What to know before your move from Canada to Europe
Moving Abroad
Canada

From the romantic city of Paris to the charming coffeeshops in Amsterdam, to the Mediterranean sea, there are so many reasons why Canadians should move to Europe. 

Europe features some of the most visited and photogenic countries in the world and has a lot of fascinating history and various cultures. If we talk about European food, it is one of a kind! From pizza to french pastries, you definitely won’t want to miss out on all that deliciousness!

If you are looking to move from Canada to Europe, this article will provide you with an essential checklist of everything you need to know about moving to Europe!

Moving from Canada to Europe: Everything to know and do

What to know before your move from Canada to Europe

1. First steps before moving to Europe

Visa Requirements

If you are planning to move permanently to Europe, then first you need to contact the embassy of Canada as well as the embassy of your new European country to obtain your visa. Most Canadian citizens must go through a process put in place by the ETIAS. To learn more about the first steps before moving to a specific European country:

Finding a job

In Europe, Spain has the highest unemployment rate reaching 11.5% as of August 2023, shortly after Greece and Sweden. 

The most high demand job sectors in Europe are health associate professionals, ICT technicians, legal and social associate professionals, accounting clerks, customer clerks, office clerks, agricultural laborers, cleaners and helpers, farmworkers and gardeners, business managers, drivers and vehicle operators, to name a few. 

When finding a job in Europe, you can use employment vacancies and internet job postings like Eurojobs and Jobsinnetwork

Europa (May 2023) & Statista (Aug 2023)

Getting there 

You may make an informed decision on how to move to Europe from Canada by looking into these options for transportation. 

Flying is the most convenient way to move to Europe. You can book your flight to get there, for example through some of Europe’s major airports like Charles de Gaulle in Paris, Frankfurt Airport in Germany or Heathrow Airport in London. 

Be sure to arrive in Europe two or three days before your move in date so you have time to take care of last-minute tasks. 

International Moving Company

You can easily move your things from Canada to Europe by plane or boat, but make sure the moving company you decide on is reliable. So when opting for an international moving company, here’s what you should look for:

  • Insurance is included (ask what’s included)
  • Rates are not extravagant (compare with other companies)
  • They have many Google reviews that are over 4 stars.
  • Customer service and transparency is their priority.

Must dos before your arrival 

You may find it exciting and challenging to move to Europe. You will be more prepared for your new life if you are aware of these things beforehand.

  • Find an international moving company. You can find a number of international moving companies that can move your belongings from Canada to Europe. 
  • If you have a car you would like to bring to Europe, make sure to do what is necessary for car shipping as well as auto insurance. It might be best to sell your Canadian car and purchase a new one in Europe as it is best to travel light! 
  • Apartment Hunting: Plan ahead by researching and scheduling apartment visits before your arrival. This proactive approach will help streamline your housing search process and ensure a smoother transition.
  • It is strongly recommended to learn the official language of the country in Europe you will be moving to. English is often not common in foreign countries, so be sure to learn the basic language of your new home. 

Car Shipping to Europe 

Unless they have significant emotional attachment to their car, most Canadians choose to leave their cars behind when moving to Europe due to the elevated shipping and import fees and the long vehicle inspection process. If you must absolutely ship your car to Europe, here are the steps to follow:

  • Get various quotes from the best car shipping companies. A trusted car shipping company will have insurance, good reviews, and will make customer service their priority.
  • Choose the port of departure.
  • Choose the port destination.
  • Prepare the car by cleaning it and emptying the tank to ⅛ full or you may have to pay a fee upon arrival.

*Ask your chosen car shipping company for additional requirements.

2. Upon your arrival in Europe

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers.
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.
  • Make sure to advise your new employer that you have arrived in Europe!
  • Depending on where you will be moving in Europe, each country may have different requirements for different types of integration cards. For example in Spain, you must apply for a Foreigner’s Identity Card/number. This number is a must to complete all administrative tasks such as getting a bank account, getting paid, paying taxes, buying a property, and obtaining a driver’s license.

Healthcare

Some countries offer excellent healthcare free of charge while others do not, so it’s important to obtain the right medical insurance before your arrival. The European Union’s universal emergency number is 112, but some countries also use 911 just like in Canada.

Pharmacists can prescribe medicines for simple health conditions like fever, cold, stomach problems, cough, joint pain, muscle pain, etc. Another good fact is that many pharmacies are open 24h. Before going to the doctor, do a quick visit to the pharmacy. Pharmacists may be able to help you if your illness isn’t too serious.

