First Days in Canada: Where to Sleep

Once you’ve landed, where do you live?

In previous entries of this Canadian Newcomers series I covered a lot of steps to help you find a job and settle down into your Canadian life.

But work is of course only one side of the newcomer formula; finding a home is the other key part to helping you feel truly at home in Canada!

I hope you have been successful in finding work with those tips, or are currently getting lots of interviews and trying to decide which job to choose :) If you are still struggling, reach out to me via LinkedIn and let me know what help you need.

Previous entries in this series are available at the following links:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 21

(I arrived in Canada about 4 months before COVID did, so I can not speak about the ways it may impact on your landing, arrivals or quarantine experience)

After landing in Canada, most newcomers go through 3 main stages:

  1. after landing
  2. new/temporary first home
  3. settling down/buying a home

I’d like to share some tips or suggestions on how to navigate these stages as you settle down in Canada.

Today we will cover the first phase; finding your temporary accommodation.

I’m no expert, but my experiences to-date are a good reference:

I landed in Toronto 16 months ago

Since then I’ve had a few different living experiences:

  • We first stayed with some relatives for 2 weeks while we got paperwork organised, and adjusted to this time-zone (this is a common practice if you know someone who lives in your target city already)
  • We then moved into an Airbnb for 3 months, which was located centrally in downtown Toronto. This helped make our bridging programs and job search commuting easier (this was pre-Covid)
  • When I got my job, we moved into a 1-bedroom downtown Toronto condo (although I did WFH)
  • Recently we moved to a larger home with space for a home office and a garden in the suburbs of Mississauga

Your mileage may vary, but follow the advice below for guidance on your housing journey as a newcomer in Canada.

You Just Landed!

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Great news, and welcome to Canada! But first things first; you need an Immediate Place to Sleep.

When you are “fresh off the boat” (or airplane, most likely), there will be jet lag, time zones, and a host of things to deal with. Assuming your arrivals and PR process has gone smoothly, when you get out of the airport, where do you go next?

Airport Hotel

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

For the first day you might have had a long journey. If you need to immediately put your head down and get some sleep, hotels at the airport might be the most convenient choice for you.

(Again- I arrived in Canada about 4 months before COVID did, so I can not speak about the ways it may impact on your landing, arrivals or any quarantine experience you may have to go through)

Stay with Family?

Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

If you are lucky and have relatives living in the area, staying with them at first is a great idea.

Alternatively, maybe a friend or colleague has moved to the area of Canada you are going to. Whatever the relationship, if you have a personal connection, ask if they are willing to help you out at the beginning. Often people will be happy to support you as you take your first steps in your Canadian life.


  • Note that one of the first things you need to do in Canada is register for a Social Insurance Number (a SIN)
  • For that, one requirement is an address where you can receive mail. So using the address of family or friends is one way to get things moving quickly
  • You can apply online, by mail, or in-person. Once you have applied, it will come by post and usually will take ~20 days

Airbnb (or similar) Temporary Living

Maybe you will find an incredible Airbnb like this? Andrea Davis on Unsplash

If you don’t have family in the area, using an Airbnb for your initial stay is another option. Make sure the landlord/owner confirms that you can use the address to receive mail there.

Recommendation: Taking a temporary place for 1–3 months will help you start budgeting expenses for your early days here.

If you are unable to find a short-term rental via Airbnb, it is also possible to find long-stay hotels, furnished apartments, or aparthotels. Somewhere like DEL Suites, or temporarily sub-letting an apartment via a site like this are also potential solutions.

Again, I am not discussing COVID-related rules for quarantine in e.g. hotels due to no personal experience of this process.

Moving Company or Do It Yourself (DIY)?

Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

Ideally at this point you don’t have a lot of belongings to move around. But if you do, there is a lot of advice available online about Toronto’s best moving companies.

Use these reviews and stories as a point of reference when you are planning your move. Get quotations, be detailed when you provide your information to each company, and compare on the price.

Popular moving companies include:

If you have decided to go the DIY route, U-Haul is a popular truck rental company. Home Depot also rents out trucks, so you can make reservations ahead of time and plan out your moving day.

Note if you live in a condo, or are moving into one, the elevator usually needs to be reserved in time blocks, so make sure you book that ahead of time too! (Derrick Treadwell on Unsplash)

If you prefer that someone else do the work for you, but find professional moving companies expensive, you can also search on sites like Kijiji to find people who run private moving businesses, or assist with moving. However, they can come with risks such as lack of insurance in case of damages, hidden charges, and so on.

Regardless of which option you take, ask around and check reviews before you commit to any company.

Summing Up

To all the newcomers just arriving, or about to arrive in Canada, welcome! Congratulations on reaching this stage of your journey! Finding the first place for you and your family to stay can be stressful, but follow my tips above and you should be able to deal smoothly with the early phase of your life here.

Whatever city you are moving to, good luck!

Who Am I?

Hello, I am Garry. Nice to meet you. Here is my LinkedIn profile. After 15yrs living in Japan, I moved to Canada in late 2019. Since I got here, I have learned a lot from friends, great mentors and advisors, pre- and post-arrival services, and good old-fashioned internet research! I would like to share that advice with you and help you on your journey here in Canada.

Also earlier in 2020 I talked about some of these things in a LinkedIn article, and in a webinar with NewCanadians I discussed with some smart people about the newcomer’s job search and the impacts of COVID-19. I was also featured in a podcast of Immigrants of Toronto in early 2021. Please check them out!

Made in Scotland (1983–2004), raised in Japan (2004–19), moved to Canada (2019). Logistics engineer & project manager in Toronto.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store