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New To Canada? Your First 100 Days Matter

05/25/2017 03:31 EDT | Updated 05/25/2017 03:35 EDT

Moving to a new country can be both exciting and overwhelming. It's a time of change, and being prepared and knowledgeable about the first few things to get done can go a long way in feeling settled in your new home. Establishing a routine can help you settle and integrate into life in Canada, and setting you and your family up for success from the beginning means prioritizing the aspects of everyday life that will build the foundation for a fulfilling life in Canada.

The first 100 days in a new country are often the most important. Getting acclimatized to your new surroundings, meeting new neighbours, and getting a better sense for how everything from health care to grocery shopping is done in your new home would enable an easier transition.

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Here are five tips on what to prioritize when you first arrive:

Apply for government-issued documents:

Make a visit to your local government service office to apply for important government-issued documents. These include a social insurance card, which you'll need to work or to apply for government programs and benefits; a health card that provides coverage for a range of services; and a driver's license. You can learn more by visiting online at Canada.ca.

Find a health care provider:

The next step is finding health care providers including a family doctor and dentist. While your health card allows you to access many services for free, not everything will be covered. Explore what additional insurance coverage you and your family might require.

Start building credit:

Open your first Canadian bank account is essential, but building a credit history is an important step to settling into Canada. It's a key part of the process used to determine whether a person is eligible for a loan, including how much one can borrow. Many newcomers are unaware that the Canadian credit system doesn't always recognize financial history from another country.

Even a high balance in your bank account doesn't guarantee you access to the credit needed for bigger purchases like a home or car, as well as more regular purchases like setting up a mobile phone plan, rent and other monthly purchases. Building a credit history early will ensure you're ready for larger purchases down the line. And getting your first Canadian credit card is an easy way to start building your credit history.

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Reach out to community:

Start building a social network in your new community. There are many free services and community organizations for newcomers, and these are great places to start building your network. Also look for volunteer opportunities where you can meet people from all different walks of life. It can be hard being the "new person," but by taking the first step in connecting with others, you'll be amazed at how welcoming people could be. You can also start researching before arrival to set up meetings and social events in advance.

Stay in touch:

Join cultural associations or seek out community members with a similar background. This familiarity may help with the transition to your new life and help you make friends along the way. It's also important to maintain familiar traditions, or cooking with the flavours and spices you enjoyed back home -- finding ways to stay connected with the familiar will help balance out the significant change that comes with moving to a new country.

With preparation and community support, you can set you and your family up in the first 100 days for a successful future in this wonderful country.

If you're a newcomer, what tips would you give to someone during their first 100 days?

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