Applying for a permanent resident card
It is important for all new residents to Canada to get their Canadian Permanent Resident (PR) card. The PR card is the proof of your permanent resident status, and you will need it every time you travel outside of Canada.
Applying for a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
To apply for a job in Canada and to receive government benefits, you need a social insurance number , or SIN. The application process is free.
For more information, you can call toll free: 1 800-622-6232. Telephone service is provided in many different languages.
There are three Service Canada offices in HRM where you can process your SIN:
Opening a Bank Account
There are many reasons why opening an account with a bank or a credit union is helpful.
Most Canadians use cheques, debit cards and credit cards to pay for what they buy. Having a credit card can be very useful to establish a good credit history in Canada.
In Halifax, there are six main banks and nine credit unions. Some offer services in different languages and provide services specific to newcomers. There are different types of accounts depending on your needs. It is important to talk to several institutions to find out which best suits your needs.
To open an account, you may need to have with you two types of identification: a picture ID and /or your social insurance number (for income tax).
Use the Yellow Pages to find a list of financial institutions, whether banking or credit union , located in Halifax.
Credit Cards and building credit
It might take a little time to get a credit card if you have just recently arrived. If possible, do not cancel your credit cards from your country before you land in Canada.
It is important to build good credit history in Canada. A good credit rating will allow you to apply for loans and for a mortgage in the future. To build your credit history in Canada, talk to the staff of your financial institution. Your financial institution may be willing to give you a credit card with a smaller spending limit or a secured credit card.
Many stores offer their own credit cards for use with them. However, it is good to keep in mind that these cards typically have high interest rates.
Find a place to live
If you can, arrange a place to stay for your first few nights in Nova Scotia before you arrive.
Halifax is relatively affordable, and there are a wide range of housing prices. Your first home may not be the one you live in forever. You need time to learn about the rental and real estate markets, as well as about what every neighbourhood in HRM has for you.
Most experts say you should not spend more than 33% of your income before taxes on a place to live. Remember this when you think about how much you want to spend on housing. Some expenses you may want to keep in mind include:
- Housing (rent or mortgage)
- Property taxes (if owning)
- Property insurance (renting or owning)
- Utilities (heat, electricity and water)
- Landline phone/cellular phone
- Cable TV
There are many diverse and vibrant communities across HRM where you may want to live. For reliable, updated and detailed information about Halifax’s neighbourhoods, you are encouraged to explore the municipality through our Maps.
Contact Housing Nova Scotia to find out if you are eligible for their programs. Whether you are looking to rent a place or to own it, you may find their information and programs helpful. Also, they offer services and programs for lower income Nova Scotians to help them find a home that they can afford.
Rent prices will depend on size, location and utilities included (i.e., heat, electricity, etc.). Some apartments include heat and hot water as part of the rent. Typically, apartments come with two appliances (stove & fridge), but, sometimes, other appliances may be included, such as dishwasher or washer and dryer.
When applying to rent an apartment, landlords usually do background checks on new residents. As a newcomer, you might want to look for an apartment from companies that have special arrangements for recently arrived residents. A few of these companies are: Killam Properties, Twin City Management, and Universal Properties.
As a new resident of HRM, it may be challenging to get the best information about the place you would like to live in. A resource that might help you find the best available information about the unit and/or place you would like to rent is Yomes , a social platform that offers a network for tenants to share rental information and experiences about area, landlords, services, and overall conditions of buildings and available units. This service is free for all persons living in Nova Scotia.
Before you rent, you may want to remember:
- Most rental agreements or contracts last for 12 months.
- Rent is due on the 1st of each month.
- To sign your agreement, you will need money for a deposit, which is usually half of your monthly rent. This means you have to pay for your first rent plus your deposit. If your apartment is clean and in good condition when you leave, you will get your deposit back.
- Some companies ask for 12 post-dated cheques to make sure you pay your rent on time.
TIPS: Questions to ask before you rent
- Is it close to a bus stop or ferry?
- Is it close to other services, like stores, laundromats, parks, playgrounds, community centres, medical clinics, and places of worship?
- Is it quiet?
- What are the other tenants like?
- Is there parking for a car? Is it free?
- Is it close to a school?
- What utilities are included?
There is a variety of housing choices across Halifax. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, Halifax is one of the most inexpensive housing locations in the country.
Take time to learn about real estate markets and different neighbourhoods. You can:
Utilities and Home Services
There are several important services to keep in mind before buying or renting a house, such as power, heat and water. Take a couple of minutes to review the following list to ensure you have considered these important services and you know who provides them: