FRESH from Brazil – A Newcomer’s Guide to Vancouver

Work, love or a desire for good coffee and sushi, has landed you in Vancouver. You’ve decided to stay. How do you establish yourself permanently in this lush corner of the Pacific Northwest? In our latest series, “Fresh”, we ask newly minted Vancouverites about the trials and tribulations they encountered when moving here.  Today, we feature Paula from Brazil.

Newcomer Profile

Paula is a student and professional who came to Vancouver to improve her English, study a little and work a little. She chose Vancouver hoping to avoid a true Canadian winter.  She arrived July 2016.

Photo: Paula Azevedo

What brought you to Vancouver?

I wanted to improve my English for business purposes and I wanted to take business and marketing courses in Canada as well.

What documentation did you need to have in place before arriving?

I needed to have bank statements,  student and work visa ready, passport, letter from our Brazilian bank stating investment and savings amounts, latest Brazilian employment information (letters and government documentation)

How did you find a place to live?

I had a contract with a company that provides rental search services for Brazilians (and other Portuguese speakers I suppose). They facilitate the apartment hunting process. Once you sign a contract with them and complete a survey outlining your housing preferences, they commit to providing you with at least 10 rental options to choose from, based on your profile.  They send you 10 links with all the information about the properties (typically pulled from Craigslist), and from the 10, you pick 3 favorites. Then their staff will visit your chosen properties, take additional pictures and video and send you all the information you need to make an informed decision (since you’re not in Vancouver yet).  When you think you’re ready to apply, they send you the application forms to be filled and signed. Importantly they provide references to the landlord. In addition, I had to provide basic information such as identification documents (passport), and financial documents (bank statements) proving my ability to meet payment obligations.

If I had known about the liv.rent app, I could have cut out this middle man and saved myself a lot of time.  The fact that the landlords and listings are all verified, would have given me, as a foreigner looking for a place remotely, peace of mind. In addition, I could have paid for rent by credit card and signed a lease digitally.

Photo: Vancouver by Paula Azevedo

What documentation did you need to secure once here?

Once here, I had to secure banking information, BCID, contents (tenant’s) insurance, and sign the contract in person.

When finding a place to live, what were your biggest challenges?

Definitely finding pet friendly places that don’t cost a fortune. In Brazil, most apartments allow pets. Here, very few do. And it was definitely challenging to search for a place remotely from Brazil even with the help of a company.

What did landlords expect from you?

I was actually surprised – they didn’t expect too much. We only signed the contract in person and answered a couple of questions to make sure we were all in the same page.  I think it helped that the references were provided by the company I contracted to help me with the search.

What do you know now that you wish you knew before coming to Vancouver?

Tough question – I wish I knew more useful information about the immigration process. It would be easier then to take the first steps towards immigration right away.

What do you like best/worst about living here?

Best – security, lots of outdoor spaces, people’s friendliness

Worst – rain, cold, poor entertainment options on rainy days, businesses close way too early

What do you miss most about home (other than family/friends)?

I miss the food, weather, language, and just knowing how everything works (companies, businesses, politics, random processes, daily chores, etc.).

Kristina Ikavalko

Creative Content Creator for Liv, based in Vancouver. Fan of field hockey, food, fashion & politics.

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