As for Health Insurance, it is a good idea to look into obtaining a European Health Insurance Card. It is a free card that gives access to necessary medical attention in 27 EU countries.

Setting up your cell phone

Cell phone plans in Europe work differently than in Canada. In Europe cell phone minutes and data are provided through sim cards. Make sure your Canadian phone is unlocked prior to arriving in Europe so you can simply insert a European sim card and immediately start using your phone from there. Sim card features include data, calls, and texting. The main European cell phone networks are Vodafon, Orange, T-Mobile, Telecom Italia and Telenor. 

The Internet in Europe in terms of pricing is like Canada, but the quality is considerably average.The main internet providers in Europe are Renater, Vodafone Group PLC, Nova Telecommunications and SONATEL.

Getting a driver’s license

If you will be living in Europe for more than 185 days and meet the age requirements of 16 years old, you may apply for a driver’s license in Europe. It is to be noted that each country in Europe has their own requirements and rules in place, you can check for country-specific information through the European Union.

The minimum EU standards for receiving a driver’s license is to pass a theory and a practical driving test. Residents must also complete a training program known as the driving examiners. 

Setting up a bank account 

Opening a bank account in Europe is essential. The most popular banks in Europe are BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Crédit Agricole, Credit Suisse Group, to name a few.

While the required documentation depends heavily on each bank, you generally need two things: An I.D. number, and proof of your identity and address—a government-issued photo ID will suffice. Please keep in mind, you must be above the age of 18 years old to open a bank account in Europe. 

3. Best places to live in Europe

Best places to live in Europe

Moving to Europe means deciding where you want to live and considering your priorities. We’ve listed the best places to live in Europe!

Cities

Characteristics 

Zurich, Switzerland

Multicultural center with top notch universities 

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Blend of city and urban lifestyle

Copenhagen, Denmark

Best for raising a family

Berlin, Germany 

Capital of Germany

Paris, France

Best for nightlife and culture 

Setting up home services 

Using Spain as an example, on average electricity in Spain costs $0.29 CAD per kWh compared to Canada’s average cost of $0.19 CAD per kWh. The most popular electricity companies in Europe are E ON SE, Engie, EDF Group, Enel and SSE plc, to name a few. 

Water shortage is a perennial problem in the country. You should expect the supplier to control the flow during certain times of the year. Tap water is safe for consumption. 

Gas is available in major Spanish cities. Utilities in Europe are billed every two months. The most advisable way to make payments is by direct debit from your bank account.

Should you rent or buy?

Using Zurich, Switzerland, the top number 1 ranked city in Europe as an example, as of June 2023, the median cost of buying a property in Switzerland is CHF 1,190,000 (around 1,314,610 USD); as of October 2023, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment outside the city center is 1,706.76 CHF (around 1,885 USD).

The trusted websites will vary depending on where you are located but generally, Europeans use websites to find available apartment listings and property or engage with real estate agents for assistance.

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

4. Cost of living in Europe

To showcase the cost of living in Europe, we will be using one of the most popular places to reside, Italy. 

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

€513.82

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list (€43.93 multiplied by 4)

€175.72

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

€196.10

Internet with 60 Mbps

€27.71

Transit pass

€35.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

€67.32

Gym membership 

€47.05

Total

€1,062.72

Numbeo (Oct 2023)

5. The weather in Europe

The weather in Europe varies across the continent as some cities reach warmer climates than others. In general, Europe experiences a Mediterranean climate along its coasts with hot and dry summers.

If you are moving to Madrid, you should expect temperatures between 0°C and 33°C year round as it never gets in the negatives. If you are moving to Portugal, you can expect high temperatures of 29°C during the summer!

6. What to do as a local in Europe

Residents of Europe take pleasure in spending their weekends out with friends and family. Community is a huge aspect that Europeans take very seriously. So be sure to Don’t forget to take time for yourself over the weekend and go for a drink with friends. 

Europeans love their food and shopping markets that usually take place over the weekend. If you would like to shop from local farmers, the best place to do so is at an authentic Italian mercato. 

7. Fun facts about Europe

  • Fun Fact #1: Europe is the second-smallest continent. 
  • Fun Fact #2: Europe is home to the oldest universities in the world like the University of Bologna in Italy. 
  • Fun Fact #3: Europe is known for its second longest river titled, the Danube River!

Conclusion

By moving from Canada to Europe you can definitely expect a lot of amazing scenery, architecture, historical buildings and artifacts, along with lots of tasty food. So if you’re into delicious food and beautiful views, then Europe is definitely the place you should move to from Canada!

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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