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JaQ

Banking - Temp Medical - Sim Card

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JaQ

Good morning fellow members, I will be leaving SA at the end of the month (January) heading to Toronto and I need to ask for advice on a few items. ❄️❄️

 

1.1 - Banking - I will open a bank account with CIBC or RBC probably the day after I arrive. Is it easy to transfer funds from SA bank to your new Canadian bank account? Anyone that banks with ABSA that has done this recently? I know you use SWIFT codes but seeing as I haven't done it before I definitely would appreciate some input. ABSA also has an app called NovoFX for international banking. Do any of you have experience using this app? Should I use it instead of SWIFT or Western Union?

1.2 - Banking - Did you downgrade your South African accounts to something more affordable? Considering I won't be transacting with the accounts monthly I might as well change to something with very low fees.

2 - Temporary medical coverage - can anyone recommend what company they used to take out coverage for the three month period until OHIP kicked in? I have looked at a few options and quotes but I figured a recommendation from a forum member would help me decide.

3 - Sim Card - were you able to pick up a sim card at the airport and have it work immediately? I plan on taking an Uber from the airport (Toronto Pearson International Airport) to my Airbnb. I could take a taxi  from the airport but I expect that it would be more expensive.

Thank you! :ilikeit:

 

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GuyRussy

Hi @JaQ

I landed in Toronto permanently, yesterday. Having done a soft landing in October I was able to get a few things done (banking, sim card etc), which made coming back a little easier.

Nonetheless, on your questions.

1.1) and 1.2) Its straightforward to make international transfers, of course you'll need a Canadian bank account first. My Gf and I decided to go with RBC's  (mostly recommended by the forum and new immigrants) newcomer package. The package has no monthly fees for a year, and you get some other benefits too (I think two international currency transfers a year, for free, was something that stood out for me). RBC will also offer you a credit card with no credit check (good to get your credit history going). We transferred funds from Standard Bank, entering RBC's swift code and our cheque account numbers. All of which will be given to you on opening a new account. The funds took two days to reflect! I can't imagine it being much different with ABSA, be it on the NovoFX app or not. 

2) Can't answer 2, we didn't take any coverage. We're almost at 3 months from landing, so we've decided to wait it out til we covered with healthcare. 

3) We decided on Freedom mobile as our operator (they're quite cheap, and have more "freedom" to choose from across their pay as you go service). I'm not sure what operators have stores at Pearson (honestly never looked for one) but don't feel too rushed to get connected at the airport. I'm not sure where your Airbnb is, but if possible, look at taking the Toronto UP express train from the airport (signs will guide you from arrivals, cost is CAD$12.34 odd including GST). It has free WI-FI on board, and you can order an Uber from within - that's what I did) and then once at your Airbnb, you'll get access to WI-FI and will have time to make a better decision on a cell operator. Note that the UP express stops at Weston, Bloor and Union (downtown) stations. Obviously if your Airbnb isn't along this route, don't take the UP express.

Alternatively, connect to Pearson's WI-FI and order an Uber, then connect again at your Airbnb. Reason I suggest the above is that there are several options for everything you need, and you want to take some time to make the best decision for yourself. Alternatively alternatively, buy a sim from a provider at Pearson (I'm sure there's a Telus or Rogers store) and get connected. Either way, welcome to Toronto, haha. 

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MRH

Hi JaQ

Can't you just purchase travel insurance here in SA and state the period so that it overlaps the date the you expect your Med coverage to kick in by one month?

So let's say you expect to have your Med coverage kick in on 1 May, then ask for travel insurance up to 31 May.

Not sure what it will cost though, or if travel insurer will cover you for the fact that you are immigrating. I was going to investigate this option closer to our landing time.

 

Regards

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fry

@JaQ we were just over in Canada doing our softlanding and scout out and manged to tick most of the boxes that you are planning.

One thing to note about opening a bank account is that you will probably need to make and appointment. We ended up booking the appointment on a Friday and then only opening the account on Monday. 

Reading about Western Union it seems quite expensive to send money through them. 

Our financial advisor here in SA has suggested that we use Incompass to assist with the transfers. You setup and account with them and use it to transfer from SA to Canada.

Otherwise Toronto is a great place to land, we managed to activate, get our Social Security number and do the goods following declaration with minimal effort all while in the airport (took about 2 hours). Just hope they you don't arrive after a plane full of Indian students as we did, it caused the queue to be quite long for us. 

As @GuyRussy mentioned the Pearson express is a really convenient and easy way to get into the city. I would do as he suggests and only get a SIM card once you are a little settled.

 

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MaryJane

Hi @JaQ, happy landing!

Although it's been some time back, it seems nice to answer this question after a long while 😉

1.1 Yes, straightforward as most mentioned. I opened a bank account the day after I landed. I just went into the bank and asked if I could open an account. I had to have an appointment, which they arranged while we were there and then a consultant helped us. For the transfer, we used Exchange4free at the time to do all transactions.

1.2 There are normally newcomer packages available at the bank. The one we initially got was free bank charges if you had certain accounts with the bank (I believe I needed a cheque, savings/investment and a credit card). So I opened all three at the time. I've been here 7 years on and I have yet to pay bank charges. 😉 The only ones I do end up paying is when I send a TT transfer from SA to Canada and the bank charges $15 per transfer.

2 We didn't have coverage except for the one in SA, so I won't comment too much on this. The one company I know of is Blue Cross but I don't know much about service and such since I never used them.

3 I agree with some of the comments that there will be stores who can offer SIM cards at the airport. Uber was a thing from the future during our landing days. We stayed with a hotel who offered airport transfer so that was that. I don't think you'll have issues with getting an Uber so long as you get connection to WIFI. There is free WIFI at the airport.

Have a safe trip!

 

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JaQ

Thank you all for the valuable input!

@GuyRussy Thank you for the feedback I'm pretty much sold on RBC myself especially considering the number of recommendations. UP express is ideal, thank you for the advice. I will take the train to Bloor and Uber to my Airbnb in Parkdale. :ilikeit:

@MRH I did consider SA travel insurance but I figured it might safer to use a Canadian company just in case. (I got coverage through Blue Cross Ontario for three months).

@fry I will book an appointment once I've arrived. I am also landing on a Friday so I expect my first opportunity for an appointment will be the Monday. I will most likely use SWIFT in the meantime I will look into Incompass myself. 

@MaryJane I have read a couple of post that mention Exchange4free, I will spend time this week looking into what they have to offer. A couple of people on the Facebook group also mentioned Blue Cross. I ended up purchasing travel insurance with Blue Cross Ontario for the first three months 😀. So glad that there is WIFI at the airport, at least I will be able to send a couple of messages home once I arrive ✈️

I am certainly nervous and excited! See you soon Canada 😆

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