A DREAM COMES TRUE How newcomers cope with a new set of challenges.
Migrating to a new country is the biggest challenge in the lives of most newcomers to Canada. It must have been a tough decision to leave behind the place where you grew up, got educated, had friends, established a career and, in most cases, brought up a family.
Once in Canada, newcomers have to start all over again, making a “zero meter start” that brings along its own set of challenges. Newly arriving immigrants invariably bring along dreams and ambitions of having a place of their own.
While, on one hand, the 250,000 new immigrants arriving every year greatly contribute to the Canadian economy as well as an unprecedented boom in the real estate market, the rapidly rising real estate prices, on the other, make it so much more difficult for newcomers to have a roof over their head. Home ownership is slipping out of reach not only for some newcomers but also for the long-settled Canadians. And, if the current trends continue, home affordability may become out of reach for many Canadians and newcomers alike.
According to a recent BMO Wealth Management report, immigrants arrive in Canada with an average savings of $47,000. After expending initial settlement costs, what is left may not suffice for a house down payment. If finances do not allow the luxury of a house purchase right away, the next logical thing would be to plan ahead for one and, where possible, to cut corners to augment your finances.
To approve a mortgage, banks use different credit criteria for skilled worker applicants. Generally, before approaching a bank, you should have proof of adequate full-time employment income for three months to support mortgage payments. You should also take along immigration documents to prove status in Canada.
There are a wide variety of things you need to do to plan a home acquisition; this indeed is not an exhaustive checklist but it’s a good start that, besides housing, may also touch upon other aspects of your life:
- Depending upon your housing needs, you might consider renting versus purchasing; a temporary phase until you are willing, able and ready to move into a place of your own.
- Wait out the “Sold over Asking Price” phase in real estate markets, which seems so prevalent these days.
- When ready, shop around for the best mortgage terms. You should weigh pros and cons of being loyal to your own bank.
- Take advantage of banks’ offerings to newcomers such as no-fee checking accounts, free cheque printing, free money transfers and, where available, free safety deposit boxes for at least a year.
- Do your homework before buying a car. You should shop around for specially designed financing for newcomers at select dealerships.
- Take advantage of the advisory services offered by most banks in the areas of, for instance, setting up a bank account, managing your finances and, most importantly, how to plan the acquisition of accommodation for your family.
Happy home hunting!
Mohammad Hafeez has been a licensed immigration consultant for over 20 years and is a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants. He has a show on CHIN Radio Sunday nights. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.