services, travel, and more. Below is a list of common ID’s that most Ontario residents should have.

Social Insurance Number

Canadian residents need a SIN to get paid by their employer, access government programs, file their taxes, and sign up for pension. 

Learn more about applying for a SIN.

Driver’s License 

A driver’s license not only authorizes you to operate a vehicle, it’s also a valuable document that proves your legal name, date of birth, and signature. You can use it as a form of ID to open a bank account, for domestic travel, to buy alcohol, for immigration applications, and more. 

Ontario Photo Card

Ontarians who do not want to drive a car but need a valid identification to do things like opening a bank account, for domestic travel, for government applications, etc. can apply for an Ontario Photo Card instead. 

Health Card

The province pays for health services through the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) for residents who’ve been living in Ontario for at least 153 days. You need a health card to get a family doctor, to visit walk-in clinics, to go to the emergency room, and for medical tests and surgeries. 

Student Card

Most high schools, colleges, and universities provide students with a student card that helps them use services on campus, like libraries, recreation facilities, meal plans, etc. You can also use your student card off campus for discounts at participating stores, public transportation systems, and more. 

Learn more about other types of valid ID, including student cards.

What are some other daily life tips?

After getting the major tasks out of the way, like finding a home, enrolling in school, and getting a job, do these things to make your day-to-day life easier:

For more information, check out this guide to your First Days in Ontario.