We’ve lived on three continents, and sold real estate on two. Through our experience, we are able to bring a wealth of information that other real estate agents cannot. To put it frankly, we probably know what you don’t know, that you don’t know yet.

This guide covers the most important facts related to finding a house when relocating to Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville or Burlington. With tens of thousands of new immigrants moving to Toronto each year, we’re well-versed in what they need in terms of finding a good home and neighbourhood.


Before Moving to Canada

Rental vacancies are very low, and competition for rentals is very high. Even if you plan to buy within a few months, you might need to rent to build credit. Mortgages are becoming more and more difficult to qualify for, but they aren’t impossible. Many banks have New-To-Canada mortgages, which are only available from a few mortgage brokers. These mortgages usually require a high downpayment, around 35% of the purchase price or more.

To make finding a rental easier, bring your reference letters, overseas credit scores, bank statements, and job letters. Before deciding whether to relocate to Toronto verse Oakville, Mississauga or Burlington, take a look at the average rental costs in the city in this blog post. 


Once You’ve Relocated

From a financial perspective, it’s extremely important to start building a Canadian Credit Score as soon as possible. Open a bank account and apply for a Credit Card within your first few days. BMO bank has a whole banking division dedicated to new comers, visit them here.

Next, apply for a Canadian Driver’s License, which is the standard ID in the province. Apply for your Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP) coverage fast, because it takes three months from the date of application before you have medical coverage. Also, apply for your Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN) within your first week or two. To apply for a drivers license, and a health card visit a Service Ontario location, visit their site here.


What To Expect When Relocating To Toronto

There are many uncertainties on where to live, and whether to rent or buy. We advise taking day trips to cities and areas and see where you feel comfortable. It’s natural to want to remain in the first city you arrive in, because you’re looking to set roots, but it’s our job to help you find the right community.

We spend everyday driving around the city, and selling homes near beautiful parks, great schools, and fantastic shopping. We can help you find the perfect place, if you’re willing to let us show around.


Discover Cities

We’ve found that clients immigrating to the Greater Toronto Area usually find themselves living in Toronto, or they settle west of the city in a suburb like Oakville, Mississauga, or Burlington. Each city has a distinct community and lifestyle, which offers something for everyone.

For families with children, it’s important to note that your children have to attend the schools based on the location of your home. There are two separate school boards, the catholic school board and the public school board. Both are pretty good in terms of education. Very good schools are “over subscribed” so there is no flexibility on school boundaries.


Real Estate Agents that help people relocate

Real Estate Agents are licensed provincially and help clients throughout the province. In Ontario, real estate agents share listings on what we call the TorontoMLS. Real Estate Companies in Ontario contribute to a shared pool of listings, that any agent can show. So you only need one real estate agent, and that one agent can show you all the available homes. However, not every agent is knowledgable with relocating families, and they won’t anticipate your needs.

Busy intersection in Toronto




If you’re relocating to Toronto, you will find the greatest demographic diversity, which is reflected in the many ethnic neighbourhoods like Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, and Little Portugal. Each neighbourhood has a unique architecture and cultural flair, which makes it interesting for both residents and tourists alike. Toronto has many beautiful, historic neighbourhoods that feature homes with true woodworking skills and design. The formal feel of these homes and neighbourhoods, like Wychwood and Rosedale, is what drives families to move to Toronto.

Relocating to Oakville

At the turn of the century, Oakville was where Torontonian families retreated to their second homes on hot, summer weekends. However, today, Oakville is known for its big, beautiful homes, and the overall up-kept look of the whole community. It’s very popular among professional families, because of its proximity to highways, and its Go Station. From Oakville, you can get to the Core of Toronto in 25 min on the Go Train. Homes in Oakville are not cheaper than in Toronto, but you will find yourself living in a bigger, newer home for the same price as a detached home in Toronto.

Relocating to Mississauga

Mississauga is the second biggest city on Ontario, and is home to many company headquarters. Because of the vast size of Mississauga, the city has many unique pockets of real estate. On the banks of Lake Ontario, you will find the community of Port Credit. Port Credit is known for its beautiful harbour, and mature-tree lined streets. Port Credit is also locally known as the financial hub of Mississauga. Mississauga is very accessible by car, having three major highways and one toll way connecting it to Toronto and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Relocating to Burlington

Burlington was recently praised in local media for being the best place to live in Ontario. The attention is well deserved. Burlington is found just west of Oakville, and shares the up-kept look of Oakville. If you can live a little farther from the city, you will find a very comfortable lifestyle in Burlington. Burlington has many winding streets, and dead ends. The courts are filled with kids, and most houses have a basket ball hoop or hockey net in the driveway. Burlington is probably the most affordable of the four communities mentioned, and is very safe, friendly, and family oriented.


Why Sotheby’s International Realty Canada

Janette and I were drawn to Sotheby’s because of their global presence. Sotheby’s is truly global, and we have an incredible network to connect buyers and sellers around the world. One of the reasons we chose to work at Sotheby’s was because of their stringent standards when hiring agents. When we have a new client moving to Canada, we can very confidently refer them to a Sotheby’s agent in their hometown to help lease or sell their current home.

If I’m Relocating Should I Buy Or Rent?

Even after our market came down in 2017, prices in Toronto and the GTA are very competitive. Year-over-year prices are up, and we forecast them continuing their climb. The pressure to buy is very strong with new families moving to Toronto. However, we urge new comers to become educated on the neighbourhoods and market before making the decision to buy. The cost to buy and resell homes in Toronto is very high, it is cheaper to rent and then make one move than to make 2 moves in a short period of time. The closing costs on buying a home range from 2-4% of the purchase price, and the cost to sell a home are slightly more than 5% of the sale price of the home.

Foreign Buyers can purchase property in Canada. There is a 15% tax, but that only applies to foreign speculators, not new immigrants, or people with student or work visas. 

If you or someone you know is immigrating to Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville or Burlington, please contact us.

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